Each night the same ritual happened - a drunk mother, a cheerful sister and a desperate father. Among this familial disaster, Emily convinced herself that nothing nor nobody could cure her angst. Until she crossed his path. Chace, 22 years old, passionate by art. He had a disarming attitude, really disturbing - though appealing. Relying on him, Emily's willing to undertake everything to discover the reasons beneath her mother's illness. Between violence, love and betrayals, Emily would have to fight for the truth. But would it really be worth it? As Laura revealed her darkest secrets, Emily lost herself in the woman's corrupted soul, betrayed by her loved ones and killed by lies.
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Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock. This frustrating noise echoed in my ears as I lay on a chair, my eyes fixed on the table as the therapist tried in vain to make me talk. But I had nothing to say. His unfounded analysis almost offended me. All I wanted was to be done with this. I could feel the pain invading my right side that had been hurt during the accident.
“Why don’t you trust me?”
“I never fully trusted doctors and therapists. Don’t take it personally.” I said, not really paying attention to him.
“Why? Did you have a bad experience with one of them?” he asked, cocking his head to the side as he tried to get hold of my gaze.
“Kind of. It’s complicated.”
“I have time. Go on.”
“I want you to focus on your feelings and to write them down in this diary. It can be a word, a quote, a picture. Just free yourself. This diary is your soul, don’t be afraid to talk with it. It won’t betray you.” Said the school therapist. I had decided to see him because I wanted some kind of escape, someone to count on, someone I could tell everything to without being afraid of the consequences. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way I expected it to. This old guy seemed convinced that writing therapy was the best for me. I honestly thought that holding a diary would be useless. Writing wouldn’t help my mom for it wouldn’t help me either. It would just make the whole thing more real, it would be a proof that things were rough but it wouldn’t give me the key to make it stop.
However I surprised myself opening the notebook one night. I felt so hopeless, all I could hear was my dad trying to make my mom sleep as usual but she kept saying the same words: “I’m sorry, it’s her fault, I’m sorry”. I knew she was talking about me even though I still didn’t know what she was blaming me for. I was fully awake and aware of the tension that was surrounding the house. So almost unconsciously, I grabbed a pen and started to write.
I’ve become friendly related to insomnia. It keeps me company when chaos freezes the outside world, dipping it in an hivernal state – cooling the hearts and leaving a thick white layer behind, probably its soul. I wasn’t sure. Is chao’s soul made of mankind insanities? Is it pushing us to be emotionally sensitive? Or are we making it alive? As a shadow who would follow us permanently, waiting for the right moment to make us sink into our inner Hell? Itbecame a revelation to me that people felt needy to externalize their feelings. We constantly try to explain our way of thinking, our own reaction to daily life. By putting it into words we make it stronger, we make it real. But to fight something, don’t we need it to be real? We can’t win a battle if we’re fighting some invisible form. Through those words I hope that I’m making a step into that battle.”
I surprised myself to feel quite relieved. Was it because writing had dictracted me? Or because I felt stronger than those words? Eager to find out the answer, I wrote over and over.
Today the pain seems to be gone, along with fear and shapelessness. Things are taking back their meanings, memories flood through my mind as waves crashing against the shore. I cannot longer cope with this terrifying blur. I wasn’t made for darkness – though the voices retaliate, liar, liar. I’m trying to put the pieces back together – in vain. The truth keeps slipping off of my fingers and floats through the wind’s soul – invisible and unreachable, until I make it alive.”
Sometimes the world seems to be moving on, people go forward with their lives. They smile and laugh, hold hands and share. But my inner world is crashing down, turning into ashes. And at some point I feel flat. Everything drowned, I can’t ruin anything else to ease the ache. The pain is overwhelming yet fixed and still. It’s so huge that it can’t grow further but it can’t get smaller either. It’s notabout choices anymore, it’s about surviving. When you already hurt yourself badly you have to find other ways to get your sorrow and anger out. You can’t cry anymore, the sobs remain stuck in your throat. So I sleep, in hope that I’ll wake up feeling better. Deep inside me I know it’s a lie. I know I’ll feel just as bad. Though I have to live with this scare thought and to carry the weight of self-conciousness as a burden, a part of myself that I wish could disappear – if it feels like I’m being handcuffed, why can’t I find the key to emotional freedom?”
Wake up with a slap – horror – mom is drunk again. A glance toward the clock – 11pm. She’s gone out one more time. She’s mumbling words that I don’t understand. Her gesture is frightening. I try to calm her but it only makes her more aggressive. She hits – once, twice, her fist turns blue. There’s a mark on the wall. I thank God that it wasn’t my face. Dad rushes in and manages to take her out. Her gaze is challenging me. I don’t look down this time. I’m not scared anymore – anger radiates over my body – I want to hit. I want to scream but I stay still. I watch. I blink. I let myself drift into sleep.”
Coldness. Bitterness. I’m flowing deep down the ocean, a ball hooked to my feet, it send me under, I’m out of breath, trying to fight the pressure of water, my eyes fixed above me, it’s so dark down here, sunlight disappears – it’s too deep. I can’t swim away – watching myself drown – it’s a toss-up.”
I’ve been sitting on a swing – I don’t know for how long. The sorrow seemed buried deeply – has won a few battles – nevertheless recurred tirelesly. Writing is becoming tough.”
“Your daughter has been really depressed lately. Her diary is an undeniable proof. She seems to have some hallucinations about you and your wife but what scares me the most is her description of her feelings. She’s in deep pain Mr. Matthews. We need to do something. I think sending her to a treatment center would be the best option.”
“He betrayed me.” I whispered in a cracked voice. I came for help and all he did was blaming me for the situation. That’s when I decided to stay mute. I didn’t see the point of telling anyone. I was convinced that everybody would react this way so I bottled everything inside. Thought it was for the best. I added, laughing cynically.
“Therapists are all different. I personally think that he was more worried about your mental health than about the truth. He first thought of your safety. A treatment center would have been a safe place for you. Maybe he thought it was the only way to protect you due to the lack of proofs against your mother.”
“I didn’t want to blame my mom. I didn’t want to be stared at as some creepy girl who spread lies to seek attention. I wanted someone to make me feel better. I wanted someone to tell me that everything would be okay and that it wasn’t too late. I needed someone to listen. That’s all I ever asked for.” I yelled, pacing around the room as tears started to blur my vision.
“What do you want today?” he asked, implying that he already knew the answer I would give him.
“I want to forget. I want to move on.” I admitted as I looked down at him.
“Would you want to hear what I think would help you?” He asked again, almost in fear that I would reject the idea. I sat in front of him and nodded. I had nothing to lose at this point.
“I think you should tell me your story.”
“How would it help?” I replied bitterly.
“You said your previous therapist wasn’t able to listen. I want to hear what you have to say. I’m convinced that you’ll feel relieved afterwards. I won’t judge, I won’t make any statement about the events. I’ll just listen.”
I forced my eyes away, contemplating the idea.
“I’d say that everything began when I was about thirteen. It was fours years ago.”
I had always thought that nothing rough could happen to me. I was living in the perfect town, the ideal neighbourhood, we were the classical family who never gave anyone reasons to be cagey. Our house was typical of the old England Period – covered in brown, there were three floors and each of them had a white window that faced the street – shrubs of all kinds were spread on each side of the stairs which was leading to the front door and some lilies were enthroned on the window sill of the ground floor. I had urged my parents to install them a few years ago. Lily was my favorite flower, it was pure and its white color enlightened the house. I had decorated my room’s balcony with those as well.
We were delighted of our life and unaware of the madness that was slowly integrating our no longer innocent minds – until everything broke down before my eyes. We stopped being a family the night my mother came back home, not able to find her way to her bedroom, too drunk to control her body. She had never drank before that. I was awakened by her whimpers and thought that she might had had a good evening with her old friends. They hadn’t seen each other after they had left college so when she had seen them in town several days earlier she had immediately invited them to hang out. It was the possibility to catch up and to have a good time. My dad, conscious that my mom needed some time by herself, let her go and took care of us for the night. The clock indicated three am. Unable to fall back asleep, I grabbed my cover and wrapped it around my shoulders, freezed by the coldness of november. I found her laying in the stairs, tears running down her cheeks, displaying her make-up all over her face.
I didn’t understand right away. On the moment, I thought that something might have gone wrong and that mom needed me, so I did what a thirteen years old girl would do, I ran to my dad and woke him up, panicked by my mother’s state. I remember being pulled apart, not allowed to leave my bedroom. All I could hear was low whispers. Questions were invading my mind. Why was my mother looking so weak and sad? Why was she laying in the stairs? And why couldn’t I be there for her? Looking through the lock, I tried to see what was happening outdoors. My father was helping her to walk in the bathroom, holding her waist firmly so she wouldn’t fall. And then, they were out of sight. I remember frowning and sitting on my bed, thinking about what had just happened. I was just a child, the possibility that my mom had been drinking never hit me. Of course I knew all about alcohol and drugs but to me, something so horrifying couldn’t happen to us. Why would it? It was probably a one time thing.
We didn’t talk about it afterwards. My parents were acting like nothing had ever happened and Sophie, who ignored everything of that night, was being adorable as usual. Sophie was my little sister. She was seven years old and was really funny, cheerful and thriving. She loved spending time with me and especially watching my every move, as if she was analyzing me for an essay. I never complained about it though, she had the power to calm me down when everything around me was stressing me out. I used to call her “Spark”, as a reference to the sparks she always had in her eyes when she was amazed by something, which could be mom’s home cooked dinner as well as the gorgeous horse that her friend Tom owned. She was really curious and kept asking a lot of questions. She was really mature for her age. You could have a whole conversation with her without realizing that you were actually talking to a little girl. I think that somehow it led my parents to overestimate her. Sure she was smart but we didn’t have to forget that she still had the feelings of a seven years old girl and that a tiny little thing could break her. I wish my mom had realized that before she messed up our life.
The more the days went on, the more she was acting different. She stopped picking up Sophie after school, pretending that she had found a job in town and that she couldn’t call sick every day. I went with her excuse the first two weeks but when she started rejecting us I knew that something was definitely up. She had never ever said something hurtful to us. Until then. I was cleaning the dishes while my dad was carrying my sister to bed. My mom walked in after her day of “work” and stopped by me, a look of disgust visible through her dilated eyes. The smell of alcohol was unbearable. I tried not to show my anger through, knowing that it wouldn’t help me.
“How was your day mom?” I asked as gently as possible.
“Not having you around was perfect. I finally felt free and alive. See the burden you are?” she replied venomously, amused by my hurt expression. How could she say something like that to me? Didn’t she love me? I knew she was drunk, again, but it wasn’t a reason to take her pain out on me. I knew dead well that it wasn’t my fault. I excused myself and ran to my room, crying. How could I not? My own mother had just told me that I was a burden and that she wished I wasn’t there. This is a really painful feeling, to know that the person you look up to the most rejects you and takes pleasure to hurt you. You ask yourself if you did something wrong, and no matter what you would do to change things, the situation would remain the same.
I watched a person I loved destroying herself during four years and all I could do was to protect my little sister. The only way was to help mom no matter how hard she was pushing me away. I had to be there at night to drag her to bed so Sophie wouldn’t wake up, this way, she would be safe. I had become used to this routine and my whole schedule was fixed in sort of being able to be there when I would be needed. Sometimes my dad would just ask my grandma to watch over us. Those days I knew he felt guilty and that he wanted to find a solution. He was such an amazing dad, he would never let us down and would spend a lot of time with us. He was trying to offer us the best life possible and his comforting smile and hugs would always cheer me up, no matter the circumstances. He was a writer for a newspaper and loved sharing stories with the whole world. I was extremely proud of him. My dad was almost my best friend, he really cared about Sophie and I. When my mom was being too aggressive or painful, he would comfort us and promised that it would get better. I couldn’t truly believe him on that but I was silently wishing that he would be right. We were both overwhelmed but refused to show it. We couldn’t be weak, we had to be strong, for mom, for Sophie, for ourselves. As much as I hated my mother for putting us through this disaster, I still loved her and cared about her. I refused to believe that she has changed so fast without any reason. Something must had happened. There were moments when I felt like my father did know what was going on with her but the reason why wasn’t what mattered at that moment. We needed to find a way to help her, as soon as possible. It was imperative.
We tried, we really did, but nothing seemed helpful. My mom was drinking more and more each day and she was being extremely cruel verbally. I don’t think that she realized how mean she actually was, the alcohol was talking, not her, but it still hurt. I thought it couldn’t get worse. I was wrong. This time she had gone too far, leaving the red mark of her hand on my face. That’s how I ended up curled up like a ball on my bed, fighting my sorrow. Like any person who suffered I needed an escape, something that would help me holding on and staying strong through this. I eventually found it. The painting. Or was it the one who found me? It became my best friend, my confident. I could say things through my drawings without really having to confront them. It was a way to find a certain relief, I felt understood and not as lonely as before. Painting became a passion, a way to express myself. It was my language. As days passed by, I got interested in poetic abstraction, going to some exposures and reading critics, biographies. I was really touched by the emotions ofseveral canvas. I could see some people trying to find what the artist had wanted to make them feel, missing the main point of the representation. The goal of a painting wasn’t to make people feel a specific emotion but to create a feeling, a certain uneasiness in their minds, whether it was related to pain, joy or love. The question you had to answer was “What do I feel?” not “What should I feel?” – There was all the difference.
Art was misunderstood in our society. People judged pieces of imagination without even trying to let the picture touch them. The result of it was perceived by the artist mentally, he saw certain things that nobody else could see. The artist worked on his canvas over and over, never coming to an end. Why? Because his feelings changed as fas as time flew. A feeling’s representation isn’t constant. It’s amended. Check on an artist’s painting and you’ll see that from day one to day thirty, many changes will have been made. There’s a real intimate relation between the drawer and the drawing. This relation dragged me to the art class at High School. I had been going there since the beginning of first year. The teacher would usually let me in, ecstatic that he might have a new student. But I never chose his class. I wanted to paint so I could be honest with myself, far from home’s issues. I could finally let my feelings out with colors and papers, sometimes the page remained blank, not knowing how to explain what couldn’t be clarified. Emotions were trapped inside of me and I was trying my best to get rid of them. So here I was, painting the wish that – I hoped – would come true soon. It could seem lame or even meaningless to some people but this painting meant a lot if you tried to see through it. Under the figure of perfection I was seeking helplessly, wecould see crying faces and oceans of confusion. Dark blue tears projected out of thick, spread black. My green eyes were almost visible in the centre of the painting, looking at us like they were drowning, unable to resurface. They were loating on a dangerous sea, totally lost.
Apart from that, a sort of slippery bridge made of water represented the only link between light and shadows, separating the dream from the nightmare, the wish from the cruel reality. There was no way to cross without falling back down. Maybe that was why I was so afraid of this situation. I didn’t know how to get out of it. I could just watch myself sink into despair – it would explain why I didn’t draw a whole face. I couldn’t talk to anyone, couldn’t hear the truth, I could just stare and endure. The drawing was the perfect representation of the inner battle I was fighting. Nobody had ever understood my paintings before and nobody would, or so I thought. This day would be different. Indeed, something was contrasting. The two previous years the curtains were wide opened, letting the light in, illuminating the different painting with a glimmer of hope as they lay on a table in a corner of the room, not allowing anyone to appreciate their hidden beauty. But this day was particular. When I got in the curtains were closed, immersing the room into darkness. The light was dimmed enough so that we could still see the canvas and the brushes which has been left in the glas of water by some student who was probably eager to leave as soon as the ball had ran – turning the transparent water into several shades of red. Some art books were spread on the desk, meaning that the new teacher had let them here when he went out for lunch. I wasn’t really bothered by those changes though and kept painting, not knowing what I was doing. My eyes were following my fingers, conscious of the moves but unaware of what I was trying to draw above what I had already done.
I was literally watching myself, unable to communicate with my own body. My eyes wandered on the canva, following the lines I was creating, discovering the painting like a spectator, watching the representation that was appearing before my gaze. It was like I didn’t need to tell my hand what to draw, it already knew it. Body’s so complicated to understand. It remembers its experiences and uses those as a code, a source of inspiration to transmit to other people what’s hiding behind the walls, what’s the reason behind the scars. My body obviously remembered every situation I had gone through and expressed its soreness on the paper.
“It’s really intense.” Whispered a masculin voice from behind me. I could however levy a hint of shock in his amazed tone.
Not bothered by his presence I kept on moving my brush softly on the thick layout. An amber scent flooded me when he sat beside me on the bench. I didn’t want to look away but was curious to see what he looked like. Something about him made me feel calm. It was probably his gentle tone or the fact that he tried to respect my moment of inspiration.
“It must be hard.” He whispered again, his warm breath hitting my cheek. I frowned, confused. What did he mean? He seemed to capt my hesitation and explained.
“All those feelings, this disguised anger, this overwhelming fear. It must be hard to deal with.”
How did he see this? Was it that obvious or was he smart? I decided not to say anything and pulled the brushaside. I didn’t know if I could be satisfied of my work or not. Somehow it reflected the truth but I wished I could have drawn something with more warm colors, something more beautiful. However I refused to lie. It would go against my state of mind. Drawing lies would be the end of my work and it would be non sense.
“Let’s see if I can read through this.” He added, leaning forward. I finally looked up and met sparkling, gorgeous black hair. He was wearing a white shirt with levi’s jeans. Simple yet attractive. My eyes analyzed his expressions as he seemed to follow the movement of the brush – sadness, comprehension, happiness, confusion, love. It was intriguing and absorbent. I bit my lip unconsciously as his eyes met mine. I was suddenly stunned by the beauty of the man who was sitting next to me. He blew me away. His green eyes were so intense that it was hard not to get lost into them. A light smile appeared on his lips, making me blush slightly.
“I see a girl who’s trying her best not to drown. I see a girl who feels powerless and confused – someone full of love and compassion, I see fear, anger, sadness but also the will to get better and to fix things. You may not have all the answers yet but you will find out eventually. Maybe you can’t fix things. Perhaps you have to accept the fact that nothing can be done, perhaps you have to accept help.”
I swallowed hard, uneasy. For the first time, someone could read me. It felt surprisingly comforting. I guess he was trying to know me better through this but was he trustworthy enough? I didn’t know. I just stayed there, staring at him – mute. Sadness in his...