A Story by Rachel Lawful

Ms. Masely was attending to the house, just as she did everyday except Sundays. This particular long Saturday, Ms. Masely was feeling uneasy, as she dragged the heavy wet mop across the long hallway of the Hillstone’s house. She was a kind woman, one that would never hurt a fly. She had deep brown and and dark tan skin, a contrast to the other bodies that roamed the house. She stopped for a moment to examine a picture on the wall that she passed everyday, but never looked too closely into it. She feared that if she were to do anything other than her job, she would be asked to leave. She looked into it, skimming with her eyes every body that appeared in the picture of the family standing around the 1969 Dodge Charger that sat in the driveway of the previously owned house. Ms. Masely tended to keep to herself, trying never to make loud noises and distractions that might upset the family. Rose Hillstone, who always dressed to impress and walked through her own house with her chin held high as if she was superior the rest of the household, did not show her affection to her husband as much as he showed to her. The tension in the house was always present, and Ms. Masely enjoyed listening in on the arguments and complex family drama. Ironically, the house was not dressed as a house that would be deemed troubled, as family photos lined the walls and shelves. Ms. Masely continued looking at the picture, every so often turning her head behind her to check that she was not being monitored by her bosses. She wasn’t quick enough.

“Why aren’t you working?” Mr. Hillstone said loud enough to spook Ms. Masely from her focus.

“Sorry sir,” Ms. Masely said, panicked, “I’ll get back to work.”

“You stick to your job. Nothing else.”

“Yes sir.”

Ms. Masely continued down the hallway, thinking about what would have happened if it was Mrs. Hillstone who’d had caught her instead. She thought back to the picture she was looking at, remembering the little boy, eight or so, standing with his arms down by his side alone on the right side of the photograph. It was Peter, the Hillstone’s son who had passed away from a terrible case of the flu a couple months ago. She knew everyone in the photograph, Jim and Rose Hillstone, their son Charlie who was off in college, the family dog, Benji, who didn’t quite get the memo to look at the camera, and Peter. She thought how strange it was that Peter came and left so quickly. She didn’t think about it too much, but today, she really got thinking. As she made her way down the hall, her eyes gazed at the other pictures to see if the other photos still had him in the pictures, but she couldn’t tell because she didn’t want to risk getting caught unfocused. She continued mopping the floors, thinking about how tomorrow it will be Sunday, meaning she was off for the day and would relax with, Louis, her boyfriend that she had been seeing for quite some time.

Sunday came and the photograph that she had looked at the previous day could not escape her mind. She had no idea why, because no one in the house even talked about Peter anymore, so much so that they acted like it never happened. Ms. Masley just assumed they didn’t want to be upset.

It was late on Sunday night and Ms. Masley and Louis were at his parents house, enjoying his mother’s home cooked traditional spanish meal. She always loved going to his house after a long week at the Hillstone house, a space where she could rant about everything she did wrong and keep him updated on the interesting conversations she heard throughout the house. Sitting at the table, she told him about what happened the previous day with Mr. Hillstone, and about how she couldn’t stop thinking about Peter in that photo.

“Why are you getting so caught up in this Peter guy?” Nick questioned, “I thought he died from a sickness.”

“I don’t know. Ever since I saw the photo, I thought what if he didn’t die because he was sick. He was here, and then he was gone. Boom. Just like that.” They sat silent for a few seconds, “Nevermind. I don’t know.”

“You’re thinking too much. You always do. Churro?” He held his hand out with a warm churro his mother made. She grabbed it from his hand and took a bite.

The next morning, she walked into the Hillstone house, determined to get some answers as to why the death of Peter was the only thing on her mind, as the house would be empty because everyone had gone to work. She entered the large front doors just as the cars were pulling out of the driveway. Usually, she started her work right away, because the sooner she started, the sooner she would finish, and the sooner she would get to leave. She immediately walked to the hallway where the family picture was. She approached the wall where she stood two days before, and her face went blank. The photo was gone. As in, no longer on the wall. Removed. Why would Mr. Hillstone take the photo down if there was no reason for it. She knew her feeling was right. There had to be something off. Mrs. Masley went looking for the photo. She walked through the house, looking through the drawers and cabinets that lined the kitchen and living room. Nothing. She walked to the master bedroom to continue her search. She had been in here so many times before to clean, but never considered looking through their private stuff. She walked into the beautiful, walk-in closet and turned the light switch on so that the bright chandelier lit up the room. She began the search behind numerous, hung up dresses and blouses. Pushing apart the heavy coats, she noticed one that looked familiar. It was Ms. Masley’s jacket, one that she left at the house a long time ago, maybe even five years ago.

She recalled the time when she came back to the house one Sunday to get the jacket that she left earlier in the week. That day happened to be one of those days where the house was loud and chaotic. She remembered that day fairly well. That day five years back, she walked through the house to find her jacket and listened to the loud conversation that was taking place between the couple. She walked into the kitchen to see a gun sitting on the counter, and the whole family deep in chaotic conversation. When the Hillstone’s saw her in the house, she was immediately told her to leave the house. She wasn’t going to disobey them, so she turned around and walked straight back to her car, no questions asked. Ms. Masely wondered what the story was, but she would never ask, and it never got brought up again.

Back in the master bedroom, she walked over to the marble desk that lined a wall in the spacious room. Slowly she opened the drawer and looked through the messy papers that filled the drawer, careful not to mess the piles up so that it was noticeable someone was going through their stuff. Pushing aside some papers, she found the photo from the wall. She picked it up and stared at the little boy. She continued searching through the desk drawer and found a letter addressed to the house from Charlie, the Hillstone’s son that was in college. The return address read:

Charlie Hillstone

3113 N. Woodland Hills Ave.

Rm. #312

Aurora, Utah 7904

She knew that Charlie was in college in Virginia, so she looked up the address on the computer that sat on the desk. She hit enter and the screen read, “St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center”. Confused, she opened the letter and began to read.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am writing you because I am lost. I am not meant to be here. Everyone that surrounds me is uncontrollably angry or is depressed. I am not angry or depressed. I want my life back and I want to leave. I beg you to please let me come home. This isn’t right and I want out. I have been here for two weeks now and I have not gained any sort of mental healing. I have accepted the fact that I am someone who needs help, but not like this, this place is not for me. I know I have done a terrible, terrible, thing, and I don’t deserve to be apart of this family anymore, nor do I deserve your support in life. Peter didn’t deserve it. I regretted it the second after I pulled the trigger. I miss him more than you know, as I’m sure you both do as well. Please let me come home. I’ve had enough, it is time.


Ms. Masley’s mouth flew open. She could not believe it. She reread the letter over and over again. This family is something else, she thought. Charlie should be in jail, not a mental hospital. The worst part, she thought, was the fact that the Hillstone’s kept it all a secret. She walked back and forth across the room. She took her phone out and dialed “911”. She listened to the line ring as she held the phone with her shaky hand and waited for the operator to pick up.

“911, how may I help you?”

“I would like to report a murder.”

© 2019 Rachel Lawful

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Added on May 15, 2019
Last Updated on May 15, 2019
Tags: #highschool


Rachel Lawful
Rachel Lawful

Phoenix, AZ

High school student from Phoenix, Arizona more..