Forever and a Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


“Evil is unspectacular and always human, And shares our bed and eats at our own table ....” – W. H. Auden, Collected Poems

Submitted: April 07, 2017

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Submitted: April 07, 2017

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It comes with no warning at all; there’s nothing I can do to stop the oncoming storm – and there’s nothing I do to provoke it. I never know when it will begin, how long it takes each time, or, worst of all, when it’s going to end. But none of that matters, because it never really ends, and I can’t even recall the time it first began. And isn’t that always the case for those undergoing seemingly ceaseless torture?

Some days she begins when the sun is gleaming through our dingy, scratched windows; other times I can only make out the dim, firefly glow of the streetlights that line our decaying street. Again, this is a detail that seldom means anything once she’s got a hold on me, and gets started. Because the sun is not going to save me, and the darkness is not going to camouflage me from her wrath. All I know is it’s almost always different out once she’s finished with me.

But no matter when it begins or when it ends, the damage inflicted on me is almost identical each time. She grabs me by my skinny, pallid arm, tearing me violently away from what I’m doing and almost tugging my friable limb clean out of its socket in the process. Her razor talons punch through my pale skin, now growing tough from an eternity of scar upon scar. I’m usually on the couch when she comes for me – sometimes bed. It’s worst when I’m in the tub, thrashing about and wailing, flooding the tiles and stemming rivers through the grout. My efforts are futile. And it’s not like she gives me any time to get dressed, either.

So she drags me downstairs, out the door, and thumps me into the muck below the porch. Whether it’s a sweaty, inky black night or a teeth-chattering morning with rain pelting my form, it doesn’t matter. It’s always been the same. Her face is as red as glowing coal, smoke billowing out of her nose like an awakened dragon. I’m breathless and teary. I don’t know what I’ve done.

But I know what I am. I’m useless, she reminds me in a screech. Worthless, a waste of space, pathetic. She wishes I’d never been born. I’ve heard all of this for the last century; I’ve heard it all. It used to hurt – used to tear me up inside to hear these things from the woman I call my mother. But the nature of such systematic cruelty is that it can only get so bad. It’s like the dark: there comes a point where it can’t get any scarier – it’s all the same pure gloom. I know I’m a mistake, I know I don’t deserve to live. It doesn’t hurt anymore.

Around the side of the house is the dungeon – I called it that when I was small, when there seemed to be an end in sight. I imagined I was a princess who lived in a castle owned by the most wicked of witches. Over time, a just witch didn’t seem malevolent enough, so she evolved into the dragon I know her as today. Really, the space is just the cellar, but when I used my imagination, I could picture a brave prince, or gallant knight, or even a rebellious and heroic serf coming to my rescue and whisking me away from the oppressive palace crypt. I’ve grown up a little since then – despite time standing still. Now, it’s just the cellar. Dark, dusty, full of unnatural shadows that are free to move anywhere once the doors are slammed shut and not even a sliver of light cuts through the cold blackness.

The whole time I’m trapped, I sit balled up on the floor, pressed into the cleanest corner of the room. It’s no use sitting in the middle of that cave – something could come at me from any angle. And then I wait. And that’s the real torture of it all: waiting.

I’m waiting for the dragon lady to clomp back downstairs, back around the side and then throw open those doors and blind me. Because there’s no prince; no knight; no servant coming to my rescue. It’s only my dragon, my witch, my mother. Days roll by, and years tick on, and she remains both my captor and emancipator.

I’m waiting for the shadows to start slipping out of their lines, creeping towards me. I know they do once the lights go out; when nobody’s watching. Like the toys in Toy Story, only with far more insidious motives. They want to grab me, rip me into bite-sized pieces and fight over my remains. So I sit, every muscle in my body tensed, feeling their icy breath looming all too close to my shivering form. If I listen hard enough I can hear their low, menacing growls rippling from their throats, echoing chillingly across the dungeon cement.

And I’m waiting, ever so patiently, to one day be my own hero. If I’m ever big and strong enough to slay the dragon myself. I may have to wait until she’s older and weaker, and then I’ll defeat her for good. But for now, it seems that waiting is all I have.

And so I am, and so I have been. Waiting patiently, biding my time. For forever and a day.


© Copyright 2017 E Bowshall. All rights reserved.

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