room for these demons in their normal, well-ordered lives'
told the truth.
The whole truth.
And nothing but the truth.
But they werent listening
I read your chapter the other day. It was certainly a heartfelt piece.
She glanced up at his words and the mirrored tiles caught her reflection
returning a resigned expression. Gazing beyond, she looked out at the
grass, all parched and straggling, and watched a pair of magpies hop
an uncoordinated pas de deux amongst the daisies. Retracting her gaze,
she returned her attention to the bottle of wine she was opening.
Well, now you know it all. she said.
He had come over with some papers for her to sign. At long last theyd
transferred her other son to a residential unit. It had to be done;
it was the only way. He was now in a safer place, a place where he would
not be rejected out of hand after one violent rage too many. An unhappy
and extremely angry child who was trapped in a labyrinth without a guide.
Self-entrenched in a prison of his own making but stubborn to the end,
steadfast in his fantasy role of the omnipotent little dictator. He
had to learn to become a child again. It was his time to move forward.
His brother had been placed two months ago and already he had re-found
some compassion for her. But he had also believed that she had made
all the mistakes and had placed the blame firmly on her slender but
broad shoulders. That was certainly part of his truth, and in his own
defence he had told her so in no uncertain terms. But he was told it
was never too late to learn. For either of them.
Cheers then. she said, handing him a glass of wine.
Thanks. So, what are you going to do with yourself?
She laughed. This must be the sixty-four million dollar question.
Just the other day I was asked had I got any interesting
things lined up?
Interesting? In what way?
Oh God knows what they were envisaging. A world cruise? A mad,
passionate love affair? How about parenting courses for failed mothers
with no hope? Ten years of intensive psychotherapy? On second thoughts,
maybe Ill forego interesting and just do a Lucan.
He arched an eyebrow at her. She returned a wry smile. No, actually,
the thing that waits to be done is extremely banal and uninteresting.
Standing on my own two feet I guess.
Well, you wont attempt to run before you can walk will you?
There wasnt much chance of that, she thought.
After her breakdown, the system had apologised for having buried her
case file in some dusty, forgotten pending tray for the past two years
and appointed her a social worker. For the next few years, she had failed
miserably to get him or his superiors to take her seriously. She had
even resorted to running away but to no avail. It appeared that nothing
would make them take any action. Finally, in desperation, she forced
their hand by giving the go-ahead for the arrests to be made. To have
come this far had involved a journey crippled with setbacks. In the
five months from that fateful morning till today shed endured
a plethora of professionals being unleashed to delve into her life.
How many had momentarily taken her on board in their line of duty
the acting headmaster; the headmistress; the counsellor a somewhat
ineffectual one; the unsympathetic police officer; the youth worker
to name but a few and not forgetting the barristers who in their
cross examinations had unsuccessfully tried to infer that her account
was a tissue of lies
Mind you, there had been no free rides. For
each and every one of them, an exacting fare had been paid. The shutters
were unbolted and the most intimate details of her maternal misery were
let loose. And when did this incident take place? How did it happen?
Why? And do you? Dont you? Cant you? Until she was stripped
bare and left exposed in naked shame.
And afterwards, stuck in traffic returning to their offices or to their
homes, had they pondered in disbelief, or recoiled in disgust or merely
despaired that the filial bond could be made to twist and turn upon
itself so, until it metamorphosed into such a monstrous entity? And
when the lights turned green, they could only place their foot on the
accelerator, release the clutch and try to forget. There was no room
for these demons in the normal, well-ordered lives that they returned
to when the working day was done. They drove on.
She hated it all. She hated the unequal semblance unearthed by their
probing and ferreting and the fact that they would never know the woman
she had once been and still was within. They werent paid to hang
around and await the emergence of her whole self. She wanted to lacerate
these unbalanced images of herself that lay dormant in their memories
and cast them into the stratosphere so that they would evanesce like
the characters in our dreams when we rub the sleep from our eyes. And
if she couldnt, then they should never meet again: their paths
should be magnetised to repel and never converge. Eventually, she could
become like a forgotten taste none of them could quite recapture.
But there was one she wouldnt be forgotten by. One memory she
would never be able to set free or steal or banish. The memory belonging
to the last one. The only one remaining. Hed gone the distance
with her, the only one who had. Not through choice but it was his job
to do so. That chapter was over now. It was time to move forward. Her
time of feelings of guilt was passed. Acceptance of failure was long
assimilated. In their place now resided a different emotion. Anger.
The anger of those who had been let down. The anger of those who were
not believed. The anger that things had been allowed to reach the state
they had. And the greatest anger of all was at the frightened and weak
person her children had turned her into and displayed to the world.
It was anger now that would impel her. This emotion that burnt white
and fierce like the midday sun would cast its light on the path and
provide her with the energy to tread it. She certainly needed something,
as finding the strength required was still hindered by remnants of her
inner turmoil. When the conflicting demands of her children and the
authorities rained on her in relentless succession, her emotions and
her thoughts were like the fallen leaves outside on a gusty day, wind-scurried
in frantic circles, as if driven to escape but not knowing where to
He passed the documents over for her to sign. Youve gone
very quiet. Whatre you smiling about?
Im just feeling gratified that I finally got extremely pissed
off. she laughed.
Whats pissing you off then?
Oh, nothing. Dont worry, just got a lopsided sense of humour
at the moment.
She remembered something she had read the other day whilst flicking
through the Sunday supplements.
The need to be adored is even stronger in an only child and attention
becomes a symbol of love.
She was an only child but there wasnt much adoring going on in
her life at the moment. As her son had said, If your own children
dont like you
well, you hadnt a hope
in hell. Moreover, it seemed a long time ago since anyone had paid the
slightest bit of attention to anything shed had to say, never
mind anything more. If people took attention to be a symbol of that
unknown quantity, then it was no wonder distressed and confused clients,
even those with siblings, became smitten with their therapists or whoever
was propping them up emotionally. Fortunately, she had held on by the
skin of her teeth and hadnt forsaken all dignity by falling down
that road. It may have been the years of periodically banging her head
against his brick walls - and those of others - that had rescued her
from such ignominy. Of late, shed eased up on the cranium bashing
when she felt she was finally being heard; she resigned herself to a
quieter patience - lots of it, and he began to empathise. And they lived
happily ever after just about. But it was the end of the road
for him on this trip, whether she and her boys made it to their assigned
destination would no longer be a bunch of thorns in his side of a working
day. And for her, starting over with someone new, tediously rehashing
the old tales, like a needle stuck in a vinyl groove
well, it wasnt
exactly his relief she was sharing in.
She returned the signed papers to him and he stood up to leave.
Well I guess I wont be seeing you again. she said.
Not at all. Youll be seeing far more of me.
At first, she wasnt quite sure exactly what he meant. Then she
proffered the only interpretation her minds eye could come up
with. What? You mean
as a friend?
Yes. You know he smiled, at times, being in your presence
is like being in a summer garden filled with all types of flowers and
trees. The suns shining; lots sunflowers eveywhere. Though sometimes
its been a bit bare
She burst out laughing. OK. Ill do my best to keep it all
blooming from now on."
She showed him out and then leant back for a moment against the closed
door, a smile forming on her lips for she sensed a melodic stirring
in the air as her unshackled spirit charmed each bird in the garden
to sing and sing.
In progress from Sep 02/Apr 03
© Amy Chan May 2003
and stories by Amy Chan in Dreamscapes
all rights reserved