The door was closed this time, so he knocked, praying that someone would answer. It took longer than he’d wanted, but finally, it opened. The woman standing before him was Eva. She looked at him oddly at first, but then began to smile. “You’re Susi’s husband, aren’t you? She said you would come for her. Oh, this is so wonderful, maybe you can help her. Oh, and your timing is perfect. We were going to have her taken to, well, to another place for her to heal. The doctor is expected here today to transport her, and get her checked in.”
Bobby was growing worried, “Eva, can you tell me what’s wrong with her? Will you take me to her?”
She opened the door wide for him to enter, and led him to the parlor where she had tea already made. “Please sit, would you like sugar in your tea?”
“No, no thanks. I just want to see my wife.”
“We need to talk first, Bobby. Susi is very ill. But the doctors seem confused about the diagnosis. You see? We’ve had some documented cases of Yellow Fever in town. Do you know what its symptoms are, Bobby?”
“No, go ahead. Tell me and then we can go see her. I’ll take her home to her own doctor, and then you won’t have to worry. In fact, would you call the doctor and tell him not to come?”
“I’m not sure it will be as easy as you think. You see? The doctor believes that she belongs in the asylum at the end of town. Bobby, he thinks your wife has lost her mind. You’re going to have to convince him not to put her there, and good luck with that. She’s acting very strange. At first we thought she had the fever because she gets these terrible headaches. I mean monster pain flooding through her head and into her body. And get this, it comes on when she hears the voice.” She looked at him for his response. “Bobby? Did she ever have any of these problems before she came here? She claims that it’s always the same voice but she can’t figure out what it means. It always causes her so much pain that she must be in bed, no lights, and no sound. But here’s the strange thing, there’s no fever. That’s why the doctor thinks that it’s mental.”
Bobby had heard all he could stand. It took all his will to remain friendly with this woman. “Eva, would you take me to see her now?”
“But you haven’t touched your tea, Bobby.”
He couldn’t believe she could be so crazy, but realized he needed to please her. He tipped the cup, and let the hot juice burn his tongue to get rid of it. Placing the cup down, he smiled. “There, can you show me to her room now?”
“She told me how funny you were. Sure, she’s upstairs.” She stood and led the way. They came to an open door leading into the room where she was lying. Bobby began coughing to hide the sounds his body was trying to make. He went to her, and putting her hands to his mouth, he kissed them, and then moved them to the side of his face. He didn’t want to lose her touch, so there they remained.
Susi looked toward the doorway where Eva stood. “I told you he’d be back, your brother is fine. Just look at him.”
Eva went to her bed, but looked at Bobby as she spoke, “My sister-in-law has been sick, Bobby. She was in a hospital, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. I had them bring her here. Bobby, I love you so much, and you know I love her as a real sister. I only want the best for you two. Bobby, have you told Mom that you’re ok? She thinks you’re dead, as did Susi and I.” She began crying, and looked at her beloved Susi, “He did come back to us.”
She stood tall and took a deep breath. Then she returned to the hall, but before leaving, she spoke to Bobby one more time, but she no longer had any knowledge of being his sister. “I don’t know enough about you to know if you are reputable, Sir. But, I suggest you take your wife out of here before the doctor gets here. He’s on his way now, you know.” She turned and left them alone.
Bobby looked at Susi, and asked her if she’d heard what Eva had just told him. “She’s weird, sometimes she thinks she’s in our family, and even thinks that I’m her brother. And, other times, she talks as though we’re complete strangers to her. Is she alright?”
“Shame on you for saying such things about your sister. I don’t understand why you’d say such crazy things…” Susi was cut off by the sound of Paul’s voice. It was a sound from far away, but it would soon get stronger, as it always did. She covered her ears, trying to stop the wave of pain that was sure to strike. “Bobby, it’s here again. Please make it stop.”
He finally understood. And he knew he would have to fight the man coming to take her to that terrible place. He had to act quickly. He swooped her up into his arms, thankful for her small frame, and slowly walked down the stairs. Asking Eva to open the door, he walked with Susi in his arms down the middle of the road. Oh please, Paul. Give me the time to get her there. The sound of Paul’s voice was more distinct, and Susi moaned with pain. Her weight was becoming too much for Bobby to handle when he thought of their child living inside her. The thought alone gave him a second wind and he was able to slowly run with her in his arms. He saw the train ahead, and he found himself running faster. “We’re here, don’t leave without us.” Then he heard the loud sound of thunder and the sky lit up. The rain began to fall in sheets but he still ran the best he could. He saw the man in the uniform through the windows of the train, and they made eye contact. The doors began to close and he knew he’d failed, but then he saw the uniformed man wave his arms and the cars came to a complete halt, the doors opening as he reached their threshold. He leaped through the entrance, diving into its iron gut, and laid his wife on a bench. His breathing was so heavy, he didn’t know if he’d recover. He heard the voice again, it was closer this time.
And then he collapsed.
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