Sarah is a journalist for a small town weekly newspaper. She is currently enrolled in journalism classes, working toward her B.A. degree.
The Story of a Lifetime
Brently Mallard was reportedly killed in a train crash. His friend Richards had received the tragic news at the newspaper office where he worked.
Fortunately, Mr. Mallard was nowhere near the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, he had not returned home before the news of his death had reached his wife.
His wife, Louise Mallard, had a serious heart condition. But it wasn’t the news of his death that would be the cause of her demise, but, instead, it was the surprise of his returning from the dead that sent her over the edge.
Joy that kills
She passed in the arms of her sister, Josephine, with Mr. Mallard and his friend, Richards, looking on. It was a swift and painless death.
“Of joy that kills.” that is what the doctor declared, as he pronounced her dead.
He wept silently, alone in his room. In the room, they shared together.
Into the roomy armchair, that stood facing the window, he sank. It was here, that only hours before, his wife had sat, recreating the news of his death. He was travel-worn and despondent, having lost the only one he had ever loved.
The treetops were waving their new spring leaves, high in the blue skies. The rain was falling, in spite of the sunshine. The streets below were empty, with the exception of a few umbrellas here and there running for refuge. All was silent, even the birds were hiding from the showers.
The clouds seemed to be dissipating quickly, showing bright blue skies.
You are free
She was so young, with a beautiful face, which showed the strength that she possessed. Now, her eyes were unseeing. She could no longer see the blue skies, nor could she ever have another thought.
However, he had thoughts. He had thoughts that were haunting him, creeping into his mind, with the sound of the falling rain.
As his breathing became shallow, he fought these thoughts that were so poignant to him. But his mind would not let go, for he did not have the power to expel them.
When he finally accepted the contemplations, he began to say, over and over again, “You are free, you are free, you are free!” A vacant stare and a look of terror came to his eyes. They were unseeing and dull. He became chilled to the bone causing every inch of his body to shiver.
He knew, without a question, that she would have been joyful to have him dead, would have easily moved on with her life without him.
He had only shown her tenderness. He had loved her with all his being. Now, he had to face a lifetime without her. But he knew she would have welcomed a life without him, joyfully.
He would have no one to live for, in the coming years. Nonetheless, he would not be imposing his will on her anymore, as she is as liberated as a bird now. He expressed nothing but honorable intentions for her. Yet she felt that she was in a cage.
He loved her, yet she had not returned that love. What does it matter, now? She was at last free of her imprisonment. Only he was left to pick up the fragments. Alone.
“Free, body and soul, you are free.” He whispered, to her ghost.
Because her joy was killed
Richards stood by the locked door, lightly knocking, “Brently, please open the door. What are you doing? The Coroner is here.”
Mr. Mallard stared vacantly out the window. Thinking only of the empty life he would have with his beloved gone.
His mind ran forward of the days ahead. Weeks, months, years, all the seasons to come. He thought with a tremor at how long they will be.
He finally rose from the chair and answered the door to Richards persistence. With impassiveness in his eyes, he carried himself like an old man, slumped with age. Richards placed his hands upon Mr. Mallard’s shoulder, and together they descended the stairs, where the coroner and Josephine stood waiting for them at the bottom.
He bequeathed his last farewell to his wife, as Josephine cried on his shoulders and Richards stood by his side for support.
Yes, the doctors said she died of heart disease---of joy that kills. But he knew she died because her joy was killed.