They stood on the shore and watched the boy sink, and she put her arm around Teddy’s waist and said, “You’ll be my Jim. I’ll be your Dolores. We’ll make new babies.”

That seemed a perfectly just solution, and Teddy wondered why he’d never thought of it before.

He followed her back into Ashecliffe and they met up with Chuck and the three of them walked down a long corridor that stretched for a mile. Teddy told Chuck: “She’s taking me to Dolores. I’m going home, buddy.”

“That’s great!” Chuck said. “I’m glad. I’m never getting off this island.”


“No, but it’s okay, boss. It really is. I belong here. This is my home.”

Teddy said, “My home is Rachel.”

“Dolores, you mean.”

“Right, right. What did I say?”

“You said Rachel.”

“Oh. Sorry about that. You really think you belong here?” Chuck nodded. “I’ve never left. I’m never going to leave. I mean, look at my hands, boss.”

Teddy looked at them. They looked perfectly fine to him. He said as much.

Chuck shook his head. “They don’t fit. Sometimes the fingers turn

into “ “


“Well, then I’m glad you’re home.”

“Thanks, boss.” He slapped his back and turned into Cawley and Rachel had somehow gotten far ahead of them and Teddy started walking double-time.

Cawley said, “You can’t love a woman who killed her children.”

“I can,” Teddy said, walking faster. “You just don’t understand.” “What?” Cawley wasn’t moving his legs, but he was keeping pace with Teddy just the same, gliding. “What don’t I understand?” “I can’t be alone. I can’t face that. Not in this fucking world. I need her. She’s my Dolores.”

“She’s Rachel.”

“I know that. But we’ve got a deal. She’ll be my Dolores. I’ll be her Jim. It’s a good deal.”

“Uh-oh,” Cawley said.

The three children came running back down the corridor toward them. They were soaking wet and they were screaming their little heads off.

“What kind of mother does that?” Cawley said.

Teddy watched the children run in place. They’d gotten past him and Cawley, and then the air changed or something because they ran and ran but never moved forward.

“Kills her kids?” Cawley said.

“She didn’t mean to,” Teddy said. “She’s just scared.”

“Like me?” Cawley said, but he wasn’t Cawley anymore. He was Peter Breene. “She’s scared, so she kills her kids and that makes it okay?”

“No. I mean, yes. I don’t like you, Peter.”

“What’re you going to do about it?”

Teddy. placed his service revolver to Peter’s temple.

“You know how many people I’ve executed?” Teddy said, and there were tears streaming down his face.

“Well, don’t,” Peter said. “Please.”

Teddy pulled the trigger, saw the bullet come out the other side of Breene’s head, and the three kids had watched the whole thing and they were screaming like crazy now and Peter Breene said, “Dammit,” and leaned against the wall, holding his hand over the entrance wound. “In front of the children?”

And they heard her. A shriek that came out of the darkness ahead of them. Her shriek. She was coming. She was up there somewhere in the dark and she was running toward them full tilt and the little girl said, “Help us.”

“I’m not your daddy. It’s not my place.”

“I’m going to call you Daddy.”

“Fine,” Teddy said with a sigh and took her hand.

They walked the cliffs overlooking the Shutter Island shore and then they wandered into the cemetery and Teddy found a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly and made them sandwiches in the mausoleum and the little girl was so happy, sitting on his lap, eating her sandwich, and Teddy took her out with him into the graveyard and pointed out his father’s headstone and his mother’s headstone and his own:




“Why are you a bad sailor?” the girl asked.

“I don’t like water.”

“I don’t like water, either. That makes us friends.”

“I guess it does.”

“You’re already dead. You got a whatchamacallit.”

“A headstone.”


“I guess I am, then. There was no one in my town.”

“I’m dead too.”

“I know. I’m sorry about that.”

“You didn’t stop her.”

“What could I do? By the time I reached her, she’d already, you know...”

“Oh, boy.”


“Here she comes again.”

And there was Rachel walking into the graveyard by the headstone Teddy had knocked over in the storm. She took her time. She was so beautiful, her hair wet and dripping from the rain, and she’d traded in the cleaver for an ax with a long handle and she dragged it beside her and said, “Teddy, come on. They’re mine.”

“I know. I can’t give them to you, though.”

“It’ll be different this time.”

“How ?”


“I’m okay now. I know my responsibilities. I got my head right.”

Teddy wept. “I love you so much.”

“And I love you, baby. I do.” She came up and kissed him, really kissed him, her hands on his face and her tongue sliding over his and a low moan traveling up her throat and into his mouth as she kissed him harder and harder and he loved her so much.

“Now give me the girl,” she said.

He handed the girl to her and she held the girl in one arm and picked up the ax in the other and said, “I’ll be right back. Okay?” “Sure,” Teddy said.

He w.aved to the girl, knowing she didn’t understand. But it was for her own good. He knew that. You had to make tough decisions when you were an adult, decisions children couldn’t possibly understand.  But you made them for the children. And Teddy kept waving, even though the girl wouldn’t wave back as her mother carried her toward the mausoleum and the little girl stared at Teddy, her eyes beyond hope for rescue, resigned to this world, this sacrifice, her mouth still smeared with peanut butter and jelly. Copyright 2016 - 2024