Walls Of Silence by Ruth wade
Walls of Silence – A truly unmissable historical psychological thriller
The patient has a story that isn’t told and which no one knows of.
It is the secret, the rock against which he is shattered. Carl Jung
The Great War is over but for Edith Potter an equally devastating conflict is about to begin.
She is unhinged by a secret so terrible her conscious mind doesn’t acknowledge it.
It is 1927 and Dr Stephen Maynard is using the new science of psychoanalysis to restore her sanity.
From his first meeting with her in the lunatic asylum, Dr Stephen Maynard is determined to bring her back to reality. During the long challenge, her disturbed behaviour forces him to confront his limitations – already severely stretched by the presence of someone prepared to use whatever weapons they can to ensure she maintains her silence.
EAST SUSSEX, ENGLAND
WINTER SOLSTICE 1927
Voluntary action is to be sharply discriminated from impulsive action, and deliberation from conflict of impulsive tendencies.
He is so close she can smell his cologne. It has the same spicy vegetation fragrance as the rope. The rope that is around her neck, chafing her skin and pulling at the hairs entangled in its braid. The chair beneath her stockinged feet is smooth, the wood unyielding under her heels.
Please don’t ask me to do this.
He registers no surprise that she’s spoken. Perhaps the words have stuck in her throat. Or perhaps she is dead already and this is one of those end-of-the-tunnel moments she’d read about. Only she can feel the soft breeze on her skin, hear an owl screeching off into the distance. Sense the passing of time. She licks her lips.
Edward, I don’t want to. I thought I did, but I don’t.
He is stroking her face now, a curved-knuckle slide from cheekbone to chin. It’s been such a long time since a man touched her. Will they finally take things further? Consummate the stretched-out longing that had prickled under her skin for decades.
‘Self-murder is not an ignoble act, Edith, because it originates from a position of power. Of control. Of choice.’
I no longer choose to do this!
Her voice is like thunder in her ears. His expression remains calm. She could move. Reach out her hand. Feel his flesh beneath his shirt. Show him that is what she craves. That she still loves him despite everything. Always has, and always will. He is too much a part of her not to. Except her arms are like tree trunks at her side. Extensions of the thick branch above her head. The one he’s looped the rope around.
‘There is no other way; you know that, don’t you? Betrayal is the worst of all the sins they left out of the Bible. Could it be that God didn’t see fit to mention it because He didn’t consider it deadly? But I do. Because of you they’ll extinguish my existence without a second thought. A judicial killing. An eye for an eye. And that’s hardly fair as I don’t consider I’ve done anything wrong. I’d put in a plea of self-defence if they’d let me. But they won’t. The stars are out already, Edith. Can you see them? I took the trouble once to learn the constellations but many of the patterns and shapes elude me.’
He steps away from under the holm oak’s thick canopy, lowers himself onto the snow-covered ground and lies there, his hands behind his head, elbows bent, as if moon-bathing.
‘It’s as well you don’t move for now, so I’ll describe those I can remember. There’s the three in a line – Orion’s Belt – and above that is Gemini, the twins holding hands into eternity, Castor and Pollox as their heads. Which is the girl and which is the boy, I wonder? They’ve different shapes so they must be one of each … Then if you allow your eye to travel back to Orion, to the left you’ll find the bright and showy Sirius commonly known as the Dog Star because it forms part of Canis Major. I’ve heard it said by fools and madmen that your future is written in the stars. There’s a little patch of empty sky directly above the cottage’s chimney. I’d like to think of it as reserved especially for you – your light, your essence. Except it will shine brighter than all those around because we are kindred spirits, entwined souls, and when I join you our star will blaze with the power of two lives cut short. Two energies that never lived long enough on this earth to burn themselves out.’
I can save you. Let me save you. I can take the blame. I’ll tell them that it was all my doing. That I misled them in my confusion. You’ll be free, and they might find it in their hearts to spare me because of … because of … They know the truth now. I’ve always known, deep down I’ve always known.
‘Do you have any last words for the world at large, Edith? Maybe I should have insisted you leave a note setting out all those things you are so sorry for. People like to be able to wrap things up with a neat apology, and they do say confession is good for the soul. The Papists believe a deathbed repentance the most precious of the lot but I’m of the mind it comes down to trying to get in God’s good books at the very last minute. A cowardice of conviction. Or lack thereof. Only none of us can know that for sure, can we? I mean, we get but one stab at shuffling off this mortal coil and no one has ever come back to tell us what fate awaited them on the other side – despite what a fantasist like that duffer Conan Doyle might delude himself with. Nevertheless, you still have time to clear your conscience over the spilling of our secret. For which you are wholly responsible and I should like to hear you admit the fact.’
I’m sorry, Edward. I’m truly, truly sorry. But I wasn’t myself, I was ill. They locked me up and gave me drugs. The doctor kept pressing me to tell him things, playing tricks with my mind, and I have no idea what I said. If I did tell them about you then it was an unwilling act under duress. I promise I’ve never intentionally done anything to harm you. Why would I? How could I? And haven’t I been made to suffer enough already for everything that’s happened?
She watches him move his long limbs in a languid stretch. Then he gets to his feet, listing slightly as the muscles in his gammy leg take their share of his weight.
‘This is for the best, Edith. The best for the both of us. Far neater than any other ending I can imagine – you, too, I expect. Although I don’t believe you ever possessed the same breadth of vision I did. See this as a simple matter of returning things from whence they came. Equations have to be balanced and two into one just won’t go. That’s more your area of expertise than mine but even mathematics-dunces like myself can appreciate the impossibility of splitting certain fractions evenly. We need to keep things whole. The circle cries out to be completed. One shatters perfect harmony at one’s peril …’
She listens to his voice growing softer as he increases the distance between them.
Until we are reunited, my dear Edward.
And she steps off the chair.
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