by Stephanie Burgis
Some women talk to angels during their winters alone in the farmhouse. Others dance with devils, their wildest nightmares come true. When their husbands come back into the house for supper, they find their sweet, submissive brides speaking in tongues, mouthing obscenities in deep masculine voices. It takes months with Dr. Grace before these women come back to themselves, months of treatment with a starvation diet, months of bible readings and flagellation.
My friend Ellen was one of those women. We’d heard all the stories when we first arrived in the blazing heat of July, travelling together from Boston. During those welcoming parties, when all the farming families met together and the children played around our feet, older women took us aside.
The winters are long, they whispered to us; watch out. Don’t let your imagination run away from you. Don’t let your husband see, if it does.
They whispered the name of Dr. Grace.