Pillar of Salt

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
She thought her mother would be her best friend after the ordeal, but you never know where your enemies will emerge from.

Submitted: October 18, 2006

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Submitted: October 18, 2006



She hated her mother every time she caught herself in the mirror.  Mirrors, chromed taps, the glass screen of the television were household dangers to be avoided.  The cathode ray tube had become her only friend, a dear but insincere companion, who never returned the stares.  It only required one to look at it, never returning a glance, negating any judgement or gasp of barely concealed horror.  As long as she avoided its obsidian reflection once it was turned off.  But her mother usually had to do this in the early hours before placing a blanket over her daughter, limbs spread out like a crashed parachutist, her exhausted brain frazzled with alcohol.  Car windows in rain, clean marbled interiors, CCTV warning screens projected back into arcades and train stations posed no threat.  She never went out.  Never.  Not since the trial had ended in shambles and the boys had walked free, their supporters cheering as if there had been no crime and no victim.

Like an imbedded fisherman’s hook this hate controlled her every time her mother sat down with her daughter, stiffly and suppressed the emotions to inform her that she must now take this opportunity to move on, if only in herself.  She still had her life to live.  But did her mother not realise that with each passing day the knife sank deeper, the pain from the scars and splits and the broken bones drove deeper into her heart and soul ?That the wires that held her jaw together while the calcium fused back the cracks felt like it was still in place, rusty and cold as barbed wire.  And the other place on her body, where they had gone and intruded into her before the beating, was now a place of shame and torture.  She would never become a woman.

But what she would never deal with was her mother’s piety and reasoning, that there should be any kind of understanding accumulated for the atavistic gang who had seized her, or a forgiveness reserved for a mob who can snatch two schoolgirls off the street, drag them to a lock-up, rape them, again and again, beat them nearly senseless, later toss them out of a moving van onto a road.  Forgive them for they know not what they do ?  How people continued to endure suffering with a fake dignity because of Christ’s agonised delirium.  She was robbed of her only other possible ally; her friend, the other girl she had known from nursery, had died.  She was alone.  She would hate the boys for a lifetime, the carnivorous energy of anger twisting and coiling, rupturing inside her organs like a malignant tumour.  But her mother’s betrayal, for that’s what it was, she could never tolerate.

Her mother looked at her remains of a face before she left for the shops with that same sorry reluctance and shame, the patronising conceit of sympathy that suggested she was in some way complicit in her destiny. A face that had glowed with the soft skin of a teenager on the bloom of womanhood, filled with beauty and enchantments, now smashed and hideous, a punishment of visible mark, her own pillar of salt. 

She toyed with the razor between her finger and thumb with a faux dexterity, gently dragging it over her arm, the skin smooth as the hairs came away, until she gave it an exploratory push and gleaned an inch of skin away like a sheet from a bed.  It glowed raw and pink for a second before the pinheads of scarlet started to appear.  Her mother’s looks of censure levelled at her countenance would be nothing compared to the judgements she would conduct towards wounds self-inflicted.  A further ugliness.  Another trial to bear.  The shame of it.

She held the blade now over the main artery.  No, it was her mother’s cautions and stones that would send her into intolerable madness, and that she could not endure.  She would have to be quick.  And she must do it right.



© Copyright 2018 Craig Hampton. All rights reserved.

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