Saturday, October 22, 2011

Handbags & Gladrags Part 3

Sorry it's taken me so long to get this next part done... I was chasing after some potential freelance writing jobs, and that took up some time.  Won't share yet, because they might not work out (will know in about 2 months if my writing was up to their standards??) and I don't want to jinx it or get my hopes up!  Okay, so... what you came here for (hope you enjoy):

         She awoke with a start, trying to grab hold of her surroundings and remind herself where she was and why she was there.  As her eyes adjusted to the dark room, lit only by a sliver of light through the curtains coming from a streetlamp outside, it all hit her with a force that would've physically knocked her over if she hadn't been lying down.  Tears sprang to life in her eyes and her vision was immediately cloudy and watery, like looking through stained glass.  She reached up and ran her hands through her hair, resting her shaking palms on either side of her puffy face.  As if those first few hours of bawling herself into exhaustion wasn't enough, she hadn't even been able to find relief after sleeping it off.  Eventually she knew she couldn't continue on like this, but for now, she was allowing herself some time to, well grieve.  She rolled over on her side and curled up into the fetal position, letting her arms drop and wrapping them around her.  She stared at the small crack of light and tried to let it warm her, shine some lucidity into her.  To most people, being disowned by the only family member who you had left might not be that big of a deal, but to her... well she was taking it almost as hard as she had taken her mother's death.
        When her mom had died five years ago, she had thought it was the end of the world, as would most fifteen year old girls.  Her mother had been everything to her.  Unlike most of the other girls she knew, her mom was her best friend, someone who she confided in, leaned on, hardly ever fought with.  The fact that she'd taken her own life, well to Cheryl it was almost the ultimate betrayal.  She hadn't seen any signs, had no idea that her mother was even in a state where she would consider such a drastic measure.  She felt like if she'd only seen or said one thing differently, this stuff would not be happening right now; things would be normal, like they should be.  She didn't leave her room, hell her bed for almost a month.  She took a leave of absence from school and began home-school (only because it was legally required, as she was a minor), though her "teacher" was more like a therapist and simply sat in the corner of the room.  He would read her work to her or try to get her to talk to him.  Mostly he forced her to get out of bed and walk over to the window and get some fresh air, or usher her into the bathroom to wash up and have normal bodily functions.  It was her ultimate rock-bottom, and after three months of cutting herself off from the outside world, her father came in one day and demanded that she go back to school.  He had been so patient and seemingly understanding, but Cheryl suspected that her teacher was planting some sort of seed inside his mind that if things didn't return to normal soon, her fate might become spending every waking moment in a psych ward.  Within a week she was enrolled back at her old school and she was seeing a shrink three times a week.  It took her a while to warm up to the psychiatrist, but she was nice and eventually it became easy to confide in her.  After six months, she cut her appointments down to once a week and after two years, Cheryl had finally accepted things as they were, as best as she knew she ever could, and she stopped going altogether.
       Thinking about those visits made her realize that it had also been around that time that her father had started dating again.  It had taken her almost three years to just come to terms her mother's death, and she still struggled with it from time to time.  But her dad, it had taken him only three years to get over his grief, his love, and his newly acquired singledom.  It made bile rise in her throat, and the metallic, acidic taste bubbling inside her forced her into a sitting position.  She hung her head in her hands, swallowing repetitively to wash down the vomit she hoped wasn't going to come, and allowed her thoughts to immediately shift to him.
       Sure she'd been given a year to adjust to his monogamy, but it would take her a lifetime to understand how someone could move on as quickly as he had.  It was as if the past twenty-five years of living, loving, and being with a single, wonderful woman, the mother of his only child, the woman he had vowed to be with until the end of time, those years were just memories, moments that had no affect on what was now happening, just a page in a book that he'd turned and had no intention of looking back on.  And she had tried to play devil's advocate with all this.  She understood he was lonely and sad and needed companionship.  She could see that he craved the company of another woman that was able to meet every need he had.  Maybe he was angry that his wife had destroyed the life they'd built together and offed herself. He might've even felt some resentment at having to raise a child all by himself.  He was crushed that his one true love was gone, and upset that he'd never get to grow old with her.  She got it, honestly she did.  She also fully grasped that not everyone grieved and remembered in the same ways.  Maybe this was just his way of dealing, shutting all the memories and feelings out.  She'd seen the many ways people dealt with death, she accepted the multitudes of personalities and various stages of mourning.  But the way he acted, not only about her mother's death, but towards her, towards Cheryl herself, it dumbfounded her.  It was as if she were no longer his child, just some person taking up space in his house, in the way of his newly active social night-life and more like an annoying cock-block than a daughter in desperate need of her father.
        After her mother's funeral, she had never once heard her him even utter her mother's name or make reference to her in any way ever again.  Every picture of her was taken down and either boxed up and sent to storage in the basement or crumpled up and thrown away.  When she'd come across a trashcan full of pictures, she quickly saved what she could and hid them in her room.  
        Quickly, her eyes darted over to a medium sized hat-box that was weathered and peeling, poking out of the top of a half-closed box.  She slowly climbed off the creaky bed and walked over to it.  She sat down on the floor and cradled the container on her folded legs.  She pried the lid off and looked down into what was left of her mother.  Photographs, trinkets, dried flowers & a program from her funeral, mementos and family heirlooms, jewelry that she would never, ever think about getting rid of, let alone hocking like that gaudy jewelry her father "showered" her with.  Jewelry like her mother's engagement ring and wedding band that her father had carelessly tossed at her at the hospital the night of her mother's death and said, "Well she won't be needing this anymore.  I certainly don't want it, but I figure you might... so here."  Just like that, a lifetime erased.  He'd thrown her out and tried to forget her as if she never existed.  None of it made any sense to her.  She let the cold metal rings fall back into the box and she put the top back on, physically and mentally shoving the thoughts of long ago off to the side.
        She stood and walked over to the window and pushed the curtain aside slightly.  She realized the light coming into her room wasn't a streetlamp, but was instead the moon.  It was full and glowing down at her as if shedding light onto some big secret that she couldn't know quite yet.  The stars twinkled softly, scattered throughout the deep, dark, midnight blue sky.  She knew she could sit all night thinking about the what-ifs and  trying to decipher the unknown actions and decisions of her parents, but none of it would change what was happening right now.  Dwelling on this stuff wasn't going to alter the situation she found herself in.  She knew that she had to start all over and she knew she had to do it on her own.  Sure she was frightened beyond belief and had absolutely no clue as to what she should do first, but she couldn't be inactive about this.  She'd allow herself the necessary amount of pity and despair; she was sure she'd spend a number of nights crying herself to sleep.  She wasn't in denial, and she knew that things weren't going to work themselves out on their own.  She had to be an effective and functioning part of her own life, and there were so many things that she wanted to accomplish for herself.  Thoughts like "It'll all be okay" or "Everything will work out" were not running through her mind, because she had no idea if they were true.  For all she knew, she might end up crawling back to her dad completely broken and a failure.  Or she might have to call upon the help of one of her "friends" from her family's "circle," and crash in their luxury house or 10,000 square-foot pool house.  She certainly wasn't going into this thinking she was going to fail, but she also wasn't pumping herself up for success.  Anything could happen, she understood that and she was accepting it.
        She let the curtain fall and slumped down in the ratty, old desk chair.  She caught a glimpse of a plastic picture frame which held a small sign that said, "Free Wi-Fi and HBO."  Luckily she hadn't yet gotten around to selling her laptop, so she bent over and shuffled through a few of the boxes near her feet until she came out with a power cord and notebook.  After letting it power-up and load the necessary programs, she stared at the desktop background, a picture of Cheryl with her two roommates from NYU.  It'd been a while since she'd spoken to them, and although she wished dearly that she could pick up the phone and cry her troubles out to them, she foraged ahead and opened Google Chrome, readying herself for a night of job-searching and Craigslist apartment hunting.

Okay that's it for now.  I'm not sure if I'll continue this or stop it here.  It has the potential for further storyline, and I could probably turn this into a novel-length piece, but I'm going to let this rest for now. (: Thanks for reading and I hope you'll come back for more of something new!

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