Tag Archives: Short Story

Hear no evil

Hear no evil

Hear no evil

“Seriously, why can’t all you ‘survivors’ just shut the fuck up?  Why do you have to ruin people’s lives?  I mean, it all happened years ago, right?  So, why can’t you just get over it?  Why can’t you leave it be?  Why do you have to drag it all up, and destroy other people?”

“Steve!” Enid exclaimed.  “Don’t be so rude!”

“Oh, that’s okay, Enid.  Steve is entitled to his opinion.”

“But…”

“Enid, don’t be embarrassed.  There a lot of people out there who think and feel just like Steve.  So, Steve, do you really want to know why we ‘survivors’ speak out?  Or, are you just letting off steam?”

“Oh, I’d really like to know.  I am so sick of hearing about people having a good old whinge because they were abused as a child.  I wish you’d all go die in a hole together somewhere, you know?  You’re all a mob of sooks – wimps who can’t take a well-deserved thrashing, and now want everyone else to pay.”

“Really?  Steve, you have a daughter, right?”

“Yep.”

“And how old is she?”

“Four.”

“And you wouldn’t dream of having sex with her right?”

“Are you kidding?  She’s my daughter, for fuck’s sake!”

“True, but some people do have sex with their children, and even when the kids are younger than your daughter.  All you have to do is pick up any newspaper and you will see it is happening all the time.”

“I hadn’t really noticed.”

“Anyway, you knew my father quite well, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s why I reckon you’re lying.  He wouldn’t have done any of the things you say he done.”

“Ah, but he did.  And his favourite age for young girls was six years old – not much older than your daughter.  Most of his friends have young daughters.  He would spend lots of time with their parents and, in the process, lots of time with the girl.  He would tell the parents he could mind their daughter if ever they needed time out…”

“Like he did for us?”

“Yep, just like that.  Over time, usually a few years, he would then start making the girl feel special – praise her for doing things that pleased him, giving her special treats, treating her like she was a little princess.  If they were a little older, he would play on their budding sensuality, flirt with them, tease them to make them blush, touch them ever so slightly here and there to get them used to being near him.  Talk dirty, occasionally.  I’m sure you’ve seen this happen?”

“Like he was doing with Jessie?”

“Exactly.  His favourite thing of all, was to take them away for a weekend or school holidays – camping or something similar – take them to somewhere they’d never been before.  All in the name of education, of course.”

“Didn’t he take Margaret to the city once?”

“Yes, he did.”

“That doesn’t mean he did anything.”

“True, but what if I am not lying, and he did?  How would you feel then?”

“Dunno.”

“From the way you have spoken before, Steve, it sounds like you hate me for speaking out?”

“Yeah, you killed him.”

“You are entitled to your opinion, but what if the things I am telling you are true?  How would you feel about me if I hadn’t spoken out?  If I hadn’t brought this to people’s attention, and he had continued grooming your daughter?  What if he had put his fingers in your daughter’s vagina because I hadn’t broken the silence and tried to stop him molesting other girls?  What if he progressed to raping her?  How would you feel about me then?  If I had known what he was like, but never said anything?”

“I’d be pretty pissed.”

“You would probably hate me even more than you do now.”

“But I don’t think he did what you said.”

“Go away and think about it.  Think about all the times you have seen him with your daughter, had her on his knee, tickled her under her shirt, showered with her.  Think of all the times you have seen him with other girls.  Really look at how he behaved.  The inappropriate double-entendres with prepubescent and teenage girls.  The eagerness to have young girls stay over.  The trips away with one or two girls at a time…”

“But his wife was always with him.”

“I was molested with my mother in the room.  I can guarantee it can happen in a split second and right in front of other people.  Where there is a will there’s a way, and he had perfected his methods.”

“That can’t be true.”

“Just think about it.”

“Maybe.”

“Steve, there are lots of other reasons we speak out, but the safety of those still in danger is often a major factor in the decision.  The reason it usually takes so long, apart from all the psychological damage that has to be worked through, is that most people who were abused as a child think they are the only victim.  If it’s only them, why bother?  But when others are at risk of experiencing what we’ve experienced, the matter becomes urgent.”

“I still don’t think it’s true.”

Moving

Moving

A moving story

Four days!  Four whole days!  Can you believe it?

I was relaxing by the window, just enjoying the view, when suddenly I was locked in a car.  I had no idea where I was going.  I couldn’t get out.  I had no room to run.  The car was jam-packed with stuff.  Stuff!

I cried.  I howled.  I expressed my unhappiness is so many ways.

The first day was not too bad.  It was a relatively short journey.  I was so excited when the car stopped.  I thought I’d have a chance to escape, but it wasn’t to be.  I was locked in a bathroom!  A bathroom!  You’ve got to be kidding?

No light.  No company.  Just me, the cold floor tiles, a shower and a toilet.  I was given a pillow to lie on, but what was the point?  I scratched at the door.  I cried some more.  Let me out!

Eventually I collapsed from exhaustion.

I saw the sun through the bars on the window the next morning.  I hoped to be going home.  She was talking to me through the door.  Telling me everything was going to be okay.  I didn’t believe her.

I was locked in the car once more.  I had no idea where we were going or how long it would take.  It seemed like forever.

The car stopped.  I was manhandled and told to go to the toilet.  Excuse me?   The indignity!  I didn’t need to go, well, I did, but I wasn’t going to urinate on command.

Back in the car.  Hours and hours and hours went by.  The light began to fade as the sun went down.  Again I was dragged out of the car and dumped in a small room.  At least it wasn’t a bathroom, I guess.

This time there was a comfy bed.  Some nice food, and some milk.  I still cried.  I still voiced my disapproval.  I just wanted to go home.  Why was she doing this to me?

Day three and it was back in the car.  I was too drained to fight.  The heat was unbearable.  I was panting like a dog.  A dog, of all things!  She stopped the car and put a rope around my neck.  She took me to a river.  I froze.  Petrified she was going to drown me in it.  I couldn’t move.  I didn’t know what to do.  The heat!  The flies! 

I didn’t drown, but I almost wish I had.  Back in the car!  This time I just hid.  I buried myself under all of the stuff.  Who cared about the heat?  I didn’t want to know.

Another small room as the sun went down.  Another bed, but not so comfy.  I slid under the covers and curled up tight.  I just hoped this would all end soon.

Day four.  She was excited.  Her voice became shrill.  It was painful to hear.  She was waffling about how great it was going to be.  Great?  Locked in a car for days on end?  What planet was this being on?  This was the furthest thing from great I could think of.  How dare she drag me away from home?  How dare she keep me from escaping?  How dare she even think that I would enjoy this?

The car stopped.  “We’re here!” she shrieked.

Where’s ‘here’?  What?  A house?

My confused mind had been addled by the trip.  I no longer knew where I was, what day it was, and I almost forgot who I was. 

Four days!  Four whole days!  It took four days to get here – to my new home. 

The Truth

Truth

I discovered this short story in my draft folder from September 2010.  

Collapsed in the corner, Tanya feels raw and exposed.  She feels like her skin has been stripped from her body.  She has carried the burden of The Truth inside for thirty years and it has eaten her alive from the inside out.  Her annihilation will be complete when the shell of her body finally gives way to The Truth’s crushing weight.

Tanya knows she should be feeling relieved.  She knows she should be proud of what she so recently accomplished.  She knows her family expects her recovery will now be complete and The Truth will no longer matter.  She knows others think she has weathered the worst and she has come out the other side beaten and bruised, but relatively intact.  She knows they are wrong.

Confronting her fears and taking The Truth to the one person that can validate her memories has used up the last of her strength and energy.  Tanya is barely able to breathe.  Her brain is low on battery power and the signals are not reaching their destination.  The pain streaming from her pores is all she can focus on.  The pressure of The Truth across the back of her neck and shoulders feels like a yoke.  Cries of anguish emit from her lips, but Tanya is oblivious to the sound.

Denial would have been easier to handle.  Tanya had planned contingencies for that.  Even anger would have been better than the calmness she had just encountered.  His lack of regard for the enormity of the impact The Truth has had on her, even after Tanya gave details, left her hanging onto life by one miniscule thread of hope.  A thread that seemed certain to snap at the slightest application of pressure.  A thread so frayed and stretched to capacity, it could be argued that its attachment to life did not exist at all.

A part of Tanya is fervently wishing the thread will break so she can enter the promised oblivion of non-existence.  However, out of nowhere, another part of her is praying in equal measure for survival.  Trying to ignore the vague hope within, Tanya wraps herself in loneliness.  The invisible cloak stings her exposed flesh, and it is almost too much to bear.

Tanya knows she will soon have to face the world.  She imagines her responsibilities hanging over her head like an executioner’s axe.  One false move and the blade will fall.

Distracted, her brain engages in this fantasy, and Tanya visualises her corpse being picked over and analysed.  She knows they will only see a body – headless and bloody.  No-one will know or understand the terror she has experienced.  Physical signs of torment will not exist.  Her mental and emotional scars will not be seen by even the most experienced scientific eye.  So, will that mean that her life has been wasted?

Tanya feels desolate at the thought of having lived for nothing.  Has she existed only to carry the burden of The Truth, and to drown in its pain?

The tiny thread of hope shudders and grows a little stronger.

Tanya’s keening stops and she struggles to sit.  On auto-pilot, she begins to draw deep, slow breaths and to still her mind.  Her meditation practice kicks in and her breath becomes endless – no beginning, no end – just a gentle flow of life, in and out.

The calming effects are almost immediate.  Tanya feels her muscles begin to relax and her mental strength begin to increase.  She allows herself to rest for a few more minutes, and then she pulls herself up.  She leans against the wall for a moment, takes a deep breath in, and moves to the nearest chair.  Her legs are shaking as she walks and she stumbles, falling into the chair rather than sitting.

Once seated, Tanya again questions the reason for her existence.  What if her years of torture caused by The Truth have been for a reason?  What if there is a purpose to her life after all?

The thread of hope grows stronger as she contemplates the possibilities.  The pain is still there.  How can she use her emotions to achieve something positive?  Tanya considers this change in her thinking.  Moments ago she was seeking oblivion, and yet here she is contemplating moving forward into life!  Is it possible there are others like her in need of someone who understands?  Pondering this question, for what seems like hours, Tanya arrives at the conclusion that there must be.

Not caring if this answer came from fact or wishful thinking, Tanya dries her eyes and starts to formulate a plan in her mind.

Why?

“I can’t believe you even need to ask that question.  In fact, that you’ve asked it shows just how much you don’t understand!  Let me tell you something, never knowing from one minute to the next whether you are the child, the cook, the cleaner, or the lover, tends to mess with your head.  Add to that, the absolute bewilderment of having someone literally knock the living daylights out of you, unexpectedly, and for a reason or reasons unknown, and you start to doubt your own sanity – even as a child.  And when you are constantly threatened with your own, or someone else’s, torturous death if you so much as make a peep about what was going on – and you know the person making the threats is well and truly capable of doing just that – well, you learn pretty quick to put up and shut up.  On top of all that, things like incest and child sexual abuse were not discussed in private, let alone in the media, thirty, forty, or fifty years ago.  There were no kids helplines, no public education that such things occurred, or that they were wrong.  Back then, kids didn’t have rights.  What did it matter if a mother beat her son in private, or a father had sex with his daughter?  What happened behind closed doors, stayed behind closed doors.  But think about the behaviour.  Think about the number of attempts to run away, the severe mood swings, the total lack of respect as a teenager, the drinking, the drugs… Oh, that’s right, you just assign those things to her being a bitch of a child.  Headstrong, inconsiderate, uncontrollable… those are the words I have heard you use before.  You, yourself, put pressure on her not to say anything, even though she was in her twenties then.  You never questioned then, that what she said was true, and you still did nothing to help.  All you were worried about was that she might bring the family into disrepute.  Well, you disgust me!  And you have absolutely no right to now ask why she had to speak out!”

Senility

I just don’t understand.  Everything was moving forward, falling into place, and dragging me along for the ride, but now… nothing.  Worse than nothing.

What am I going to do?  I made all these promises that now, I can’t keep.  Dozens of people are relying on me, but I can’t come through for them.  I’ve lost everything.

Slowly I am drowning, dying, disappearing into nothingness.  Maybe they won’t notice.  Maybe… maybe I don’t really exist.  Maybe everything I think is real, really isn’t.  I thought what I had was real, but it wasn’t.  Maybe I am hallucinating.

Oh, what am I going to do?  No job.  No home.  No family.  Nothing.

This grass is cold.  My bum’s all wet from the dew.  My face is burning, but I don’t know why.  I don’t think I care.  I just need to work out how it all went so wrong. 

I smell.  I need a bath.  A shower.  Where was that pond I passed yesterday?  Why don’t they put taps in parks anymore?  What caused me to be here?  What did I fail to see, or do?

Dad always said I’d amount to nothin’.  How did he know?  “Useless as tits on a bull,” he said.  “Thick as two bricks, and not much bloody smarter.”  Well, I guess he was right.  I can’t be too smart to have lost what I’ve lost.

There’s no way out.  I’m pretty sure.  I mean, what can I do?  I have nothing to give, nothing to make up for everything.  It was all going so well.  What went wrong?

The sun’s up now.  It’s getting hot.  Steam’s rising from the ground as the heat boils the dew.  I can’t go back there.  I just can’t.  They’ll do things to me I just can’t bear.  The pain’s too much.  I need some peace.

“George!”

Oh, shit!  She found me!  I can’t get up.  There’s nowhere to hide.

“George!  What on earth are you doing here in the garden?  You’re all wet, and what’s that on your face?  Ugh, you smell like turpentine, what have you been up to?  Everyone’s been looking for you.  You were going to play the organ for the dance.  Come along now, George.”

“But it all went wrong.  I’ve lost everything.”

“That was years ago, George.  You’ve got a nice home with us now.  C’mon, the nurses will help you.”

One Day

“But why, Mum? I don’t understand.”

Maisy sat on the riverbank. The green grass made a perfect contrast to the bright yellow of the skirt she was wearing. Her feet dangled over the edge of the bank and were touched, every now and then, by the cool, clear water of the river as small waves lapped at the sandy edge of the bank.

Maisy’s mother, Joan, was lying on the grass beside her daughter, shielding her face from the sunlight.

Sighing, Joan replied, “I don’t understand either, Maisy. All I know is that your father never left a note or any other indication that he was leaving – he just didn’t return home from work one afternoon.”

Joan wondered how she could ever explain the events of the past to her daughter when she didn’t know what really happened herself. Her mind wandered back to that fateful afternoon that changed her life forever.

The day had started just like any other day for the previous seven years. Joan had risen early and prepared her husband’s breakfast. Then, as he had carried out his morning ablutions, she had packed his lunch, put a load of washing into the machine, and started on her daily round of housework.

Her husband had hugged and kissed her goodbye in the same manner he had every day of their married life together. He picked up his lunch, said he would see her that night, and walked out the front door.

That was the last time Joan had seen or heard from him.

After getting the children dressed and off to school, Joan had scrubbed, dusted, swept and vacuumed her way through the house carrying out her daily chores. She had gone grocery shopping and mailed some letters to her mother and sister. Then she had returned home and started preparing the evening meal of roast pork and lemon delicious pudding, which were her husband’s favourites.

The children returned from school, completed their homework, bathed, and then started playing a board-game together. Maisy was very conscientious about not letting her children watch too much television, so they had to find other ways to amuse themselves until their one hour television treat after dinner each night.

At four-thirty in the afternoon, Joan began to listen for the sound of her husband’s car pulling into the drive way. By five o’clock she was a little anxious. Her husband never got home later than five o’clock. He was the most punctual person she knew, and he always made sure he was home by five so he could spend some time with the children before dinner.

Joan was very edgy at five-thirty, but made herself wait until six o’clock before she sat down and thought about what to do next. She forced herself not to visualise the accident that was most certainly the only reason her husband had not arrived home from work.

At ten minutes past six, Joan started to phone all of the hospitals in the area to see if her husband had been admitted through the emergency department. She was not sure whether to be relieved or terrified when they all told her that no one answering to that name or description was a patient in their hospital.

After calling the hospitals, Joan began calling all of her husband’s work mates to see if they knew where he was.

Bob, the first person Joan called, had been home sick all day, so he didn’t know if her husband had been at work or not, and had not seen or heard from him since the Friday before.

Joan rang five more people and although they all told her that her husband had been at work until knock-off time, they did not have any idea where he was now or why he had not arrived home.

As her anxiety grew, Joan became more persistent in her questioning of her husband’s work mates and discovered that her husband had appeared to be his normal self during the day and had given no indication that there was anything amiss in his life.

James and Billy, the last two people Joan spoke with, offered to go out and look for her husband. “He can’t be far away,” Billy had said. “I’ll just duck out and take a drive between work and your place. His car might have broken down or something. You’re probably worrying for nothing, Joan.”

Joan did not take any comfort from Billy’s words.  If her husband’s car had broken down he would have called. There were plenty of places he could have asked to use the telephone to get a message to her.

Trying not to alarm the children, Joan laid out their dinner and left them alone to eat it while she continued making phone calls in the search for their father.

Her husband’s family had not seen or heard from him in weeks. Mutual friends of Joan and her husband had not seen him. Joan’s family had not seen him.

Billy rang Joan at seven-thirty and let her know that neither he nor James had located her husband. Billy told her he would send his wife around to Joan’s to look after the children while she continued her search.

Joan was almost out of her mind with worry when Ann arrived. Ann and Billy had been friends with Joan and her husband for as long as they had been a couple. In fact, it was Ann and Billy who had introduced Joan to her future husband.

Ann wrapped her arms around Joan and told her not to worry. “I’m sure it’s going to be something we can all laugh about tomorrow. Maybe he’s gone to the pub?”

For most husbands that could be a possibility, but Joan’s husband did not drink alcohol, not even an occasional social beer. Ann knew this, but she didn’t know any other possible scenario that she could tell Joan to help her stop worrying.

James and Billy arrived at Joan’s at nine o’clock. By that time, Ann had managed to have the children in bed and asleep and had set Joan the task of  making a list of all the people she had already contacted and another list of anyone else she could think of that might know where her husband was. The tired and despondent expressions on the faces of the men as they entered the dining room sent Joan into a debilitating mixture of crying, sobbing, anxiety and panic. Billy hugged her until she had calmed a little and then held her face between his hands, looked her in the eye, and calmly said, “I think we should notify the police.”

Joan slumped to the floor and covered her face with her hands. She felt she had not a single drop of energy left, but she slowly nodded her head. “Could you do it please?”

The police had arrived shortly after Billy made the phone call. The rest of the night was a blur and the investigation that followed seemed never-ending, and in reality it was because they had never located her husband, his car, or any of his belongings. Nothing.

Joan’s husband had walked out of work, waved and shouted goodbye to his mates, just like he always did, and started driving down the road to his home – but he never arrived.

His bank account had never been accessed in the years that had passed, and despite endless hours of searching, a national broadcast of his photo and plea for help from the public to solve the case, the police received very few leads, and the ones they had were mostly hoaxes.

Joan had tried to stay strong for her children. She had almost taken her own life though when she had found out she was pregnant two weeks after her husband had disappeared. At the time she had felt angry that this child was coming into the world when the man whom she loved with every fibre of her being had been taken from her. She had felt she could not bear another child to bring up on her own as she already had three – two boys and a girl.

In the end, however, Joan had found Maisy to be a blessing. Maisy had taken her mind off of her missing husband enough to bear his loss. The pregnancy and Maisy’s birth had provided some positivity and happiness in an otherwise bleak and depressive period of Joan’s life. The other children had been wonderful. They were all too young to remember a lot of the details of the afternoon their father disappeared or the tough times their mother experienced in the weeks and months following.

These days they are all well-adjusted young adults building fantastic futures for themselves.

However, it was Maisy who asked all the questions and now it was just her and Joan at home, Maisy seemed relentless in her quest for answers but Joan was unable to supply the answers her youngest child required.

Sitting up and moving closer to her daughter, Joan put her arm around Maisy and said, “I don’t have the answers for you sweetheart. I don’t have the answers for myself. All I can do is be here for you, Maisy. Maybe one day the police will find out what happened, but maybe they won’t. In the meantime, I have enough love in my heart for you and your brothers and sister to compensate for a dozen parents and I will support you in anything you do.”

“I’m glad, Mum,” Maisy said, “because I will find out what happened to him. One day.”

[Fiction] Friday Challenge # 242

The [Friday] Fiction Challenge for this week from Write Anything is “Martin Luther King Jnr was born this week in 1929. Use the first four words of his most famous speech to begin your story (of any genre) with “I have a dream”.”

I have a dream. It’s in the small silver casket on the sideboard. I found it at the beach last week. It’s a bit battered and bruised, you know, like someone has just dabbled with it and not fully committed to achieving it. That’s the thing with dreams, if you don’t give one hundred per cent to following them through, they begin to deteriorate, become emaciated, and eventually die.

I’ll keep this little fellow until he’s regained his health. It could take a while, but when he’s feeling better I’ll take him out and see if I am able to take him on myself. Once I know if he can become my dream, I will start making plans towards achieving it. I’ll have to make a list of pros and cons, and use the pros to create strategies to overcome the cons. I’ll have to set a time-frame and some mini goals so I will know I am on track. I’ll have to step out of my comfort zone and stretch a little.

Yeah, it’s going to take a lot of work, and will probably be hard at times, but if I take the dream on, the end result will be worth it.

So, what will happen if the dream up there on the sideboard is not something I desire? Then, I will release the little fellow back into the Universe for someone else to discover.