Elaine Gardner sat uneasily in the office of Dr. Brian Matthews, wringing her hands. Her meetings with him had been very uneventful, partially because she would only offer him one word answers. She could not speak about the particulars of her wedding day. The doctor persisted though, insisting she talk about it.
“Elaine,” said Dr. Matthews with a smile, “You know, you’ve been with us for quite a while now, and we all want to help you.”
She could not look at him. Instead, she bowed her head, holding it between her hands and said, “Doctor, I’m afraid now.”
“What do you mean, Elaine?”
“Dr. Matthews, you’ve seen what’s happened to me. I can’t even sleep in a room by myself…the poor night nurse. I keep seeing it happen over and over again. Anytime someone drops something or a door slams, I hear the gun shot. I see my dress stained with blood. I look around and Teddy is lying in front of me bleeding to death. I can’t escape it!” cried Elaine.
“It’s undeniable that what you witnessed was traumatic,” said the doctor with an annoying coolness, “But you have to know you have the support of your friends and family. They care about you and want you to get better. I’m going to be straight with you, Elaine. You won’t ‘get over’ this, it’s not possible to forget something like that, it won’t fade away. But, we can help you at least live your life again. Will you try to let us help you?”
Elaine Gardner looked at the doctor. She knew she had to try, but it would be incredibly difficult.
Josephine Falcone knelt on the ground, plucking weeds from her garden. She looked lovingly at the belladonna berries before her. She thought to herself how wonderfully convenient it had been to find the plant growing there when she and Peter moved into the house 20 years ago. She knew it would be of some use someday. Her only regret was that it failed and that Louise was still breathing.
Meanwhile, Louise stood in the kitchen, gazing out the window over the sink, watching her mother-in-law. She could feel nothing but a hatred for her now. Josephine Falcone had her family in the palm of her hand. Even Michael would not believe that Josephine had poisoned her. The family had underestimated Louise Falcone’s range of spite.
“God, Louise, we gotta get a cat or something,” said Michael, entering the kitchen, “I’ve seen like three mice since this morning!”
“Mice, Michael! What do you mean mice? You know I don’t do rodents,” said Louise, unnerved by the pests.
“Yeah, I saw one in our bedroom, one in the basement, and on crawl under the car in the garage. I’d tell Ma we need a cat or something, but you know how she’s allergic. We gotta do something though.”
Louise considered a moment. “Well, you know we could always set traps, but those never seem to work. I think mice have gotten smarter! I read somewhere though that certain pellets poison ’em quick and painless. We could try that.”
“Sure Lou, we’ll poison ’em just like Ma ‘poisoned’ you!” said Michael with a laugh. He could be so clueless.
“Yes,” said Louise with reservation, “We could…it’s probably better that we buy the poison though. We wouldn’t want to make your mother uncomfortable…”
“Louise, I’m glad you’re trying to get along with Ma now. I know you two are opposites to say the least, but it’s nice to see you’re thinking of her.”
Yes, Louise Falcone was thinking of her mother-in-law. More specifically, how much her funeral would cost.