Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A story for Nicola.

Nicola is a good friend in Ireland. She has a positive attitude about her that she rubs off on everyone around her. Because I blog she keeps telling me I should write a story. A real story, not just a rambling account of something that we did in our day to day life. She is coming to visit this week and keeps saying she is looking forward to reading it.

The pressure was on so I sat down and wrote this...

Enjoy it Nicola!

She stood in front of the sink. Her hands immersed in the warm
bubbles. The freshly washed plates were stacked neatly, the water
running off them and dripping onto the silver draining board. She
closed her eyes and inhaled deeply then breathed slowly out as she
tried to shrug the tension from her shoulders. "everything will be
fine, everything will be fine" She chanted the affirmation silently
in her head willing it to be true with every fibre in her body. Her
eyes opened and she smiled as she saw the small crystal bud vase on
the window sill. It had been a wedding present from her Aunt. The
years had passed so quickly. Life had been simple then and full of
hope. The newness of everything, the ring on her finger and the
promise of love and happiness, of a house full of children's laughter
and toys underfoot. Dreams that had not come true. She reached out and
touched the small purple flowers. They were shaped like a bell. She
had called them snapdragons as a child and had picked hundreds and
pinched the end of the bell closed then clapped them between her hands
to hear them pop. They still grew along the hedgerows, a constant in a
world that had changed so much.

His car pulled in to the driveway, the angry crunch of the gravel
shaking her from her thoughts. The driver door slammed and her hands
clenched around the washcloth and she felt a wave of nausea sweep
through her "everything will be fine, everything will be fine"

As the front door opened and he walked into the kitchen she turned to
greet him with a smile. Her voice light and easy hiding the fear below
it as she asked how his day had been while deftly making a coffee and
handing it to him. The same motions that she went through each day.
Every step measured and calm. Doing nothing to rock the boat, nothing
to channel his anger at her. As she passed him the cup her hand shook
and a splash of the hot coffee ran down the side and onto his fingers.
His face turned ugly and before she could raise her hand to protect
herself she felt it. The hard thud against her cheekbone. The stars in
her vision and the world spinning as she fell to her knees. The
whimper that came from her as she saw the hand come back again. To
teach her a lesson. To remind her never again to repeat that mistake.

The next morning she looked in the mirror. Her cheekbone was an angry
florid purple. She felt the swelling tenderly with her fingers. The
tears stung her eyes as she blinked them back. She should have been
more careful. If she could just learn not to make him mad then maybe
she could avoid the cycle of hiding the bruises. She was a stupid
woman. Stupid and worthless. Other women didn't have to hide their
eyes behind sunglasses on a dull day. Wear long sleeves to cover their
arms in the height of summer. Cancel coffee dates because they needed
to stay closer to home until the rainbow of colours faded enough not
to draw questions. She would learn to be better. This would not happen
again. Not if she tried hard enough.

It was a few months later when she once again found herself at the
sink, slowly washing the breakfast dishes when she heard the gravel
crunch under the weight of a car. She glanced at the clock. The
routine was wrong. It was too early for him to be home again.
"everything will be fine, everything will be fine" her heart thumped
loudly in her chest as the doorbell rang. She walked to the door and
could make out two dark shapes behind the frosted glass panels. With
the safety chain in place she opened the door a few inches and saw the
two policemen on the step. She felt the blood drain from her face and
her hand shook as she released the chain.
The younger policeman looked anxious. He held his hat tight in his
hand twisting it nervously as the senior Constable showed his ID and
requested to come in. She led them into the good room and they sat
awkwardly on the edge of the sofa. She offered tea, coffee but they
refused and asked her to sit. She heard words but not sentences. Car
crash. Dry conditions. Veered into field. Passers by. Ambulance. So
sorry. Her hands smoothed the arm protectors. He didn't like them to
be creased. That had been the first time she had learned how important
it was not to make mistakes. It took a while for her to register that
there were not going to be any more mistakes. No more lessons to be
taught. No more bruises to hide.

It had been 15 days since the police had knocked on her door. The
burial had been arranged shortly after the body was released. It was a
quick affair. The small group of family and friends had murmured
sympathy and offers of help and then hurried back to their cars with
relief. All that was left was the formality of the autopsy results.
She held the letter in her hand. The words were long and unfamiliar.
In the summary she saw "unexplained cardiac event" Possibly an unknown
condition carried for years without sign or symptom. A ticking time
bomb that turned a normal car journey to work into his final moments.

She sighed and walked to the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea.
The cup was too full and it left a wet circle on the counter. Her hand
shot out to wipe it clean then stopped frozen midway. She felt a smile
form on her mouth as she left it there. Instead her hand reached out
and gently touched the fresh purple flowers in the vase. She felt the
tension slip away as she thought back to those childhood walks.
Popping the snapdragons but never, ever eating until she had washed
her hands. Because even as a child she knew that snapdragons were
dangerous, the plant that the medicine digoxin was made from. A drug
that even in tiny doses slowed the heart rate down significantly, even
fatally. She cupped the mug of warm tea in her hands and brought it to
her mouth and took a sip.
"everything will be fine, everything will be fine"

3 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. Wow Gina, that story is fantastic! Very well written :-)

  2. EXCELLENT! I especially enjoyed the ending...well done!! :)

  3. Gina that was fab I was gripped!! another potentional avenue in your incluttered busy life to explore!! Great to speak to you last week xx Hope you had good week xx