An Estarnged Life – A childhood memory.
A dark haired little girl, aged around nine years not even yet in her teens, sits with her back up against the legs of a wooden chair, one of those grand old chairs, the kind with tapestry seats and the smell of the wax furniture polish that was used to shine the dark wood is always present, this clean lemony smell she finds refreshing, even now as a grown woman if she closes her eyes she can recall the memory of that smell.
She is in her Grandmother’s home where she lives with both Mother and Grandmother, in the dining room, a dark room, not at all a room she would choose to go and play in with her dolls or toy horses.
An old grandfather clock sits on the mantle above the fire place and booms out the hour and every half hour, how the little girl hates that hard faced old clock, but even at this young age she has had to make a family promise that the loud voiced timepiece will always stay within the family home.
It’s 2 o’clock and she sits alone under the dining room table, she knows the time as she has just heard the announcer of time chime twice. The noise reminds her of an old black and white horror movie that she had seen once, set in the dark shadows inside an old mansion, with the unseen lurking about behind closed doors. She knows she should not watch such films as they will give her nightmares and bad visions and she has plenty of her own nightmares to deal with, help is certainly not needed there.
The young girl looks up and traces with her eyes the pathway of the wood grain under the table top, yes she hide’s, she feels this is a place of safety tangled under the table, between the legs of chairs. She is lonely today as sometimes her best friend across the street would come and sit with her, under the table, in the dark, and they would talk for hours or just sit and be very quiet.
The small girl with the dark hair and with eyes that were even darker still, knew that it worried her Mother and Grandmother that she would hide for hours under the table, in the dark, but she waited, she knew he would come, she wasn’t sure when exactly when, but she knew he would come.
She remembers a day at school when the teacher asked the class to write about their holiday, something that was fun and made them smile.
The girl’s mother picked her up that afternoon, as always, as she was not allowed to walk or ride her bike to or from school with her friends as she left fifteen minutes before the other children just in case, just in case he waited.
On returning home, and once inside the young girl went to her room, one which she shared with her mother and wept, her Mother and Grandmother wanted to know why she was so upset as these two ladies loved the dark haired girl with all their heart, she was all they had.
On explaining the task that the teacher had set Grandfather Alf was called in as he always managed to make everything alright.
So the young girl sat with her grandfather, a man she admired and adored and they took some of her family memories, fragments of good times spent on the water.
The girl’s Mother and Father always had the little girl in the family cruiser exploring some lake or waterway, and if she was lucky they may even head outside, outside to sea, where she loved to be with the dolphins and seals, to watch the dark shadows of the sharks lurking in the deep water and then to see them break the surface with their fins that she was sure would be razor sharp just like the teeth within their jaws.
All these things fascinated her as did the life that went on in the skies above.
Her favourite thing was to be on the water in a storm, it was all so exciting and made her heart race as the waves broke over the side of the boat along with the deafening thunder and rain as the God’s sent their fury down upon the sea, and then to feel the calm, when the sky cleared, this brought peace to her heart, to be able to look at the moon and feel it’s light kiss her on the cheek as it shone down and mirrored itself on the then still waters.
Amongst these memories still clear in her mind, even now as a grown woman, she remembers the feeling of, let’s not do anything wrong to upset dad, the hard old man of the sea, don’t look at him the wrong way or say the wrong thing, do what he says, if he wants you to be quiet, then be very still and silent, if he wants you to walk the deck in rough seas, hold on tight, or to swim in unknown waters don’t for one minute show how frightened you really are.
Her mother didn’t seem to smile very much when her husband was around and always had her eyes on her little girl. The girl loved her mother dearly, life on the water would have been a place in heaven for the pair if it had just been mother and daughter.
Grandfather Alf had been able to gather enough fragments of the good memories, and between the two an essay was written, not a true one, but one the teacher should like to hear with lots of colour and happy visions a family full of love.
The teacher liked the little girl’s story when it was read out in class, she was even rewarded with a boiled lolly from the teacher’s special jar, a celebration indeed for a class member to be rewarded so, but then the teacher did know the truth of sorts.
As more of her class mates were coaxed to stand and read their work the sweet lolly in the little girls mouth turned bitter as she started to feel jealous of the lives of her friends, real lives, a family life that she knew nothing about.
The years in primary school moved on at what seemed a slow pace, holidays always seemed so far away, but the young girl worked hard at school and got along well with her teachers and friends, although she spent most of her playtime working in the tuck shop, handing out sports equipment or cold milk, she always seemed to have another little person holding onto her hand.
So as she climbed through the grades of her school she slipped easily into the role of school captain, these were good memories, memories that she planned on keeping.
The clock shouts out once again and the dark haired girl is back in her place under the dining room table, three o’clock, then she hears the front gate, by the sound of the footsteps she knows that he is here…..
Bang, bang, not a knock but a BANG, she sees her Mothers and Grandmothers legs walk past the table where she hides, they too have been waiting, the door is opened. The little girl makes herself as small as she can, she worries that he might get into her safe place even though she knows that the screen door will be securely locked.
She hears her Mother’s voice quivering as she tells her husband, the little girl’s father that “NO” his daughter does not want to see him. Then he starts to call the small girls name soft and calm at first but the little girl doesn’t answer, he gets louder.
The front door is closed and locked.
It’s quiet for a moment the three women all listen for the gate, yes there it is, but then they hear what they expected, the second gate is opened into the yard.
The girl covers hear ears with her hands, squeezes her eyes shut and slowly rocks to and fro as if this will help her block out what she knows is to come. It’s all so unreal what follows, it is as if she is outside looking down on him she can see the fury on his face and in the way he breathes; his hands are clenched so tightly that his knuckles are pure white in colour.
Then the man made thunder starts as he bangs his fists up and down the walls of the old house and yells threats of boarding schools if his daughter does not come out. These when unanswered are followed by threats to the mother “if I can’t have her, well neither will you.”
As the girl looks down on him from within her mind she rocks and prays for someone to come and take him away, Grandfather Alf always talks of The One, and the many different Gods from around the world, surely one of them will hear a young girls prayers.
He tires, and they hear him leave the way he came, heavy footsteps fade in the street, yet the little girl still rocks.
That day she remembers was not one of the really bad ones, he didn’t return so the neighbours did not have the need to call the police. This family of three will not have to eat and bath by candle light this night, hiding in the night as if they were not there.
She remembers the time after one of these episodes as the women called it, that her father ran his car into a brick wall and how guilty she felt wondering if it was her fault, after all she prayed so hard for somebody or something to make him go away, did she cause him to do that because she wanted it so much?
As the young girl grew older her school work started to suffer as did her health. She had been blessed with what Grandfather Alf saw as a gift with visions in her dreams, she could see things that were going to happen to herself, family and friends. It came to be a curse as she would lay awake at night not wanting to go to sleep, so over the years she learned to control these images until one day the sight continued no more.
Grandfather Alf did all he could do for the young girl and took matters into his own hands and taught her skills to help her cope with the world as it was going on around her. He spoke of the myths and cultures from all over the world and of places we could not see. He would write stories about all these things, his writings had so much texture and colour which brought such clear pictures to her mind that she felt she could smell and touch it all, to be within the story itself.
Self hypnosis was the next step. Grandfather was an expert at putting people under, but his dark haired Granddaughter he said was too stubborn and strong, to let him take her to that place.
Meditation he explained was the key to help her.
So a place of calm was introduced to her mind, a cliff face overlooking the sea, with the wind in her hair and the sounds of the waves crashing at her feet while her body was bathed in bright light from the Goddess of the moon. This is where the young girl found peace even if it was only in her mind’s eye, it was a way for her to manage to keep moving forward, to have a little control over her life, as this was her mind, her heart, her being, she could control what went on inside herself if nowhere else.
When things got tuff she knew that she could take herself off to that place by the sea, so with these new skills in hand she taught herself that there was no longer a need to hide under the old dining room table.
The young dark haired girl has now grown into the Lady of the Sea, she still stumbles a little down the paths she takes, and maybe has a few regrets of the what ifs and could be’s but in her heart she knows that she is learning the things she must be taught within this lifetime of hers.
Yes sometimes she is bitter and hurt and sometimes she still dreams of the family she wishes she could have had but she can smile at the picture that her neighbours must have seen of this strange family set up when she was very young, the maiden, mother and the crone all fighting to keep the master inquisitor from their door.
The lady knows how lucky she is, she has felt loved over the years by her small group of family members and her timeless friends many who held her hand when she was hiding under the table still hold her hand today.
The sight did return and the lady is learning how to read and deal with the messages that are sent her way. She wishes now that she had never turned them off when she was just a dark haired little girl.
At times nightmares still creep into her mind but she knows now that she has her own safe place.
A place by the sea………
The lady has come once again back to her family home but it is now only mother and daughter. The dining room table is as it was all those years ago apart from the new tapestry fabric on the chairs and is a piece of furniture that she wishes not to part with at this point in time, and yes the time keeper still sits on the mantle and announces the hours as they pass……life.
Filed under: Non Fiction