For the next week the rich townhouse was draped in black, the mirrors turned to the wall, the front door dressed in black, as Mother wrote out formal black mourning cards neatly edged in black. We children were told to stay absolutely still and silent which was rather hard considering we were but children. So naturally we failed and Mother descended on us as if God’s angel of black wrath. A veritable banshee like the banshee I saw staring at the house at dawn and dusk.
I saw her first but everyone else insisted they did not see her but surely they had to have seen her. She was so very conspicuous. She was very bony and dressed all in grotesque mourning with a long black veil. She stood across the street from the house and stared and stared and stared. I would see her at dawn or dusk standing there under the flickering gas streetlight, just barely illuminated by that sickly greenish halo of light in the dense, clammy fog. And when she knew I was staring at her through the window she would stare at me and then she would lift her long black veil revealing a death’s mask of a face.
I told Mother and the minister. Everyone was bland. The minister ruffled my hair and said I was just upset. But then right after the minister left Mother suddenly jumped up and she pounced on me, grabbing me by one ear. She flogged me bloody, howling and howling and howling that I was the scion of the damned for only the damned could see the Devil’s own. Then she locked me in my room without supper. As I stared out of the window the banshee looked up at me and then she crossed the street and stood right outside my window and slowly pulled up her long black veil revealing her spectral face. Which was rather unnerving considering my bedroom window was on the third floor.
The minster scolded us each time he visited, explaining we absolutely had to be understanding of Mother’s shattered nerves and the excruciating pain of her grief. He made us swear to be good little Christian children of the Lord Jesus Christ. He would look directly at me then. Mary would snicker then and tell the minister that I claimed to have seen a Banshee. I would snare back the Banshee had stopped haunting the house! So there! The minister would wave his finger at me scolding me as Mary poked me in the ribs. Then he would leave and I would kick Mary in the shins for squealing on me. Then Mary would grab my unruly black hair and I would grab her smooth black hair and we would fight like cats and dogs howling as our little brothers wailed until Mother came into the room to flog us all.
Later I would pound the wall that separated my bedroom from Mary’s bedroom, everyone locked in without supper, and hiss why she always hated me. Mary would hiss back “Because Mother always hated me and loved you as the First Son. “Her dear boy!” Them Mary would hiss through a small hole in the boards of the wall, it being a jerry rigged house, Mary would hiss “Fuck your golden penis John! They only loved you because of your fucking gold penis. Well now Father is dead and now Mother hates you as much as she has always hated me. So there!”
Then I would press my face against the crack in the wall and hiss back “I hate you too Mary!”
I am so very sorry now. So sorry. So sorry. If I die I will never have a chance to ask Mary to forgive me. I am so very sorry Mary. I wish I could write a letter but even if I did I know you would just see my handwriting on the envelope and tear it up unopened and cast it on the fire.