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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story of a song and a family. The consequences of a love turned sour.

Submitted: March 23, 2007

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Submitted: March 23, 2007



“Go on then, if you feel like that, hit me!” She could almost hear the sneer in his voice as he stood, arms spread, opening himself out to her. Only his eyes betrayed the pain he was in, and she wouldn't look at them. Wouldn't be able to stand it. Instead she looked at the window. Not through the window, but at the the glass that made up their double glazed window.


She turned her head slightly, so he could not see the tear, a crystalline golden droplet, fall from her eye. It traced its way down her cheek and hurtled floorwards. She seemed unable to feel it.


Her husband still stood, waiting patiently for the blow which never came. She could see him out of the corner of her eye. “No,” she said at last, shaking her head. She hated him and loved him, but she wasn't able to admit to either of those things.




In the dark she screamed, the scream of a heart being ripped from the body still beating. She shrieked again, stricken with pain and grief, and kicked the hard stone wall of the chamber she now called her home.


She screamed again and gouged her own face. She ripped ghastly red tyre tracks into her cheeks. Where there was once smooth flesh, now there were dripping ribbons. She let out a harsh gasp, ran her fingers over the fresh wounds and started to sob. She felt the blood, wet and running over splayed fingers. She held her hands in front of her face and peered at the dark stains on her fingertips, and then looked at the walls surrounding her.


Using her own blood, she wrote again and again on the wall, though it was nearly too dark to see what she was writing.


“I woke up this morning and I couldn't remember my name. I woke up this morning and I couldn't remember my name. I woke up this morning and I couldn't remember my name.”


Over and over and over.




It hadn't always been like this. It was only a few months, weeks, days, even, when the sense of him, the heat of his body close to hers; walking past her in the kitchen, in the hallway, in the bedroom, had caused her skin to prickle with something else besides the hatred and contempt. Sometimes she wondered if there had ever been any difference between the hatred and the heat.




“I can't come with you. I'm sorry, but I can't,” Isabel said, eyes glistening with tears.


“Please, Izzy. I love you. You know I can't stay with my father...come with me.”


“I can't.”


“But you said, 'If we were going to fall, we'd fall together,'”


Isabel shook her head sadly, “That was just words. We can see each other again. Wherever you go I can come and visit.” She reached out a hand to the man who stood in front of her. He looked down at the hand, slim and pale in the moonlight, and after a second, out the hand that wasn't already in his jeans pocket on the handlebars of his motorbike.


Isabel stepped back a bit then. “I'm sorry,” she said, close to tears.


He continued to look at her, intense blue eyes searing into Isabel like shards of glass. “All right,” he said. It was a dismissive tone. Abruptly, he swung the bike around, and threw his leg over it in the same moment. The bike roared into life a second later. He raised one black gloved hand to Isabel in a parting gesture, and she watched as the growling motorbike carried him away.


The pressure was building up behind her eyes again. Isabel sank to the grass from the force of it as she bled salt water into the earth. She stayed there for a long time, curled up in a foetal position, until the tears made her feel as though her eyes were being slowly boiled, so raw that each falling tear burned her.


She lay for a while longer after she'd stopped crying, feeling her damp skin dry and grow tight. She imagined how she must look; black mascara stains skidding dirtily down her face, red and swollen eyes and cheeks. Even her head hurt. Without him she would never be able to fly again.




Tony would never be able to forget Isabel again. Every day for the rest of his life he would see the accident in his mind's eye – dark, flash of light, the scream and the crunch of wrecking metal colliding with bone and soft flesh. Maybe there was a cry of pain, surprise or fear, Tony can never decide which. Lights, squealing brakes, siren, dead on arrival. Just because Tony had had a couple of beers in the pub after work and told Isabel she would have to make her own way home.


He looked at the coffin, but couldn't bring himself to touch it; the thought of what was inside made him feel sick. The thought of his only child should not have made him feel sick. Tony could not even cry for his daughter. For himself, for his selfishness, and bitterness, and his loss, but not for the pain and suffering she must have endured. How long was the gap between the accident and her death? Two minutes? Five? Half an hour? All he knew was that she was dead when the hospital telephoned him.


On the way out of the church, Tony passed someone familiar, standing at the back. She had come back for this.


“Hello,” he said.


His wife – ex wife, now. Ex mother too, after today – nodded to him. Tony regarded her, eyes narrowing as he considered her. Did she still hate him? Did she know he had as good as killed Isabel?


Emily tried to smile at him and wiped a tear away from her made up cheek. Tony loved her, but she always did wear too much make up. “That boyfriend of hers,” Emily said. He couldn't work out if it was a statement or a question.


“You knew?”


“Yeah. She used to ring. You didn't know, but she always had my number, wherever I was. I did try, Tony.” She bent down to gather her bag and scarf. When she was standing straight again she glanced round the church. “I take it he didn't turn up?”


Tony shook his head. Emily seemed to sap him of his ability to speak. “He's in Scotland,” he said eventually.


There was a pause while Emily ferreted in her bag for Tic Tacs. Then she said. “Did she tell you she was pregnant?”


A shock went through Tiny as though someone had hit him with a hammer and his whole body was crumbling under the blow. He physically staggered. “No.” His voice sounded gaspy and light.


“I suppose she wouldn't. It's easier to tell someone you don't live with, I suppose. Not as close.” She moved out of the pew.”Would you like me to drive you home?” Tony had left the Porsche at home. He kept trying to tell himself that it wasn't because he was afraid of hitting and killing something.


“Would you?”


“Of course. We need to sort things out anyway – Izzy's things. She didn't have a will I suppose?”


Tony shrugged “I wouldn't know.”


Emily half smiled. “You don't change do you? You're useless. We might find one in her things. I'll do most of it if you like,” she said. She'd caught his look of fear at having to rifle through Isabel's things. She used to go mental if he so much as popped his head round the bedroom door. She guarded her possessions jealously. The thought that everything she owned would become public property before she was 21 had never occurred to her.


Emily put a hand on his shoulder. “Come on.” Together they walked out of the church.




None of this really matters does it? All this baggage. I look up at the sky, at all the stars. How many worlds, like this one, circle those stars. How many millions and millions of lives?


In that sky, dramas are being acted out on a massive scale, in terms of space and time. Stars are being born, going supernova, lack holes are sucking in matter and doing God knows what with it, asteroids are smashing into planets and wiping out whole species and ecosystems. I think I can safely say that my troubles are fairly petty compared to all that.


As I look up, I think I can see the entire future of my life spread out before me, as though it was inside a crystal ball. I think I am going to leave tonight.


I'm sorry I can't be a mother to my daughter – not properly anyway – but I don't feel I can take her with me and be able to live with her. Not because of the fact that half of her is him, but because I don't think I could explain to her why I left him and not have her hate me. Tony never nit me, didn't drink, didn't ignore me, and sometimes I hate myself for feeling like this. How can I tell Isabel I hate her father when I don't have a reason?


It's better to go, now, on my own and hope she doesn't hate me too much when she's old enough to understand all of this.




Colin knows he can't live in the same house as his father any more. Even at 19, and an inch taller than his dad, but half the size in body, he nurses a bruised face and broken rib. His right knuckle is sore where he cracked his old man one in the shoulder – he was aiming for his face but the bastard ducked. He may be 55, but Colin's dad is as quick on his feet in a fight as he was when he was 25. Colin wasn't a fighter. He was a runner.


He was going to go up to Scotland on his motorbike. His grandad Jim lived up in Aberdeen, mum's dad. There was just one flaw to this plan – Isabel. He hoped she would come with him, but it would have to be quick. He couldn't stay here for much longer. It was only a matter of time before Colin senior or Colin junior went for the other with a knife. That time could run out in a few days, or it could take years. There was no way for Colin to know.




Wasn't it usually the woman who was left holding the baby? Tony smiled briefly at the irony as he looked down at he and Emily's two year old daughter. Once again Emily had gone out without telling him where she was going or when she was coming back. He didn't mind her going out, but a bit of warning would have been nice sometimes. He was supposed to be be going out himself later, but he wouldn't be now.


Isabel's hand twitched slightly in sleep, and Tony stroked the top of her blonde head as he had when she was younger, and was pleased to see that it still worked.


At last he left her, and went downstairs. On the way, he passed a framed photograph and paused on the stairs to look at it. Their wedding day.


The camera had happened to catch Emily in an unfortunate eye movement; some people had a habit of blinking at the second a photograph was taken, while Emily had a habit of glancing to the left whenever a camera was pointed in her direction. In the photo, Emily was on Tony's left and, grinning in the picture, but looking away from her new husband. You couldn't tell unless you looked closely. “Like our marriage. You can't see the cracks unless you look hard enough,” thought Tony, leaving the photograph and continuing downstairs.


The picture remained static, a drama in still images, but which seemed to be playing out the present.




It was over. 55 years, and it was finally over. A weary hand rested on the pale wood of the coffin, and a wrinkled forehead pressed against it briefly. The fight to end sometime after all, and the survivor was left to wonder what on Earth had gone wrong all those years ago.


There was just one more thing to do, one more thing to clear up, and then all of this could be forgotten. The request in the will had been explicit, and the elderly figure standing with the coffin was determined to make sure it was carried out to the letter.


“Goodbye, Tony.” The old woman kissed her fingers and put them to the wood of the coffin. A farewell kiss. The stewards smiled at her as they loaded the coffin onto the plane. She nodded back to them stiffly. She didn't want to start crying until the plane had gone.




Dear Benjamin,

I am sorry to have to tell you this, but your uncle Tony passed away last Saturday, on the 17th. The funeral was held on Thursday, and the reading of the will was today. That is why I have to write this painful letter to you, as Emily's only surviving relative.


Please find enclosed a copy of Tony's last will and testament. It may explain things better than this letter can. It seems that despite their frequent differences in life, just before she died, Emily asked Tony if he would be buried next to her when he died, and he agreed. I hope that you can make the necessary arrangements. I am sorry to have to ask you to do this. I am having Tony's body flown over tomorrow, and it should arrive at the Almeria airport tomorrow at 6pm. Thank you.

You loving Aunt, Hilary.




Tony put the pen back in the pot and read the black spidery lines with a bitter smile on his face.


“I would wish my body to be buried alongside that of my late wife, Emily. She asked me if I would change my will to include this request and I would like to comply with her final wish.”


That would teach the old bitch. All that running away, and now they would be trapped together, within a few feet of each other, for eternity.


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