The cruelty of the sunlight had given way, finally, to the clouds that felt like they were becoming precious these days. The morning always seemed to gleam with a kind of vicious judgement of her. One that she did not particularly appreciate and it caused her to take shelter from its malicious gaze in any way she could muster. Unfortunately, time wasted while she eventually fell back to the bliss of dead sleeps that sometimes took her to the afternoon. Waking in the morning had become a chore and though she was not accustomed to having to wake earlier in the day, Caroline found it undignified to sleep as late as she had been. It had been necessary for the later nights that she had found herself keeping. The regrettable company as well. He was a bad man and she knew it but the end result was for the better of the situation. He provided her with the wine and the price was not always something she cared to pay but it got her the result she wanted. Some nights he wanted money and others he wanted other things. Regrettable, she knew, but necessary. Some of that money needed to be saved for the children. They needed to be considered eventually and when these mad days had come to an end, she could not justify having lost them a decent life for something as petty as virtue. No, only the children mattered. She cared little about anything else at this point.
It had been little more than a week since she had sent her letters. She had yet to hear anything more about them and had hardly ventured from her room since. These things take time, she promised herself for days now. It was not as though she could expect Victor to react immediately to what he saw. He was likely to be confused or perhaps a little bit dazed. He was such a sensitive sort.
Caroline felt a flutter in her heart that made her feel a stab of anxiety. Something that had a sharp enough feel to it that the sensation made its way through the fog of the wine. Victor was so very sensitive to new things. To being told no. He had quite the temper on him and it had made him unruly as a child. A beautiful mind warped by the kind of violent need for attention that it sometimes alarmed her. It should have. She should have known that his temper might harm the family. Might harm those children eventually. It had been left unchecked for so long. Left to create chaos where there should have been discipline and now there was so much to clean up. So many times he’d left destruction in his wake. He could not be left like this or it would spell disaster. She knew, through the haze of her current state, that he must be reached in more than one way. He must be taught a lesson but he must first be caught. She must make sure that he did not harm himself further than he had already. He was so very young. He needed so much more guidance than they thought and now he was on the verge of ruin. She could hardly move right now for all her activities that should best not be mentioned and yet she could not stay idle. It was as though she were pushed by her own mind to get up and soon, though she felt sickened and drowsy, she found a pen in her hand and a few final scraps of paper that she’d taken from the house. Barely able to keep her eyes upon the page, she allowed the blur of black lines to create patterns in the ink and when the letter was finished, she quickly pushed it into an envelop to await its final destination. Once relieved of her chore, she retired back to the bed and fell into a dead sleep.
The whole of the later morning, she was tormented with horrid dreams. She saw the deplorable state that their beloved home in France had fallen to. From the outside, she could see the might of the door had given way despite knowing that the oak it had been carved from could never have rotted so fast. Within the blink of an eye, she stood in the darkened parlor of their childhood home, the twinkle of piano keys sounding somewhere distantly. She shuddered at the thought. Only Mireille had ever played that wretched thing. She had died long ago after Mother had succumbed to death. It was a darkened wound upon her soul as she walked solemnly through the empty room, walking the familiar layout towards the stairs and up to the master bedroom. The open door greeted her with a breeze that made her shudder in her slumber. Her father had been reduced to a shadow of his former self and it was even colder in his room as she approached, lilies clutched in her trembling hands. Within an instant, she was staring down at his ashen face, his lips like wax and only the barest hint of color left in them. He was muttering in breathless tones, his mighty voice reduced to a crackle that made her tender heart ache. She leaned down to hear his words and offer comfort but his hand quickly grasped her arm, tight enough to bruise it. The strength of a man on his death bed clinging to life held hard enough to make her whimper out loud. The lilies dashed to the floor, her father looked into her eyes, his lips trembling in terror. His eyes were wide with an accusatory look as he seemed to stare straight into her soul. He blurted out something with such violence that it woke her instantly and she dashed it immediately from her mind as she turned into her pillow and wept.
Morning was now long gone and the dimmer light of afternoon was giving way to evening. Her head was pounding in time with her stammering heart. Sobriety had been a wicked guest and though it was tempting to find herself the rest of her bottle, she knew that it must be saved for now. She had plans to keep it going further and there was more time needed for that. Besides, she got the very urgent feeling in her chest that something needed to be done today. Something important.
She cast a look towards the small table that had been both her dining table and her desk, surprised to find that there was a small envelop sitting there waiting for her. She turned it over in her hands. It was addressed to Victor’s house but not to him. She did not recognize the name at all and even the writing seemed a bit on the strange side for her. Clearly she must have written it. Perhaps it was done last night during her fog brought about by the wine? She could not recall. For a brief moment, she thought about opening it but it would have been a waste of an envelop to open it now. She had so few left that it was important not to create more waste than needed. Still, she could not recall what she had written and it bothered her. For that second, she had decided to throw the cursed thing away and be done with it but no sooner did she think of this that her head made her body shudder with the sudden pain the pierced her skull. Dropping the letter back on the table, she clutched at her head and forgot everything in that instant other than the torment. It only lasted a moment but the aftermath had left her trembling and almost fearful. As though the rest of her body were part of this vile mutiny, her stomach began to cramp horribly, leaving her hobbling in torment. She could barely think straight and was of no mind to make a decision about it now, she reasoned. Leaving the letter on the table that she’d come to hate for all it wasn’t, she backed away from everything in front of her and instead found her bottle.
Hidden under the bed, it was still about half full. It was nowhere near as potent but it would help. She only needed one more glass. One to kill the pain and the memories. She found her glass in the bathroom and filled the rinse cup only about a quarter before replacing the bottle. She felt a stab of guilt as the bitter wine touched her lips but it was nothing in the face of the relief of forgetting.