“It’s been so nice not having you here,” Aurora wants to tell the latest one of Bennett’s guests to return to the house. The house that he’s made so hospitable to others over the course of the past year since they moved in. At first, Aurora was delighted that Bennett had finally decided to give up on his delusions of continuing to live in the city past a certain age. That he had done all his wild oats-sowing and it was time, quite simply, to leave drunken nocturnal rampages to the youths that New York sucked in like Winifred Sanderson breathing life out of a child. To Aurora’s dismay, however, it didn’t take very long for Bennett to style himself as some kind of Jay Gatsby as he proceeded to turn their theoretically “sequestered” Long Island mansion into a party haven.
Initially, Aurora was tolerant. She tried her best to swallow all of her feelings—her general contempt for others—by going along to get along. That was when the parties, and therefore the inevitable bevy of overnight houseguests, were still limited solely to weekends. And even that was torturous enough. Luckily, Bennett was confined by convention to be at work on the weekdays, which meant he couldn’t “entertain” from Monday through Thursday. Even if it felt like it was always Aurora doing most of the entertaining anyway. Often, Bennett would Irish goodbye his own party for no apparent reason other than this ilk probably bored him as much as they bored Aurora.
Yet Aurora, no matter how much at her wit’s end, could never bring herself to match Bennett’s rudeness and just up and leave to go to bed. To boot, she was obviously terrified this dodgy lot might steal something. So, sure, she was both entertainer and lone guard dog. Incidentally, she had considered buying a pair of Dobermans to guard the place from any guest who tried to show up. This was after the umpteenth party that had bled into the weekday. Gradually, the Davenports’ house had come to be known as, for all intents and purposes, a 24/7 rave. A sanctuary for anybody who wanted to get their rocks off at any hour of the day.
Aurora, not having the financial clout in the relationship to truly speak her mind at full force to Bennett, brought it up as “gently” as she could one early Tuesday morning, when the last of the drug-addled hangers-on had finally left (at her behest, which played on his paranoia that a ghost had been watching him all night; Aurora confirmed that this was, in fact, true and the ghost wouldn’t leave him be unless he fled from the space and never returned). As Bennett was dozing peacefully in their bedroom—the only room left that maintained some sort of order and cleanliness—Aurora approached his bedside and shattered a vase right next to him. The clamor awakened him with a start and he looked up to see his seething wife practically foaming at the mouth as she said, “I’ve tolerated a lot up until now. But I can’t take this anymore. I hate these people. I hate constantly having to be on my guard with them around. All I want is to walk around in sweatpants and not be bothered. Not feign mindless conversation with these gits. I thought the entire reason we came here was to escape from the drones and the party monsters of the city. What was actually the point of moving here, huh? You live more grotesquely than you did before.”
And with that, she exhaled her last breath in the speech before Bennett walloped her in the stomach. That shut her up quite quickly. “Mrs. Davenport, you would do well to remember whose house this actually is before you speak to me in such a bold fashion.” Aurora should have known better than to believe that Bennett might actually listen to reason, let alone acknowledge that this halfway house lifestyle was severely affecting her mental state. Bennett didn’t care about her, and Aurora wondered if he ever had. Or if fooling her into believing that he had actually loved her at one point was merely part of some master plan to have a trophy wife he could later control. For Aurora had bought into his sales pitch that, by giving up her steady job in middle management, she could finally pursue what she had always wanted to. And yes, she was embarrassed to say that was jewelry making. It was such a cliché. Marry some rich guy and pass off a “little hobby” as being an entrepreneur.
But that’s what she did, until the “little hobby” became too lucrative for Bennett’s taste. All at once, her jewelry was the hottest commodity around, featured in every rag from Bazaar to Vogue. This was not what Bennett had envisioned when he told her to quit. He did it so that she would be powerless, not become more powerful. No, no, no. This was all wrong. And so, using his sweet persona—the one that had been employed less and less over the years—he cajoled her to stop.
Aurora knew that the moment she agreed to do so, had bent to his will, he truly did become her master. The jewelry was never spoken of again, and she proceeded to dive into the world of playing the perfect hostess. For, back in their palatial apartment on the Upper East Side, Bennett had also been fond of having parties. Aurora had no idea how civilized these would seem in retrospect, now that she had come to know the horrors of their Long Island abode. What Soft Cell might politely call a Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, Aurora would deem a cesspool of neediness and numbing agents.
After suffering that blow to her stomach, Aurora found herself muffling her sobs in the bathroom with the sound of the water in the sink running. Staring at herself in the mirror, barely recognizing who she had become since marrying Bennett, she knew what she had to do. And that the opportunity would arise within the next few hours, when the party once again started. So she painted her face, put on her clothes and went to the store. The fuckers would need their alcohol supply, after all. Along the way, however, she made a detour into the woods, gathering the material she required to make the perfect beverage to serve in the punch bowl tonight.
Marveling at the life-changing abilities of a mortar and pestle, Aurora ground up the hemlock leaves with care and precision before intermixing them in what she was calling “Satan’s mojito.” The guests would love that. It would absolutely tickle them and their illusions about being clever and witty, as all city people found themselves to be. She placed the bowl at the center of the table, filled it with other assorted hors d’oeuvres that would go unappreciated and pecked at and then went upstairs to change into her “evening wear.” Tonight, it would be sweatpants and an oversized shirt with the image of Sean Penn writing “FUCK OFF” in the sand, directed at the paparazzi-filled helicopters circling his wedding location in Malibu.
When Bennett, still dressed in his work clothes upon arriving to an already-packed house, saw what she had donned for the night, he went completely red with anger and humiliation. But since when should he care? He never bothered to notice all the effort she put in for these dreadful affairs until she ceased to actually do so. Maybe now he could understand somewhat how trying it had all been on her spirit. Plus, she knew he wouldn’t lash out at her in front of company. Because heaven forbid they should upset the guests. The very unwelcome and unwanted guests.
Smiling her most Stepford wife-esque smile, Aurora greeted Bennett with a glass of Satan’s mojito and urged him to “drink up.” As she had urged everyone to, barely able to keep the punch bowl full as it was drained almost the second it got refilled. They were lapping it up. And soon, it was all quiet on the Davenport house front. Surveying the sea of dead bodies that could no longer make noise or ask for more or generally be annoying as fuck, Aurora realized something: the sound of silence truly was glorious. Unmatchable. Maybe, in a past life, Aurora had been a librarian. Or maybe she had just made the fatal error of attaching herself to a wife-beating extrovert.
One by one, she cleared the bodies and placed them in a mass grave in their backyard. Aurora, now totally content to be house-bound, can sometimes hear the phantom sounds of revelry when she occasionally goes out there to water the plants. But she writes it off as a symptom of PTSD rather than an actual haunting.