On the outskirts of a large town sat a three-story mansion, Eliza was the wife of a wealthy and famous man by the name of Ethan Combs. He was a handsome, tall man with short black curly hair, he was very toned and skinny. He was very attractive to women on the outside; he knew just what to say and how to say it to woo the ladies. With one conversation he had the ladies in his hands like puddy. A handsome, kind man at first glance but deep down he had something sinister to hide.
Eliza, on the other hand, was a sweet woman in her early twenties. She was smart, kind and very opened minded as well as being rather outspoken on her opinions. She was also very famous around town, not because of her family name but for her personality. She was always bringing food to the poor, helping out at the chapel down the road and baking cookies for the children in town. Eliza has kids of her own. Her two oldest moved out of the house and went to live with their uncle a few towns over. Her youngest son Caleb stayed at the house with his mother and father who were also joined by Eliza’s mother and Ethan’s grandmother. Eliza was also very close friends with a woman named Angel, and she was always with her when walking through the town. If Eliza wasn't at home then she was certainly with Angel. she was always with her when walking through the town. If Eliza wasn't at home then she was certainly with Angel.
Angel was a beautiful woman who was in her early twenties. She had beautiful light, tan skin with long, light, blonde hair; people described it as being as white as the snow. Angel was Eliza’s closet friend she had in the town and went to see her often. Angel was fearful for Eliza’s well being as she was the only one who knew of her husband's misdeeds. Many times Angel would bring Eliza to her home to stay for a few days as she always prayed that he would change his ways.
It was early morning, the sky outside was a light grey, the clouds touched the earth with a light kiss leaving behind a thick fog. Eliza walked into the room and saw Ethan’s grandmother sitting there in her rocking chair looking out of the window. “Martha,” She says as she approaches her, she gets down on her knees in front of her grabbing her hands “I made some tea if you would like some.”
Martha looks down at her with a smile “I would love some, do you mind helping me out of this chair sweetheart?” Martha begins to get up grabbing her cane.
“Oh no, I was going to bring it to you. You don't need to get up.” Martha stands up swatting at the air.
“You think this old hag can’t get around anymore do you?” She says in a joking way. Eliza helps her to the kitchen, she opens the door to a large room with five cobblestone pillars leading up to a large crystallized chandelier, underneath was a large table that sat about ten people. On the wall facing the entrance was a large fireplace. The walls were made from wood like material with lights hanging out from the wall. Eliza pulled out a chair for Martha as she sat down. Eliza walked out of the room into the kitchen grabbing the big tea set on the counter bringing it over to the table where Martha sat. She started to pour her a cup as she opened the little glass container that held the sugar “Two sugar cubes correct?”
“You know me way to well Mrs. Eliza.” “Well, you drink it just like me Mrs. Martha” She sets the cup down on a plate she laid before her, after fixing herself a cup she sat down and began drinking her tea. Martha sets her cup down on the table as she watches Eliza pour herself some more tea, she notices the black and blue bruise that wraps around her wrist, at first glance it looks like a beautiful blue bracelet but looking more closely one would be able to see the finger outlines, she moves up her arm as she notices the little brown bruises in her throat under her ear. “I told him to stop, I thought he would have listened to me if not his mother, but I guess one can only dream.” Eliza looks at her with surprise,
“I’m sorry pardon me, I am not sure I know what you mean.”
“I hear him at night when Caleb is asleep, the way he yells, how he thrashes you around against doors and cupboards.” Martha reaches out slowly grabbing her wrist as Eliza flinches in pain. “What is it woman, what does he do to you? What have you done to deserve something like this? Eliza looks down in shame as the tears begin to fall into her tea. “Oh sweetheart, do not be put to shame for this.”
“I took away his whiskey throwing it off the balcony, he didn't know what I had done until he heard the crashing sound of the bottle as it hit the ground. He came from behind grabbing me, screaming at me looking down at what I had done. As soon as he let me go as he looked down I began to run for the door but that's when he grabbed my wrist throwing me onto the bed screaming in my face as he grabbed the letter opener putting it to my throat saying if I ever did another reached thing like that again he will paint the walls red with me.” Martha sighs.
“The apple doesn't fall far from the tree I see, my daughter was in the same situation as you are dear. No one saw what was coming until it was too late. Ethan saw his father beat his mother continuously till no end and every time he saw him beat his mother he would peer over to see a half drunk glass of whiskey sitting on the desk. Ethan thought that he was helping his mother by watering down the whiskey whenever he could but, he saw it made no difference because once his father was finished with that bottle he would just go open another one and keep on drinking till he passed out.”
“Martha, Ethan has never talked to me about his mother before. All he told me is that she died in a carriage accident, he claims the horses went mad and they ran straight off a cliff as she fell to her death”
“That’s what his father told us when he returned home from their trip but, in my opinion, I think that bastard killed my daughter and lied to us about the carriage crash.”
Eliza paused not knowing what to say, she began to wonder if her husband would do something like that if he would go as far as murder to get rid of her for good. She shook the thought out of her mind as Caleb walked into the room dragging his blue blanket behind him. “Good morning sweetheart, come see mommy.” He slowly made his way over climbing into his mother's lap. “Well look at him, he looks almost like you Eliza.” “You really think so? I think he has his daddy's hair and tall structure.” Eliza says as she plays with Caleb's hair. He gets down crawling over to sit on Martha's lap as she plays around with him ticking him. Eliza starts to clean up the table bringing the tea set back to the kitchen, she hands it off the servant doing dishes. She turns around heading back to the dining room when she catches a glimpse of her husband standing in the dining room talking to his grandmother, she begins to fix herself up making sure that nothing is showing or out of place. “Is that you darling? Why are you hiding from me?” She walks out smiling. “Who said I was hiding from you, dear?” She grabs his arm as she kisses his cheek. “How was your day? Was the office busy again? Eliza askes as she motions him to sit down so she can rub his shoulders. “I don’t understand how those men do what they do without going mad,” He says rubbing his face.
“Well, that's what happens when you are on the city council dear. It's a stressful job” Martha says rubbing his arm. Eliza scuffs, “How stressful can it be, us women are still oppressed doing all the work of taking care of kids and the house. And what do the men do? Go to work and come home getting drunk not doing anything to help out at home with the kids or the house.”
“And it will always remain that way stupid woman.”
“Ha! That is where you are wrong, be careful who you call stupid; do I have to remind you that I have a higher education than you. I went to school to learn something, not to go to sleep with girls and cheat my way through.” There was a sudden pause between them. “Watch who you are talking to woman and remember your place. Or need I to remind you where you belong”
“I do not need to be reminded of where my place is, I think that it is you that must be reminded that your place is not at the bottom of a whiskey bottle becoming a drunken mess but to be a real father to your child and a real husband to your wife. Because right now all I see is someone who is unworthy to be called a man, you are a whiskey bottle in the form of flesh, no more and no less.” Erecting himself from his chair he turned to his wife knocking her to the ground with a swift punch in her face. “Mommy!” Caleb cried. “Take him away Martha, Now!” He screamed. Martha gave the boy to the servant as she took him to his room. Eliza stood up from the floor yelling at Ethan,
“How dare you hit me in front of our child!”
“He will be fine, it will help him grow.”
“Grow? It that what you call it? Is that what your father called it as he beat your mother half to death!” Ethan steps forward as Eliza steps back. “Ethan stop this nonsense right now!” Martha says as she watches the unfolding event. Eliza moves closer towards the door trying to escape his grasp. Grabbing her bruised wrist he tightens his grip on every step getting closer to her till their bodies meet. She begins to scream in agony, trying to silence her screams he takes hold of her throat.
“Ethan, let her go this instant!” Martha screams.
“How many times do I have to tell you this grandmother, this whore will learn her place and who she belongs to one way or another.” Eliza manages to loosen the grip on her throat enough to speak. “You don't own me, I am my own being, I am human. I control what I say and what I do, and I will do as I please and you can't stop me.” He throws her to the ground stepping over her. “Oh darling, that is where you are wrong. You see that pretty ring you wear, that symbolizes that you are taken, so I do own you. And no, you cannot do and say as you please because I control you and this household.” He looks up to see Eliza's mother staring him down with rage, he slowly steps away from Eliza as he cleans himself off. “I am going out.” He says as he walks out of the room Eliza gets up going after him. “Where do you think you are going? You think you are going to pay a visit to your mistress whiskey again? Why not stay here and drink her here in front of your wife because you seem to love her more than your own family Ethan!” She starts to approach him grabbing his arm “Hey! I am talking to you!” He turns around slamming her against one of the pillars standing next to the front door. “Watch yourself, woman, the things I have done to you recently are nothing compared to what I can and will do to you the next time you decide to lash out.”
“The only one who lashes out is you, Ethan, I am not afraid of you and what you will do to me, do as you please with me but you do not go near my son.” He backs away from her scuffing and mumbling under his breath. Eliza remains where he left her as she watches him walk out the door, she stands there and waits. She hears the crunching of the wheels as they drive over the thousands of stones that lay on the ground. She finally is alone again as she slowly slides down to the ground weeping loudly as her wall of confidence and bravery against her husband begins to crumble all around her. Martha stands at the end of the hall as she sees Eliza up against the wall, turning to Eliza’s mother she tells her. “Abigail, go phone and tell Angel we bring Eliza over.” Abigail leaves the room to go call Angel while Martha goes to pack some clothes for Eliza. Caleb comes from around the corner as he sees his mother crying, running up to her yells “Mommy! Mommy!” She looks up as the black streaks of her make up paint lines down her face covering the cuts and bruises on her rose colored cheeks. “My son!” She reaches her arms out as he runs into her grasp she holds him tight and close. “Mommy, why does daddy hurt you all the time?
“I am not sure why Caleb, but mommy will be okay.”
“You better be, you are not allowed to leave me.”
“Not even to go see Angel? She will be really sad if she doesn't see mommy, you want her to be sad?”
“No, she can still see you as long as you come home.” She holds her son close to her as she starts to hum a lullaby rocking him slowly. Martha comes down the hall with a night bag with Eliza's clothes in it. “A car is waiting for you outside dear.” She leans down taking Caleb in her arms as she carries him to his room. Abigail comes down the hall towards the front door where Eliza is standing. Trying to get up she leans against the pillar keeping her balance; pushing her body forward she tries to stand. She loses her balance stepping side to side as she tries to catch herself from falling like an oak tree swaying back forth in a thunderstorm.
She walks to the car slowly as her maid carries her bags behind her, the driver tips his hat in respect saying hello as she gets in the car. Eliza looks out of the car window to see her mother watching her out the window as the car pulls away and out the gates. The black silk car moves through the dark town like a quite thief in the night; drawing no attention it itself. The driver pulls up to a dark grey house, the lights are off making the house look abandoned. The driver gets out of the car opening the door, he holds out his hand as Eliza reaches up grabbing his hand for support as she steps outside. The driver walks behind the car retrieving her bags when a small figure emerges from the house.
“Angel, is that you?” Eliza whispers.
“Yes, It's me hurry and come inside.” Eliza hurry to the door.
“Go downstairs I will bring your bags in and meet you there.”
She walks into the house removing her hood as she walks down the hall opening the door to her right. The stairs are lit by the light of the fireplace, she is surrounded by the noise and aroma of burning oak. She removes her black cloak revealing her black dress covered in a web-like lace. Angel comes down with her bags setting them on the coffee table in front of the fire.
“How are you feeling Eliza?”
“What do you mean by that? Physically or mentally and emotionally?”
“I feel numb.” Angel rubs Eliza's back.
“Shall I go make some tea?”
“Please if you would be so kind.” Angel smiles as she gets up walking to the stairs disappearing into the dark. Eliza gets up removing her clothes putting on her nightgown, she takes her hair down as it flows onto her back against the silky pink nightgown. She sit on the couch in front of the fireplace as the reflection of the flames dances across her body revealing the beautiful black and blue bracelet bruise on her wrist, her legs covered in scars from the cuts of broken glass she was pushed in leading up back to her neck and face as she was covered in marks as they resembled fingerprints engraved on her throat with a light brown color making
people think she was burned from cooking. On her face the more recent wounds of a now forming black eye as it formed around her eye as it winged out to the side of her temple like a permanent partial face mask. As she sits replaying the events of today in her head she is disrupted with a familiar deep voice. Panicked, She leans over the table grabbing the poking stick from the fireplace as she backs up behind the chair holding it straight up in defense ready to ram it through the body of the intruder. As she waits, the walking comes closer down the stairs a voice speaks echoing to where she is standing.
“Mother? Are you down here?” The steps start up again as a male figure comes walking in followed by a smaller female. “Phillip? Katie?” Eliza says as she puts the poker back. Katie pushes past her brother rushing into her mother's arms holding her close. Philip puts their bags down walking over to greet his mother.
“What are you doing here? How did you know where I was?”
“We stopped by the house to see grandma Abigail when she told us where you had gone,” Katie says.
“And your father?” Eliza says fearfully.
“Its okay mother he is still down at the bar drinking, I made the driver drive past just in case,” Philip says hugging Eliza. Angel walks down into -+the room carrying a tea set.
“I just bought this and I haven't been able to use it until now, I see you have found your mother,” Angel says as she pours the tea. They sit around the fire as Phillip and Katie talk about their studies and friends they have made along with other things. “What are you going to do with our father?” Eliza shrugs. “I don't know, I may just kill him.” There was a hush that swept through the room, the rain began to pour outside as the thunder rumbled. “You can’t be serious Eliza,” Angel asked in shock. She gave them a look of desperation mixed with determination. That is when they knew, it had to be done. Eliza put on her cloak as Angel walked to her room bringing down a black box.
She set it on the table as she messed around with the locks. She finally got it opened as an object wrapped in a dark burgundy cloth looked up at her, pulling it out she walks over to Eliza as she stands by the door.
“What is this?”
“Hold out your hands,” Angel says. Eliza puts her hands out as the object is laid in her hands. Her hands sink down from the weight of how heavy it is, unwrapping the cloth from around it a shiny object reveals her reflection as she looks down at it. She follows her reelection down to a handle made from light colored wood, she finally looks up at her. “A Pistol? Angel, why didn't you tell me you owned this?” Angel wraps it back up putting it on the inside of Eliza's cloak not saying a word. Katie and Philip come up from the stairs, Philip puts his jacket on as he looks at his mother. “You can't do this alone, we can't just leave his body there.” They both get in the car while Angel and Katie phones the household to warn them of their arrival. The car finally pulls up to the house where Martha and Abigail are waiting for them.
The driver opens the door for them as he helps them both out if the car. Martha and Abigail greet Philip and Eliza as they are directed inside to the dining room. As Eliza walks into the room she sees the mess from earlier that day has been cleaned up. She sits at the table as everyone files into the room. Nothing is said between them, just silence fills the room. The gilt floods into the room covering them like a warm damp blanket as it lays on their souls heavily knowing what is about to take place. Eliza finally breaks the silence “Where is he?” she asks in a cold emotionless voice. Martha replies “He is sleeping.” Eliza gets up with swift movement as her son follows behind her, she walks up to the second floor peering into Calebs room seeing his small body as he sleeps. “He has gotten so big,” Phillip says. She walks back down the hall and up the stairs to the third floor up to her and Ethan's rooms. She slowly opened the door as it creaks open, she slowly walks to the bedside standing over him as she sees him lying there sleeping next to a bottle whiskey. She leans down to the side of his face. “I just love walking in and see you two in bed together.” She says quietly in his ear. Philip walks over with a pillow as he places it over his father's head.
“Sweet dreams father.” He steps back as his mother places the gun on the pillow and pulls the trigger. A loud bang sweeps through the halls and rooms of the house. She moves the gun as smoke pours out from the barrel like a lit cigar. Wrapping it back up she puts it in her cloak. Eliza leans over as she grabs the bottle taking a drink. Martha and Abigail come into the room as they help Eliza and Philip wrap his body up in the sheets. They drag his body down the hall and stairs to the backyard where they begin to dig a six-foot hole they roll his body into the ground as the shove the soil on top of his lifeless body. They dig a small hole while Martha comes outside with a little oak tree putting it in the hole. Eliza taps the soil and waters the plant with the rest of his whiskey. They turn to go inside as Philip goes to sleep in his old room while Eliza sleeps in Caleb's bed. Weeks go by and the town begins to ask what happened to Ethan and his sudden disappearance, Police talk to the family asking them if they know anything; they tell them exactly what they tell everyone else. They don't know anything. Katie along with Philip come back home to live, Eliza moves on to find another husband. Every day the tree grows to bury their secret deeper and deeper wrapping it tightly in roots. Eliza and her family are sitting outside around a little fire, Caleb is running around the yard with Katie and Phillip as they try to help him catch fireflies. As the adults sit around talking about their lives Eliza's husband pipes up asking a daunting question. “What happened to your last husband?” The everyone stops, Katie and Philip walk over standing behind their mother as they all look at her all thinking the same thing. She slowly turns to her husband with a smile. “Oh dear, don’t worry about him. Somethings just need to be laid to rest.” the evening moves on as the kids get tired everyone begins to head to bed, she walks over to the tree patting it as she grabs the bottle of whiskey from behind it. She pats the trunk of the tree saying “Thank you dear for holding this for me.” she walks over to the fire opened the bottle as she dumps the whiskey on the fire putting it out. Dark smoke arises as the ashes sizzle, she drops the bottle on to ashes going inside. She looks out the window before closing the shades. “Good night Ethan,” she says and closes the shades.