Olivia slowly stood up, setting down her cup of tea on the porch railing and taking two steps forward. “Just what does that mean mother?”
Harriet took several deep breaths before continuing, gathering what strength she had left. “It means that I cannot stand much more of raising that girl, and no more of protecting her from you. She is being sent away to live with my brother Wyatt and she is to leave with as much haste as I can arrange.”
The scream that emanated from Olivia was high-pitched at first, a howl, which then descended in tone to a deep growl as she strode across the porch. Olivia’s arms failed toward her mother, fingernails tearing grooves in Harriet’s face and fabric away from the shoulder of her dress. As she reached back to deliver a slap across her mother’s face, Harriet summoned everything she had left and stood up forcefully from the chair, grabbing her daughter’s arms and then pushing her onto the wooden boards of the porch. She had her pinned face-down and was trying to find something to hold onto that would give her better leverage when she saw the doctor striding toward the house. She shouted to him.
“The trouble has come doctor, hurry, as I cannot hold her down much longer!” Olivia was bucking underneath her, fighting frantically to get up and continue her attack. The doctor was on the porch two minutes later and knelt down next to Olivia.
“You must settle down now. Stop trying to get up as you are going hurt your mother. Stay still!”
Olivia’s answer to that was to grab his right calf, slipping her hand up inside his pants and digging in her nails. As she did so, she managed to wiggle out from underneath her mother, who collapsed on the side of the porch, blood running down her face and arms. The doctor proved to be of fairly tough stock, as he hardly reacted to the tearing at his legs, instead reaching down and removing her arm forcefully, then grabbing the other and pinning both behind her back.
“I do not want to hurt you miss; however, you must stop all this flailing around. Do you hear me?”
Another scream came from Olivia and she continued to struggle to escape.
“Miss, I, what’s her name again?”
“Olivia,” her mother replied faintly. Beyond the doctor, she could see Claudia watching with terrified eyes from the other side of the bush at the bottom of the porch stairs.
“Olivia, my name is Doctor Warren, do you hear me?”
The only reply was another scream, after which the doctor used his strength and leverage to maneuver Olivia to her feet and then pushed her into the house, dodging the backward kicking of her legs. Several minutes later, after more screams and one sound that must have been a slap, the sound of the struggle ceased.
When Olivia awoke later that night, the doctor still remained at her side. Harriet had only asked that he come over to deal with what she expected was going to be a difficult moment; however, he had insisted on remaining after seeing the severity of Olivia’s response. Although she knew she could hardly afford his services, Harriet was relieved to have him in the house. After tending to the wounds on her face and arms, he had insisted that she lay down and Harriet had gratefully taken a peaceful nap with Claudia. They awoke shortly before Olivia did and were also standing in the room as the doctor greeted her revival.
“Hello Olivia, how do you feel?”
After brushing a sluggish hand across her face, Olivia replied with a groan.
“Olivia, do you know where you are?”
She had appeared to go back to sleep and the doctor shook her shoulder while repeating her name. Finally Olivia opened her eyes again.
“I’m here, in my house,” she said faintly.
“Good. How are you feeling?”
“Tired. Why am I in bed? What day is it?”
Harriet started to reply to that, however, the doctor waved her to silence and continued with Olivia.
“Let me just check your pulse okay? I am going to grab your wrist here for a moment.” As he spoke he looked over and gave Harriet a look that cautioned her to remain silent. Claudia walked over to the other side of the bed and began rubbing her mother’s back, softly singing her favorite lullaby. The doctor released Olivia’s wrist and then bent down to look into her eyes, after which he straightened back up and beckoned to Harriet.
“You stay here and watch after your mother while I step out and talk to your grandmother okay?”
Claudia answered with a small nod and continued singing.
Once they were out in the hall with the door slightly opened, so that an eye could be kept on Olivia, the doctor answered Harriet’s questioning eyes.
“I am not certain that she remembers what happened and I do not think it is wise to remind her. It may well be that she has experienced some kind of break with reality, something I thought might be a possibility due to the severity and aggressive nature of her actions on the porch. I do not have much practice with situations such as this and you will need to telegraph to a colleague of mine, Doctor Fitzsimmons in Virginia, and ask that he come out and examine her.”
“Will she be okay? Will she stay like she is right now, or is that still just effects of the sedative?”
“She is still under the effects of the drug, although that will wear off soon enough. I shall remain here until she is completely lucid and see how she behaves then. If necessary, I can administer more to keep her under control; however, I would urge you again to contact Doctor Fitzsimmons as I do not know the longer term effects of these drugs I am using.”
…to be continued