The Things They Know
Sophie L Macdonald
“Lisa? Are you okay?” I feel a cool hand on my shoulder. I stay on all fours for a moment, hands in the earth, until I’m sure I have finished vomiting. I wipe my mouth, and look up at it again—the white sign, reflecting in the moonlight, with one word stretched across it: Endwood.
“I’m fine.” I stand up. “Long drives make me sick.”
“What made you move away from here?’ Dr Pleasance asks. I have an answer for this.
“We didn’t like the cold,” I say. “Milton Springs is a bit warmer, but near enough that Sam’s work could transfer him. We got sick of the snow.”
“But aren’t you from here?” Dr Pleasance’s voice is quiet. “Hasn’t your family always been here, from way back?”
My palms feel suddenly hot, and I press them onto the cold metal of the Endwood sign.
“Been doing your research?” I say lightly.
She knows. She knows I was lying. She knows about my family—generations of violent deaths, tragedies, and accidents. I reel through it my mind: the things she knows and the things she doesn’t know.
“The babies in the snow,” she says, conversationally, “were part of your family, going back, weren’t they?”
“I don’t know,” I say and she looks at me sharply.
“I heard some things,” I say, “about bad stuff in the past, but I don’t know the details. I don’t know their names.”
“Are your parents still living?” Dr Pleasance asks.
“Of course,” I snap. “What are you suggesting? That I killed them? I’ve never killed anyone.” I cling to the sign as a wave of dizziness passes over me.
“We have to get to the farmhouse,” I say, as much to myself as to her. “It’ll get very dark here, and we stand a better chance of seeing him if we go sooner rather than later. I don’t want to stay overnight. We’ll find him and go home.”
“You’re so sure Matthew’s here?” Dr Pleasance is looking at me with an expression I can’t read. It almost looks like pity.
“He’ll be here, waiting for me,” I say.
“He won’t want to go home,” she says, climbing into the car.
“I know.” I get in too.
“Separating him from Ninny will be very upsetting for him,” she says.
“I know.” I point at the road she needs to take, and Dr Pleasance starts the engine.
I remember watching Pinocchio with Matthew. I want to be a real boy. ‘But he is a real boy!’ Matthew had exclaimed, confused. I laughed and cuddled him closer.
Are you a real boy, Matthew? Will you disappear in a puff of smoke when we destroy Ninny?
Dr Pleasance is looking my way. I realise there are tears running down my cheeks.
The trees hug the road tightly, making it feel as if we are in a tunnel. There is no turning back. We pull up at the farmhouse—our old home—and get out of the car.
“No one lives here,” Dr Pleasance says. “I checked the records.”
“The house is waiting,” I say, “for Matthew to become like Ninny.”
I picture a Matthew doll in the corner of an empty room. Will it look like him? Will it sound like him? Will it whisper to a new boy or girl about the things they must do?
“Have you thought that Matthew may try to surprise you?” Dr Pleasance asks. “And that he may try to harm you?”
“If it came to it,” she said, “would you be able to stop him? Could you bring yourself to do so, even if it meant hurting Matthew?”
“Yes,” I reply.
Dr Pleasance knows a lot of things about me, but there are things she doesn’t know.
As we stare at the farmhouse, we see a bedroom light turn on. Matthew’s nursery. The silhouette that appears at the window is one I would know anywhere. That slight frame, and tousled hair. In his hand, the shadowy outline of Ninny.
The front door is unlocked, and we walk straight in. I can smell something bitter and acrid beneath Dr Pleasance’s perfume. She has a line of sweat above her lipstick.
I lead her upstairs to Matthew’s bedroom.
“Matty,” I call, “it’s Mummy. I’ve come to take you home.”
The lights suddenly go out, and the house is dark. Dr Pleasance screams.