I slip into the black dress; smooth it over my hips. 

“What Mommy doing?”

I glance in the mirror.  “Getting ready for work.”

“Why Mommy work now?”

Because my friends tell me I’m wasting my life, I think, applying eyeliner.  “To help Daddy pay for college.”

“What that?” Lauren points to the mascara. 

“It makes Mommy look pretty.”

She wrinkles her nose.  “Mommy pretty already.”

I smile.  “Thanks, Lovey.  But my boss won’t think so.”  I tie the apron on and kiss my children goodbye.   My mother-in-law tells me I’m making a mistake as I hand her the baby, blinking back tears.

* * *

At the hotel, I vacuum and dust and change sheets; I scrub toilets and empty trashcans.

A woman emerges from room 232.  She presses a pamphlet into my hand.  “Reject Satan,” she whispers before padding down the hallway to summon the elevator.  I knock at her door; call out “maid service” before using my passkey and wheeling the vacuum into the room.

The door slams shut.  I whirl around to face her husband. 

“It was your fault,” he tells me later, dragging me down the back stairs and out the hotel’s emergency exit.  He shoves me into the back of his car and drives to the river. 

He binds my arms; fills my apron pockets with stones.  “I’m sorry to do this,” he says “but I can’t afford the scandal.” 

“My kids…”

He pushes me in.  “I’ll write a suicide note and leave it on your cart.  I’ll tell your children you love them.”    

Like Ophelia I float on a river of expectations.

Unlike Ophelia, I am not mad.

I slip my arms from their bindings; remove the stones from my pockets; swim to shore.  The water drips from my hair, smears makeup into my eyes.

I return to the hotel and use my passkey to enter his room.

He is sleeping.

I make it eternal.

I will plead insanity.

He, of course, will receive a Christian burial.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kameko Murakami challenged me with “Like Ophelia, I float on a river of…” and I challenged Grace O’Malley with “No one knew where it began and where it ended.”

I also used this piece for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The word was scandal.

28 thoughts on “Ophelia

  1. Best line “I make it eternal” Story builds from the normal to the unusual to the twist and kicker at the end. Great read

  2. Great post! Lots to think about – I too like “I make it eternal.” I love the conversation with her daughter at the beginning; it makes her plea for her kids more meaningful. And the makeup smearing into her eyes works well as a reminder of that conversation as she applied it.

  3. Thanks, Janna – The reference to the burial refers to the speculation over Ophelia’s death and if she’d be entitled to a Christian burial. Not sure if it worked.

  4. Whoa, so much said, with so little detail. Very nicely brought about, the “Christian burial” was a perfect last line.

  5. Justice! Though I wish we could have had a bit more as to WHY he chose her. It wasn’t super clear to me except maybe he was stark raving mad….

  6. Very surprising! After the conversation with Lovey at the beginning, I wasn’t expecting the middle at all!

  7. Oh, that was a tough post from II and you dealt with it brilliantly. good work combining both prompts. Hope you can join us for the weekend prompt which is already up on the site. It’s community judging this weekend, so get your entry in and get voting!

  8. Thanks – The original Ophelia was weighted down by her clothing – Wasn’t quite sure what to do with this one.

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