Blank Space.

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Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

He awoke, finally. Another uncomfortable, barley slept night. A thirst, that no amount of water could ever quench. In the darkness he lay on the bed, listening to the silence. Slowly his mind began to clear a little. Images of the previous few days passed through his mind.

Acquaintances, strangers. Alcohol, pubs. Airplanes, city lights. Heavy traffic. Laughter. Dancing, darkened nightclubs, Thumping music. A mishmash of images and recollections, fading in and out of his memory. Brief and unclear. His head was heavy. Stomach empty and aching for food.

Never again, he promised himself. It’s just not worth it. Never was. Foolish, inane,  conversations, with forgettable, ridiculous people he hardly knew or cared for. False camaraderie and human closeness. A brief interlude from an empty life. The paranoia as usual was ever present, greatly exaggerated by the copious amounts of alcohol.

His memory was patchy of the previous few days. Unsure how long it had being this time. One evening, a few days, or maybe a week or two. He knew the gaps in his memory would eventually be filed. He made his way to the bathroom, unsteady on his feet, tripping over en route. The bloodstained light coloured carpet, of little surprise to him. His bloodied hands, unexpected. Through bloodshot eyes, he glanced at his face in the low lit bathroom mirror. Sickened, and angry at his own inability to control his addiction. He quickly looked away. Dried blood on the newly scratched scars on his face and neck. He slapped himself hard about the face, encouraging this dream to end. He threw water on his face, to awaken his consciousness.

He again checked himself in the bathroom mirror. Still the bloodied facial scars. He looked at his hands. His body was tense, and tightly held. His fists clenched. Swollen veins protruding through his muscular arms. His once lean and trim torso now beginning to show the signs of alcohol abuse. The unsightly swollen area covering his liver. His stomach losing its muscular definition. He watched himself, through narrow, piercing, angry eyes, the veins throbbing either side of his head in the bathroom mirror. How had his life come to this, he asked himself.

Snippets’ of angry words, surfaced in his memory. Screaming, tearful, hysterical and  pleading. Thoughts and a determination to avenge her disrespect. She would be made to pay. He would see her weep, and be distraught, and only then would he be at peace. He would take from her, what she had taken from him. He swaggered from the bathroom like the wealthy, powerful successful man he was. He had not finished with her yet.

‘Come here’, he demanded. ‘I want to speak to you’. His loud voice vibrating around the house.

He roughly opened the bedroom closest to him, and slammed it closed loudly when he found it empty. In his disoriented hung over state he found it hard to navigate his own home. Doors appearing where they did not belong. Rooms not where they should be.
Like a savage beast intent of finding sustenance, he marauded around the first floor of the house. Again he tripped over it, on the way back to his room. This time switching on the landing light. He looked down at the bare leg protruding from the door, and followed its shape as he pushed open the door to the room. The cream coloured silken nightgown that covered the body, was torn, ripped. Drifting in and out of consciousness, she moaned softly. The bloodied nose, bruised ayes, matted hair, she lay at an awkward, unattractive angle.
He did not recognize her at all. Cursed himself quietly for drinking so much. He searched his mind for recollections, which were not forthcoming. The light from the landing illuminating the scene before him. The upturned chairs, clothes scattered untidily on the floor. The overturned, broken child’s cot. The non moving, non breathing form on the floor. He moved towards the child’s form on the floor, noting the blood matted hair on the back its head. Turned it over, and recoiled from the slightly tinged small blue face, and obviously broken bones in its jaw line. Congealed blood visible under the innocent skin. Thankful it was not his child, but also fearful and afraid.
His breathing now rapid, heartbeat thumping hard in his chest. Perspiration forming on his forehead, back and above his lip. Images of police officers. Court cases, vile newspaper headlines. Prison, for ever.
Standing up, now energized with the adrenaline pumping through his body, his legs shaking. His mind screaming and begging for it not to be so.
He quickly returned to the bedroom from where he came, slipped on his crumpled jeans, and a white t-sheet. Searched underneath the bed for his shoes, and ran down the stairs and out of the house at speed, leaving the front door open. Into the still dark early morning, he ran. Along, somewhat now familiar streets. The shock helping to clear his mind. He ran as fast as he could, as far as he could. Pass the other detached houses. Down the tree lined streets, with the expensive cars outside. In the early morning, birdsong echoed softly.
He could not find his way out of the large, select cul-de sac, passing the same properties, again and again. He stopped outside a detached house, exhausted after his intense running, breathing hard. That dark Mercedes looked quiet familiar, with the sticker from the French holiday campsite on the trunk. He moved closer toward the car in the driveway, the gravel crunching under his feet. Peered into the backseat, at the two property magazines laying there. Further examined the the front passenger seat, and the child seat, with the recognizable rag doll toy, resting on it. The security light from the house, activated by his movement, illuminated the area.

She opened the front door quietly, and peered out. Recognizing his, rather disheveled appearance, she marched out in anger. In the cold morning air, her breath was visible, as she moved closer to him. Her baby daughter on her hip, crying loudly. He continued to peer into the front seat of the car, leaning on the car roof for support. Breathing hard, and gently weeping. Thankful some memory was returning.
She moved closer to where he was leaning on the car, and glared and him, taking him in fully.

‘What have you done’, she snapped at him. More an accusation, then a question.

Her face contorted into an ugly combination of anger, disgust and fear, so close to his. Her screams were loud, piercing, in the quietness of the early morning.

‘What have you done’, again, she screamed.

‘Look at your hands, look at your hands. They are covered in blood’.

 

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Written in response to writing prompt : ‘Trying to make sense of the events of last night’.

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The Breakfast Bar.

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Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/en/users/shadowfirearts-3107153/

‘ Nobody likes you. Nobody has in the past, and nobody will in the future’.
‘ I don’t like you, I never have, never will ‘. The tone, gutteral, nasty and mean.

That was how she greeted her sixteen year old daughter, on that bright summer’s morning. Chloe was not to surprised at the outburst, as she sat at the breakfast bar, finishing the remainder of her light meal. She had become quiet accustomed to her  outbursts, when her Mother was suffering yet another severe hangover, the thumping head, the dry mouth, the feeling of nauseousness, and impending throwing up of the contents of her stomach at any moment.
Chloe had learnt from her past efforts the futility of pointing out, the health and financial, and the increasingly paranoid mental health implications of the excessive partying her Mother had indulged in. Which lead only to regret, guilt, anger, blame, and unnecessary and increasingly scary drama in her Mothers life. Some people listen, while many others are plain blind to the effects their lifestyle can have on themselves and the people close to them.

‘ I wish you were dead ‘, her Mother screamed at Chloe, from the doorway  where she slumped, using the door frame as support to hold herself up. Her blonde hair, wild, dirty and tangled. Her once spotless bedroom robe, now an ugly discoloured, stained off white mess. The self-pitying tears forced her mascara to make its way down her slightly puffed cheeks.
She watched her Mother slumped in the kitchen doorway, who very much was proving to be what her daughter had long since projected would happen. She looked every inch a ‘tramp ‘.
Due to upbringing and circumstances, Chloe had become a strong character. She had little choice. She did gain strength from her boyfriend. He who was willing to listen to her tales of woe on many occasions. Not to offer much advice, just to listen and empathize with her situation. To assure her in time life would come right, that she doing her best and if nothing else, she would become a strong character. Religion and her nightly chat’s with God also offered her solace and comfort.
Was Chloe’s never ending resilience and refusal to be beat down, or undermined yet another reason for her Mother to dislike her so. She suspected she had inherited her inner strength from the way her Father had showered her with much love and affection.
She had long ruminated that had she never had any children, how different her life would have being. How her life could have being, should have being. No children to steal her husbands love and affection. That’s how she saw it in her deranged mind. Refusing to admit that perhaps there were other very legitimate reasons he had chosen to divorce her. The reasons to dislike, shall we say hate her daughter, her own flesh and blood, were increasing the more she thought  about it.

‘ I wish you had never been born ‘, the scream echoing loudly across the large kitchen.

But her Mother’s rage was having little effect on Chloe, who having seen it many times before was unperturbed by it, if only a little wary.
She was a pretty girl. Elfin like, with long auburn hair. A slim petite body. With a friendly attitude and easy smile. But examine her closely and her inner strength was their to see in her eyes and the way she moved. Her graciousness and pleasantness did not help endear her to her Mother, who in comparison to her Mother’s rapidly fading looks and disheveled appearance, she was a vision of youthful beauty and effervescence.

Today was the day she looked forward to most. Today was special and nothing, and nobody was going to ruin it. Today was the once weekly meet up with her Father, which she was very much looking forward to. A visit to the zoo, followed by the cinema and a late night meal. All planned, all set up.
After finishing the remainder of her breakfast. She glanced out the window, and looked forward to exciting day ahead.

‘I ‘m off’ , she said defiantly to her Mother, as she moved away from the breakfast bar. Her Mother, still slumped in the doorway, just looked at her daughter, whom she detested more than ever today.

‘ Is that right ? Well now you just go enjoy yourself….bitch’.

The anger and sarcasm more than evident in her slurred voice. Her eye’s empty. She reached into the pocket of her discoloured robe, and prayed it was still there. She was in luck and wrapped her fingers around it, careful not to crush it. As the two passed each other in the doorway, Chloe wishing to move quickly, to escape the overpowering stench of alcohol and cheap perfume. The movement was quick for an older person. The small bottle dispenser, the puff of spray in the air. The pungent scent.
Instinctively Chloe moved quickly away, to the other side of the breakfast bar. She moved after her.

‘ I’ll ruin your looks, pretty girl ‘. Again she sprayed the noxious substance.

Chloe ducked down behind the breakfast bar, her breathing loud and rapid. The chemical concoction in her stomach racing at maximum speed. Her heartbeat loudly  pushing and straining to leap from her chest. She was sure it was audible in the next street.

After a few moments of quietness she slowly lifted her head above the breakfast bar to survey the scene. The maniacal fierce eye’s, glared back from across the room. The face purple, and perspiring. The heaving chest, but the breathing surprisingly quiet. A killer’s strategy perhaps ? The veins on either side of the head, engorged, bulging and throbbing, as if keeping time to some grotesque musical piece.

‘ I’ll finish you’ , the shrieking scream , loud, non human like.

She searched her Mother’s hands for the small poisonous perfume bottle, but it was not to be seen. She watched her Mother  approach the breakfast bar, and roughly open the curtly drawer, and selected the longest, sharpest knife she could find, of course testing it on her outstretched fingers, and smiling at the pain, and small droplets of blood.

‘ Run , damn you, run’ , she could hear the words she was shouting at herself, but she could not move. She was stuck to the floor, psychologically frozen with shock and fear.
Silently she prayed to God, to her Father, her boyfriend, anyone to come now, and rescue her, someway, somehow.
She grasped the knife tightly, interchanging her grip, from spear like, to the slashing, cutting grip, and launched herself at her daughter. Who screamed and ran to the other side of the breakfast bar. The childlike game of cat and mouse continued for a few seconds, although felt like hours, and then silence. Both participants straining to breathe. The loud crash, followed by silence. A few more moments of quietness. A brief searching look. The warmth of the suns rays, lightening the dark scene of the human condition.

‘ I’ve always loved you, always have, always will’. The voice familiar of course, the tone soft and loving.
‘ Come sit with me child’, I feel afraid’.

Slowly Chloe came out from behind the breakfast bar. Looked at the scene. The bloodstained head. The laboured breathing. The head tilted in an awkward sideways glance. The legs positioned in an unusual, manner, on the floor. The sharp knife in her hand.

‘ I love you’, with that she raised the knife, and it silently and quietly entered her body.

The fragile skin, no match for the sharpness of the blade.

‘ I hate you’, again the knife raised, and with great ease it entered her body. A few tears, as the body reacted to the incision. Her grimacing face, evidence of the inflicted pain.

‘ I love you’, and again, the blade was inserted into the body. The blood beginning to drain from her face. The lips becoming slightly blue. The voice becoming more shallow, and weak. No longer the bellowing, cruel and nasty voice of old.

‘ I hate you ‘. Chloe could watch no more, and looked away. She had long since lost respect and love for her Mother. But her Mother was still a human after all. A sad, wounded, human.