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Just The Wind
It’s probably just the wind. A moan seeped into the bedroom from the rafters. My husband was busy fixing his tie in the mirror and I frowned at his oblivious state. I turned to my jewelry box and shuffled through to find a nice pair of earrings to compliment my evening dress. The moaning sound continued to resonate in the walls, and the groans turned into words as they got closer.
“Help! They’re after me!”
I sighed loudly and closed the box with a loud thud.
“Bill, for the love of God, will you please do something about your son?”
He had moved on from straightening his tie to combing his hair. He answered me without even looking away from the mirror.
“What is it, Meredith? I’m busy right now,” he asked, annoyed.
“He left his room and is making a commotion,” I replied. “He needs to go back and be quiet. What if your boss and his wife see him acting strangely during dinner? Your promotion could be at stake! You know how judgmental they can be!”
He finished combing his hair and finally turned to look at me.
“You’re right. I’ll make him go back upstairs. You go make sure the food is all laid out for the guests. Oh, and see to it that the butler is ready to take coats at the door. You know how he likes to sneak into the backyard and smoke when he thinks we’re not looking.”
I nodded and quickly donned my gold encrusted diamond earrings before leaving the bedroom. They’ll be the envy of the party; I hope they’ll impress the boss’ wife.
I flounced out into the parlor and greeted the butler with a harsh warning.
“Edgar, don’t let me catch you taking a smoke break while the guests are here. We want to seem like a respectable family; not one that employs a drug addict to handle the valuables of our esteemed visitors.”
He nodded solemnly, and then folded his hands in front of his body.
“If I may speak out, m’am,” he said softly, “your son wasn’t looking well when he was here in the parlor. He seemed to be muttering to himself quite a bit. He’s a lot worse than he was yesterday, or any day this week in fact.”
“Yes, yes,” I agreed absent-mindedly, straightening lavish throw pillows on the sofa. “He’s an eccentric. Don’t worry though; he won’t ruin the party. He doesn’t seem to care much for people, so he won’t bother the guests with his quirky behavior. Just as long as he stays in his room, all will be well.”
“I just meant to say,” he replied slowly, “that perhaps the time is drawing near to hire a doctor; he seems ill rather than just ‘quirky’, m’am.”
“No,” I replied firmly. “I’m sure he’s just going through a moody phase. You know how children are.”
I strutted down the hallway to the kitchen to check the food. Tartlets and finger sandwiches lined silver trays. I stopped to admire the beauty of the delicacies.
“Yes,” he agreed, following me into the kitchen. “I know how children are. I have a son who is 14 years old. Your son, however, is not a child. He is a 35-year-old man who is talking to himself in the parlor of his mother’s house. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?”
I turned to him sharply, whipping my face with frosted hair ringlets.
“You are out of line. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with your mother. He is the perfect son; you should be so lucky to have a son as loyal as my Samuel. Now go back to the front door. The guests will be arriving soon and I don’t want to hear another word from you. I will let you know if I ever want your opinion again, but don’t count on it.”
The butler took a deep breath and nodded his head deeply again. The doorbell rang and he turned on his heels to head for the door. I fluffed my hair and headed to the parlor where the guests would be taken. I couldn’t wait to show them the house and all its grandeur.
I sat on a plush, red loveseat and waited, making a conscious effort to cross my ankles and fold my hands to look civilized. My husband’s boss and his wife entered and I instantly noticed her diamond necklace. I felt inadequate next to her, but flashed a large, dazzling smile to them and stood.
“Hello darlings,” I gushed.
I kissed each of their cheeks and held out my hands to grab the hands of the other housewife.
“I haven’t seen you in ages darling, we must catch up. Please, have a seat,” I said, sweeping my hand towards the parlor.
The two sat on the black loveseat across the room from the red one and Edgar approached them with a tray of sandwiches.
“May I interest you in a variety of small appetizers?”
As the wife fawned over the delicacies and the husband selected which ones to add to his plate, I looked around the room, anxiously awaiting my husband’s arrival. Instead of gazing upon the face of my betrothed, however, I found myself gazing upon the face of Samuel as he emerged from the kitchen and into the parlor. I sighed and stood quickly.
“If you’ll excuse me…” I started
“Oh,” the wife exclaimed, “who is this handsome young man?”
“Oh…this? This is…our son. Samuel,” I answered slowly as I grabbed his arm. “I’m sure he was just on his way back to his room, weren’t you Samuel?”
“They’re everywhere,” he replied with shifting eyes. “Everywhere I turn they’re watching me, waiting for me to grow weak.”
I shook my head in embarrassment and gestured for Edgar to help me.
“Come Samuel, Edgar will take you back. I’m sure you’ve had enough excitement for one day,” I said softly as Edgar took his arm from me and began to lead him back.
“They’re going to kill me! Why won’t anybody help me?” Samuel cried out as the butler ushered him up the stairs into his attic bedroom. I could feel a warm blush creep over my skin as the humiliation spread. He disappeared around the corner of the staircase and I turned back to the guests.
“I sincerely apologize for his behavior. He will stay confined to his room for the duration of the evening.”
The couple glanced at each other with worried looks, and then glanced back at me.
“That was quite a surprise, Meredith. Bill explicitly told me that you had no children and that you were entirely a career based family,” his boss said accusatorily. The blush crept over me again.
“Yes, and do you mean to tell me that he lives with you?” the wife inquired, a worried look on her face.
“Why, yes,” I replied. “He’s just like any other child, living with his parents until he finds his way. He’s only 35 years old; he’s still not interested in the outside world yet,” I replied cautiously.
“That is quite out of the ordinary Meredith. Children don’t usually take 35 years to develop an interest in a life of their own, and they certainly don’t wish to live with their parents until they figure it out. And what was he saying? That they were going to kill him? Who is going to kill him? Is he in some kind of trouble?” The boss continued his interrogation. I became swollen with defensiveness.
“He’s just a good son, there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just a good son,” I stuttered.
“It seems to me that he is overly paranoid; have you taken him to see a doctor? He doesn’t seem well, mentally or physically,” the wife said in a worried tone.
“No,” I replied quickly, “there’s nothing wrong with him. We are a respectable family and there is nothing wrong with him or any of us.”
“Your disregard for your son’s well-being concerns me, Meredith,” the boss replied. “It is clear that you are letting your arrogance and insecurities push you into a state of denial about your son. I believe it would be best for all of us if we came back another time.”
“No, please, there’s nothing wrong with him. There’s nothing wrong with our family. We are a good, respectable household”
I couldn’t make out any other words. I was stuck in a loop, desperate for some kind of praise or approval.
“Call us back when you have taken him to see a doctor,” he replied and stood, offering a hand to his wife. She took it and looked with concern at me and around the room, looking for the disgrace that was my son.
Edgar offered them their coats and hats and, as they donned them, I saw Samuel peer down at us from the staircase. The boss tipped his hat at me.
“Send your husband our regards, and take that boy to the hospital.”
The couple left arm in arm and Edgar closed the door after them. I turned my back on him and hurried back to the bedroom. Bill was still getting ready in the bathroom, and I didn’t look forward to telling him that he wasn’t getting a promotion that night.
I fell down on top of the bed and buried my face in my pillow. I hoped that they wouldn’t tell anyone what a disgraceful family we were. I hoped beyond hope that they would keep quiet and not tell anyone that Samuel even existed. It would be better for everyone if he didn’t, really.
I heard the moaning start up again from the ceiling and I took a deep breath, closing my eyes. It’s just the wind, I told myself with shaky confidence. It’s just the wind.