OH, HENRY

OH, HENRY

By

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

 

            Even though it would be a long walk for someone who was 90, Edna had insisted on being dropped off at the end of the lane. She assured Tina she would be fine; she had her cane. She instructed Tina to return, up to the house, in an hour. Edna was positive, by then, she would have found what she was looking for.

            “Wherever is Jeffrey?” Edna mumbled as she shuffled along. “He used to take such good care of the grounds. Lazy old so and so, letting all these weeds grow up in my flower beds.”  Edna paused at the front door. “What a fool I am; Jeffrey must be dead,” she laughed. “He was fifty when I left here sixty years ago. Where is my mind?”

Edna entered the dimly lit foyer and made her way to the den. As she stepped through the doorway, she sensed something was different. Even though she had not set foot on the old homestead for sixty years, her last memories, of this room in particular, were as dark and eerie as the shadows before her now.

            Her cane made a tapping sound on the wooden floor. A tattered carpet almost tripped Edna as she passed by the Victorian couch. A scuttling in the far corner startled her––maybe a mouse. Henry had made Edna get rid of her cats––he hated cats. Of course, just as she had warned him, the house became overrun with mice. “Even then, you wouldn’t let me get a cat, would you Henry?” Edna declared.

            Her hand brushed against the old armoire. She shuddered. “Oh, Henry, why did you turn so mean?” Edna laughed hysterically. “There was not much time and I had a breakdown; completely mad they declared me––still am, they think––that is why I’ve been locked up all these years.” Edna’s face took on a far away look. “Poor dear, they all said, he just left her; what a scoundrel that Henry!”

            Edna looked around. Her eyes were beginning to adjust to the dim light in the room. She glanced at the watch on her wrist. Tina would be along soon with the car to take her back to that place she was supposed to call home. “Oh, dear, the armoire has been moved,” she whispered.

            It had not been in the middle of the room when she had last seen it. She walked slowly to the picture window. The familiar red curtains, though faded and covered with dust, still hung from the brass rod. It had been an advantageous colour for the events of that night. The carpet was red too.

            Edna fumbled about for the draw string. She was going to need two hands to pull these across. She set her cane against the wall and tugged. The curtains squeaked open. Dust floated to the floor. Edna swayed with the dancing particles. She hummed her favourite song, “You Light Up My Life.” The one she used to sing for Henry––the one she still sang for him.

            Edna retrieved her cane and continued her slow dance. She lovingly touched the wallpaper. “Yes, here it is––the mural! Just where I put it. Such a lovely waterfall. Such a beautiful mountain.” Edna smiled. “Oh, Henry you promised me we’d retire up there in our very own log cabin. I couldn’t find a mural with a log cabin though.”

            Edna heard the front door open. “Tina, is that you dear?”

            Tina entered the den. “Is everything okay, Mrs. Jones?”

            “Oh yes.”

            “Do you mind telling me what you are looking for?” Tina walked over and put her arm around Edna.

            “I guess I can, it doesn’t matter anymore, anyway. I was looking for Henry.”

            “Oh, you poor dear, how could you think you’d find Henry here after all these years? You know he disappeared, without a trace, sixty years ago. Come along Mrs. Jones; I think you’ve had enough excitement for one day; I should never have brought you here.”

            A mysterious smile spread across Edna’s face. “I know they never found him, dear,” she said. “You know, dear, Henry always wanted to be buried on our mountain by the waterfall.” She laughed, as she caressed the mural, and then rambled on. “How are you Henry? Remember how nice you were when we were first married? But then you changed, and you were so mean, and I kept warning you––didn’t I Henry? I knew they’d never find you here!”

            “I beg your pardon, Mrs. Jones?”

“Oh, Henry, my love, I warned you not to make me get rid of my cats!”

            Tina fainted.

Edna was tired. She ambled over to the wooden rocker in the corner and sat down. She smiled and hummed Henry’s song. Tina would wake up soon and take her home. Everything here was in order. Henry was where he had always wanted to be.

           

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laurie Charlick
    Jul 04, 2012 @ 14:18:07

    wonderful. Surprising ending.

    Reply

  2. marycushniemansour
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 03:24:54

    Thank you – this is one of my favorite stories 🙂 and the first one that was published when I began writing my short story column for the Brantford Expositor

    Reply

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