The grave of grief

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The compulsion of the wedding ring immorally tortures Jenna, the protagonist in the story. With each passing sleepless night, Jenna duels with her conscience to decide whether to endure her husband's brutality for the sake of her 12-year daughter, or to free herself from the painful episodes of brutality everyday. The manacles of an unsuccessful marriage has been presented in a laughing irony.

Submitted: December 12, 2011

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Submitted: December 12, 2011

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‘Jenna! Jenna! I’m leaving. Will not be home for lunch!’ cried out Mr. Summers from the explicitly decorated sitting hall of Summers Mansion. The morning sun adorned the walls of the oak yellow building, giving it the appearance of a golden monastery.

The behemoth bungalow stood in a pedestal of elegance, neatly surrounded by a thick mesh of acanthus shrubs. It was one of the finest buildings in town, equipped with every amenity of luxury except for the three very unfortunate people it housed.

 

Summers Mansion, read the huge steel board on the gate, aiding the pride of Mr. John Summers, the owner of the house, who sat on the sofa, fiercely irritated with a stubborn knot in his shoe lace.

 

It was a rare sunny day in London. Colorful people with colorful umbrellas crowded the streets like a swarm of bees. There were burger stalls and ice-cream parlors lined across the pavements, merrily entertaining a crowd of berserk people, who were keen to undergo an ablution from their abstracted lives over the past few days. Caps and hats served as an accoutrement in the blazing sun. Everything appeared so cheerful, birds sang, flowers smiled. Sure enough, it was a Sunday.

 

‘What’s the hold up?’ barked Mr. John, craning his neck to look beyond the refrigerator and into the kitchen, where his wife tussled with a pair of boiled eggs.

Jenna ran in with the breakfast as fast as her fragile legs could carry her. Serving his orders was something she was very good at; she’d been doing it since the first day of their marriage. She placed the breakfast tray on the table and headed back for the kitchen, not caring to share a look with her husband, not even of disgust. It was not that she wasn’t curious to know where her husband was going on a Sunday morning, but the fact that she’ll be pelted with some very harsh words in reply stopped her every time. Her lean body defined the paranoia of an awry marriage, the many wrinkles on her skin encrypted the adagio of pain she went through each day. She had just entered the forties, but looked very old for her age. Of course there were options to abscond the manacles of her wedding ring, but perhaps she feared the dire consequences of hunting means of livelihood, especially with a 12-year old daughter walking alongside her.

 

John finished his breakfast hastily, spilling quite a handsome amount of pudding on the carpet. He crossed the ally, roughly throwing the coat over his broad shoulders, and reached out for the door aflutter, almost tripping himself over the pot of money plants lined across the passage.

‘Daddy, where are you going?’ called out little Anna, running in from her small cozy bedroom.

‘Got some work Ann,’ called back her dad.

‘But its Sunday!’

But she was too late. She could already hear her dad’s car rumble away into a crowd of belligerent traffic. Offended, she quietly walked towards the dining table and sat there, hands crossed over her chest.  

‘Mamma, where did daddy go, he promised to spend the day with me!’ she mewed, her voice broken with the sudden invasion of tears.

Jenna was used to such questions from her daughter; this was not the first time John failed to do what he promised. And each time that he repeated his blatant act of abdication, she had to console her daughter with an asinine excuse.

‘How long will I be able to reason out the absurdities to her,’ she would think staring at her daughter’s innocent face.  There were times when her tired mind considered telling every bit of the unpleasant truth to Anna, but each time the ‘mother’ inside her would say, ‘probably the next time.’

 

‘Eat up quickly, your daddy must be home anytime,’ she said to Anna, forcing a broad smile in a face crowded with wrinkles. .

‘But where did he go,’ Anna insisted, trying to sound concerned.

Where did he go? Did Jenna know? Even if she did, was it worth mentioning it to a 12-year old child?  Perhaps not. She quietly served the pudding in Anna’s plate and went off to attend the maid.

Anna stared in the distance where her mother stood talking to the maid. She looked at the long mane of thick hair flowing down form her back, something she knew that her mother was very proud of. But how did she feel when she saw mamma being dragged by that thick braid of hair, on nights when daddy became bad, like the cruel monster of her comic books. When standing by the shadow of the bookshelf, she saw a cruel hand landing on the soft cheeks of her mother, the cheeks which she longed to kiss so desperately all day. She wished to know why did a man, who taught her not to fight, fought with his own wife everyday. She also wished to know why daddy said I love you so many times to the bad aunty from his office and not mention it to mamma even once.

 

She looked at the pale white face of her mother, accrued by the frequent molestations by her husband. But no matter how hard her frilled skin tried to disguise her, Anna knew that her mother was very pretty, just like the charming princesses in her story books would be. And yet, daddy went to spend his Sundays with ugly Margaret, the devil who made mamma cry. Yes, of course, Anna knew it all. She knew where daddy went early in the morning; she knew where he spent his nights when she and her mother spent the long hours of anxiety, waiting for him in the front porch. Her immature mind could be closed to the intricacies of marriage, but how could she close her eyes to the implacable flow of tears by her sweet mother? Perhaps daddy did not love her mamma anymore, she thought.

But why could her mother not see what her little daughter figured out so easily? Why did she still cook dinner for daddy, when she knew he won’t eat? Why did she spend her nights wide awake waiting for him to return, when he never did? Perhaps, she still loved him. Perhaps she thought that there was still hope. Poor mother.

 

 Often on silent full moon nights, when Anna rested her head over her mamma’s lap, her curious mind urged to ask those questions to her mother that she herself tried to answer. But each time she tried to introduce her mother to reality, the ‘child’ inside her would say, ‘probably the next time.’

 

The clock struck twelve with an acerbic alarm, its sweet music chimed across the living hall, where Anna lay sleeping off an anxious night. The melancholy tune of the pendulum stirred the fanatics of her dream to an acolyte of monotony. She opened her eyes clumsily, discerned of the fact that daddy was still not home, and that mamma must be tracing her eyes to the gate every few minutes from the porch. But then, this is exactly what they did every night. It was not a cause of worry, because she knew daddy was safe in that devil’s cave. She was only worried about the things he did after he returned with a belly full of the red liquid he drank everyday. She never cared to ask what was it that he gulped down with such alacrity, but she knew that whatever it was, it made him lose all sense of apprehension.

 

Anna climbed down the sofa and walked towards the porch with heavy steps. She saw her mother leaning against the wall, exasperated by constant feelings of confinement in the bittersweet alfresco. She silently swung her arms around her mother’s shoulders and the two of them sat there listening to the bleak silence. No one spoke a word for what seemed to be an eternity.

 

The hour hand of the clock went past two.

 

Jenna allowed herself a minute of respite and sprung to flashback, walking down a long lost memory lane of her life. A life which stopped dead the day she married John Summers, a friend back from college. It confused her initially to judge his sudden feeling of abjection towards her. She unceasingly tried to figure out what made her husband change gears from a blue-eyed body to a bohemian. She had tried desperately to guide him through his times of abnegation, repeatedly hurting her sentiments in the process, but failed apparently. Long before Anna came into her life, Jenna had already turned into an acquiescent banshee. The rest was all predictable. After the birth of Anna, all trials of baptizing her husband subsided, she had to retain her perseverance to bring up an unfortunate daughter. Nothing had changed since then, but it didn’t matter anymore. She had lost all hopes anyway.

 

It was half-past two. Jenna suddenly felt something hard on her shoulders. She strolled back from her introspection to the roads of reality. Anna had fallen asleep on her shoulders, her hands still arresting Jenna in a tight embrace. She looked at the distance, a car rumbled in with a blinding set of headlights. She lifted Anna in her arms and carried her in before she woke up to be a pathetic audience of yet another abysmal episode in her mother’s life.

Jenna silently placed Anna on the bed and walked back with stealthy steps. She closed the door to Anna’s bedroom carefully, but failed to notice that her father’s valiant screams had already stirred little Anne to consciousness.

 

Anna stayed in bed like all times, trying to grab something from the babel of violent comments by her austere parents. But all she could hear was the distant screams of her mother, who was probably surviving a blatant physical assault by her husband. Anna pulled the blanket above her ears, trying desperately to close her mind to the superfluous scenes of decadence. But wrong as she was, even the thick solid walls of her bedroom failed to assure its occupant of peace.

 

Crash! Anna heard a deafening noise out in the living room. It was like the sound of someone falling head long on wooden furniture. Tears started flooding her beseeching eyes. She could now hear the avalanche of helpless cries from her lovely mother, yet all she could do was be a prisoner and wait for the emotional storm to subside. Her insides started to ache with an unbearable pain of compulsion. Her brain started to malfunction due to the inevitable ailment of loneliness. Unable to free herself from the shackles of catalepsy, Anna closed her eyes and crossed to oblivion before she could hear any more of her mother’s painful cries.

 

‘Mamma!’ cried out Anna from her bedroom on a bright hot Monday. The blazing sun shone over Summers Mansion with regular intensity, successfully disguising the anomalies of the previous night. Anna raised her head from the pillow and stared at her cute Mickey Mouse wall clock and let out a cry of horror. She leapt out of bed in sudden haste and ran towards the kitchen. She was certainly not gonna be late to school on a Monday, she thought!

 

She stormed into the kitchen, determined to give her mother a nice bit of scolding, but was surprised to see the kitchen empty. Moreover, there were no signs of any action in the kitchen that morning. ‘Was mamma still asleep?’ Anna thought with an air

of disbelief.

 

She ran upwards to her parent’s bedroom wondering what was her mother thinking, sleeping off when her daughter was supposed to be attending school. She skipped the last flight of steps to her parents’ room but stopped with a sudden halt. The door was open, but the room was filled with more than two people whom she expected. She saw daddy talking to a huge man in black uniform, while another man with the same attire was bent over something on the bed. ‘But why are they wearing caps inside the house,’ Anna thought in surprise. She went inside to find her mother, assuming the strangely dressed men to be daddy’s friends from work.

She went across the bed and stared at her mother in utter amazement. The lean, fragile body of her mother lay on the bed, covered in a thick white sheet of cloth. Mr. John and the man were still engrossed in conversation, taking no notice that Anna stood there, viewing the immobile form of Jenna with a hint of surprise in her eyes.

 

‘Daddy, why is mamma still sleeping? I’m getting late for school!’

 

Mr. Summers turned suddenly, realizing that Anna was standing beside her mamma’s corpse. He asked Sergeant Forbes to excuse him for a second and walked towards Anna, preparing himself to crack the acrid news. He placed a firm hand over her shoulders and blurted it out to her at one go.

 

‘Anne, your mamma’s dead.’

 

It rained heavily in the evening. The bright sunny morning had turned into a dark storming afternoon. Anna stood holding an umbrella, feeling thankful that the rain made her tears less noticeable to occasional well-wishers. The cemetery was crowded with very few people, all dressed in proper black suits, some of whom Anna did not recognize. She saw her father standing at some distance, sharing the same umbrella with his darling friend Margaret. People came up to her mother’s grave with a bunch of flowers that withered in the pelting rain. Anna followed the proceedings absent mindedly, wishing to return home and slouch on the bed. She was tired from the day’s applets and the site of her mother’s grave drained all happiness out of her. She wondered why her mother decided to sever all ties with her and go to stay with God. She did not know whether her mamma was killed or committed suicide, as they called it. All she knew that she was alone now. Alone in a world of imposters. She knew daddy was a happy man, now that he didn’t need to return home ever. She was also sure that mother will be happy in God’s house. But it was she who felt abandoned. If only mamma woke up for a few seconds to talk to her, she would scold her for leaving her daughter behind.

 

But mamma did not wake up. The cemetery started to become less populated with each departing person, but Anna’s heart overflowed with emotions of pain and the growing solitude around her. She stared at the bold inscriptions on her mother’s tombstone, and smiled at the irony of its words. How could a woman care for a husband who treated her like an animal every night? How could she dare to love a daughter who was bereaved of her father’s affection for the whole of her life? How could her soul, which was denied a moment of peace when alive, rest in peace after such an unfortunate death? It indeed was as impossible at it sounded. And yet, the stone on her mother’s tomb read:

 

 

JENNA SUMMERS

LOVING MOTHER  CARING WIFE

MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PEACE!


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