Jessica this story contains sensitive material regarding mental health

Submitted into Contest #216 in response to: Write a story with an open ending that gives readers just enough details to draw their own conclusions.... view prompt


Contemporary Drama Crime

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

Jessica heard the mewing of her tiny daughter. She rushed to the nursery. "Mommy's here," Jessica crooned. She lifted the little bundle out of the crib. "You're soaking wet!" Jessica began the ritual

of changing everything from the inside out. She was used to the mewing turning into howling as the hunger pangs took over. Wet clothes disposed of, the baby was rewrapped in cozy clean blankets and the main event of nursing began.

Jessica reached for the nursing pillow and got cozy. The rocking chair had been a gift from her parents. Oh, she missed her parents; they died in an auto accident just six months ago. She still had trouble realizing they were gone. They would have loved her sweet baby, Susan.

The baby latched onto her milk engorged breast and began to suckle. Jessica leaned her head back and enjoyed the pull of her daughter on the life giving substance only she could provide.

She thought back over the past couple of weeks and how her life had changed. She had wanted children for so long. The doctor said There was nothing wrong, but she had almost given up hope; then the miracle of pregnancy happened.

Susan had Bob's dark hair what there was of it, and a tiny rosebud mouth. Jessica maneuvered the baby into burping position and then over to her other breast. Perhaps she'd sleep four hours this time. Jessica would've loved having the baby in her bedroom, but Bob insisted on keeping her in the crib. He's probably right.

The hall light came on and Bob peeked into the room.

"What are you doing, Jessica?"

"I'm feeding your daughter. You can't believe how wet she was!'

Jessica could see fear in Bob's eyes. "What's wrong, Bob?"

"Jessica we've been through this so many times. Honey, Susan died when she was seven days old." Jessica glanced down at the empty bundle of blankets in her arms. Her screams filled the house. She began to tremble and perspire. She jumped from the rocker and ran to their bedroom. Bob followed and threw his arms around her.

"Oh Honey did you have that dream again?"

"Bob it's so real. I could smell the stench of the her diapers and feel

her soft downy hair. She cried just the way she always did. Oh, Bob, the front of my nightgown is all wet again."

"I know, I know. this is the hardest thing either of us had ever had to deal with. I know it hurts beyond belief, but the doctors have assured us things will get better. Maybe you should take the sleeping pills they gave you." Tears streamed down Jessica's face.

"I can't bare the fact that maybe Susan died because I didn't something wrong."

"Shhh, Jessica, you know the doctor said it was SIDS and we did everything right, this just happens sometimes."

"But why us? We waited such a long time and Susan was a perfect baby,"moaned Jessica.

"Come one, Sweetie, let's get you a dry nightgown and get you back in bed. Here take one of these pills and we'll talk about Susan til you fall asleep."

Bob kept his arms around Jessica until he felt her breathing deepen. He laid her onto her pillow and covered her; hopefully to fall asleep, not dream.

I never in a million years thought she would take the death of the baby so hard! Maybe I rushed that a bit. She seemed to take her parent's car crash in stride, even though she she swore her father would never drive a car with faulty brakes.But the loss of the baby did something to her mind. We have so much to look forward to and we can't waste time "recovering." A baby didn't fit into our plans, even though she didn't know it. And how did she get pregnant anyway? The vasectomy should have clinched it, even though I didn't follow the doctor's instructions exactly. With Jessica's money we will travel the world, maybe even live in other countries. I want to hand with the rich and famous, drive my dream car, frequent the beaches of the Riviera, and eat in the best restaurants. I want to be photographed by the paparazzi, and have my picture in all the papers. But she has to snap out of this grief or the plans are ruined. There just can't be another accident; two are suspicious and three would be suicidal. It all boils down to patience, my area of least proficiency.


Robert Ennis pleads with the public to help him find his wife. He came home from a business trip, Wednesday, to find a For Sale sign in front of his house. His wife and her belongings were gone, and their bank accounts were cleaned out. He is fearful that her mental problems have gotten worse, and that she might be a danger to herself or others. She had lost her parents last year, and her young baby in the last six months, and was very depressed. She had been seeing a therapist who says he does not fear suicide, but her husband-band disagrees. He says she has been having hallucinations and needs medication to help her sleep.

Jessica is thirty years old, has blonde hair, is five feet tall and barely one hundred pounds. Her money came from her parents who died in a car accident on the way home from Jessica's baby shower. Jessica's parents, Chuck and Joan Wright were pillars in our community and started and funded many of the charities in the area. The also funded the children's hospital in town. Police have ruled out foul play but are concerned for her safety. If you have any clues to her where-a-bouts please call Malibu Police Department at 555-6000. Jessica's therapist, Dr. Linda Bradshaw refuses to disclose any information about her mental condition; but insists that Jessica is not in danger of harming herself.

Robert Ennis states he will take the therapist to court and force her to tell what she knows. Dr. Bradshaw insists Jessica has client privilege and she cannot or will not break that commitment.

September 18, 2023 22:17

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Michelle Oliver
13:25 Sep 26, 2023

Chills! You took a story about grief mental health and gave it a very sinister twist. Great build up of tension and the ending leaves us to draw our own conclusions. Well done and hanks for sharing.


Joan Wright
22:29 Sep 29, 2023

Thanks for your comment. I was working toward sinister. Glad you saw it. Also glad you could see the tension build. Thanks for reading it.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
20:52 Sep 25, 2023

This steadily grows darker as it goes along - very nice! We begin with just a new mother tending her child, and learn about the death of her parents. The first complication, but not insurmountable. Then, the phantom baby, the hallucination - suddenly this is a much sadder story and Jessica's reality is falling apart. Then, the supportive husband reveals himself as nothing of the sort. We assume he cut the breaks. We fear if he played a role in the baby's fate. And then Jessica disappears. Maybe he got rid of her - that's the obvious take, ...


Show 0 replies
Jeannette Miller
18:59 Sep 23, 2023

Joan, I really like the premise of the story and it's a good take on the prompt. It has some minor quirks that make it a bit confusing. "mewing" and "howling" instead of crying made it sound like she was nursing a cat and I half expected the bundle in the blankets to being a stuffed animal. The transition paragraph to Bob's thinking was unclear without quotation marks or some kind of intro like, As Bob laid next to Jessica, he thought to himself...or something. I like how you wrapped up the end. It leaves the question of what happened t...


Show 0 replies