“I’m terrified of her.”
My Mistress had been lying in the Rose Parlor, in silence, for some minutes. Her eyes were fixed on the ceiling.
“To whom are you referring?” I asked.
She turned her head.
“The Bug-Eyed Lady.”
I had never met a woman of that appellation. I waited. It seemed probable that my Mistress would offer more information. When asking is not redundant, it is impertinent.
“One time, I was under the piano. The Bug-Eyed Lady had just gone home. ‘Why are you afraid of her?’ said Mother, bending down. I didn’t say anything. ‘Well?’ I still didn’t say anything. ‘I hope it’s not because of her eyes? You know, it’s a disorder. It’s a nervous condition.’ But … I just couldn’t say anything.”
My Mistress observed the ceiling. Like the parlor walls, they are pink in color. She closed her eyes for several minutes. When she opened them, she spoke:
“I was walking home from school. With a friend. She was supposed to pick up something. A package, or something. She picked it up … and we were walking home. We turned a corner…
“And there she was. Getting out of her car. When she saw me … she smiled.
“‘Oh my God!’” I screamed. ‘It’s the Bug-Eyed Lady!’
“She dropped her package, my friend. The woman… Her smile collapsed. She looked … as wounded as a person could look. Something in her fell down. She looked so broken.
“As fast as we could, we ran off.
“The next day, maybe. Mother came to my room. She stood there. She looked at me.
“‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself,’ she said, very slowly. She stood there a long while, watching me. Then she turned. She left the room.
“And I was. I was ashamed of myself. More than I’d ever been. More than I have ever been. I felt so ashamed.”
My Mistress closed her eyes.
“I still do,” she whispered.