Historical Fiction Teens & Young Adult

This story contains sensitive content

[Contains mild sensitive language and poor state of mental health.]

I sat before the quiet river just before midnight clocked. It was as still as my thoughts, and yet, couldn’t emit anything else kindred other than the cold rush of its constant flow that had only the sense of tranquillity wrapped around it. It was me and the perfect nature. Free from all the loud places that we have derived from taking away from the earth, its rights, and privileges. I was away from all the demands of what life is set to be. I could feel the sound of air around me that took a breath with every moving course of this static purity of sum and substance. I am sometimes, led to believe blue is the color of righteousness, for, the heavens, unless engulfed with clouds of rain, are blue and so does this river, free of crystal clarity, lie painted with a shade of blue. Maybe at night, it seemed a little black in correspondence to the dark of this part of the day, which was most alive than under the rise of the sun.

Gaia must have felt an odd presence tonight. Not that of the witches that frequent her bounds, nor that of those that burn incense to offer her, sweet perfume on a certain moon phase or standard, but that of a child whose essence had been lost with every moving day and night. Whose heart was heavy with questions she couldn’t even bring herself to make an utterance of. The sky as always, with the moon making its daily movements and the stars being good companions, seemed to have figured it all out, and could barely be of any apprehension to this puzzle-deep of emotion that was raging inside of me. Oh, but, she was a woman; how far off could our femininity be apart? Atlas, wasn’t her name Selena? Or, what kind of woman, a goddess in nature, could comprehend an entire cycle of nature: Birth, life, and death, but not be of the ability to bear witness to this combustion in my apparatus that never escalates to a state of embers?

“I am scared.” I was able to make a whisper that still echoed right back to my ears. How is it of possibility that words could have such an after-taste? I wished on constant occasions, I could follow the normal mendacious complaint of the societal ladies that was, either way, very fulfilling to their womanhood. ‘I have a demanding job and a family of 3… Phew, I am so tired… My husband gives me no breaks.’ But all I had was an empty structure of myself to give as an offering for my humble search for serenity.

My mother had long written me off on, ’16 is an adult, free me from being a burden.’ In that year, I had to juggle odd jobs with high school, and at one point, it didn’t make sense studying towards a fail and unending disciplinary hearings of unattended classes and incomplete assessments. Either way, my mother was a strong woman. Maybe, setting me free was her plan of protecting me from a life of men, reckless sex, and alcohol. Oh, but how brutal was her protection, for leading me away from a man in the house was throwing me to the wolves in the street.

I missed my father, Matte. Despite his hardened heart, he still knew how to love. It was hard with him being stolen from our country by the military, but we lived, and he was safer. We were fortunate with his deployment contracts that never ended, for he was able to amend for my mother, the debts that her father’s death had left the family with. He had gotten us a small room, arranged for me the grace to attend a public school, and ensured my merits were satisfactory.

That all was until this man that my mother had been betrothed to for years as old as Methuselah, authorized his killing in a state war against the Dutch in the name of claiming back a woman he was given to, by her father in return for a few goats as dowry. Yes, arranged marriages. Honestly, her father had been as much an as*hole as this man he had given his only daughter to.

Matte had his family in London but having gotten my mother pregnant on a certain one-night stand, his conscience couldn’t allow him the avoidance of responsibility. And maybe, he fell in love in a certain stead, thus the further financial assistance/ settling of her credit.

Back to her low-life of a husband; He came back just when her life was on the edge of adding up and took over his prize that he didn't even need. Oh, of course, he was in need. In need of a bag to punch and abuse. Of a mop to wipe from floors, every dirt and mud he had been stepping onto on his path of life. Why? Because, he was a prominent figure, and dare who besmirch the great Hugh Cumberland that seats as high as a Lombard Odier banker? Maybe Sara, oh I forgot, Mary Jane - her marital name that was derived from a famous 19th-century sex worker from England's credentials - could have been a better mother for a career. But what was of avail to amount to for this lifeless figure?

 Apparently, she comprised some of Marie Jeanette Kelly’s features. Unknown hair color - which I knew was a beautiful dark chestnut; her fair skin, which she kept polished most of the time to stay attractive for business; and her slim figure, which I have heard lies result from her constant consumption of substances and abuse. Probably, some of those abortions she's incurred have eaten off of her as well. Either way, this man had truly turned her into the prostitute the former was. For he that has an ill name is half-hanged. True. And maybe, this was a parable he had envisioned. To dare her fate the same.

If vampires were of true existence beyond the normal myth, it wouldn’t be too off-context to believe he is the shadow of Jack the Ripper. For, of some of his deals and arrangements – that I too would have been a victim of should he had caught me eavesdropping - were evisceration plots of virgin girls and mutilation of prostitutes… for these were the women less cared for in society, and whose deaths would make noise only in the cases where a significant person was to make and raise the banter. Fortunately, he liked me beyond the betrayal I was an ongoing essence of. ‘But you are the product of your mother’s infidelity.’ He'd say, after getting me food or a pair of shoes without grabbing me by my throat for forced copulation- which was a payment for his gestures. He felt he had to continually remind me that Sara had broken a vow, and I was the outcome of that unfaithfulness. Oh, but how many had he, himself broken? On a good day, I'd estimate the same as that of my mother’s fractured bones. 

“I am so scared.” I whimpered again. I knew the life around me could see my despair and hear my anguish. The slight shake in the nearby tree that was too shy to communicate back was proof enough of their empathetic attention.

Near the city, I was able to hear people’s wails of celebration for this one year that, as the rest that had already gone by, was near an end. This was usually my time to offer a void thanksgiving prayer with the rest of the cathedral family that had taken me off of the streets in my second year of sleeping under bridges and occasionally, giving oral sex to women whose husbands couldn’t give orgasms to, for a plate of food and sanitary towels.

However, this year was different. For, from my hands instead of dirt, reeked blood. I had been taught faith and forgiveness. And, as much as most of those teachings went overboard, (because what man feeds you in return for nothing but devotion?) I, however, still managed to be of the conviction that the 23 years of life and vitality that had been taken away from me could be rebuilt, as my current employment- that the church had funded as an initiative I had succeeding therapy- was already setting me up for basic life. But, my mother’s pea that was all over the news had surely worked wonders invoking my tamed rage. That bastard. He had killed her.

'Dear, I hope the God that's given you life from me offers me another chance as a better human being in another reincarnation. I am nearer to the grave and this, my departure, shall be your freedom and safety. Good night my dear sweetheart.’

On first thought to reading her letter, which was presented to me as closure following the news by Cecile, her close friend, you could have sworn suicide. Wondering how she had planned to do it... jump off a building, or hang herself like they commonly all do it? It was a split moment’s food for thought. But, coming back to a place of sanity and naught-clouded judgment, it would have been at the opportunity cost of his pride had he not been the sole decider on the terms under which her life ends.

And so, even as the papers addressed it with respect to the murderer’s hierarchy, it was no going around it in the streets that he had stripped her open like the whore that he had made her, and took one last time, her chance to be moral and clothed with dignity. And he, with all sanctimony, still was going to walk away with it, with pride as his badge of honor.

“I stabbed him.” The words came forth as sour as the citrus eureka. I couldn’t hold back my first tear that hit the rock I had found a seat on. Yes. It would have been horrendous for him to make a toast to Christmas while I grieved my mother. He had long killed her, but not all hope was lost.

Finding him in his nude office that was most idle at this time of the season, I prompted seduction for a distraction, ‘Let me fill her shoes and love you.’ I outlined my approach to his ear from his lap. I knew him too well to can be unable to tell Soybean was his strongest link of allergies and a slight injection to the neck would surely buy me sufficient time.

“I castrated him,” I said, with a lump in my throat, believing as much as God makes no mistakes, He’d have still knitted him together perfectly without a penis. I slid my face into my knees and finally, wept.

All these years, despite the brutality of life, I had never brought myself to break the bounds of strength and tap into my vulnerability. But, it was at this very moment that, with every firecracker enhancing its beauty just below the perfect Uranus, I also came into contact with emotion. Pain. Stored up hurt.

It would be paranoia if I were to tell you someone was caressing my shoulder, telling me ‘it’s okay.’ It would appear hallucination, but with every tear that left my eye to water the rock with salt, I felt awe-struck by the comfort that was subduing my wave of emotions.

Maybe, just maybe, the spirit of my shamed mother was hovering over the life that she couldn’t care for as God had trusted her to. But, beyond the church disputing ancestral connection to the world the souls have left, I, myself knew the immortality of Sara had boundaries once on the other side, as they call it.

I had cried a river of tears when I locked eyes once again with the river. And, instead of pulling back in recalling that a lengthened web of eye contact is condescending to another human, I missed my chances to even blink a single second away. I’d have loved to see him float by, as a certain proverb quotes, ‘waiting enough on river banks is sure to flow before you the corpse of your enemy.’ So I could tell him, I forgave him. But, in that stead, I saw my resemblance that was beautified by the beauty of the river. Its majesty shone on me and I could feel its splendor wear off on me. Oh dear, why were you being so kind?

“I was diagnosed with borderline melancholy by the church psychologist. They said it was due to my inability to trust kindness that's without a price tag." I found myself letting out a chuckle. "I am nothing like the Cynics.” Oh, but there I was feeling and saying things I could never say to another human being. Moses, the therapist, would tell me on occasion, my selective muteness was a sign of depression. I’d never say anything. But maybe, my stand of denial was never to be able to conceal the truth.

It was 3 am when I rose to a chant in the woods some feet away from me. I hid behind one of the farther-down rocks and shivered at the coldness of the water’s embrace. But, how warm its accommodation was, with every passing moment, remains replenishing. I guessed the chanters were God’s messengers to lead me into the full might of the water.

"Cleanse the child, your majesty. Set me free from guilt." Taking further off all my clothes, I pleaded. Whatever magic God placed in the water was healing enough to my wounds and I knew even for the rest of my path, my faith was getting revived.

My conscience had long died. Every ounce of pain had watered down all its roots, but I was a no-killer. I had stooped down to his level, and that was inexcusable in my small set of principles. “I forgive you, child.” I was able to say to my heart, feeling God’s love fall on me too. Having been surrounded by such a mass of grace, there was nothing else I could receive and replay.

"Thank you," I said, looking back at the river that was receiving back the light of day from the brightness of a new day and year. With every step I took into the city, I was at a point of relief.

Walking down the barren streets of Luxembourg, I could hear from the silence, the withheld hails of some young men that had been freed from a man of deceit and evil. How terrible had it gotten with him in power that men, specified as strong towers, sheep that can endure anything, had overwhelm on their tongue tips? “You have done everyone a favor.” I made a self-reassurance, before stepping into the church. Good riddance, I further thought.

I was welcomed by Pastor Graham’s warm embrace. His God had told him despite his worry as a father, I was safe and needed the feel of the tale to tell it. “My daughter.” “Daddy.” I offered back. Glancing over his great shoulder of might, I noted the few church members that had already started preparing us all meals. Starting the New Year with a bang.

I was able to quench his curiosity about where I'd spent the night with a brief reminisce of the Moselle river valley, which was, yet overcome by his overwhelm. He only knew me from my smiles, winks, and nods, and could swiftly wrap his head around my first speech being such. Our few verbal conversations had always been on paper.

“Faith carried me through the dark night you had read me once.” I felt at home. Maybe, there was something to celebrate after all. That being family. Friends. And the love all around me. That being freedom.

My mother’s burial was a dignified, small ceremony that I was thankful I was able to give with the help of the church. She had left me some money for a fresh start but I needed not to continually run from my past. It was a bridge I had decided to burn together with her body that she had asked be cremated.

Either way, we both were of the fire element and had been more than just slightly burnt in our era of this life. More especially her.

I understood why she didn’t want to be meat to moths and insects as her body lay soulless, for, she had already been consumed amply.

"She lived, and ferociously." He let out a benevolent smile as I wiped off a tear to prevent its flow onto my cheek. Moses, as much as I hated it, knew how to be a person's strength in their season of weariness. I had watched him mend hearts that were receptive to his care and openness, and I knew when his tempo deduced besides me and my aloneness, he was about to do the same for my guarded heart.

“You are a strong woman, you know that?” He slightly and carefully caressed my back to offer his comfort and pretended to miss my flinch in response to his touch.

“Thank you.” I managed to let out. Maybe, leaning on someone wasn't that bad. Either way, my defensive young self still failed to resist withdrawing from this intimate moment, to walk back to the church. “Hey.” His soft shriek forced back my face on his loving, chocolate face. “I am sure she would want you to celebrate her life.” He nodded.

Maybe, for further celebration, he will be pleased to hear that I will go out on that date he had been talking to the Pastor about. I may have missed a few bombshells, but the transference of falling in love with your therapist had surely hit me rock bottom.

Happy Holidays. Happy 1992.

December 29, 2022 19:00

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Mangaliso_ Mosia
05:49 Jan 06, 2023

Well narrated, you're paving your way to mastering the art of story telling. What a masterpiece I just read!!


Grace Solo
13:52 Jan 06, 2023

Thank you so much, this is very encouraging to read. I appreciate it.


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Wendy Kaminski
14:41 Jan 04, 2023

You have such a great narrative style, Grace, and such evocative depictions! This was great - thank you for sharing it!


Grace Solo
15:35 Jan 04, 2023

Thank you so much... This is so heartwarming to me as this is one of my very few first written stories.


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Graham Kinross
10:19 Jan 02, 2023

Wonderful story, Grace.


Grace Solo
10:33 Jan 02, 2023

Thank you so much Graham, appreciated..


Graham Kinross
14:32 Jan 02, 2023

You’re welcome.


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Cathy Jones
09:31 Jan 02, 2023

Love the way it's narrated... good story.


Grace Solo
10:33 Jan 02, 2023

Thank you so much


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