The International Writers Magazine: Short Fiction by Abigail George
I admired him from afar. His voltage. Worlds tasting of plums, frost. I am left collecting possessions, ephemera, photographs. In fifteen years, I still want him to say that he remembers me.
He was my teacher. My lecturer. Schooled in England and Canada. I wrote him letters. I wrote him love letters. I told him in so many words just how much I admired him. There was another girl in the picture. A lounge singer who sang the blues and then the picture of him was shattered. Then the mourning period of him began. He gave me books. What exactly was he schooling me on? Did he mean to seduce me? He had the money, the house, the dinner parties and now the wife, the children and I did not belong to his world anymore. What did he want from me or was he just amusing himself? My mind though was a vision of Emily Dickinson’s. It was the asylum. Not the place that they call ‘high care’ or the locked up ward with bars at the windows.
This is my world. The world of psychologists. The psychologist offers sanctuary. He was silence but I was a boat. I lived with a fight song inside my head. I always longed for more of a connection with people. Feeling good about myself. I try not to miss your ‘show’. You who probably a stranger to me. Relationships for me have changed. I do not want to be sad. Yet, that is what I am. A strange romantic filled with useless self-pity, the knowledge of and flawed sadness. Sometimes I can feel the depressed state lifting. Sometimes the depression is there. The hospital is the asylum. Home is the asylum. The silence in my bedroom is the asylum.
I can see fangs of colours. I can see things that are alive. Cut off from all. To rejoin the human race, feel this joy, makes me happy. Any negatives down and out. A tiny bit, spark of everything. You really look wonderful mother, is what I wanted to say. Temporarily I have lost all hope. Today is another day. Another unstoppable battle. Endearing. I do not like the mirror. I hate her. I hate the looking glass. Hate the reflection. I am not that strong front and that is important to know. Doctors never promise you good health. Psychologists never promise you good health. What does it take to feel up, and industrious? Here now I am safe, where will I go to from here? To the mountains. To the hills. To my sea.
There is darkness even in an echo. It has a hold on nothingness, a movement of the creator of the universe, the solitude found in every narrow space on the planet that lingers, and in the moment, there is beauty. Madness has ventured into nature. Pundits call it climate change and it appears that we are holding onto an act, a fragile balancing act bordering on wilderness. Wilderness history. I have a theory about books. In the end, they will make you wiser but they will also make you cry. Laugh out loud, cry and as wise as an owl. I am sure it did not look like anything like sushi before the chef grilled it. I needed closure. I looked at all of us. I looked at all of our flushed faces around the table gorging ourselves on the fish and sauce.
That was years ago when my second mother was still alive. I think back to Johannesburg. I know that was what they were saying behind my back. The divorced women, the woman who were happily married, happily divorced, unhappily married, unhappily divorced, and raising their children. I think of restaurants. I think of books now and of literature. I dream of Rilke and Nabokov, Pasternak, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Jean Rhys, love in a sonnet, mixed tape masterpieces. I think of the fish in these restaurants. Did they look ill missing eyes and gills before they were grilled? Was it cold, lonely in the ocean-sea as cold and lonely as I was now?
Did it feel the wet riverbed? In a school of sardines could it be easy to lose track of it in the end. They can say anything they want to say. I am just walking along this lost highway filled with dreams and goals. Tell me what I see without you here by my side. Just looking at you. The sacrificial lamb. The Trojan horse. The bright-lit city. I have become a poised, quiet woman. I think it has been the effect of being surrounded by the mental faculties of men for too long. They have dominated me. They have loved me. They have betrayed me. They have left me with desiring and longing. Most of all recipes for spaghetti bolognaise and lasagne. Eat with me. Drink with me. Drink my tea. Young people seem almost eager to just creating more confusion and problems for myself.
I have searched for you my entire life. Saw you in my father’s eyes. He adored me as I adored anything Disney and I wanted every man after that that I met after that to adore me too. Admire me. Love me to death. Suffering always happens for a reason. Nothing happens out of nothing. I am tired. I am tired of me. I am tired of you. How to stop time. I have exposed your lies. You who have studied abroad at the best schools. You who have built a house to raise your children in and the wife who worships you. I have exposed your lies (every single one). Your heart is tireless but not mine. I will never get married. It is all becoming a bit much for me. A bit of losing my mind.
How did you learn to fight your battles without the decay of your sense of moral duty? You do not think anything. Most of all. I do not think you even respect me. Once you were flawless. No more. If only we felt more interconnected with each other. If only we were re-integrated. What many people do not realise is that egocentrism can be good for you up to a certain extent? Many people put all of their attention, their care and love into politics, environmental causes, charity, religion, other people besides themselves thinking that would make up for an unhappy childhood, being abandoned by someone that they have been loved by, for rejection and humiliation. There it goes. My heavy head suddenly giving way.
I must be honest. I must be truthful. I must stop wasting my time. I must realise now instead of giving it up as I have come close to doing it in the past that I will always be alone, lonely and a solitary and reclusive figure. Why must I always try so hard and fail? Give up then. I will give up. I will quit. Do actions speak louder than words? We will soon find that out or at least ‘they’ will. The team of doctors here at Tara. Does this have something to do with the fact of me not liking myself? I think people will find other interests so that they might shallowly disengage themselves from the futuristic reality we all find ourselves becoming more and more engrossed in.
The dream featured once again highway, my other family and we were all there. Again, I was running away from something. If I do not eat something, I will disappear. I cannot keep on lying to myself, which is exactly what I have been doing to myself for a very long time. Especially when you are given a stage, do not expect anything in return. The spotlight will shine away all your weaknesses and flaws. The androgynous mind is the most dangerous mind of all especially if it is present in a woman. A young man will worship her. A beautiful man who is also half coward will be drawn to the marrying kind of woman (a beautiful fool) but the intellectual man will destroy her in the end. With her anthropological knowledge, this frightening woman’s itinerary will triumph.
I must read for pleasure. Of course, I read for pleasure. This is how a woman educates herself. By talking to men, by having conversations with her husband, by learning. Those three are the best ways for a woman to educate herself. It is not important to write for someone. It is only important to write for yourself and the working classes. The establishment, the system takes care of themselves. They do not care about us very much so I do not see why we have to care about their opinion of us so much. Day in goes in and out, in and out. Dawn breaks. The sunsets. Something must sustain the powerful relationship of everything. I write in ink not pencil. If you write in pencil, you might as well be erasing every word that comes after.
Pencil fades. There is a gap. We are all standing in the gap but I do not think that we have realised that yet. Our town is much too pretty to escape from. We need to live, we need to eat, and so women will exchange recipes. Men think that is enough for the world of women. To have children and raise them. They think nothing of the education of these women. They want emotional support and unconditional support. I have never met a man who has never wanted these things. Although men can be beasts, although men can plunder, at the heart of unreason they are all insecure. They all need women in their lives who will worship them, who will look up to them, who will say ‘good morning darling, here is your coffee and your breakfast.
I think you are wonderful just as you are. My brave, strong, handsome man.’ They need you to tell you that to them all the time otherwise they will go kaput and then what will happen to the male children in families across the world. Sons need their fathers. Fathers need heirs. Fathers need their sons too. If only to remind them of immortality. If only to remind them of the legacy that they will leave behind. Dogs are beautiful creatures. People think that there is freedom in stupidity. Perhaps there is. I do not know. Perhaps there is freedom in ignorance. Perhaps there is. I do not know but when I look into a dog’s eyes, all innocence, there is a kind of grandeur there.
Dogs and their owners have had long conversations. One listens and the other meditates on the beauty of the day. There is a whole story there. If I lived in the papers, I would have been a celebrity by now but I do not want to live in the papers. I do not believe in that persona that looks back at me. She is a fraud but I am thankful and grateful that other people do not know that (yet). I never had a female friendship. I never had that gifted silliness, secret laughter, effortless gossip, that love. Instead, I had dogs and cats. That sufficed, to tell you the truth. You need pain in order to realise what the measure of love is. Without pain, without your heart being wounded just a little or twisted precariously into flesh love comes after all of that.
It is good that it does. It is good that it does not come to soon. We will always have pain though. We will not have love all the time. Do not forget that women are made of flesh. Men are made out of metal. They do not cry in front of us unless we are their women. Unless we are their wives. Unless we are the mothers of their children. Unless we are their lovers. What a speech but it is the truth! Men are leaders. Men are the con men. The women are the suffragists. I hate love. I hate romance. It is just a game. I will leave it to the men, nymphs and the matrons. I am content to play nursemaid and writer, reader of literature and poet. What a strange life for a half-formed woman who is still a girl after all these years.
I have accepted my life. Silence. Oh, I love my life. On the other hand, you tasted like the formations of dew. Like rain on my tongue. A liquorice stick from childhood. Leader you have made me a ruin. You have tormented me for fifteen years. I am not a leader unless I am a mother and I have those children under my apron strings. I tried to find the best possible man to please. Pleased all of them. Then I thought I could find myself a husband but unfortunately, for me they were all already taken. They were already very much in love. Their women smelled like rose gardens. Their women were perfect. Their women were not ill. They only had to close their eyes and then I was able to see the flame in their heart.
© Abigail George October 2015
Email address: abigailgeorge79 at gmail.com
The Wild Bird’s Progeny
In a doorway stands an entire choir of voices that bloom in an oblivion and not one of those voices belong to me.
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