Brookwood | Teen Ink


April 23, 2017
By ARuss, Cincinnati, Ohio
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ARuss, Cincinnati, Ohio
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She will be gone for 12 years tomorrow. Her blood smeared on the floor as she was dragged away from me. Her nails made grooves in the hardwood and the piercing screeching noise they made has never stopped haunting me. She was my loving wife and I was destined to get vengeance for the deeds that got her into Brookwood.
They lived on a small farm in the middle of Oregon in a sweet little yellow house with blue trim around all of the windows. As the powerful autumn wind blew the shutters flapped against the outside walls, the colorful leaves danced. The corn field was blown sideways and was flat to the ground. Johnny Wells had three kids with his beautiful wife, May. Jenna, Anna, and Sam played for endless amounts of hours around the lake and through the corn field. They were always chasing each other and prancing through the brisk air. Their laughter could be heard from miles away and so could their screams.
I woke up at 1 in the morning and rolled over, but no one was next to me. I heard a hum and a little beeping noise but it must have just been the wind. I slid my feet out of the bed and my toes touched the cold wooden floor. May must just be getting water, I thought to myself. I walked down the creaking halls and peered into Anna and Sam’s room. Anna’s sweet rosy cheeks lay softly on her pillow like a porcelain doll on a blanket. Sam’s face gleamed of dreams and happiness like he had never seen fear, hate, or loss before. I shut the door slowly, careful not to wake them.
I went up the stairs to Jenna’s room. She was older than Sam and Anna and was my absolute pride and joy. Her blonde hair lay over the edge of her bed and her blue eyes lay beneath a layer of sleep. I walked over and ran my hand over her long soft hair. It felt as if I were running my fingers through strands of soft silk. I heard something. I should go back to bed, I thought. May is probably back by now. Peering out the window at the sunrise with the crisp air flowing through my lungs reminding me of how happy I was in that moment. I walked into our bedroom and my beautiful wife lay there in a light slumber. Her hair framed her face perfectly. I climbed in and exhaled and watched the movie under my eyelids fade to black.

The Wells always went out on the lake in their backyard. In the summer they flew through the vibrant blue water and in the winter they swept over the glistening ice going in circles and dancing through the falling snow. In the autumn, though, the family was stuck inside their sweet little yellow house with blue trim around the windows. The lack of laughter and silence of the air left the family isolated in their own little box. Such desolation is enough to drive a man to the brink of insanity.
Days flew by in our little house. Weeks felt like seconds and my kids were developing into such mature beings. I lay next to May on a cold winter night when again I felt her loving warmth leave my side. She must just be going to the bathroom, I thought to myself. As I could not sleep, I decided to check on our beautiful children. This time though, it felt different. The air felt cooler in my lungs, the sky looked grim, and the floor was ice cold. It is solidified in my memory; I took around 15 paces until I reached Sam and Anna’s room. Their door was open. It was almost so open it seemed unnatural, not that a door can be more open than it should be, but it looked posed. It was not supposed to be that way. I walked over the furry carpet and the bristles warmed my toes. As I peered over the edge of the bed expecting to see my daughter amidst a peaceful sleep I saw nothing. A blank pillow, an empty canvas, a stolen doll. I rushed over to Sam’s bed to find my son had been plucked from his spot of resting like a feather from a lifeless bird.
I ran down the hall, growing more worried, as I approached my eldest daughter’s room. I touched the handle of Jenna’s door and the frigid metal pierced my skin but I shifted my focus to her. She lay there, asleep. I sighed. I walked slowly over to her bed and watched as she took in breaths, inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale… I exhaled. I got down on my knees to her. She was daddy’s little girl and I could not bear the thought of losing her. As I pulled up my hands to embrace her I felt her soft sheets on my hands. The warmth of her body faded. The bright shine of her spirit disappeared within my fingertips. I gasped in the cold air sitting up.
I was in bed. Confused, my head shot to my left and there lay May, tranquilly asleep in the bed next to me. A dream? How could this be? I felt the carpet… I felt the brisk door handle in my fingers. What was real… was I here in this room? Was Jenna in hers? Pain shot through my heart. I ran down the hall and up the stairs to her room. Bursting in, my eyes were relieved at the sight of her long blonde hair hanging over the edge of the bed. Trying not to disturb her I tiptoed down the impossibly long corridor back to my room. Every step I took filled me with the fear of losing my children. I closed the open door to Sam and Anna’s room after kissing each one of them lovingly on their heads.

The Wells lived in the middle of their little farm town. The yellow house was surrounded by many natural wonders but there were very few buildings. The closest neighbors they had were the inhabitants of the Brookwood Asylum. About a thousand paces from their lake. The happy family never felt the urge to explore in that area of the woods but the imposing building always seemed to be looming in the background. Using the Kirkbride plan, the building stretched over a large area of land with tall metal fences all the way around it. The fences had no sign telling others not to intrude but for some reason, people knew not to go in. The building had thin walls, thin enough to hear the torture and pain but not thin enough to escape.

The lake was starting to freeze over. The ice would get so thick it could support the weight of their entire family and all of their winter pastimes. In winters’ past, the kids would rush to the run down shed to grab their skates. Each year a new layer of crumbly rust would form on the edge of the sharp blade, but Johnny always helped the kids sharpen their blades until they shined. The shed sat near the lake and always appeared to be lonely. Its broken wood and extruding nails made the poor shed look sad. Time went by around it yet it stayed there, always. Fall came and the Wells got out the rakes, in winter, the shovels, and in summer the lawn mower. But when it came to winter that year the axe came out as well.
I lay in the bed with my wife in the late winter. That whole night we had fought. I lay in the bed with my wife but yet it felt like I was not lying with her at all. It felt as if she were in another place or not emotionally with me. As I turned over to pull myself closer and whisper my apologies softly in her ear I realized she was not there. The dream from before had been haunting me for weeks and I did not dare go through that horror again. But something urged me this time, more than before. I felt as if this time would be real and worse. I sat up in bed and felt the warmth leave my body each limb at a time as I emerged from the warmth of my sheets. Before leaving the room I pinched my left hand. If this was a dream I would have woken up, right?
I took the 15 paces to Sam and Anna’s room. I felt the floor move beneath my feet. The dry floor, the dry wooden floor. But as I approached the door it was no longer dry. It was sticky. Juice, I thought to myself. Anna always loved to take orange juice up to drink before bed. In the dead of night I couldn’t quite tell what it was so I dragged my foot across the floor smearing the substance as I walked. The door was cracked. I opened it all the way and walked in. My heart thumped and I breathed in the air. Walking over the bed my heart thumped faster and blood coursed through my veins. The blood in my body, the warm blood, was trickling down my side and piling up on the ground in front of me. Thumping… the blood rushed to my head. Everything appeared to be in slow motion and I felt a shooting pain with one quick blow to my lower back. I landed in a pool of my own crimson blood right in front of Anna’s night stand.

Everything started to come into focus. Cold. Biting cold snow. It felt like a frozen pillow of snow. Was I dead? Where was I? I tried to sit up but the pain was too unbearable. I found the strength to turn my head, slightly to the right. Next to me in the snow were angels. But not angels in heaven, fallen angels, my children. I saw sweet Anna. A rosy-cheeked porcelain doll that was thrown to the ground and broken into a million little pieces. I could tell Sam had watched Anna be thrown, I could tell Sam had seen the loss of the love and life of his dear sister Anna. His eyes lay open but yet blank and wiped clear of the happy memories in the little yellow house. I felt my heart strings clench. My children… my innocent precious children. I turned my head to the left. I did not want to see the sight I saw. I did not want to believe what I saw.
May. She sat there on her knees weeping. My hearing was slowly coming back and the soft noise of her tears grew louder and louder. My forehead hurt beyond belief from the noise. How could noise feel like a knife? I watched as she ran her bloodied hands over sweet Jenna’s hair. Her long blonde hair now matted with the deeply colored life of her siblings. May put her red hands on Jenna’s face and leaned down to kiss her one last time. Then she slowly brought her hand up and tightened her grip with her fingers on her nose and her palm over her mouth. I tried to forget the noise of Jenna’s breathing. Not when she took her first breath so many years ago, not the breaths I felt on my neck when I embraced her, but the very last breath my beloved daughter took that cold winter night by the lake.
The blood trickled down the snow leaving the ground smeared with their childhood. I watched as May dragged each one over to the cold lake. She picked up Anna and caressed her one last time. Anna was still alive. The light of life flickered in her soul, only needing a spark to reignite. But May took that away from her when she slowly slid her hand around her neck. She put Anna’s rosy cheeks under the surface of the frigid water. The bubbles formed and the sound of struggle ringed in my ears. The water began to redden from Anna’s sweet cherry blood.
May let go of her lifeless body. Her pale porcelain face drifted out to where she used to dance on the ice. But she was not laying on top, she was floating below. May stood up and looked around with this tortuous gleam in her eyes. She walked over towards my body and picked up something from near my foot. She couldn’t quite carry it but she managed to bring it over to the lake. I saw my blood drag along with the now clear axe through the white snow. She lay Sam down in the ideal location for her swing to hit perfectly. I shut my eyes and stared at the blank screen. I tried to hide the pain in my heart by not watching the malevolent acts of my wife.  I listened to the splash of little Sam’s head, then torso, and then legs. How could she bear to do that to her own children? How could she?

I feared what I would see next. I opened my eyes and looked up as she lifted up Jenna. She put on her ice skates. She tightened each lace one at a time and then she assisted Jenna, lifeless Jenna. The clean white skates began to become smeared with blood. She lifted up Jenna and slid her bloodied body across the ice. The maleficent gleam in her eyes never disappeared. She dragged her daughter's lifeless body across the ice while singing a sweet lullaby we used to dance to.
Beeum, beeum, bambabalow,
Bambabalow and didalidow.
My little friend I lull to rest.
My sweet its you that I caress
I love on you into the night
You sleep you sleep I hold you tight
But if you wake and I not here
Wandering will cause you great fear
The bambalow will strike you thrice
And you’ll disappear under the ice
Beeum, beeum, bambabalow,
Bambabalow and didalidow.
I tried to bring myself to my feet. I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts because my head was pounding so hard. My back had a deep wound from the axe. I could barely walk and began limping through the snow. My leg dragged behind me and I watched as the trail of blood from my leg make a stream within the snow. My warm blood melting the snow as  it hit the ground, staining the pure white with red. I tried to walk quickly without May noticing me. She was still spinning in circles dragging Jenna over the thin layer of ice that encapsulated her children. I rushed, feeling the thumping of my blood and brain. I ran, what I thought was fast, towards the sweet little yellow house in the middle of the field. I grasped the door and turned the handle exposing the long hallway in our house. This time the hallway felt so much longer. Each step felt like a jab with a knife to my lower back. I reached the phone and dialed 9-1-1.

The Wells winter was different this year. It wasn’t joyous, it wasn’t full of laughter, and it wasn’t the same. Johnny couldn’t bring himself to go back to the lake, it felt as if he were tied down in his bed, never finding the strength to get up. He visited May almost every day in Brookwood. She had received a life sentence in the asylum and Mr. Wells felt some sort of obligation to check up on her. Each day he saw her face he would break down crying, kiss her hand, and leave.
It had been five years. The tragedy ruined my perception of love. I felt as if I could never love something more than my children and my wife. But my wife took that love from me so how could I keep loving her? But I had to. Didn’t I? I decided I needed to tell her of my decision to stop visiting her. I realized, in fact, I wanted to finally stop loving her as well. What was left of the love? It was a ruined, tarnished, and destroyed. Thinking of my hatred made me awaken to what I had been forgetting this whole time. She murdered my children, she took away my happiness, she took away my love. Therefore she must pay for it.
Mr. Wells grabbed his brace and tied it around his leg. He pulled tightly in anger and slipped on his shiny brown shoes. He closed the door to the little yellow house and walked down the gravel road and into the field. He walked past the little brown shed, past the bloodstained grass, past the once blue lake. With each step, a fragment of his memories rushed back to his mind. The sun shined on the lake creating a beautiful scene but all he could see way his children screaming under the ice begging to be released.
He ran over and thrust his hands into the water searching for a hand to grab but alas nothing was there. He stood back up sucking in one last salty tear and continued along his path. He walked up to the front gate of the asylum. The tall daunting metal barrier did not bother him like other people. He knew what was in there and he was not afraid. The guards let Johnny in and he walked up to the front door. The tall dark wood gateway hid in the shadows on the bright spring day. He knocked thrice. Walking through security and straight towards the front desk he knew what he needed to say and he knew what he wanted to do.
“Hello ma'am, I’m here inquiring about one of your patients. I’d like to visit my wife, May Wells,” he told the lady behind glass.
“I’ll call for someone to take you back. Just sit over there,” she said as she pointed to the singular stool in the corner.
Brookwood was so lonely, almost no one came to see the inmates. Laughter never entered the doors, joy never touched the walls, but instead, the halls reeked of sadness and fear.
“Right this way Mr. Wells,” called the nurse on hand.

Johnny walked down the hall concealing a sharp blade in his inner coat pocket. The light overhead flickered and the room numbers only came into view when they were close enough to touch the doors. It felt as if he had been walking for hours. Thoughts ran through his mind. What to say? What to do? How to do it?
“Thank you,” Johnny said, once they reached the room, looking the nurse in the eyes. He made it clear he didn’t want the nurse to remain with him. The nurse unlocked the door and let him in while he stood back.
“I’m sorry there appears to be a mistake,” Mr. Wells told the nurse.
Johnny turned around from looking at the vacant bed. The nurse was not there. Confused Johnny walked into the cell. Maybe she was in the corner, maybe she was getting water, maybe she was going to the bathroom.
I turned over. I felt her warmth leave my side. The sheets in between us felt endless, almost as if she weren’t there. I opened my eyes. She wasn’t there, and neither was I. I wasn’t in the little yellow house. Where was I? I turned my body to the side trying to slide my legs out of bed but I couldn’t. I was strapped down. As I peered over towards my feet I felt the pain of the straps digging into my skin. How long had I been here? I looked at the thin layer of skin that was starting to grow over the strap on my leg. Why was I strapped down? Where was I?
Struggling, Mr. Wells clenched his fists and shook around trying to free himself from the tight grip of the bed. The dim light above him flickered as he stared up into the ceiling at Brookwood. The machine he was hooked up to hummed and beeped and his tears fell to the floor. He cried out for his wife, screamed for his children, and begged for revenge.
“It’s so sad,” said the doctor standing at the door. “He does this every day. Almost like a cycle. I just can’t accept the fact that such a sick man won’t admit he did such a horrible thing”.
“Did they ever find the bodies?” asked the nurse nearby.
“They were frozen under the lake by his house. The wife and both kids. He strangled one, cut up another with an axe, and stabbed his wife to death.”
“Did you hear though? He had another daughter. They still haven’t found her body”
“The psycho probably buried her parts in different places,” the doctor snickered and walked into the cell. He walked over to the bed and pulled the tied down patient closer. Out from his pocket he grabbed a syringe. The needle had grown a slight layer of rust.
“Sorry sir but we can’t keep you any longer with no improvement. Lobotomy was our last option but your condition has ceased to ameliorate so we must release you” the doctor put his cold hands on Johnny’s forearm.
The movie behind my eyelids faded to black and the film reel stopped.
The Wells lived in a small yellow house with blue trim around all the windows. During the winter the screeching noise of nails being dragged along the hardwood floor could be heard from miles away. The scratching sound of small fingers from below the ice will haunt your dreams. And the suffocating sound of the mature, joyous, long-haired blonde girl being buried alive will forever stain the sweet yellow walls of the small country house.

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