This is a simple tale. It is a tale about the love between one man & one woman. A love that under different circumstances would have been wonderful. But fate always seems to have other plans, doesn't it?
This story begins in a small town. It could be anywhere, really, but it begins in North Place, UK. North Place is the kind of place where everyone seems to know your name. Why wouldn't they? They all grew up with you, went to school with you, graduated with you and stayed to raise a new family right next door from you. Those who left North Place always seem to remember that about their hometown.
But on this day something special was in the air. On the first day of school, 7th grade Donna met Jim for the first time. He was a new kid in school – which made him quite a point of interest – and he seemed friendly enough, so he was the talk of the school. The rumor was that he came from London, but it quickly proved to be wrong. He was from another small town, about a hundred miles away, and not much bigger North Point. His father worked for a bank and was relocated here, and his family came with him. They moved in the house that used to belong to the Andersons before they moved to London.
Jim was the kind of kid nobody really notices in a group, so after the initial interest for "the new kid" he quickly became just another face in class. But not for Donna. She sat next to him in class and noticed how talented he was with a pencil and how delicate his paintings were. She loved spending whole afternoons listening to him tell her stories about the books he read or the movies he saw on TV. They shared tastes food and ice-cream; they enjoyed the same TV shows and laughed at the same jokes. Things could not have been better.
And so, the years passed. Donna & Jim went to high-school together, sat next to each other in class and spent afternoons doing homework together and arguing about life and philosophy in the way only 16-year-olds see the world. When the time came to start dating it was obvious the two of them would end up together. And they did – after all, what could be better than dating your best friend, right?
The two of them became inseparable. Jim used to stay over at Donna's house every day after school and pick her up every day on his way to school. They walked and talked for hours, never leaving each other's side. Jim spent many evenings tutoring Donna in math – her weakest subject - and Donna felt she has found her true soul-mate. And all the while Jim continued to smile shyly and paint – but only pictures of her.
As high-school came to an end it was time to start thinking ahead. Jim had a good head for numbers so to start working for his father at the local bank seemed like the logical thing to do. Donna went to beauty school and opened a small studio where she did nails & makeup for the North Place brides – all of them her former schoolmates.
Life seemed pretty good, all in all, and it wasn't long before Jim and Donna started talking about tying the knot themselves. But then, just as things seemed perfect, everything started collapsing around them.
Donna didn't even notice it at first. It was hardly even worth bothering Jim with. A strange headache started coming & going every now & then. Not exactly a painful feeling; more of a feeling as if she was not alone in her own head. Donna decided to ignore it and became accustomed to taking a gentle painkiller whenever the feeling became too uncomfortable. That seemed to do the trick for a while, but about six months later Donna started hearing voices in the pain. Donna knew this could not be a good sign, but she was soon occupied with a new project – the wedding. She & Jim have spent six months planning it, and the wedding became the talk of the town. The mayor himself conducted the ceremony, and white doves were released to the air when rings were exchanged. Jim presented Donna with his wedding gift – a portrait of her – and she gave him a gift in return – a new set of brushes for his artwork. It could not have been a happier day. And all the while the voices in her head were quiet.
But that night the voices came back. They even seemed to be lauder than ever before. Donna ignored them the best she could for a few months, and eventually went to her doctor. Dr. Mayer found nothing wrong with Donna, but did tell her she was with a child.
Jim was now promoted to vice manager and had to work longer hours, but Donna was so happy with the pregnancy she didn't really mind. She filled her days with decorating the small nursery room with balloons & clowns and daydreaming about taking her future son or daughter to the park.
But after little Marry was born, things took a serious turn for the worst. Donna became so depressed she could hardly even find the energy to get out of bed, and Jim hired a nanny to help her take care of Marry. He used to come home and find Marry bathed and fed, his food on the table, the house clean as a whistle – and Donna in bed, having hardly moved since the morning. But even he didn't know the worst of it. The voices in Donna's head became so loud she took the sleeping pills Dr. Mayer gave her just to shut them up. But even when she slept she could just make them out, calling to her in the distance.
One cold winter day, when Marry was almost a year old, Jim got a call at the bank, telling him to get home immediately. He left his office so quickly he didn't even bother to take his coat. When he got to the house the police was already there and the paramedics were already taking the tiny body to the hospital for the autopsy. Donna was in the living room talking to the detectives. Even to Jim's untrained eye, she appeared to be in a horrible state. Her eyes were bloodshot, her hands shaking, and the blood on her dressing robe made everything clear. Jim came in and sat next to her, trying his best to calm her down while hugging her & stroking her hair.
During the trail Jim had lost all his friends in town. He sat there in court every day, ignoring the looks & the whispers, his hands on his knees, only smiling when he met Donna's half-delirious gaze. The town folk couldn't understand how he could still love her, but no one could find it in himself to ask him directly. They just slowly left him behind, leaving him to wallow in his own emotions alone.
It was no surprise that the judges found Donna to be mentally unstable, and even a smaller surprise they have sentenced her to spend the rest of her life in the New Haven Mental Facility in a closed ward. That was the only time Jim showed any kind of emotion during the whole trial, as he burst into tears, yelling at the judges that he couldn't visit her there and that they were taking his life, too. The judges gave him a nod, but nothing else.
Jim was now starting to slowly collapse. He quit his job at the bank and spent his days locked in the old house, drunk & crying. For a while the town had arranged a small pension for him, but it soon became obvious he was only drinking it away.
The once fairytale of Donna & Jim now became a nightmare.
About six months after the trial, the newspapers in North Place were suddenly filled again with Jim's name. He went in to the bank where he once worked, hit the guard, took his gun and shot two clerks and three clients. By the time the police got there, two clerks & the guard were holding him down, while he laughed and yelled and tried to free himself.
The trial was short and verdict decisive. Jim was sent to the New Haven Mental Facility to spend the rest of his life in a closed ward.
I am sure that if I were to leave the story here, you would think of the only way to finish it with a happy ending, wouldn't you? However, this is not the case. While Jim was on trial he couldn't get news of his wife's condition, which was taking a turn for the worst quickly.
In fact, by the time Jim got to be in New Haven, Donna has died, alone and unaware of Jim's predicament.
Jim, whose sole reason for committing his horrible crime was to once more unite with Donna, lived to be an old man. And after forty five years in the closed ward he died eventually, the orderlies who cleared his rooms found endless notebooks, all filled with drawings of the same face they didn't recognize – a face that was always smiling.