Dazzling traffic lights flickered all around, mesmerising me. I couldn’t quite believe I was actually here. I’d really done it. My biggest dream – well, it had come true. I pressed down on the pedal, butterflies tingling in my stomach as the car rode forward, up the busy street, past the grand houses, the proud trees, dotted with the few golden autumn leaves that were left dangling from the branches. The mountain stood humbly on the horizon, covering parts, just parts, of the glistening orange sunset. As I watched the magic happen around me, my mind flashed back to three months ago, when I was living in my aunt’s basement, practically locked away from the rest of the world, caged in, desperate for some sort of escape, a chance to become somebody, to do something with my life. Fast forward a month and I’d fled the cage; I was free, free to do anything I pleased. I had big plans. The blurry amber light threw me off as my mind blanked, my vision hazy. I rapidly shifted forward, completely unaware that the light had now turned a vivid scarlet. And that’s when it hit me. Quite literally. All I saw was the glass shatter in front of me. All I heard were the deafening honks and screeches around the vehicle. All I tasted was the bitter blood that flowed instantly from the back of my throat. All I felt was my heartbeat slow, my eyes flutter and eventually shut.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
My toes tingled, sinking into the damp sand as the soft waves kissed my feet, coating them with a thin layer of refreshingly cool salt water. I watched the horizon, the last pale coloured rays reflecting onto the water, glimmering through the evening air. I tossed my flip flops behind me, noticing I was completely alone, nobody around. It was better that way; I was left with just my thoughts. I could almost hear the wind whispering valuable advice into my ear, it’s not your fault, but I chose to ignore the wise words, instead overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of melancholy. Although I gazed directly at the clear ocean water, all I could really see was the door slamming, Mum’s tears flooding our new burgundy carpet. He’d left. Just like that. The bitter arguments had been leading up to it for months, but somewhere amidst my childishness, my naivety, I’d never thought about it actually happening. He would never actually leave. My own father, the very same man who’d first brought me to this beach, lifting me up high so I’d bounce me over the waves, whirling me around lovingly. I pretended I could fly; I was on top of the world. When did that world come crashing down? In the past years, he’d never once agreed to come to the beach with me. “I’ve got work darling.” He’d smile and lay a tender kiss on my forehead before heading into his office and shutting the door firmly behind him, giving me one last insincere look of affection. I’d come alone, watch the broad smiles of other children, hear their overjoyed laughs as they built sandcastles, look on as they fell into the sand after a hectic chase, the beams never leaving their faces. I’d watch the sunset through a blur of tears, trying to convince myself that he’d come another day. He never did. I’d come home, flinching as I tiptoed up to the door, already hearing the yells. I’d cautiously let myself in and sprint up to my room, locking the door behind me, only wanting to lock out the screams, only wanting to be a child once more, only wanting to have the perfect family. The sudden crash of the waves shocked me out of my trance as I wiped tears of guilt from my cheeks, swiftly spinning around, turning my back on the ocean, the sunset, the beach and the life I’d had before. Things would never be the way they were.
Friday, 23 August 2013
I ran. That’s all there was to do. Run. The drenched concrete sliced at my bare feet as I cursed myself for not bringing any shoes. There wasn’t time. I grabbed the umbrella and left, without glancing back. I couldn’t bare the look on her face, the disappointment gleaming in her hazelnut eyes. The one person I couldn’t stand to see unhappy. All I ever wanted to do was make her proud. She’d seen it all, every step of the way. My own mother. I ran to shake off the guilt, to make the memories fade. The midnight sky blanketed the forest, trapping my feelings inside. No matter how much I ran, I couldn’t escape it. “I’m sorry...” I mouthed the words into the wind. My endless tears mixed with the icy winter raindrops as I sunk into puddle after puddle, tired of running, tired of the shame, tired of trying to get away. Was it worth it? Slowing down, I gasped for air, blinded by the single light that glowed through the thick downpour. I collapsed onto the floor, desperately hugging my knees to my chest. “I’m really, really sorry.” I sobbed the words. Even the normally vibrant fuchsia colour of the umbrella was dulled down as it was attacked by the storm. I watched each droplet violently bounce off the surface, almost angry at the shield, angry to be faced with any sort of protection. I pressed myself to the ground, wishing the rain would wash me away as I realised that my mother, my own protection, was gone forever.
Sunday, 18 August 2013
Layers of fat overflowed into my hands as I pinched hard at different parts of my body, longing for it all to just disappear, vanish, longing to be my six year old stick thin self. Times change. Stomach, thighs, arms. The fat was all over, there was nowhere to hide. No amount of clothing could cover up my hideous weakness, my horrible flaw. Tears forced their way out of my unfamiliar eyes as I stared at my reflection, not even recognising myself. When had I let things get this bad? Miniature puddles splattered the bathroom floor as I started to cry, sinking into reality. This was me. This was what I looked like. I cursed as I caught a glimpse of the magazine that lay on the floor beside me, a flawless woman posing for the cover. Perfect thigh gap, perfect curves, perfectly toned stomach. Everything was perfect. Countless airbrushed pages mixed with the tears as I ripped the magazine into pieces, unlocking all the anger I had inside of me, five years worth of frustration, guilt and self-pity pouring out. Why? Why couldn’t I be like her? Why wasn’t I perfect? Why did I have to look in the mirror every single goddamn day and absolutely hate everything about myself? Why?
Friday, 16 August 2013
It was too heavy to be a knife. Definitely too heavy. I could tell by the droplets of sweat the rolled off his palms, plummeting down to the concrete, slowly melting the winter ice that had blanketed the pavement. He hid his struggle as he moved forward, turning back towards me every now and again, a deathly stare in his eyes. The narrow walls of the pitch black alleyway strangled me as I took cautious steps, positive that, if I slipped, this would all be over. I had to keep calm.
They’d caught me. It was bound to happen sometime, I just wasn’t careful enough. Crowds of them ran in on me, strict voices bouncing off the walls, too many jumbled words to make out. I froze as I looked into the barrels of countless guns, positive that this was my time to die. It was over. I’d tried my hardest – things just hadn’t worked out.
I wasn’t entirely sure why I’d been given a second chance; it was almost as if they were letting me escape. Well, not exactly. No shots were fired, no harsh movements were made -just one burly man dressed in tight black clothes that did nothing to hide his intimidating muscles stepped forward, beckoning me towards him. I took a deep breath and followed, there was nothing more to do. As we were leaving the building, he picked up a single brown case, shaped very much like an average kitchen knife. Without a word, he led me down multiple grimy flights of stairs and out into the chill of the January night.
Despite the negative temperatures, beads of sweat had begun to form on his forehead now as he used both hands to carry the case, grunting every couple of minutes. I avoided eye contact each time he turned back to me, too busy trying to buckle up the courage to run. I had to escape, this was my chance, this was my moment. It’s now or never, I thought to myself. I waited until he’d turned to look at me, and then counted down from 14, my lucky number. If anything, I needed some luck. I whispered the last five numbers, watching my breath drift off as the night captured it, stealing it away from me, leaving me to fend for myself. I ducked into the alleyway and froze, pressing my body up against the wall, using the shadows as shields. There was just enough time for the man’s grunt to break out once more before a deafening thud was heard and ice shattered. He’d dropped the case. Hurried footsteps moved closer towards where I was. I kept my eyes shut tight, relying only on my ears to save me. As the noises faded, I decided that the man must have run back to where we’d come from, desperately searching to find me. I didn’t have much time. I thrust my eyes open and gave them a second to adjust to the darkness. Ready? I asked myself. Ready. I ran.
Thursday, 8 August 2013
I crouched behind the car, trying not to make a sound. I knew that if I moved now, I would blow it, I would blow everything. The wind hissed all around, shielding the burning rays of the sun that summer morning. This was it. Any minute now. Dusty soil seeped from the bottom of the flowerpot as he lifted it for just a second, dropping the house key down and setting the pot right back on top of it. He looked around as he did so, a paranoid look growing on his face. Maybe he felt somebody was watching him. Maybe because there was. I’d been watching him every day for the past couple of months. Everything I’d seen, everything I’d been planning, all came down to this one moment. Today was the day. Now before you start judging me, I’m not a bad person, and I’m certainly not a thief, but when your father leaves you and your mother dies and you’re forced to look after your brother with no home, food or money, you change. You start to think differently. You start to get desperate.
“15, 14, 13...” I whispered the numbers ever so softly, reassuring myself that I was still there, I was focused. This was happening. His polished leather boots twinkled as his heels hit the ground, perfectly in time with my counting. He lifted his arm ever so slightly, pressing just a single button to unlock his luxurious car. Lucky for some.
“7, 6, 5...” He tossed his briefcase onto the passenger seat and slammed the door. As soon as the engine started, I would scamper to the back of the car, staying pressed to the ground, out of sight of any of the perfectly polished mirrors that could give me away. If I was caught now, well, better not to mention that.
And just like that, the smoke exploded from the back of the car, the roar of the engine triggering me, launching me towards the house. I had plastered my body to the floor, my breath locked up inside of me. Stay still, I pleaded with myself. It took about 2.5 seconds for the car to leave the driveway and, as the dust of the road was painted across the air, I climbed up towards the flowerpot, lifting it and grabbing the key as swiftly as possible. I found myself glancing around just as he did, suspicious of a hidden gaze watching my every move. There was no time to doubt. I had the key now and I slipped it into the lock, twisting it to the side and gently pushing the door open. I was in.
Sunday, 4 August 2013
His touch was so gentle as he wrapped his arms around me, pulling me closer towards him, intimate enough to feel his heart pounding, each beat perfectly matching my own. Holding my breath, I bit my lip, knowing that this was the moment I had been waiting for, this was it. The warmness of his skin seeped through me as I moved my feet around, careful not to tread on his. My head fit perfectly into the curve of his shoulder, the smell of his cologne wafting into my nose every now and again. I felt the absence of his touch on my hip as he slowly lifted his hand, placing it carefully onto my neck, his tender grasp causing the goose bumps to form on my bare skin. Strong yet soft fingers stroked my auburn locks, which I had curled specially for the occasion. I wondered if he could feel the nerves inside of me as he held me in his muscular arms. His head lowered and I felt his breath as his lips moved towards my ear. Whispering the three words, I could almost sense the smile forming on his lips, and I’m sure he could feel mine too. “You are beautiful.” Music sounded all around us and I tried to breathe deeply, the butterflies in my stomach almost uncontrollable. And like that, we danced.