Even when it hurts

Jennifer heard two bangs that sounded very similar to thunder.

It was going to be a bad day.

They’d been having a lot of bad days lately.

Jennifer listened as the hurricane upstairs destroyed everything in her path.

She was exhausted.

Please God. She begged before taking a deep breathe, softly making her way up the stairs. Jennifer knew it was going to be difficult, she wasn’t an idiot. She had researched, she watched YouTube videos, she had prayed, she had went to church, she had a phd in developmental psychology, she was ready.

Turns out a doctorate doesn’t offer much shelter when facing a hurricane.

“Ronica?” she said softly as she opened the door, bracing herself for the damage.

Veronica was sat with her back to Jennifer and her head in her hands. Her stringy brown hair covering her neck and shoulders. She snapped her head back so quickly, Jennifer was afraid she might have moved something in her neck.

“My name is not Veronica.” she said with venom, she said it slowly like a snake, enunciating every word, making sure Jennifer felt every single shot. Jennifer felt herself crumbling. She opened the door fully and stepped into the room.

Veronica jolted up.

She was in her territory now.

“What’s going on?” Jennifer tried again, dropping the “Veronica”.

“Why do you care?” the girl asked quietly, Jennifer taking this as a sign of withdrawal,  took two more steps. Wrong move.

“You’re not my mother.” she said. Jennifer felt her hands clam up.

“You don’t love me! You don’t know me!” She was shouting now.

Jennifer remembered when she picked Veronica up to bring her home for the first time. She’d had a tiny suitcase and she had worn a grey hoodie with black leggings, her brown hair as stringy as ever. Jennifer had made the decision to love Veronica then, and to love her for the rest of her life.

Jennifer looked at the girl that now stood in front of her, her face was crumpled up like paper and red, her nose flared and her mouth opened and closed. She looked like an angry tomato. Jennifer looked at Veronica’s hands clamped tightly beside her and her feet stomping.

She’d been thinking about love a lot lately, about what it meant, what it felt like, if she really had it in her, the word seemed unrecognisable to her now, even when she looked at it, it just seemed odd, incomplete.  She’d mentioned her thoughts to her work friends and they looked at her concerned, then she’d mentioned them to her women’s group and they’d said they would pray for her.

She had appreciated that.

Veronica was now walking towards her, she was pushing.

The thud, thud, thud of Veronica’s hands against her, oddly reminded her of rain, or perhaps when water dripped slowly into a bucket. Veronica’s hands didn’t hurt, there was only so much a ten year old girl could do but the shock from her hands on Jennifer’s chest caused Jennifer to take a step back every time.

“I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t want your love! Just leave me alone! Just go away!”

This hurt. Jennifer preferred the hitting.

“You don’t love me! It’s not true! It’s not!” Jennifer felt her heart in her throat.

“That’s not true.” Jennifer responded, holding Veronica’s hands.

“Don’t say that.” Jennifer knew she was crying, she wished she wasn’t. You weren’t supposed to cry in front of your child. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s not true.” Veronica continued, shouting louder as if trying to drown out Jennifer’s words. Veronica was crying too, crying and hitting and shouting.

“It’s not true.” She said finally before falling to her knees, wailing into her hands.

Jennifer looked down at the child at her feet.

She felt it then.

The love that she had been questioning, it had been there the whole time. She felt it as it made its rounds around her heart and then out of her heart, out of her chest, into her throat and into her arms and down her legs to her toes.

She knelt down and put her arms around her child. She felt her stiffen but she didn’t let go, clinging on tighter. She felt her childs’ ragged breaths and felt her lean her head on her chest. Jennifer looked out the window, the wind blew against the trees, dragging them left and right. Jennifer hugged onto her child tighter.

“I love you.” Jennifer whispered first into her hair. Incomplete.

“I love you.” she said again louder. She waited and listened to the wind outside.

“Even when it hurts.” She added. Complete. It felt complete now.

“Even when it hurts.” She heard Veronica mutter underneath her breath.

Jennifer smiled and kissed her daughter’s stringy brown hair.

They’d been having a lot of bad days lately.

But today was a good one.

 

 

 

Pretty on pink.

TRIGGER WARNING: R*PE!

TRIGGER WARNING

TRIGGER WARNING

TRIGGER WARNING

TRIGGER WARNING

…..
Joseph parked his company car on the curb that day slightly annoyed, first of all he was still tired from last night, (although that was something his boss was not to know), secondly, he didn’t know why he had to be the one to drive all the way to this neighbourhood when Nathan could have gone, it was his turn away, the neighbourhood was far away and just full of snotty “upper town folk”. He composed himself before picking up his tool set, this job better be quick, maybe he could get a quick nap before heading back.
Number 11. 
 
The house was a cute house, whoever cared for it really seemed to have a thing for flowers and all things sweet smelling because the front of the house had all sorts of beautiful flowers growing on the front, Lilies, lavender, carnations, roses of all shapes and sizes, a bees heaven.
The sight made Joseph smile, he was quite the gardener himself and could always take the time to appreciate a perfectly perfect gardening job and this job, he must admit was perfectly perfect.
He pressed the doorbell and waited, the windows were wide open and Joseph could see the entire parlour.
It was very..
well..
pink.
Not Joseph’s taste but who was Joseph to judge, people were allowed to like what they like. The sofa although white was covered in all sorts of pink throw pillows, feathery ones, shiny ones, soft ones. The couch itself was something one would find in perharps an antique shop, it was one of those that ladies back in the day laid on to complain about all the suitors they had turn down that day or something silly like that, a fainting couch. Before he could judge the rest of the decor, the door opened and before him stood a young-ish woman, he would say perhaps 23 at most, wearing a pink gingham dress and pink gardening gloves.
She must really like pink. 
 
She had a very warm smile
“Hello there,” she said, and an even warmer voice.
“Hello,” he responded smiling back “you called for plumbing.” She look puzzled at first but it cleared away and was replaced with the same warm smile she greeted him with.
“Yes, yes, come in, I did do that didn’t I?” She said ushering him in, her house was as clean as anything and smelt delicious, like she had just been baking.
“You have a lovely home madam, do you garden?” she laughed and Joseph found himself smiling too
“Thank you so much! And yes, I love plants! Can I offer you something to drink? It’s quite warm today don’t you think? Water? Coke? I also have lemonade somewhere, homemade.”
“Homemade lemonade? I haven’t heard that about in a long time, it’s all commercial now, everything is now.”
“Yes, I make it myself, would you like some?” He couldn’t help himself, and that was Joseph’s biggest problem.
“Yes please.”
“Would you like to wait in the living room? the plumbing work is actually out in the…” her voice trailing off, as she went into the kitchen. Joseph took off his shoes and stepped into the living room, feeling out of place immediately. Everything seemed so pretty and cute, he wondered if she lived alone.
He found pictures of people everywhere he turned, there were pictures of her with people of different shapes and sizes. As he gazed around the room, a picture caught his eyes, it was a picture of two women, this woman he assumed, and someone familiar, he moved closer to inspect the picture.
Yes, he was right.
Cherry from High school, Cherry and him went to high school together but how is it possible? Could the woman be older than him? No, she couldn’t be, there is no way.
He must be a lot more tired than he thought, he reckoned.
“Here we are,” he turned around swiftly almost knocking the picture from its place on her shelf.
“Thank you,” he said picking up the drink. “You seem to know a lot of people.” he laughed referring to the many pictures before taking a gulp
“Yes,” she smiled “Family is very important to me.”
He felt uneasy but laughed it away, he must be tired, this job and he would take the rest of the day off.
He finished the drink in a few gulps, it was very sweet but very refreshing.
“Thank you, it tasted very good ma’am.”
“No problem, yes now, if you would like to follow me, the leak is actually down here.”
She directed him to a set of stairs, the walls were filled with pictures and antique things, cat clocks and interesting frames, everything pink of course.
His stomach ached.
“Right down here.”
“Did you know Cherry, Joseph?” she asked,  he didn’t remember telling her his name.
he was starting to feel dizzy.
“Yes, we went to high school together.” He couldn’t remember much of high school, it was never a good time for him, he was unhappy with his life and he took it out on others, which he should not have but high school was a deadly game and you had to play to live.
“That’s nice.”
Joseph felt his heart race go up, he felt  like he had been sprinting many miles.
“Are you a gardener Mr. Joseph?”
“Yes.” He stopped trying to catch his breathe
“What are your favourite flowers?”
“Hydrangeas ma’am” he gasped “blue ones, they remind me of my mum.”
“How lovely, do you want to know mine?”
Something wasn’t right. Something was very not right.
“They’re called Cobra Lilies.”
He tried to turn around , he was trying to go back the way he came but he couldn’t remember how he started.
“Their scientific name is darlingtonia Californica, how cute.”
“What did you do to me?” he screamed, he felt as though he had gone blind and was trying to claw his way through the house.
“It lures insects into its pitcher with its sweet smell.” her voice was drifting off now. Everything was beginning to feel hazy like on a hot summers day when the air felt slow and heavy.
“Let me out! Let me out!” he cried, a bright light seemed to come from a certain direction but every time he ran towards it, it divided itself into two.
“And it’s interesting,” her voice continued, still maintaining its warm nature but very far away now “because its closed pitchers have numerous, see through, false exits that exhausts its desperate victims as they try to escape.”
“Please,” he begged, panting “Let me out.” his heart was beating so hard in his chest, he thought it might explode.
“Family is very important to me.”
“What did you do to Cherry?” he could see her now, she was there, in the same pink outfit, looking as sweet as ever.
“Nothing, we went to high school together.”
“What did you do to Cherry?” she asked again, all of a sudden, he was there, he was in that room.
The smell got to him first.
“No” he whispered.
He could see himself, his younger self.
He could hear her.
He could hear him.
“Stop! Stop! Stop!”
“What did you do to Cherry?”
“Nothing, Nothing, I didn’t do anything.” the screams got louder. He tried to close his eyes but they wouldn’t close, he tried to move his hands to cover his ears but they wouldn’t budge.
The smell, the ghastly smell.
“Stop! stop!”
“What did you do?”
“I raped her, I raped her, I raped her” he cried, “I took advantage of her, she was looking for help and I took advantage of her.” His legs gave way, landing on his hands and knees, the tears continue to stream heavily.
 He was crying heavily and he couldn’t stop, he cried and he cried and he cried.
 It was him, it was him, it had always been him.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been crying for or even how long he had been there for, it could have been a minute, it could have been an hour, it could have been years however all of a sudden, everything stopped.
He was at the bottom of the staircase now, the woman facing him, smiling that same warm smile.
He could feel a dampness in his trousers and his eyes were painful but it no longer felt like there was an eagle flapping about in his chest.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” he begged  “I’m sorry. Please let me go, I’m sorry, I’m a good man now, I would never, please let me go, I never drank alcohol again ever since, I donate to charities, I make sure women never go out alone, last night at the work party, I made sure I left last so everyone could get home safely, I always do, please, I’m sorry.”
He turned around and ran, he was close.
He was so close.
There was the door handle, all he needed to do was turn it and he would be free.
He reached out to grasp it but he couldn’t, he tried again and again.
“I really would Joseph..” he sank to the floor, crying.
“But Family is very important to me.”
..
The lady picked out blue hydrangeas seeds from her selection of flowers seeds.
“You’ll fit perfectly in my garden,” she smiled and set to work immediately.