“After I killed my father it got easier, it made sense.” There was the merest crinkle of a smile playing on her lips as she gazed out of the ornate window, where the rumbling clouds flashed with sheets of lightning in the distance. “The storm will arrive here next,” she added, to no purpose.
“Miss Harbinger,” the doctor said, kindly. “Estelle. May I call you Estelle?”
“If you must. I never liked the name. But it is my name, after all.”
“Estelle, you’ve killed no one. No one has been killed here. You’re simply distressed, over-tired. You need bed rest for the next several days. I will prescribe sleeping tablets and your family will see that you receive the very best care. Soon this will all be forgotten.”
“I see,” she turned sharply to face him, turning her back on the window and the vast estate outside. “You think I’m a spoiled heiress with nothing better to do than tell lies and invent murder mysteries.”
“No, I’m sure that you’re not deliberately telling lies, Estelle. Young persons of your station in life, when they reach maturity and begin to realise the responsibilities they will shortly face, well, it can be bewildering, overwhelming.”
“Of course. Why is Dr Newson not here, prescribing pills for me? He’s our usual doctor. He always cared for me before. And he cared for mother on her deathbed.”
“Yes, Dr Newson and I are different.”
“I’m a specialist.”
“I’m… a psychiatrist.”
“Hooray,” she clapped her hands. “So, I am being taken seriously at last.”
“Naturally, everyone views this… episode in an extremely serious, though sympathetic, light. Your family is concerned about you, rightly so. But, you have to understand it was your father who called me in to see you, Estelle. He wants you to feel better, as do we all.”
“You believe there’s a plot against you?”
“No, it wasn’t my father who called you in. That would be a paradox – is that the right word, paradox? – if my father called you in to treat me with your pills and such because I happen to have killed my father. You see the problem with the logic of that?”
“Estelle…” his reassuring words faltered and he flinched as a flash of lightning struck directly overhead, the crack of thunder rattling the furniture. Hard rain could be seen and heard slanting down. “Mr Harbinger…”
“Now, Estelle!” he practically raised his voice, even if she was his patient, and an heiress.
“Mother explained it all to me on her deathbed, in private: our entire family lineage and what it all means. It was… ‘such a chain of travesty and scorn and judgement,’ she said. It haunted me to see her like that. It isn’t what she deserved. But… have you seen the rain?” She crinkled that smile at him again.
“Terrible,” he frowned, as he strolled across the plush conservatory towards the window. “I have to try to drive back into town through that godforsaken storm. It’ll be a struggle to see more than half a dozen yards ahead. The rain looks so dirty today.”
“Go closer to the window pane. It isn’t dirty rain; it’s red.”
“But…” Leaning nearer to the window, his breath made the glass mist up. He wiped the pane clear with squeaky fingers. “How would it…?”
“You see, Mr Harbinger is not my father,” she added, casually, as she joined him by the window. “It took me so long to meet my father. I searched and searched, ever since mother died, raving and eaten away as she was at the end. But I was determined. I inherit that from her, along with so much else. And finally the search was fruitful. I invited father here. No, I lured him here. This estate is a tempting lure. It’s so tempting that he decided to remain here as a guest, today, tomorrow, always. I lodged him in the guttering that runs above this room. Gutters are where he belongs. It’s his blood you can see now, streaming down the glass in that red rain that’s got you so bewildered, overwhelmed.”
“No, Estelle, that can’t be…”
“Psychiatrists are a lot like fathers, too,” she said and slashed the blade across his throat; still slashing as he crumpled at her feet, until her arm grew sore.
This story was written in response to the yeah write challenge #175 – This week’s optional prompt is: Have you ever seen the rain? The other stories in the link-up can be read by clicking on the image below.