I follow a morning routine, one that rarely gives way to change. At 7:00 am, my alarm goes off. I'm awake before it goes off, but I lay in bed pretending to sleep until I hear the familiar drone telling me that another day truly has begun.
Socked feet creep out from under the covers, and silently survey the stability of the floor beneath my bed before I press down with the weight of my body. The feet pull me along to the washroom, then downstairs to the kitchen where I sit and wait for my coffee to brew.
Last week is when this changed. I sat, waiting for my coffee, and I glanced out the window, where I saw a young woman in a long red dress sitting on the giant hill across the street. In her arms was a white bundle, around the size of an infant. She sat; crouched over this bundle, her long, curly blonde hair falling over the bundle, as she whispered or spoke. I could not hear her with the windows closed.
Upon further inspection, I realize that this woman is Elizabeth Whetter, the woman who lives on the western end of Simon's Corner in the blue two-storey house. Blue would be the colour of the house, if some upkeep were to be committed. Instead, the blue paint has almost peeled off the wooden walls. The chips go unnoticed in the unkempt grass that surrounds the property.
Inside that house, Elizabeth has hidden herself from the village. She is a household name, yet no one actually has ever spoken to her since she moved into Simon's Corner five years ago. It seems odd that she could be so invisible in this small village, but completely true. I never even heard of her child birth.
She looks so content, leaning over her small child on the hill, the sunlight pouring down into her hair reflecting a radiating glow like that of an angel. It has been this way for the last week, Elizabeth and child sitting on the hill for hours in the morning. Maybe it is a cry for attention to the villagers. If so, I heard that cry first. Today, I am going to find out, who Elizabeth Whetter is.
My shoes sit by the front door, the door leading to the world which everyone assumes Elizabeth fears. I pull on the shoes and hurriedly tie them into knotted bows, the excitement of being the one who knows Elizabeth's secrets will earn me the respect of Simon's Corner. The villagers will come to me when they need to find out about their neighbours, as everyone in the small towns needs to know everything about everyone else.
The air is crisp and clean when I step outside. Normal for an autumn day in Simon's Corner, where you could spend a day outside without a jacket, but might be slightly chilled. Elizabeth's giggling can be heard from my door. Her voice is soft and high, without being shrill.
Like the last few times I had seen her, the swelling in her stomach is beginning to fade, her pregnancy falling further in the past with other memories of solitude. She is unaware of my watching from my doorstep, just as she remains unaware of my presence when I begin to step onto the street, walking towards her.
She stares at her infant, talking softly to it, too soft for me to make out the words, but loud enough for me to hear the way her voice changes notes with each word. The child lies in her arms, silent and still, most likely asleep.
My presence remains completely unnoticed until I clear my throat, leaving the aggressive noise of my vocal chords grinding together. She looks up slowly, not jumping from the unexpectedness of another.
I crouch down, so that I am not looking down at her, and extend my hand. "Elizabeth Whetter? I'm Marty Sinclaire. I live across the street from here, and have seen you every morning with your baby. I just thought I'd come out and say hello, and maybe see the little munchkin."
She does not take my hand, but she does smile slightly before looking back down at her child. "Hello Mister Sinclaire. Please forgive me for being a little too rash, but why are you really out here? I've done no wrong, so don't even bother trying to pin it on me." She nervously looks back up, slate grey eyes peering into mine.
Her response made me rather suspicious, she must have done something big, something that would rock the village with scandal, and I will be the one with the story if I can get it out of her. Her pregnancy alone is juicy enough, but more?
"I've seen you come here for the last week, every morning, and I became entranced by this woman and infant who caught my eye." I look over to the bundle, "who is the father?"
"Someone you'll never know. He's with Jesus and the angels. He gave me my little angel." She pulls the little white package of baby up from her lap to the sky, holding the infant as close to the heavens as possible.
"He gave me. An angel." Tears begin to stream from her eyes, and she brings the silent infant back down into her lap. She begins to remove the cloth around the child, unveiling a vile stench as more cloth is removed. I watch as the infant becomes unwrapped. Purple skin shows through cracks between the fabrics.
I fall from my crouch, and quickly try to collect myself into a sitting position to watch the unveiling. As the child becomes more visible, Elizabeth's tears stream at a faster pace, between heaving sobs of grief.
Attached to the child's back are two gold fabric wings, tied around its arms. "A stillborn cherub." She adds while wrapping her infant back up. She has shown me too much to remain invisible.
"How did this happen?" I ask, knowing that I have achieved her trust now.
She pauses. "Mark decided that he didn't want our child. He, he pulled out a baseball bat one day during a fight, and he hit me in the stomach, knocking the wind and my angel out of me. It hurt so much." Her hands move from the corpse to her stomach, rubbing gently as her face twitches into a cringe. "When I saw my cherub on the floor, lying gently, looking so peaceful, I knew that he had killed my baby. I picked her up, and crawled to the kitchen. He killed my baby! I couldn't forgive him. Never! He'd have to pay for what he did."
She stops with her story, to let out a wail of sorrow that echoes off the houses in the village. The tears finally slowing as she sits and collects herself. A few minutes feeling like hours pass, before she continues.
"Later that night, while he was sleeping on the sofa, I made him pay. I got a knife from the kitchen. One of them sharp ones, and I plunged it into his chest. If felt so good to keep thrusting the blade into him as he screamed. But my baby needed it. My baby needed revenge." A small smile appears on her face, as she pulls her dead child into her breasts.
"I'm sorry Mister Sinclaire, but we must end our conversation. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't tell anyone else what I have told you." She hurriedly stands and walks westward in long strides, leaving me alone on the hill trying to decipher all that just occurred.
Confused, I too stand, and retreat back to my house, across the street from the big hill, knowing that tomorrow I can get the rest of the story from her. She would have to return to the hill, to show her baby angel to the others.
She never does return. I continue with my morning routine, waiting for my coffee and the woman in the red dress, always being fulfilled with coffee alone. A week passes and still no sign of Elizabeth Whetter. I begin to grow worried that maybe the police found the man, I think she said his name was Mark, and arrested her for murder.
The blue house on the west end would have the answers I require. This morning, I pull my shoes on, skipping my coffee, and march down Catharine Street to the other end of Simon's Corner. I'm greeted by many of the villagers as I pass, but their ramblings are unimportant. Only Elizabeth would have anything worthy of saying.
The brisk air seemed slightly chillier today, maybe nature telling me that something is wrong, and that I should not go to the blue house. I quicken my pace, rather than feeling intimidated by the weather and the fear of what I may run into. Elizabeth may be a madwoman, but I bear a moral obligation to be there for her. I know of her secret.
Illusions of heroicness surge through my mind as I continue down Catharine Street and finally arriving at the house. It stands like an unkempt monolith alone on the edge of the village. Few people ever walk to this point, passing it only when driving to the city.
I approach the front door and knock. Three times, briskly and loudly. Nobody answers, and I try again, and again. After my third attempt, I place my hand on the doorknob, and turn, testing if the door is unlocked. The knob turns, and the door creaks open, releasing a reek similar to the infant, but much stronger.
"Elizabeth?" I call out through the doorway, I am greeted with silence. Worried, I step into the house and allow for my eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. On the floor, near the stairs on the left side of the front hallway, lay the white cloth that was wrapped around the infant.
My eyes dart around the hall in a clockwise fashion, looking over to the right walls. While my gaze creeps up the wall, something catches my eye. Hanging from the stairwell is Elizabeth, donning angel wings of the same fabric of her cherub, and her underwear. Across her stomach is a long, black bruise caused by the massive impact of Mark's baseball bat. Her child is nowhere to be seen, and is never found.
After seeing that I would not get the rest of Elizabeth's tale, I step out of her house and slowly slink back to my house, disappointed in my loss. Elizabeth cheated me out of my fame in the village.
I ignore the smiles and greetings of the other villagers during my retreat. I tell none of them about what I just saw until I finally arrive and pick up the phone, dialing 911. I smile, now with a story to tell and my own audience. The operator picks up, and I begin.