Early one October afternoon, Sonya received a phone call from St Casper’s Sanatorium for the Neurologically Impaired. The cold, gritty voice of the head nun, Tiana, growled out of the handset.
“If you wish to continue the current arrangement”, she snarled, “I will be requiring further payment”.
Peeved, Sonya walked to the bank. She had attempted to end this five years earlier, hoping a one off payment would be enough to convince Tiana to fake Martha’s death and keep her in the asylum for life, however it wasn’t. Tiana kept pushing for more and more, but Sonya had no choice. It was pay up, or have the whole family, this whole new life she had built for herself, come crashing down around her.
Sonya pushed the bills into an envelope and slipped it inconspicuously into the mailbox outside of the asylum. She snuck away, not noticing that Martha was staring at her through an open window.
“What is this?” screamed Martha at Tiana, barging towards her. “What was SHE doing here?”
Tiana stormed back towards her. “SHE pays ME to keep you quiet, fucking tart!”
“What do you mean?” asked Martha, raging.
Tiana rolled her eyes. “Let me spell it out for you, sweetie, she pays me good money, I stick to my story that you died here five years ago, everybody’s happy”. She glared at Martha and walked away.
Martha sobbed for hours that night. Of course she had wondered why her family had never come to visit, but she had reasoned that if Sonya could convince the police she was a nut-job, she could convince her (well, their) family also. But dead? Her family thought she was gone?
Bostram was a great source of comfort to her that night. He made her a promise. Looking right into her eyes, he said “Martha, one day we are going to leave her. We will run, we will hide together until it is safe to reach out to your family”.
She looked up into his eyes. For five years they had been having this secret love affair in the asylum, and still he made her feel the same way as she did all those years ago after the bathtub incident.
“I’d go through all of this again, ten times over, to have met you”, Martha told him quietly, lacing her fingers in his.