He Hadn’t Seen Her Since The Day She Left High School.
Lounging Back Against The Bar Counter, He Surveyed The Scene. As The Music Of His Youth Played Out From The Speakers, The Laughter And Chatter From Some Of The Groups Gathered Round, Reacquainting Themselves. He Had The Words And Thoughts To Describe Them, His Former Classmates, And Not Nice Words. Quick To Criticise And Find Fault With Others. It Helped Him Deal With His Own Sense Of Inadequacy. So Much Easier To Look Outside. Rather Than Within To Find The Source Of His Own Spiritual Discomfort. His Own Inability To Find Some Peace Of Mind And Self Acceptance.
Like An Angry Animal Looking To Pounce And Attack Some Unsuspecting Prey. His Eyes Scanned The Dancehall For Any Who Were Brave Enough To Meet His. Few Dared, As They Had Known From Past Experience How Unpleasant It Was To Be On The Receiving End Of His Caustic, Acerbic Attack. Not A Physical Attack, He Was Too Cowardly For That, Although To Those Who Had Experienced It, That’s What It Felt Like. A Brutal Assault, That Left Them Reeling, And Questioning Their Own Value And Worth As Human Beings, Scurrying For Cover. Many At This Evening’s Reunion Dance Had Noted His Angry Snarl. Piercing Hateful Eyes, And Suspected Little Had Changed About His Demeanour From There Times Spent Going Through The Education System Together. People Were More Than Happy To Keep There Distance
He Scanned The Dancefloor With His Hateful Eyes, And Did A Second Take, As He Vaguely Recognised That Face. Her Face, Those Frightened Eyes. From Long Ago. Now Emanating A Sense Of Strength In Them. That Hunched Over, ’please Don’t Notice Me’, Body Language Now Replaced By A More Resilient And Self Reliant Pose. He Could Not Believe It. Was The Same Person, He Had Know And Bullied And Teased All Those Years Ago, And Was Sure He Had Left Her Floundering Like A Lost Gentle Deer In The Wilderness. She Now Possessed A Confidence. An Easy Going Charismatic Manner, That Drew Others To Her. He Watched As The Laughter Flowed So Easily And Freely In The Group Gathered Round Her. Standing On The Sidelines Of The Dance Area, Just As It Had Being When He Was Younger. Criticising And Sneering At Those They Disliked And Disapproved Of. With The Few Friends He Had Managed To Keep Since His School Days. But Truth Be Told Not Many Wanted To Be Around Such A Critical, Unhappy Person. Life Had Moved On For Most. But For Him. Life Was Not Moving In The Direction He Had Hoped For,And Imagined It Would. He Was Still The Angry, Frustrated Person Of His Youth. Just Older, Plain For All To See.
He Held The Glass Of Alcohol Tightly, In Front Of His Chest. Almost Crushing The Glass As His Hands Tightened Around It. His Jaw Held Tightly. His Breathing Hard, Guttural, And Snarling. He So Wanted To Punch Something. Somebody, To Release The Tension Held In His Body. The Beat Of The Seventies Music. The Flashing Disco Lights. In The Darkened School Hall. Bringing Back Memories Of How It Was When They Were All Young Teenagers. Coming To Terms With Life. He Stared At Her Again From Across The Dance Floor. His Mouth Turning Down In An Angry Sneer. That She Was Now Successful Was Obvious. With The Well Cut, Expensive Clothing. The Confident Upright Body Language. The Easy Smile. All Proclaiming To The World, Even If Unconsciously, Her Sense Of Self Worth, Inner Contentment And Happiness.’
He Loosened The Tie Around His Neck, And Adjusted His Cheap Electric Blue Suit. If Nothing Else It Certainly Got Him Noticed, And Perhaps Laughed At, Quietly. He Could Take No More, And Hurried Outside Away From The Rhythm Of The Music. The Flashing Disco Lights. But Mainly To Get Away From Her. Her Self Importance. Her Confidence And Popularity. He Took A Cigarette From The Packet In His Jacket,And Lit It. Angrily Inhaling The Smoke. So Enjoying The Kick It Gave Him In His Chest. As He Greedily And Hurriedly Inhaled Again And Again. To Feel Yet Another Kick In His Chest, As The Nicotine Began Its Damage To His Body. He Didn’t Care, As It Seemed The More He Inhaled The Smoke The Calmer He Became. As His Anger And Bitterness Calmed Down Somewhat.
What Gave Her The Right To Be So Successful, He Demanded. She Did Not Deserve It. That Was For Sure. Most Probably She Had Married Well, To Some Wealthy Business Man. Slept Her Way To The Top. These Were The Thoughts He Consoled Himself With. To Believe Or Learn She Had Become Successful Using Her Own Resources. That Would Have Being Too Much For Him To Take. Like A Knife In Plunged Into His Soul…One Of His Friends From The Dancefloor Had Come To Join Him Outside For A Cigarette, And Relayed The News He So Didn’t Want To Hear. That She Had Indeed Become A Successful Independently Wealthy Woman. An Entrepreneur Under Her Own Volition. Much To The Admiration Of Her Former Fellow Classmates. With No Well To Do Husband Or Partner To Ease The Way For Her.
Staring Out Over The Darkened Car Park, And Upward Towards The Evening Sky, Asking God Silently Where Was The Justice In The World. His Thoughts Were Interrupted By A Soft Silky Voice That He Instantly Recognised.
‘Hello, I Thought It Was You’.
‘ah Yes, Nice To See You’, He Lied.
He Had Never Liked Her, Even When He First Meet Her All Those Years Ago As They Began Their Teenage Education Together. There Was Just Something About Her, He Did Not Like. Perhaps Sensing, But Not Acknowledging To Himself. That Underneath Her Shyness And Awkwardness, She Had A Certain Charisma, And Warmth. Which Were It Allowed To Shine.Well… He Just Could Not Allow That To Be.
He Knew What His Mission Was. From The Moment He Met Her, All Those Years Ago, And Throughout Their School Time Together. It Was To Make Her So Miserable And Unhappy, That Hopefully She Would Out Of Despair Gave Up On The Particular School She Was At, And Move Away Elsewhere.
His Plan Was To Make Her Very Unpopular Among The Other Pupils. So That Her Time At School Would Become Intolerable. At Least He Had A Few Advantages Over Her. He Was Well Known In The Area. While She Was A Newcomer To The Town. An Outsider. He Already Had A Set Of Friends, Whom He Could Work With To Turn Others Against Her.
The Fact That She Was Pretty, but Quiet Worked To His Advantage. As He Could See Within The First Few Weeks Of Starting Back At School, How The Less Then Pretty Girls Were Quite Envious Of Her. So Began Many Years Of Torment. Which At Times Had Her Running Home To In Tears. Begging To Be Moved To Another School. Another Town. But Her Parents Were Not That Interested In Her Sorry Tales, And Just Told Her She Would Have To Learn To Deal With It. As They Would All Be Living In This Town For Many Years To Come, And There Were No Free Places At Nearby Schools. Distressed Beyond Belief. She Had Considered Running Away. Such Was The Torment.
It Was While Alone In Her Room One Evening Unable To Take Any More Torment, And The Future Looking Bleak And Hopeless That She Took Those Handful Of Pills Taken From Her Mother’s Purse.
As She Lay On Her Bed And The Room Became Dark. She Felt At Peace. It Was The Rough Handling Of Her Body That Briefly Woke Her. The Shaking, She So Wanted To Sleep.
‘My God Child What Have You Done’, Her Mother’s Screaming Voice So Close To Her. The Distraught Face. The Pleading, Fearful Moist Eyes.
Screaming To Her Husband, Downstairs, ’call An Ambulance, Call A Bloody Ambulance’.
She Pulled The Lifeless, Rag Like Body Of Her Beloved Only Daughter Close To Her, And Held Her Tight. Stroked Her Untidy Hair. Willing Her To Wake Up. Her Husband Took The Stairs Three At A Time, And Clambered Into The Bedroom At Speed, Nearly Falling Over His Wife As She Held The Failing Body Of Their Only Child.
‘Did You Call The Ambulance, Well Did You’.
Unable To Answer He Just Took In The Scene Before His Eyes. The Unmade Bed, The Half Empty Bottle Of Pills Strewn On The Carpet.
‘Did You’, The Scream Jolted Him, As He Nodded Yes.
‘Jesus What Have We Done’….
The Paramedics Arrived And Set About Their Work Swiftly. They Ushered The Terrified Parents Away From The Bed, And The Child. Turning Her On Her Side, Into The Recovery Position, If There Was To Be A Recovery. They Set About Resuscitating Her. Firstly By Putting Two Fingers In Her Mouth And Towards The Back Of Her Throat. The Unconscious Child, Retched And Coughed. But No Material Was Expunged. The Seasoned Paramedics, Repeated The Procedure Again. This Time Putting The His Fingers Further Back Into The Young Girls Mouth, So That She Would Empty The Contents Of Her Stomach.
It Was Some Weeks Later Before She Was Released From The Hospital. There Was Talk Of Psychiatrists.
He Had Not Reckoned On A Wiley Old Nun Who After Many Many Years Of Teaching Was Well Aware Of How Petty Jealousies And Psychological Dysfunction Manifested Itself In Teenage Children. She Watched From Afar Everyday How This Girl Was Being Ostracized And Sidelined By Many At The School. Having Come From A Dysfunctional Family Herself, She Knew How Wretched People Can Be To One Another At Times, Whether They Be Young Or Old, And Was Determined One Way Or Another To Help This Young Girl.
As She Yet Again Walked Alone In The School Yard, On A Bracing Autumn Day. The Nun Approached Her
‘How Do You Like Your New School’,
She Was Startled By The Voice, By The Approach, Somebody Actually Speaking To Her At The School. Looking Up From The Hunched Over Posture She Had Come To Adopt In School. To Become Invisible To Others. So To Hopefully Have Some Peace.
‘It’s Okay’, she lied.
Sister Gertrude Was Wise Enough Not To Be Crass And Insensitive. She Knew She Would Have To Tread Gently. To Lift This Poor Child Up. To Restore And Rebuild What Little Was Left Of Her Self Esteem.
‘We Speak About You In The Staff Room. By All Accounts You’re One Of The Stars Of The English Class’, She Lied.
She Smiled At Hearing That. Not Having Heard Praise From Another For Quite Some Time.
‘I Would Like To Hear Some Of Your Writing, Would You Be Willing To Share It ?’
‘Well Come Here Tomorrow, Same Time, And We’ll Sit On The Benches Over There, And You Can Read, And I’ll Listen. I Have To Go Now. It’s Emily,Isn’t It.’
‘Yes’, Smiling Slightly, For The First Time, In A Long While.
Emily Made Her Way Back To The Classroom, For The Afternoon Lessons. Was Her Back, Just A Small Bit Straighter. Was Her Head Held Up, Just A Little Bit Higher. Was That Just The Beginnings Of A Small Smile On Her Face ?
The Afternoon Classes Seemed To Fly By So Very Quickly. In The Silent World She Had Become So Used To. Except When It Was Broken By The Cruelty, The Snide Remarks. The Looks That Could Kill, Of Her So Called Classmates. But None Of That Seemed To Matter Today, As She Looked Forward To Meeting And Reading For Sister Gertrude The Following Day.
The Evening Passed Quickly. Then The Night Time. But Sleep Was Hard To Come By. Was It Excitement. Dread Or Fear. Or Perhaps A Combination Of All Three, That Was Preventing A Restful Night. In The Morning She Arose Early, And Searched In Her Bedside Cabinet For Her Journal Where She Secretly Keep Her Writing Journal. In Which She Detailed Her Private Thoughts And Desires. Her Deep Sense Of Loneliness, Isolation And Emptiness. Her Yearning And Longing For Friendly Human Contact Among Her Classmates. Somebody, Anybody, to speak to her, in a friendly manner. Her Thoughts Of Anguished Despair. Her Violent, Angry Wishes For The Perpetrators Of Her Unhappiness, to be punished severely for their cruelty.
No One Had Ever Seen The Inside Of The Journal. Not A Soul.
‘Are You Looking For Something’, His Smirke Telling Her He Had Yet Again Intruded Into The Privacy Of Her Bedroom. How Many More Times Must She Plead With Her Parents To Put A Lock On Her Door. She Was After All, Fourteen Years Old Now. Not A Woman, But A Growing Young Girl.
‘Give It Back, What Have You Done With It, Give It Back Right Now’.
She Chased. He Ran. Down The Stairway And Out Into The Garden. He Ran To The Bottom Of The Garden, And From The Bushes Picked Up Her Hard Cover Red Journal, And Waved It In Front Of Her. Teasing Her. The Sunshine Shone Down Onto The Garden, And Made The Pool Look So Inviting. He Stood One Side Of The Pool, And She The Other. Sneering At Each Other. He Held It Out Over The Inviting Blue Water.
‘You Pay Me $20 Or It’s Going In The Pool’, He Laughed.
‘Give It Back Now’.
‘$20 Or It’s Good Bye Journal’
Weighing Up Her Options $20 Didn’t Seem Too High A Price To Get Back Her Writing.
‘Ok, $20 It Is Then, I’ll Just Go Back To My Room And Get It’.
She Left The Garden, And Her Kid Brother By The Pool, And Ran Back Upstairs To Her Bedroom, And Retrieved The Cash She Had Been Saving In The Jar. Her Running Away Fund, She Liked To Call It.
She Ran Down The Stairs Again, Before Her Mischievous Kid Brother Changed His Mind.
‘Ok, Here’s Your $20 Dollars’, And Like An Exchange Of World War Two Prisoners,They Met Halfway Round The Pool, He Handed Her The Red Writing Journal. With A Mischievous Grin And She Held The $20 In Her Left Hand, Possessed By Some Demon, She Used Her Other Hand To Slap Him Very Hard Across The Face. Such Was The Force He Fell To His Knees, By The Edge Of The Pool, Feel Forward And His Head Made Hard Contact With Marble Flooring. She Watched Transfixed As Blood Began To Seep Slowly From The Wound And Into The Clear Blue Water Of The Pool.
‘Get Up’, She Ordered Him. Familiar With Mischievous Ways. But There Was No Movement
‘Right You Two, Whats Going On Here ? , Her Mother Demanded.
‘He Has Being Into My Room Again, And Taken My Journal, And Its Private, And Personal’.
‘Do you think that matters now. Look at him,’ she screamed angrily and bent down and examed her son. She noted the perspiration on his forehead, and labored breathing. Gently she shock his shoulders, but he was unresponsive. For the second time in a few short months, an ambulance was called to the house. Emily ran from the scene , and her Mothers understandable anger and weeping, and back to her room, and locked her door. Her private diary mattered little, now. How she castigated herself for her actions. Alone in the darkness of her room, she listened as the ambulance arrived and took her young, unresponsive brother and now hysterical Mother to the hospital.
A long sleepiness night followed. Thats what much regret and recrimination does that to a person. It was two days later before her parents returned home. She listened intently from her bedroom, as they argued and threw accusations back and forward between each other. To be finished by the slamming of doors, and then silence. Emily dreaded the following morning, where she knew she would have to make an appearance at the breakfast table. But she also had to find out what had happened to her brother, as the result of her actions.
Finally the morning arrived, and the dreaded breakfast time. Emily was first to take her place in the kitchen, followed shortly after by her Father. The slamming of the door upstairs and the heavy footsteps, and the angry calling of her name, announced the arrival of her Mother.
‘He’ll may never walk again, possibly never talk again, maybe be in a persistent vegetative state for life. Are you satisfied now, you foolish, selfish girl’. Her voice, loud, angry and cold. The words cut deep.
She looked to her Father for comfort as she had done in similar situations in the past, but he just turned his gaze away from her, and onto the garden.
‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. Please when can I see him’.
No one answered, again Emily retreated swiftly, from the cold, unfriendly atmosphere of the kitchen to the privacy of her room, and locked the door. Many similar days followed. The cold , angry atmosphere changed little. She never got to see her brother at the hospital. The relationship between her parents seemed to get worse. Her Mother taking to drinking copiousness amounts of alcohol, nightly, to deal with the ongoing situation with her son, and his never ending hospital incarceration.
The relationship between Mother and daughter never improved much from thoses days. The relationship with her Father, who silently blamed her for his sons incurable condition, was not much better. Near enough being shunned by her parants, only added to her overwhealming sense of wothlessness and guilt, self hate and recrimation. Add to that the issues she faced at school, her life was miserable beyond belief.
It was through her writing where she found solace. Where she could divulge her innermost thoughts and desires, in privacy. Where she could write of her loneliness and despair, regret and guilt.