We’d stand under the miniature woodland of holly trees and native shrubs, each of them trimmed as if they were green flames. To move about them is a sort of music, a poetry that cannot be spoken in words, yet is heard and calms everything that I am. Well was.
I giggle as I see the children run around the trees, how they have grown together, year on year each getting taller. The children create their games around these gentle giants, babies though they are, whispering the magic that comes from such new souls. Sheer joy.
Now the derelict garden, broken bird path, planks fallen, out of rotting cedar wood fence, fence thickly overgrown with ivy, weeds, knee high grass, broken plant pots, a rusty bicycle wheel, crumbling statue, a once cared for herb garden now overgrown, thistles, bramble. So when the police got around to the backyard, the smell of a lost child sprung out. The memories had been shut up there for months. With the scattered first few leaves of fall from the tall Maple, it was hard to pick out of a safe place to stand.
Who was the lost child? Well adult. Me! Such freedom had to be cherished. Locked up in the house was the least worst they could do, celebrations and festivals? Those were all for a show. The first lines get you thinking: this girl has it all worked out for her. Look under the cover. No! Not in that way!
The trees seemed to run with me, so did the sky. The moon trailed along as the stars kept their bright-light tight on the night ahead. Stumbling, I fell upon the giant patch of green grass that was surrounded protectively by the trees and shrubs. Pulling my body up, I wiped my mud-caked legs. I walked cautiously to the centre of the pitch and lay on the grass, just like I had done with Grampy. We’d lay on the grass and look up at the stars. A lake of blueness with imperfect dots that looked up to its two faced emperor, good and bad. The moon let them stay, then transformed into sun, they’d disappear at sight.
Taking my breaths, I closed my eyes. They hurt so badly from not sleeping. But rest was not a thing for me, it had banished from my books when I was 16, fit for a working job. Fit to be a slave. Laying on my back never gave any rest, so I sat upright and held my knees close to my chest. All I could think about was the abuse. My mum had no longer lived but my dad, he became cruel. Locking me up in the basement for a month, barely any food and water. But soon after, when he had gone to work, I would get out and steal the food to hide in the nooks and crannies. The best hiding place was behind a brick. He was not my dad. He was a torturer.
One rough night, he came in, brought a knife. Scraped it along the walls: I didn’t want to die. The sound was deafening, it tortured my ears and my body quivered at the shock. From that night, I ran away from everyone. No one was trustable. Not even the police was trustable.
The swarming thoughts in my brain suddenly smoked away by the barking. My right side was swarmed with police. No. I couldn’t trust them. I had to go. Standing up, I quivered and shook. I wasn’t cut out for this. No you’re the lone wolf. You are the lone wolf.
No insecurities. No stopping. My terms only. Grinning, I ran, my knees ached but I ran. All stayed back but one. He came running on. I could easily outrun him. I wasn’t the dressy type of girl. I was the tracksuit kind of girl. Anyone could see that. Ask any of my... No, no brain. We stay on my schedule. If they take me back, I’ll go back to my dad, I know it.
Nearby is a cliff, run there, hide in of the houses. Yes, you say police will protect you, they’ll hand me back. No risk. Jumping over the roots of the trees, I managed to make it to the cliff. Bending over I felt the rain drain onto my face and cleanse my soul.
But just as my luck blesses me, they surround me again. There was only one option, turning around, I dived into the ocean. The oceans arms wrapped around me and hugged me. It kissed my forehead and screamed out to me to hang in there. Funnily enough, it knew my name, “Grace!” It called out repeatedly. The oceans tides soft hands smothered my face. Spluttering I awoke mouth to mouth with the same police man. My eyes stung and vision was blurry, up to an extent where I’d be blind.
Wiping my eyes, the young man had bright deep blue eyes and a soft yet concerned looking face. As he spoke I looked at his lips, soft and small. I couldn’t make out the words he was saying, something about my dad. I cleaned my ears out with my fingers and listened to him go on about me being irresponsible.
“You are so irresponsible, you could have died!” He uttered out as he massaged his temples.
“You didn’t have to come after me, I never asked you to.” I shakily said as I composed myself. I peered around at the beauty of the island. “Sorry if I ruined your plans for tomorrow. New Years Eve?”
“Don’t worry about the apology, I was suppose to take out my girlfriend, but now I’m stuck with you! Don’t you know how much of a pain you are. Your dad, look he didn’t do anything wrong. Why did you run away?” He spluttered out.
“You don’t know and I can’t tell you. Just leave me alone. Stop interrogating me!”
“If you told me then I would know. Just tell me. Look we’re not getting off of this island until you tell me.”
“Fine by me. I have nowhere to be. I have no-one who needs me. You on the other hand, have New Years Eve, I’m not celebrating. I’m fine with living here. You just go and leave me alone.” I spoke at the top of my voice.
“You’re so stubborn aren’t you? Just because no-one likes you, doesn’t mean you get me stuck here.” He came out with. “Name, James. Motto, get your ass moving!”
“Fine!” Ignoring him, I walked away onto the other side of the deserted beach and took a stick and drew a line to keep us on our own side of the borders. “Stay on your side, k!”
Distracted, he walked into the jungle and never looked back once. Typical jerk!
As day became noon, I felt the horizon shadow upon me. I had to track down this mysterious noise that filled my heard with torture. Wait, what’s that seagull picking at? Running over, a green shell could be seen. Its mosaic like pattern and its head popped out as I knelt down next to it. Putting my palm out, I ushered it into my palm and rubbed its shell soothingly. It was as smooth at butter. I could feel it’s trembling body ache as the rough winds shook at it. As it nestled into my arm, there was the same sound, yet from the ocean. The turtles head snapped to the ocean. I couldn’t leave it alone. I have to go with it.
Taking off my hoodie and tracksuit bottoms, I ran towards the water and eased into the motion. Luckily I had my waterproof trousers on, I didn’t want something biting on me. Gulping the air, I set off, under the currents force, I had to be back in at least 15 minutes, at the most. Swimming deep under the water, I battled the forces as I let the turtle guide me through. The school of fishes brushed past me in a hurry, as we located the sound of the mother. It leapt up as it saw its mother, in embrace, their love filled the ocean.
Departing, I swam back ashore. No sight of James. Good. I didn't want him staring at me. Grabbing my clothes, I pulled on my hoodie and walked on another part of the island. This part would have been grampys favourite place. Sitting down, I could feel a numbing pain in my leg. Dismissing the thought I then looked down at the trailing blood on my leg. Rolling up my trouser leg, it added force to the wound. I then put on my tracksuit bottoms to hide the blood. So be it.
Every time I closed my eyes, I could just see James. I couldn’t be falling for him, could I? Even if I did, that would be unrequited love. I was a lone wolf anyway. Peeling away the chain from my neck, I craned down to lift the lid of the heart. Mum, perched on a chair next to dad, me in her lap. Her smile was a zillion watts. Pulling out the picture, lay behind was the last note of my mother’s to me. It was nonsense but it meant the most. My eyes were dribbling with sorrow as I re-read the letter over and over.
What would be left of my corpse? Life? A life? A joke! What would bring me happiness? Celebrating a new year? A new year of hell, I had nobody to cheer me up and I’m stuck on this island with a... I honestly don’t know. I feel tired, eyesight limited. Just give in my brain tells me. My body resists from all the pain and the same yet different punishments. My heart stays with taking care and leaving the world. 3 options yet all estimated with unhappiness and no happy ending; just give in and let him know. My fate, not his.
Just give in and let him know. This phrase repeated in my head in circles. Another me talking to the me self. My psychotic self. Imagining someone will be there for me when no one would be. What was funny about me being locked up was not that my father was the torturer. It was that I’d sit in the corner but smile at the wall, smile at the wall he’d say but I was smiling at my Prince Charming. Until I found out visions were fake. There is no such thing as foreseeing the future. Fortune teller? Prince Charming would come and I’d be swept off my feet, like Cinderella, Snow White. Or Rapunzel.
I need to give in. Let him know. Let the lucky girl be tacked out on a dinner. Or the last dinner of engagement. His wife should be happy. I’m glad everyone is so happy. The plastic. The glass bottles. The memories. Drowned happily in the sea. Cleansed to the skull. The third option felt better. It was the choice. But before that I had to lock up the demon for good. The inner snitch. Snitchers get stitches? Well not any stitches for me hopefully. This was my departure.
I was going home.
Yup! You heard me, home. With mum, hopefully. Turning over the letter I searched my pockets frantically for a pen, a pencil. I wasn’t in high school! Chalk on an island... no. Ask James... no. Can’t lead him on. Movies, how do they communicate? Writing on the sand. The tide will come in and wash it away. All hard work taken away. Just let it out, you have the opportunities. It’s your dad though, you don’t want to face him in court.
Limping up, I ignore the pain intensely and drag myself towards the rainforest. “James... James...James.” I weakly call out. My power drains away as I trail the place for him. He probably already left. Left me to die. Whimpering, I tried hard to stand up but the floor let’s go of the friction and I slump against the tree. I just made it, but he’s disappeared, I’ll just lay here. The caws of the various species of birds entertains the rainforest. I need to get back up. I have to unless I want freedom. Using all my weight, I drag myself up again and hop out from the overgrown rainforest. I could barely make it out, I felt sympathy for the trees. The sky for looking down at me sympathetically. Luckily the clouds hid the sparks that alerted the world of the misery.
There he was, sleeping out under the sky. I couldn’t interrupt him, not after what I did to him. Leave him alone, my brain tells me, but my hear.... this thing is just pathetic. Just wake him up and leave. Done. But no! My brain is in charge, it poisons me dearly. Staggering forward, I sat next to him, with a big chunk of gap for safety. Should I nudge him? Or should I shake him? Suddenly I brought my hand up fiercely and slapped his face. Mouth trembling, I looked up at the stars as he stared at me furiously. “What was that for!” He shrieked as I looked over at his red hand-imprinted face and tried not to laugh. Instead He gave a short laugh and I smiled a wee bit but lifted myself up again. “It’s not funny.” He whispered angrily.
“This is a one timer so mouth shut, eyes open and ears listening.” Silently he listened. “Name, Grace. Motto, Staying alive.”
Twerking his eyebrow, I shoved his chest playfully but resisted as I remembered his wife. Cant trust anyone but him. He looked at me in the eye as he understood me and encouragingly said, “Go on, don’t worry. Nobody has to know.”
“My dad, after my mum died, he... he,” Composing myself. “He locked me up in the basement, he was really sick and ill. But as time went by, he just left me in the basement, on some work nights...”
Looking up at the sky again, “He... he hurt me everyday. He would get drunk.” Oh the fun he must be feeling inside of him, how he wanted to go to a dinner and now he can. Me, I just have to stay here, or go back if he doesn’t believe me.
All that hung in the air was comfortable silence, the weight had been lifted off of my soldiers. My head felt like an egg. Lose balance, your fault. Stay still, your fault.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” He explained on his behalf.
“Yes, well, no one knew.” I answered and with a huff I looked across the islands sandy pathway. The sea devoured the sand like a predator. Suddenly, I saw him, he ran across the sand. He was still running. Knife in hand, ready to aim.
God, what was happening? I was on the good side, I let out to grab justice from these type of people. “James! James!” I shrieked in terror. I pulled myself behind him as I coward away.
“He’s there! He’s there. Help.” I whispered nervously as he protected me with both arms.
“Go! You need to leave. Now!” He yelled in panic. “Go, move!”
“James, I can’t move. My legs, they’re... they’re not working.”
“What do you mean they’re not working? Run!” He shouted.
“He wants me James, you go. You can move can’t you! Run, just go.” I shouted as I whispered nervously. “I’ve got a plan, you just get someone here for him.”
James scrambled to his feet as I trudged onto my knees and tried to stand up as I struggled. Every time I’d stand up, I would fall. My body was failing.
Splaying in front of me, he chuckled. “Gracie, how are you? Been telling a few birdies about our secret. Have you?” Refusing to answer, my eyes watered. “Have you! I said it once and deserve an answer.”
Refusing to answer again, he charged towards me and yanked my hair. Spitting on the ground, he threw me down. The heaviness of the damage hit my head as it was banged on the floor repeatedly. I could feel the blood drain out from my head, and the stitches that were once well sewn to hide the secret, leeched out in escape.
I felt his heavy hand strangle my neck. Breathing was not an option. My eyes blacked out as my brain thought, a method that killed others to protect itself. Selfishness. My arms stretched out as I felt the sand, the colour from my face poured out to the tip of my earlobe. I felt for the glass, the plastic, anything sharp. All that came in my hands were the gritty, grains of sand.
Sand, sand, sand. Grabbing handfuls of grains, I pinched them gratefully and threw them into his eyes. The burning sensation, made his body falter and quiver as he quivered on the ground and rocked himself around like a baby.
This was my chance, run. I ran as far as I could until I leapt onto the ground with his hip whole weight on my body. He was punching me to death as I felt my brain shatter. My head pounded as it got hit numerously.
“Help me! Help!” I shouted but all I could hear were the faint punches that pricked my body. As I saw him walk away, I crawled across the sand and snatched the glass. He is too far away. If I hurt myself, he will not be able to hurt me.
Groaning, I pushed the glass further into my neck, no returns, this was the end. “No! What’re you doing! Stop!” Wailed someone as the faint helicopter sound whirred above me. All I could do was smile, I got justice. Relieved I lay on the ground.
“Grace, Grace... stay with me.” He panicked as he took a hold of my neck and examined the damage. “When were you going to tell me about you're suicide attempt and your goddamn leg!”
“Stop shouting. Please, it hurts.” I uttered as I peered across at the sky, the distant fireworks could be heard. Luckily the stars never got scared away, they stood by me. Eyes streaming, James gently pushed himself down as he wiped away my tears, and I chuckled until I remembered.
Pushing him away, I said, “Stop. It’s better if you just leave. I don’t want you getting hurt...” Those were the lasts words I said as I faded out from the world and the business.
The beeping noise of a monitor annoyed me as I fluttered my eyes up in annoyance. Squeezing them shut again, I felt the rush of watery waves leap out in relief. “No, shhhh. Don’t cry, please.”
Opening one eye cautiously, he leaned forward to kiss my cheek but looked over as he kissed my forehead lightly. “You didn’t finish your sentence.” I raised my eyebrows up in confusion. “About me getting hurt?”
“You’ve got a wife, I’ve got nothing to do with you. I can’t ruin your night tonight.” Peering over at the clock, it displayed 2 o’ clock. “There’s still time. You can go to your wife for dinner. You deserve it!” I proudly announced as I weakly pulled my arm out to touch his arm to go.
However my arm faltered as it fell until it was caught and put back in place.
“I’m so tired, you have a place to get to. Works out...” I said aloud as I thought, “...for you at least.”
Painfully, I turned around on my side, wheezing and coughing, I stared at my reflection in the glass window; ugly.
“Well, I’ll go now. She’s probably waiting for me.” He said.
Interrupting his leave, I said. “Bye, you’d better take her somewhere nice. Tell her I’m sorry for delaying your time with her.” Smiling, he took his leave.
As he walked out into the hallway, the nurse passed him as he flirted with her. I could hear the chunks of someone being called, “crazy” and should be sent to a “mental asylum.”
The sudden emptiness of the precious years that had been hurt and bruised. In short, I wanted to celebrate my accomplishments “I need to go out.” I whispered to my brain.
The balcony on my side was left ajar, all I needed to do was ask the nurse. Pressing the ‘help’ button, the nurse came in.
“Hi Grace! Do you need anything.” She cheerfully said.
“Could I go out onto the balcony? I just need help onto the chair outside, please?” I pleaded.
“Fine but you have to be careful, okay. Can I trust you?”
Excitedly I nodded as she helped me onto the balconies chair. The freshness filled my kings as I breathed into the cool, crisp air. My legs were covered in bandages. Under the plain night clothes, my body heat didn’t do so much as... dance away happily!
Looking down at the children, I waved at the little children that looked up at me. London was filled with the exciting buzzing of chatter and fireworks shot up repeatedly. Smiling, I laughed as I closed my eyes and felt the energy enter my body.
“Having fun are we?” I opened my eyes in response to the familiar, questioning voice.
“Why are you here?” I questioned. “Where’s your wife?”
“I need to set this straight. I don’t have a wife.” Wincing, he looked down at the floor.
“So you lied to me?” I asked as plainly could.
“Its Fine. Can I just be alone for a few minutes.” I requested.
“Grace, I’m sorry. Please. I know you’ve been lied to a lot, I just, I didn’t want to get attached to you...”
“To my type?” I asked. “To my type of people, to the type that need to go to a mental asylum? The type who need their brain checked because they’re crazy?”
Wiping my tears, “I’ve never cried this much in my life, not even being locked up in a basement by a person you thought you could rely on!”
“Just leave me.” I whispered as I grasped onto the handles of the bench and tried to walk inside. Instead my grasp let loose as he grabbed onto me.
“Come, sit next to me, please. I’m with the person I love.” He said as he looked up.
Pulling him into a hug, I sobbed harder onto his shoulder, “You don’t see things on my side, if you love me, you’ll be in trouble. My dad, People my dad messed with...”
“I don’t care, what’s right is right? Sucking my tears, he kissed my cheek.
“If you love me, prove it...” Pulling me closer he kissed my lips as they went from blue to a rosy pink. “That was amazing, but not that type.”
“We’ll do more of that later!” He said. “But What then?”
“I dare you to scream, from up here to the people down below, anything you want.”
“Hello! Hello!” Shouted James as he looked down, blushing down at the people. “I didn’t know that getting through New Years Eve, I would ask to marry the girl of my life! I just want to say I love you Grace! Repeat after me, Marry James.”
As the crowd chorused together, “Marry James” repeatedly. I screamed out, “Yes!”
The whole crowd cheered as they took pictures of us, videos, and who’s story ended up on the news! Justice shall always be served. James lifted me up like a baby as he cradled and carried me inside. James loaded me onto the bed as he tucked me in.
“Okay, I’ll leave now.” James said as he started leaving.
“Sure, you should rest.” I mumbled as I squeezed my eyes shut to stop them from crying. “Do you have to leave?”
“Fine, I’ll stay for a bit.” He muttered as he walked lazily next to me.
“You didn’t mean anything outside did you? You just needed the publicity.” I blurted out as I lifted myself up.
James came forward as he tried to help me up, pushing him away furiously, he grabbed hold of my wrist and pulled me in. The woody sense and aroma filled my nostrils as I felt him hug me.
Though as he hugged me, I felt my shirt go damp. “James, James. What’s the matter? Please.” I sympathetically spoke as I pulled him back to look at me. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s just... it’s just... I don’t want to hurt you. I love you but what if you’re having second thoughts? I don’t know how to behave around a girl, I’ve never dated one with...” He said as he stressfully blabbered on.
“I love you, okay. You rescued me, you helped me. What else could I ask for?” Trying to get to him, I took each step as I tried to get closer. Scooping me up, he lay next to me in bed as we cuddled. As he played with my hair, I leaned in close, “I’m being discharged tomorrow. Where am I supposed to go?” I asked as I searched his face. “Any hotel names?”
“Why would you need to get a hotel?” He asked. “We’re getting married!”
“I thought you were joking!” I shrieked as he pulled me even closer.
“No, we are together. No regrets.” He said. As we both stared intensely into each others eyes, we kissed. I star gazed into his shiny beautiful eyes. My star gazing was just the beginning.