I couldn’t help but notice
that the gate at the top of the stairs was ajar
which suggests to me
that a certain someone
has been going downstairs
can you think of who that might be?
Oh John, I’m sorry
I called for you but you weren’t at home
no one was home
and I was so thirsty
you know that going downstairs makes you hysterical
It’s called a rest cure, darling
Not a going downstairs cure
How right you are
you’d better stay in bed this time
or someone’s going to lose her sitting up in bed privileges
couldn’t I go outside even for a little while
just for a walk in the garden
just for a moment
why must you ask for the moon
you know I wish I could give it to you
but that it’s the last thing you need
I just can’t bear another minute staring at these same walls
I’m afraid that as a doctor
I can’t advise going out into the garden
it’s full of night humors and cross-breezes
any one of which could do any number of things to your nervous system
to say nothing of your chalkstones
it would simply ruin your blood
I’m afraid I just can’t allow it
What do you think we should name the child?
Oh, John, I’m so glad you asked
I’ve missed talking to someone
and I do hope the baby’s doing well
I’ve thought about it a great deal these last few months
oh sorry, darling
that wasn’t for you
meant to send that to Williams
we’ve already named him
It’s a boy?
We had a son?
What’s his name, darling?
What’s his name?
I’ll tell you what, my darling
You’ve been awfully good this week
and I think you deserve a treat
you can have all the air that you want
I spoil you
you’ll open one of the windows, then?
I would love to see the sky again
Good God, no
not fresh air
do you want to catch winter fever?
But it’s summer, John
surely it couldn’t be as bad as all that in the summer
Summer is the worst time of all to catch winter fever
the body simply doesn’t expect it
Next thing you know, your dropsy is so bilious it makes ship fever look like barrel fever
And then where would you be
I’m not sure
where would I be?
I can tell you that much
nowhere good, medically speaking
Go back to sleep
I’ve been asleep all morning
and all night before that
I couldn’t possibly sleep any more
I’ll go mad if I try to lie still another hour
that’s how you know you need rest
only a truly sleepy woman would say that
John have you noticed a yellow smell in the house
I’ve noticed a yellow smell
A yellow smell?
Could be some sort of miasma
I’ll have the garden torn up just in case
and extra bars set on the windows
you know the broken-necked reverse-eyed witch nightmares in the wallpaper?
you know the ones I mean, John dear
they writhe in those slinking hate patterns?
Well they’ve started to chant in unison
what has happened to you
Oh, don’t worry, pet
I know how to quiet them
I know how to make them stop their needle dance
They promised me
once I’ve done what they want
they’ll be at peace again
So there’s nothing to worry about!
I’ll be right down, darling
coming downstairs at last
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.