Helga Olsen knew what lay on the other side of the bedroom door.
Rage. A battle of wills. A struggle she could not win.
It was better this way. Better to forget reasoning with Matthew and just let him bend her to his will.
She shook her head. Not better. Easier.
Reverend Quill would come today. Every Tuesday. Blows from the heavy brass knocker on the front door would shake the house. But just like every Tuesday, no one would answer the door.
Carriage wheels creaked and groaned out on the street and she could hear the heavy clop-clop-clopping sound of horse's hooves.
The bedroom door was locked.
Always locked. Light passed through the small keyhole. But nothing else.
Should she apologize? Again?
Why not him? Why not Matthew?
Still he hadn't threatened lately. The screaming rants had stopped.
But could she trust him?
Her stomach lurched painfully as she paced back and forth.
What was he up to? This could be another trick. A trap.
She pressed her ear against the solid mahogany door and listened.
Carefully she reached into her apron pocket and pulled out the long black key.
It was time to try again.
"Matty?" she whispered. "Matty, Mommy's here. Are you willing to try the potty chair again? Promise you'll be a good boy now?"
Had she waited too long? For a month now he'd refused to speak.
"Matty! Stop being so stubborn. I've come to let you out."
First published: November 2005
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