Dew had settled on Bertha’s shawl, seeped through to her dress. The damp drew out the warmth from her shoulders, making her shiver.
She glanced into the mirror, at the reflection of a wormy shed, the path leading to it choked with fleabane. Back when she was ill, she would have seen the shed’s lone window as an eye, wide, watchful, judging …
A scrape, a thump. The demons were awake inside the shed. Thank goodness she’d thought to lock the door, to protect herself against their grasping claws, their greedy mouths.
How the devils screamed! She closed her eyes.
NB Bertha’s name just sprang to my mind when I went to write this. Hardly surprising for anyone who has read Jane Eyre, for Bertha Mason is Rochester’s disturbed wife, the original ‘madwoman in the attic’.
As a teenager, I loved Jane Eyre, but grew to have greater sympathy for Bertha after studying Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, which explores the themes of racism, colonialism and prejudice in Charlotte Bronte’s original telling.