••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Life Stories
There was a dual aspect to her personality which he loved about her. But she never saw this, never asked for anything but to be saved when she was in his arms.
She asked him to save her as if there was a certain fate awaiting her, as if she needed redemption or salvation. Was he piteous towards her, that she didn’t know? All she knew was that there were days when she felt as if the walls would collapse all round her, taking her life with it. Taking her to a hellish terrain. She didn’t know what love was. She never knew what love was. Nobody had ever told her that they loved her. She never heard this from her mother, or, her father. Never had a sister who called her excitedly on her birthday. So, when he took her in his arms, it made her quietly happy. She thought of her loneliness, and then she thought of her periodic happiness, events that had happened to her in her life, people, that had made her happy, who had believed in her and told her to believe in her potential.
She thought that life was a celebration from day to day and then that feeling stopped just as suddenly as if it had come upon her. What she was longing for she did not know. Would this relationship end, would he marry and meet someone more suitable, more lovely, more than her, more than what she would give him, she didn’t know. She had no one in her life. He had a bounty of friends and a family who loved him, and cared for him but perhaps they were each lonely in their own way. Perhaps they were both searching in their own way. But for what. There were days when she did not know. And everything these days put her on the edge. Her father asked her for something to drink and inside herself she snapped in two like a broken twig. She felt as if she was standing on a precipice, or, on the verge of losing it all. She hardly spoke to her sister who had moved to the Czech Republic to teach English to students who worked at Microsoft. They never kept in touch anymore. There were some days when she washed her hair, or, did the laundry and felt calm and composed as if nothing and no one could ever hurt her again.
She wished that she could change and be more like other young girls her age. Because that is what she was. A young girl. And he was young too. He had seen the world. He had been places that she had never even heard of, and all she could feel when he took her hand was the beating of her heart. She had enough of her old life. A quiet and uneventful life where things took place that she had no control over. She remembered watching the image of the bare woman stepping out of the sea. How her father’s eyes had lit up, as he caressed her mother’s knee. So, it was nothing new to her when he suggested that they do that together. She trusted him. She was always putting the work into relationships like that. Trust was an issue for her, so was abandonment and neglect and generally a feeling of being unloved. That had come so naturally to her over the years. She remembered being a student and watching pornographic material in her room at the university while other people lived. While the other young women lived for date night and Saturday night, and their beaus and their short-lived affairs with their professors, or as they experimented with their sexuality kissing other girls. As she watched the man go down on the woman, and her screaming in the light of the shadows of the darkened bedroom, she wished that she could be part of something else where she could feel safe. It was only a means to an end. She wanted to be free from her father. Free from her mother. Free form being told what to do, what to say, what to wear, bossed around, spoken down to, or, that awful feeling that overcame her when she was ignored, or, nobody said anything to her at all when she asked something.
I feel as if I am losing all self-control, she thought to herself as her boyfriend pulled out of her and kissed her forehead. She felt pain, but it was as if all of gravity was leaving her body. Everything that he did made her feel so good inside. When he said he loved her, or her eyes were lovely, or he loved the feeling of her hand in his.Perhaps the day would come when he would say goodbye, when he would leave her, like the wolf had left her childhood, only to return as savage and violent and brutal in her adolescence. In the dark, he would peer and snarl at her in her bedroom. There was usually a burning in her head after these night-time visits. She had always put up a guard to her heart. Told herself that nobody loved her, nobody would ever need her, or want her. Desire she knew was an important part of a relationship. She wanted it to puncture her heart. She wanted to feel it in her bones. She wanted to taste driftwood. There were times when she thought of death. She thought it would be exquisite to live and be remembered somehow, by someone. Even if it was just a stranger. She wanted to change. She wanted to love. She wanted to remember the way she was with him. She glanced at the rope and the gun in the open drawer next to her. Looked at the bottle of the single malt whiskey hidden there with a slip covering it and a brassiere. She wished she could be over death. The death of the only woman who had ever been mother to her. That she had called mother.
I am tired, she thought to herself as she moved around her parent’s house. I am tired of being alone. I am tired of being lonely. Take away this pain and you did. It was hard to keep her balance on the chair. He had often said that she was shaped like a ghost. That his desire for him filled him like an arrow. Her pain felt like a trigger. And she felt the ice melt in the glass, as she pushed her father’s wheelchair into the corner of her parents’ bedroom. She picked up the chair that she stood on to hook in the curtains. Fetched the rope from her bedroom.
Years, years and years had passed. Still she could not love. Making love furiously on the either the front seat of the car or the backseat. That was love. That was what the others had called it. Love. She asked trembling in their arms. Do you love me, do you love me? And some would look at her with anger, or confusion in their eyes, or just look away sadly. Her mood would become pensive then. She would curl up, her bottom lip trembling, tears in her eyes and they would ask her, are you okay, are you okay, are you okay. When she asked Marcus that question, he always answered, yes, love. Yes, I do, love. Love, love, love, it was always love when it was with Marcus. Never maybe I love you. She never had to question how he felt about her.
She walked to the window and looked outside. What a perfect day, she told herself. Nothing seemed amiss. But her heart was in turmoil. All she felt was vertigo. She didn’t want heaven without Marcus. Strange, to have found love after all the relationships she had. She thought about the abortion she had when she was fourteen years old. In time, her mother had told her, looking away, you will come to forget about all of this. She felt her mother squeeze her hand, watched her talk to the female doctor, watch her walk out of the door. Her back very straight, her head up. Afterwards, she felt nothing. She felt nothing inside. She was brave, brave girl, her mother had said afterwards. Her father was pacing up and down in the parking lot smoking a cigarette. Afterwards, they had seemed to become closer. Her mother and father washed up the dishes in the evenings, finishing each other’s sentences. Her mother would brush her hair. Her father would hug her, watching her out of the corner of his eye at the breakfast table. She would watch the oatmeal swim in the milk, couldn’t hold the congealed egg and toast down, would run to the school bathroom and throw up. Vomiting everything her mother had prepared. For the rest of the day her tongue would be furry and her breath sour. Of course, nobody knew what had happened. She had told Marcus, watched his face fall, felt somewhat comforted as she cried and he held her in his arms stroking her back. When she was fifteen years old, she ran away. She ran away and spent the whole day in the shopping mall. She ordered coffee at an American-style diner. Ate a hamburger with relish. She became hungrier as the day went on. She sat outside at a trestle table. Walking in and out of shops. Fingering fabric and linen,she even tried on a denim skirt and then she went home, tired. So tired, she fell asleep on her bed. Her mother came to check on her. She could hear voices outside her door.
Mrs Mackenzie saw her. But she’s here now. She’s okay isn’t she. She will be alright. After everything she has been through, still has to go through. This is unbelievable. I swear I am going to reach breaking point.
The voices went away. The footsteps returned every so often but she was so tired she couldn’t open her eyes. Her feet were aching and she could feel a blister forming on her heel just under the skin.
Darling, I’m sorry. You look so peaceful standing there. What are you looking at? Close the window. There’s a draft. Is there, mother, I didn’t notice. Yes, darling. You’ll catch death.
She turned to look at her mother. Older, her hair white at the temples. Nothing, mother. I am thinking of nothing at all. Strange, I was looking for that. What, this? Yes. What are you doing with it? Nothing, nothing at all mother. Oh, Bea. What are you thinking, moving the furniture around? You’ll hurt your back. Rather let Marcus do that. He’s coming, isn’t he? Yes, mother, he is coming around later on. You're fine, darling. And Bea was fourteen years old again. Her mother and father rallying around her, loving her, protecting her, sheltering her. They had had no other children. Mum, Bea turned as her mother closed the window and turned on her heel, do you love me. You and dad, do you love me. Of course, we do. Of course, we love you Bea. Don’t you ever forget it. Her mother touched her face, stroked her cheek and kissed her. Her mouth felt warm. Her lips dry, but she caught her mother by surprise and hugged her. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about everything. Of course, darling. Of course, you’re sorry. But it couldn’t be helped, you see. We did our best. Please, please, can you see that. We didn’t want you to get hurt. Bea stared at the wheelchair, and she felt as if she could almost float out of the room, out of the door, outside to the light. Somebody would meet her there, by the steps. Where she used to sit and watch the neighbourhood children ride their bicycles, and the boys her age used to skateboard. Her daughter would be standing there, a kind of grown up version of her. She would be talking on a cell phone. Maybe she would be a teacher in primary school education, in an administrative position, or a lawyer, or, be a student on a university campus studying clinical psychology.
© Abigail George September 2021
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