An Old Short Tale

The wind blows gently throughout the trees, making a soothing ‘swoosh’ noise with every pass through the leaves surrounding the front yard. As she gradually takes puffs from her cigarette, holding in and blowing out over increasingly longer periods, Caroline begins to feel at ease. The protective feeling of being so small in Jackson’s strong, solid embrace sweetly envelopes her as she rests on his lap, together on their front porch; just like when she was held by her Father as a little girl. It’s a warm, sunny summer day. Not to the point of excess; not to the point of leaving warmth to be desired. She is doing everything she can to allow this moment to take over her; this moment where she is not afraid. “Puff, puff, puff.” The time serenely passes by as Jackson occasionally lovingly smiles at her, kisses her cheek, or the tips of her small, tanned shoulders or the top of her head. As she flicks the ashes into the nearby container, he sometimes expressively recalls to her the pleasant, uncomplicated events of his youth, growing up in the area. Caroline was raised in the area as well, but was not nearly as fortunate as Jackson with regards to family status and wealth. She is thankful for the beauty and sensual presence that she knew she possessed, as this is what attracted an affluent young man like him to a girl like her, with the sordid path she had traveled. In truth, it didn’t bother her to use her appearance to obtain things she would otherwise be lost without. If not for Jackson, she possibly never would have survived another year in this small, hellish Southern town that she was unable to will herself to leave. To be alone here for much longer would have been unthinkable. It was her looks that brought him to her, and it is her looks that allow him to put up with her “spells” of temporary madness. However it came about that he became a part of her life, now he was here and she knew he loved her. With every sweet, gentle kiss and every time he held her in his arms like this, she knew she was loved. He’s doing this for her; to set her mind at ease.

Yesterday, in the evening, something terrible happened. It left her trembling to the point of convulsion in the yard, her teeth clenched tightly together, her stomach in knots and tears streaming down her face. She was screaming out for Jackson. It is this experience that has caused her and everyone around her to question her sanity. It is this experience that she is trying to allow to remain in the deep, dark recesses of her subconscious; pushing it out of the forefront of her thoughts as she intently contemplates little more than the cigarette smoke exiting her lips and the new forms it assumes in the air. At the time of this event, Jackson was out at the far end of the yard, talking with a neighbor whom he used to attend school with as a child. Caroline stumbled out of the home they had recently purchased together, legs wobbly, light-headed, and bellowing out shrill, extended screams. “JACKSON?!?!?!?!?” The sheer terror she could clearly detect in his face, his eyes, even at a distance, remains vividly etched in her memory. In fact, for the briefest of moments, the intensity of his expression halted even her own knowledge of what had just taken place within the home. Soon, she fell to her knees and began rolling in horror on the ground, waiting for his strong arms to swoop her up and protect her once again.  

On the night of the event, Caroline was calmly set at her vanity, in the dimly lit bedroom in the new home which she and Jackson purchased with their own hard-earned finances. Jackson’s family was greatly displeased with him for choosing her as a wife, which resulted in them no longer offering him access to their own family fortune. It was for this reason that Jackson had to get a local mill job, which he had been tirelessly working for the past year and a half. He insisted that they save as much money as possible, while also doing everything he could to make her feel as though he was still her prince, and she, his princess. Whether this meant extravagant dinners a minimum of once per month, diamond jewelry whenever he could get a more-supportive relative to purchase it on the terms that he would gradually repay them, or taking her out for long, romantic drives and picnics in the country on the weekends, where he would make passionate love to her. He took care of her, and did everything at his disposal to make her feel that love; to show her that even without his families’ funds, he was no less of a husband or a man. Caroline could see this, and was helplessly touched and romanced by all of his efforts. This Jackson tried harder than the Jackson she had first met to garner her affections and her pride in him as a partner.

The bedroom in which Caroline sits before her vanity is large and encased in dark wood paneling along the walls and reddish-brown laminate flooring. Remaining predominately unfurnished, the bed she and her husband share sits in the center of the room in front of a large window with a view into the front yard. There is a record player on the far end of the room opposite to where Carolyn is sitting. She refines her typically liberal and striking application of makeup for the evening out that Jackson has planned for the two of them. He has promised to take her for a lavish dinner in a nearby city, and later a romantic movie at their town’s drive-in theater. Through the closed blinds, Caroline can somewhat make out the shape of her husband far out into the yard. She smiles, the mere knowledge of his relative closeness resulting in a great sense of fulfillment and overall inner-peace. “How lucky I am,” she softly remarks aloud to herself.

Mere moments later, she hears a scratching sound in the far end of the room where the record player is located. She quickly turns her head, mildly alarmed and in confusion. What she then sees causes her to become instantly more fearfully-perplexed. The needle of the old record player her Father left to her begins to move seemingly by itself, and the record therein begins to spin with rapidly increasing pace; faster than a record ordinarily spins. She hears a song she has not heard for some time - a song that she vaguely and eerily recalls from a dark time in her childhood; Wonderful, Wonderful by Johnny Mathis. It was she who placed the record player in the room, and certainly would not have allowed herself or Jackson to place any record containing that particular song atop it.

She sits still, mouth agape, every muscle and bone in her body made petrified. Her eyes become visibly glossed over, her vision blurred, as the sound of the song begins to lull her into a semi-unconscious state. At that moment, she sees a red-haired woman with red eyes and long, blood-red fingernails enter the room and levitate mere inches above the floor towards her. Her hair is long, curly and coarse as if it had been ravaged in a red desert windstorm. She is dressed in a long, black hooded cloak and her feet lack human characteristics; almost hoof-like. The music continues to play to the point of blaring throughout the room. This red-haired seemingly demonic womanlike presence levitates before her, staring directly into her eyes and begins to laugh uncontrollably, but can barely be heard through the loudness of the music. Terrified, Caroline only notices herself crying as she feels the tears fall down her cheeks after exiting her enlarged, expressive eyes. The woman before her continues to laugh maniacally until suddenly the laughter ceases. At that moment, the music stops and the womanlike creature does nothing but stare an intense, evil stare with her seemingly blood-soaked eyes, a stare containing unmistakably sadistic anger and pure hatred. The demonic figure wraps its sickly, pale hands and long fingers around both sides of Caroline’s face, and forcibly rotates her head, every bone in Caroline’s neck slowly and painfully snapping. As her head is spun around, Caroline is then positioned so as to be face-to-face with her reflection in the mirror. The woman stands behind her in the reflection, and Caroline sees what looks to be a tall man wearing her father’s work clothing now standing in the very back of the room towards the bedroom door. She is unable to see his face as the mirror’s reflection allows her to see only up to the point of the man’s chest. She tries with every fibre of strength and will within her to spin her head around, hoping to meet her Father’s loving, protective gaze, but she is unable to move her head, the bones in her neck completely broken. Her eyes then meet with a final terrifying sight; her own reflection, blood and mascara streaming down her eyes in place of tears. The woman-creature gradually leaves the room, stopping momentarily before the man in the doorway, then finally exiting. The terror within consumes Caroline, as the music begins again and she slowly closes her eyes, filled with sorrow and helplessness and confusion.

Just then, she feels herself almost “awake” in a sense from an impossibly vivid dream. She proceeds to cautiously but with ferocious abandon, speed out of the bedroom and finally out of the house, beginning to scream after witnessing Jackson, unable to contain her hopeless and adrenaline-filled desire to have his body encompass her. He surrounds her at last. Overwhelmed with the inability to understand her affliction, he wants nothing more than to make her O.K.

May 12, 2014

It’s better to be smart than sorry.

Far too often have I allowed myself to be betrayed without purpose or gain. Words can be pretty and they can temporarily console, but they can never act as a substitute for tangible restitution.

In spite of the damage that has been caused to my once far more sensitive disposition, there’s still some part of me that feels a sense of “guilt” for demanding what I want, what I deserve, in response to being mistreated. This layer of my psyche was perhaps instilled in me from a childhood of watching my mother repeatedly forgive, accept, and enable an alcoholic and abusive husband and stepfather while imposing zero adequately enforced expectations. However, my purpose now, if I am to survive this tumultuous and often one-sided “marriage” is to hone in myself an ability to disregard that eternally compassionate and forgiving component of my being. I shall instead opt for material, and otherwise measurable non-verbal retribution for my suffering. It’s all got to be worth something in the end. If all of my efforts to create something meaningful from this hell-bent union ultimately go to shit, I don’t want to have suffered all of that pain and torment for six years only to have nothing to show for it. I will not deny, nor begrudge myself pragmatism.

It is the stupid girl whom allows herself to be assuaged by honey-sweet nothings in her ear after being slapped around or verbally desecrated. Far wiser, if leaving altogether is not an immediately feasible option, is to demand evidence of one’s proclaimed “good faith”. I’m done allowing myself to suffer in return for mere words. Now I am going to ensure that if I get out of this alive, I don’t leave empty-handed.

I have to look out for myself. I have to force myself to put my needs first. It is paramount to, at a minimum, my emotional survival.

May 12, 2014

It’s May 12, 2014.

I’m 21 years old. My husband is an abusive fucking asshole. He can be so sweet, so charming, so handsome. But at the heart of it, he’s a lying, cheating, violent prick. 

I have wanted so badly to have a loving family with him. I was innocent when we met. I’m not anymore. I possessed a depth and breadth of feeling and an open heart with a well of love to bestow upon him; always him.

He’s done, to my way of thinking, unimaginable things to my body, my mind, and my spirit. He knew of my fragility. Fragility can be a precious gift in the right hands. In his hands, it was a means of gaining power through destroying something smaller and gentler.

I have not suffered this torment gladly, but I have always come back for more. I have been unable to find the strength to leave. And so, despite all of his promises and tearful apologies and declarations, further torment has been generously heaped upon me. I begrudge him the decimation of my once childlike and tender spirit. I have, however, been guilty of accepting the love I thought I deserved.

His indifference is his most piercing weapon. He enjoys wielding it in our emotional battlefield and watching me writhe and squirm as he slices through my humanity. He could end this suffering at any moment. This suffering is great, it cripples me, and leaves me begging for mercy in a disgraceful pool of blood and tears. He lets me bleed, he watches from afar, unaffected, as my tears fall. My suffering doesn’t move him. If he wanted me at all, he’d want me this way.