The sun was desperately sneaking into the room through the curtains. Rachel stared at it uneasily. She could hear her husband breathing next to her as he slept. So peacefully he slept, she thought to herself; as if nothing in the world could grieve him the way everything grieved her. She looked at her lifeless, pale, thin hand. The ring felt almost suffocating. It had only been three years. She felt the inscriptions on it, reading the words in her mind; words her husband had decided on when he gave her the ring, maybe even when he proposed, maybe even before that when he thought he had fallen for her and she had fallen for him. These were words she knew as part of herself.
He was stirring in his sleep. He opened his eyes and looked longingly into hers. He smiled a loving smile and kissed her passionately on her lips. She smiled. That was how everyday started, she thought.
Soon the house was quiet. He had gone to work. Somehow Rachel did not want him to come back. She knew Martha would be coming soon. She knew Martha would be coming to stay permanently. She didn’t want him to see her that way.
Rachel went on with her housewifely chores. She cooked and cleaned and watched the maid. She knew Martha was silently watching her. She knew Martha had been watching her since the very first day. She had known since she had felt a pang in her chest; that bitter feeling that makes itself present when one is hurting. ‘What was it?’ ‘It was something he had done.’ ‘What had he done?’ ‘Something he had said’ ‘What was it?’ Rachel just could not remember. All she remembered was what Martha had always reminded her of. The feelings. Only the feelings, not how they came to be.
Thinking about it now, Rachel felt all the feelings were too much. They were much more than they ought to be. Where had they come from? Were they even real?
‘Yes. Yes they are real’
‘How do you know?’
‘I know you, Rachel. I know you better than you know yourself.’
‘No. You don’t’. Rachel could hear herself screaming.
‘I’m you, remember.’
‘I’m you, remember.’
Rachel ran into the attic. She had to get rid of her. Martha had to go. She had to get rid of her. Rachel had to go.
Martha took out the wedding dress. Rachel could see herself in every stone that beautified it. It just wasn’t so beautiful anymore. Martha took a pair of scissors. She tore it into bits. She pulled out the stones and Rachel saw herself fall and hit the ground with every stone.
She had to get rid of her. Martha had to go. Rachel picked herself up and ran downstairs. She knew Martha was following her. She could hear her laughing with victory because of what she had done to the dress. Rachel’s heart broke thinking about it.
‘It’s his fault. That wedding dress meant nothing to him. He doesn’t care about it. He doesn’t care about you. Run away. Run away. Leave him.’
‘No. I can’t. I love him. He loves me.’
‘No. He loves me. He doesn’t love you.’
‘He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t love you.’
Rachel stared into the mirror. She couldn’t see Martha anymore. She could only hear Martha. She could hear her laughing. She could hear her screaming, as if she was trying to break free. In the mirror, Rachel only saw herself.
She looked deeply into her own eyes. She moved closer and closer to the mirror, trying to find Martha. Was Martha gone?
‘No. I’m Martha.’
‘No. No. No.’
‘Who am I? Who is she?’
‘I’m his wife. Yes. His wife.’
‘We’re his wife. We’re his housewife’
‘He’s our husband. We listen.’
‘No. We don’t’
Rachel was suddenly exhausted. She slowly walked to the bedroom. Rachel dropped onto her bed. Martha followed. They fell asleep.
Hours later, Martha’s husband came home. He opened the door and looked for his wife. She was not in the living room or the kitchen where she usually was. There was no lunch on the table. The kitchen looked like nobody had been in it. The house seemed dead and dry.
He began to worry. He walked up the stairs and into the bedroom. There she was. Sleeping beautifully. She looked like an angel. He was her angel. He did not want to wake her up but he couldn’t help it. He approached her and kissed her forehead.
Martha woke up with a start!
He held her. ‘Are you alright?’ He seemed concerned.
‘Yes.’ She stuttered.
‘Are you sure? Are you feeling ill?’
‘No. I’m just tired today. That’s all.’ She replied.
‘Shall we go out and have some lunch, darling?’ he asked.
‘Yes. I’d like that.’ Martha replied.
‘I love you. You know that, don’t you, darling?’ He asked.