The Tragedy of Mrs Whitfield (or how I handle rejection).

I am very proud of myself for how good I am getting at rejection. I just got rejected by the First Line Literary Journal and I feel great. I usually don’t write prose so putting together words in some sort of competent and legible order is always a welcomed challenge. Bonus! I now get to share my rejected  story with you. For those of you unfamiliar with the First Line Literary Magazine, they take submissions every trimester but your story must start with the first line they provide. For this winter rejection, um… Submission; the line was George pressed the call button and said, “Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.”

On a side note, I am still waiting for my rejection letter from 2000 AD. I hope it gets here soon so that I can get my next rejection going.

The Tragedy of Mrs. Whitfield

by

Nico Izambard

George pressed the call button and said, “Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.”

Victoria Whitfield refused to answer. She knew it was just another one of his tricks. He wanted her to come down to the kitchen so that he could feed her soup and take little Angelica away from her. For the past three days, he had been relentless. She was not going to give in. She was going to stay in her bedroom forever, just her and her daughter; or, at least, until Henry returns.

“Mrs. Whitfield?” he insisted, “Doctor Murray is here and would like to see you.”

“Ha!” Victoria exclaimed loudly. She was sitting on her bed, her legs coiled up under her behind like a small garden snake ready to bite. “Dr. Murray is on vacation,” she said, thinking out loud, “He went to California to see his daughter and get a tan. Does he really think I’m gonna fall for that one?” She had had enough of George’s lies and ran towards the intercom. She smacked her dry lips against the intercom and pushed hard on the call button. “Doctor Murray is getting a tan!” she said between tight teeth. “Leave us alone, George, we don’t want any of your soup. Just stop. You’re gonna wake the baby up!”

“Mrs. Whitfield…” George sighed. “Doctor Murray is here to help you. I’m sorry but… we are coming up”.

Victoria was not scared of his threats. She had been planning. If push came to shove, she and Angelica would jump down from the balcony and run for the nearby woods. She had it all worked out. She heard that the forests of the Pacific Northwest were full of animals and fruits, a true wild west, with more than enough natural resources for their sustenance. She would build a tree house for her and Angelica in one of the tall pine trees. They would pick cherries and peaches, hunt rabbits and squirrels, fish trout and Chinook salmon. They would live and sleep and eat in peace, away from George and his ungodly soup. Yesterday, he even had tried to force the door open to give her a peanut butter sandwich. Did he really think she was that stupid? Like she was going to fall for that one… No, no, she had to be strong. She was going to protect her baby from harm, no matter what.

She got up to check on Angelica who was quiet in her cradle. Victoria could see so much of her husband in the baby girl. The curvature of her upper lip, her frighteningly pale skin, even the way she looked up sometimes, straight up to the ceiling as if seeing ghosts invisible to the adult eye. She would often sigh faintly as disappointed by some upsetting news. Victoria suspected it was simply gas though. The poor little thing was very gassy, probably due to George’s mediocre cuisine which had infected Victoria’s breast milk. Everything Angelica did reminded Victoria of her dear Henry. She was missing him so much. Mr. Whitfield was a successful lawyer. He had to go back to England to finish some business. He would never talk to her about his work and she did not ask. It was all very boring. He had been gone for almost two weeks now and had missed little Angelica’s birth. He was going to be back soon though and throw George out the door for his insubordination.

She could hear George’s footsteps and ridiculous whispers as he neared her bedroom door with his accomplice. They were conspiring against her for sure. Why couldn’t they just leave her alone? And who was that man pretending to be Doctor Murray?

They knocked on the door.

“Mrs. Whitfield? This is Doctor Murray. Can I please talk to you?” said the unknown man.

Victoria put her lips around the keyhole and whispered, “Be quiet, ‘Doctor’. You’re going to wake up Angelica. Now leave me alone, we’re fine in here. Just go!”

“George told me you have not had food in three days. Is that true?”

“We’re not hungry!” she hissed sharply.

“Mrs. Whitfield… we are both very worried about you. If you don’t come out, we’re going to have to call the police and ask them to break down the door. Do you understand? We need to see you so that we know you’re alright.”

“That son of a gun,” she thought.

“And what if I call the police first? I can say there are nasty intruders in my house. A violent butler who won’t stop trying to feed me soup and his accomplice pretending to be a physician!”

Doctor Murray kneeled in front of the door and looked through the keyhole. Victoria could see his preying eye behind thick black eyelashes.

“Victoria please, it’s me, Colleen Murray. I have been your physician for over fifteen years. Don’t you remember? I helped you deliver little Angelica in this very room only two weeks ago. Please be reasonable and open the door.”

Doctor Murray grabbed the handle, turning it left and right and left and right again; and pushing on the door and knocking, knock-knock, knocking again and again. She could not believe it. They were driving her insane! They were going to try and break down the door. She had to hurry. She gently wrapped Angelica in a thin blanket, making sure not to wake her up, and opened the balcony window. It was a chilly autumn night. She could see the top of the Douglas Firs in the forest across the yard, sticking up through the fog. They were so pretty. In a way, it was always Christmas here. She was going to live in the trees and raise Angelica with the bears. They would teach her how to run in the fog and through the silver salmon-filled streams, her strong little savage girl.

With the full moon, she could see what she was doing. She stepped on the balcony and gave Angelica a kiss on the head. She whispered tenderly, “It’s going to be alright, baby girl.” George and his accomplice had stopped knocking on the door.

She lifted up her nightgown and put one leg over the brass railing, then the other. It was not as high as she though it was. She could just jump and run towards the woods. She hesitated. Should she go back in the bedroom now that they had stopped knocking? She could go back and just wait for Henry. But then, George would not stop harassing her, would he? He and his goddamn soup and sandwiches. She had to go. Henry would know where to find her. He would follow her steps in the wet grass and dirt. He enjoyed hunting so much.

“Oh my god, Mrs. Whitfield! Please, PLEASE do not jump!” George yelled. They had come out through the living room doors and were standing on the terrace, looking up at her like wide-eyed little boys. The pretender looked a lot like Doctor Murray. Victoria realized that they had killed Doctor Murray before his vacation, taken his face off, and that man was wearing it. You could tell because it was all saggy. Victoria was standing on the edge of the balcony, holding Angelica with one hand and holding tight onto the railing with the other.

“Please, Victoria, go back inside,” said George. He was getting awfully familiar now. She had never seen him like this. He looked possessed, all red in the face with big wet eyes. He must have been sick or perhaps possessed by the man wearing Doctor Murray’s face.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? You’ve been trying to take her away from me ever since she fell off the changing table. She needs her rest, don’t you understand?”

The man wearing Doctor Murray’s face fell to his knees. He was begging her with his hands tightly joined above his head. Victoria smiled. She was hoping he was going to remove his face but he didn’t and she was very disappointed. Instead, he just moaned like a wounded animal, “Please, Victoria, for you own sake… please! I know it’s been very hard for you since Henry’s accident and now… Angelica… you must be feeling awful but PLEASE do not despair! We are here to help you!”

“You are some crazy person with that mask, you know that? Not to worry, I know exactly what I’m doing!” and Victoria jumped.

She must have been wrong about the height. It took her a lot longer than she expected before she hit the ground. When she did though, her legs collapsed under her and she lost grip of Angelica. The little baby bounced off the terrace tiles and rolled away like a big potato. Then, everything went dark.

Mrs. Whitfield broke both her legs and was institutionalized under Doctor Murray’s care. After three days lying dead in her cradle, Angelica finally got a proper burial. George went back to England to work for a proper family.

The deadline for the next round of submissions is in February!

firstlinenextdeadline

 

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