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Our Special Souvenirs
From the moment Amelia Green was born, she was angry. Livid, I should say. She was constantly crying, upset with anything anyone did for her, though it seemed she had the perfect life.
Amelia was the daughter of Rose and Joseph Green, exceptional parents. Joseph was a strong, determined man, who in the business world was quite famous. He owned Green Gold banking, a very well known and popular service in London. He provided for his family in luxurious ways, and his wife Rose was never without company. Though he was always busy, Rose kept an amazing house and always insisted she would raise Amelia herself, though they could likely afford plenty of nannies. She loved her daughter, as it would be the only one she would ever have.
Amelia was constantly on Rose’s watch, and in that watch was Amelia’s frown. Once Amelia learned to walk, she was never walking, always pounding around like an elephant. She slammed doors and broke expensive items, causing great stress to her father.
“AMELIA! Quit breaking the bloody vase! I’ve had to replace it twice already.” But Amelia would never respond, just storm off somewhere in the mansion.
As a good friend of Joseph, I was around to watch Amelia grow up. By the time she started school, I believe I saw her smile somewhat. When she would come home, the corners of her mouth would be turned up in the slightest ways, but would immediately plunge straight down once she saw someone in the room. By this time in her life, Amelia was constantly punished for being somewhat of a nuisance. Rose would take her to the cellar and no one heard a sound but of Amelia’s crying. Each time they would emerge from the cellar, however, Amelia would be smiling, yet her eyes showed sadness and regret.
Quite an amazing transformation, for by the time Amelia was in higher levels of her schooling, she would never fuss nor scream, just smile. She had grown into a lovely young lady, respectful and quiet and always doing what she was told. She always smiled at everyone, and at this time showing it to be very convincing. But I, being “Uncle Robert” to the girl, always saw the anger in her eyes.
I remember a specific time in the girl’s life where she had been outside. Amelia was only 15 at the time, and she was concentrated on an animal she had found in the yard, and was gently petting it. I went outside to comfort her, for she had just been scolded by her father for a bad grade in class. It really was a terrible fight, for he grew angrier at the sight of Amelia’s smile plastered onto her face.
I went to her and asked what she was holding. Amelia turned and looked at me with the sad eyes and happy grin, and simply said
“A rabbit, Uncle Robert.”
“Why are you playing with animals dear? Should you not be inside, helping your mother with the cooking?”
“Father was just angry with me; I have no wish to be in the house with his presence.”
“Ahh, I see. Well, Amelia, though I realize your anger as well, your mother needs your help, and you will need the skills one day to attract a nice young fellow to support you throughout life. I know no one as well as your mother to teach you those skills.”
For a moment, the smile diminished. “I do not wish to be married.”
This came as a shock to me. How would Amelia support herself? She could not just go on in the world without someone to protect her, it was unheard of.
“Amelia, listen to yourself. You need a man to help you on through life, you know that don’t you?”
“Yes, Uncle Robert.” The smile had returned. “I will go help mother with dinner.” She set the animal down and walked solemnly back to the house.
“Quite an adorable animal”, I said to myself. Upon closer inspection however, I found the rabbit had a broken neck.
Years past, and after much rejection, Amelia settled for a gentleman named Jonathan Brans. He was the owner of a tailor shop, inherited from his father. From conversations with Amelia, I learned this was not so much her choice as her fathers. Joseph knew the man’s parents, and with much consideration, decided that this was the fellow his daughter should marry.
And so it happened. The marriage was on a warm August day, and Amelia looked happier than ever. Or so her smile showed. Her eyes screamed in agony as she happily exclaimed “I do” to the priest. I stood with her father in this proud moment, as we watched the girl dance to the car to drive away with her new life. Before the car jolted forward, I saw her huge grinning face look at me, then toward the back yard. I knew what this meant. I slightly nodded toward her. Her father grabbed me around the shoulders smiling and laughing with a joy I had not seen years. I nervously smiled at him and waved happily toward the car.
The wedding party soon dispersed, and I said my goodbyes to my good friends.
“Today was quite a show, eh?” Joseph had his arm around his wife as though she were the only trophy he ever made.
“Amelia looked lovely.” I couldn’t help but smile that they never noticed her eyes. “He is quite a lucky man”.
“More likely, she is the lucky girl. He is quite a gentleman, let’s hope he can handle our Amelia.” She smiled at me.
And that’s when I saw it. Rose’s eyes, they were full of anger, depression, and anxiety. Yet her smile showed nothing of it. She was just a gorgeous, happy Rose on the outside, yet I saw the pain, and it hurt, almost as bad as it did with Amelia. Then I remembered my task.
“Well, you all have a pleasant night.” I turned and watched the sliver of light from the doorway vanish with a sharp click. I immediately turned and headed straight for the rear of the house.
I always adored the rose bushes Joseph had planted around the outskirts of the yard. An anniversary gift he said, planted on an April day. Though I seem to remember them having a Christmas wedding, I do remember for certain however, the makeup being used to cover an eye on Rose’s face.
I walked around them and saw the cat. Sighing heavily, I picked up its remains and walked to the car. It seems this one put up a fight. I placed this animal in the back of my car and drove a few short miles to my house. Not as extravagant as the Greens, heavens no, but still my lovely home. I walked down the steep wooden stairs to the basement and placed the rotting corpse along the shelf of bones.
It really was a sad trophy shelf. Rabbits on one shelf, squirrels on another, dogs and cats and birds all had their own. Every time Amelia had been scolded for something she did not agree with, a souvenir was made. I could remember just about every time the animal represented. A bad grade, home late, seeing a boy, writing obscure things of freedom and individuality. Her father simply did not approve of things he did not agree with.
Sighing once again, I glanced around the room of bodies and slowly walked up the creaking stairs.
Months had passed. Amelia and her husband Jonathan only came out when the family called for them. Last was Christmas dinner. I lived alone, as you could imagine, and was always invited to my good friend’s house for Christmas. I enjoyed the company, and being able to see Amelia. She was always smiling, every time. She always had a hand around Jonathan, as though she were holding him down. She waited on him hand and foot, worshiping the ground he walked on. Her parents were so proud, to see their daughter with a man in general, especially one that made them so happy, was their greatest achievement. They seemed too happy to notice Amelia’s lip at the Halloween party, her eye on Thanksgiving, and I noticed her limp today. We opened presents, said grace, and stuffed ourselves full of food.
We sat engorged around the table simply reminiscing about Amelia’s childhood and her horrid temper, laughing all the while. Amelia glanced at me with those eyes, and I knew how she felt about the topic.
“So, Joseph”, I intervened to change the subject, “How is the banking business?”
“Not so good. I made investments in America, haven’t heard much news quite yet.”
We chatted about failing stocks and America’s banks, all the while Amelia was fidgeting at the table.
Suddenly she was up. “Will you all pardon me for a moment?” she turned slightly too quick and hit the corner of her table, knocking over her wine glass.
“I’m so sorry, please pardon my clumsiness.” She was nervously hurrying to wipe up the mess.
Jonathan simply laughed. “Oh you know women, always knocking things about. Some just need a little more discipline than others, eh?” He rolled at his own comment.
Rose glared at him as she helped her daughter. “Amelia, you must be more careful, though I’m sure that limp is what caused it.”
Jonathan stopped laughing. His eyes went black for moment, leering at the two women. He chuckled to himself, and muttered something I’m sure only the devil could hear.
Later that night, as the clock struck the first hour of December 26th, my telephone rang. I had just put up the latest souvenir upon its own shelf, another rabbit to add to our collection. I let the phone ring as I slowly climbed the stairs, wondering how many more bodies I could fit upon the shelves.
“Hello? This is Robert.”
“Uncle Robert.” Amelia sounded anxious. “We need you.”
“We? What is it child?” Why would she need me at this hour?
“Come quick. My residence. We need you.” The line went dead.
I drove as fast as my car allowed on the rocky London streets. Cobble stones shook the vehicle with a ferocity that I do not even remember until this moment. I had no worry for that then, I needed to find Amelia.
I arrived at Amelia’s home. Bought by her father, it was almost as ornate as the Green’s, but not quite. It had a sense of fear around it, I recall. I saw the living room light on, and two figures through the drapes sitting around the table.
My pounding must have sounded like thunder. I heard two voices, and the knob turned slowly.
Amelia appeared before me. No smile, which worried me beyond belief. I hadn’t seen that frown in ten years, yet there it was, the ends of her lips were straight across as though her face could not decide which way to go. I almost did not even notice the hand prints engraved into her neck.
“Amelia? What is wrong? May I come in?”
“Yes, Uncle Robert. Pardon my manners.” She stepped aside and I pushed passed her into the main room.
“Where is Jonathan?” I had not seen traces of the man anywhere.
“He is dead, Uncle Robert. We killed him.”
“Who, Amelia? Who killed him?” My mouth could not control itself as it stood agape at the child. “Where is he?”
“We did it, Uncle Robert. He is dead.” She walked back to the master bedroom.
Following the girl, the walk down the hall way seemed to slow in time. I started to notice things I hadn’t about the house before. I saw a fallen picture framed that hid a hole in the wall the size of a fist. I saw blood stains hidden crudely below a side table. How could anyone have missed this? After being around the house many times, how?
The door frame of the bedroom has bloody hand print across it. The room itself had always been my favorite, an exquisite room, beautiful white drapes, white canopy dangling above the king size bed, white lace over the black night stands, and a single red rose in a vase, the only color in the room before this night. The vase was splattered with blood, along with the canopy and the drapes. I saw Jonathan, hours ago a happy and strong willed man, now sprawled in a helpless position upon the bed. One leg was hanging limply off the bed, as though he awoke and tried to leave. His night clothes had been stained with blood, the red substance contradicting with the white across the man’s chest. He stared with wide eyes towards the door, as though even in death he wished he could escape. The stare chilled me to the bone and I moved out of his line of sight.
I pushed over to the far corner of the room. Then I saw her. For the first time really, the raw women as she stood with blood soaked hands by the door. How could I not see her turn into this? I had watched her grow with her family all these years, and yet she stood before me, knife in hand, looking as calm as ever, with eyes that seemed finally satisfied with life.