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Neutiquam Erro - Chapter One

Based on a true story, this work has been in progress for 10 years. Alongside the stories are the poems, songs and artwork that have accompanied the journey of a child.

Neutiquam Erro is Latin and translates in English to “I am not lost at all”.

Survivor

I am not a Survivor, I am so much more than that.

I will admit, it has been a long tunnel this one, or rather a series of tunnels. Some of them I think I entered willingly, instead of an alternative, more sensible track, but others have been set squarely in my path and were unavoidable. There are advantages to a dark journey, the smallest glimmer of golden light is like the brightest sunny day; a smile, a friendly wave, just a simple moment of joy.

I love my past tunnels!! Without them I might still be wandering around in semi darkness always missing the light in my life.

There are hundreds of books on how to “find the light within you” but very few share the balance: finding your darkness, accepting it and embracing the shadows as a necessary definition of the masterpiece you are.

Their Secret

The girl had a very clear impression of being tumbled over and over in fluid; there are a series of stops and crashes that are distinctive and this impression had been so very clear in moments of meditation, that it had been enough to leave her shaking and crying in terror, with no idea why.

During a therapy session a counselor asked her if it might be a childhood memory, so one day having called the woman for Mothers day, in a rare moment when the call hadn’t yet disintegrated into one of them hanging up, the girl asked the woman if she knew what it might mean.

The woman told her about the violent abuse at the hands of the child's father, of a young, pregnant mother, beaten and terrorized, and thrown through a wall. Of the landing on the other side of the wall; of being kicked further down the stairs and rolling, landing at the bottom, trying to breathe, screaming, crying, aware of the child within her…only to to be kicked further, slipping, then rolling down a second flight.

The girl understood the woman's bewilderment,her confusion as she sat weeping, brutalized and struggling to understand how her bright, promising future had become so dark and frightening.

In that moment the girl understood why the child the woman carried became target for her pain, and why the woman would later reject the child so completely and permanently.

The woman had been extra ordinary. She was unique in an era when women dreamed of homes not careers, particularly in male dominated workforce roles; in the 1960’s few women worked toward a degree in architecture in order to achieve their dreams, or spent hours poring over schematics, blueprints and books. Beautiful and intelligent, the world was her oyster… if only she hadn’t fallen pregnant.

There were other options available to her, this was the late 60’s and legislation was already in place to perform abortions. Although raised a Catholic, her personal spiritual beliefs would have allowed her to choose another option, yet something made her choose to keep the child. At a time when working mothers were rare and poorly supported, she married pregnant, found childcare, dropped the child off each day.

They all survived but the kind of work that would allow her to achieve her dreams was now so much farther out of her reach and it was easier to blame the child than own the responsibility. Her promising career became a desk job in a government department and as depression took hold the child became disposable. This was not what her life should have been.

Many years later she would finally choose to terminate the pain by shutting the child out. This too, was the child’s fault. The child should never have spoken up, she should never have told their secret.

I have seen you

Oh to revel in my dark desire
To throw myself into lustful fire
Release my spirit to the flame
Lost in Bliss again and again.
To embrace the colours of who I am
To accept the darkness within again
To open arms, to bask in light 
To sweet embrace of darkest night 
For all these things are truly me
Not just the things I hope to see 
In dark and deep and all through time 
The strength of Love and Light is mine
A walk into the deep dark night 
A walk where I am only light 
Without this darkness all around 
I am nothing, no colour, no sound
And so in myriad colours and hues
Light and bright and blackest too 
Is all that I can hope to be
Is all that is, inside of me

MelodieM 2006

Child

The child’s hair was rarely brushed, her teeth almost never. In a home with one toothbrush and the same tube of Blackmores toothpaste that had traveled with them for years, personal hygiene wasn't big. She lived in the bus with naked ladies painted on the side. The woman said it was her interpretation of fairies and woodland creatures but to the other children at school they were just naked ladies.

Study was by correspondence until the child reached high school; Schooling wasn't big either and having spent much of her childhood alongside her parents picking whatever seasonal produce was next on the itinerant picking calendar, she and her brother would do their lessons at night or on weekends. When they actually did do the work they would complete 2 weeks lessons at once.

The child was weird. Traveling had always solved the problem of fitting in with society, they didn’t have to fit in, they just kept moving, following the crops. They had to keep moving or someone might discover the secret but the child didn’t know that. When the child got too old for correspondence they had to stop traveling. The law said so and the child knew that the woman resented her for it but she didn't care.

Living in a house was an adventure for the child, they had proper beds and a real bathroom and the toilet flushed!

For years the child’s job had been to carry the bucket of human waste produced in the bus each night, to somewhere away from the bus and bury it. To anyone else that shiny little button on top of the cistern was just a convenience, to the child it signaled change, hope and freedom from at least this one vile task.

The child liked school. She liked most of the teachers too; many of them were little beacons of light in a very shadowy world. She especially loved the sewing teacher. The sewing teacher was always so clean and neat and feminine. The sewing teacher repaired her uniform for her because it had been ripped up the side seam for weeks. The girl had already tried sticky tape and staples.

Even her school uniform - 2 sizes 2 big and obviously unloved by its previous owner – gave the child a sense of stability, of being not quite so alien to the world around her. In a small community of maybe 2500 people, they might have appeared “normal” for a day or so, but it wouldn't last long.

Deformed

The pictures flashed across her mind again and again but she couldn’t shake them away, She was frightened. The pictures were horrible, and so sad. She didn't want to look at them but then she couldn’t stop. She wished she had never seen them. Now, walking home they were all the child could see. Precious little eyes glazed over in faces devoid of emotion, limbs at odds with natures design, twisted and stunted.

The child walked faster. She had to tell the woman so they could face the secret and stop the pictures from happening before it was too late.

She walked slowly to school the next day. Riding her bike was out of the question. Her backside was far too sore from the hiding. In her first real act of rebellion, the girl hurled a kitchen knife at being called a liar. The child never stood up to the woman like that before, or since for that matter, but right then in that moment she had utter clarity and she knew she was no liar.

The hiding took the fight out of her, she knew she was alone.

The pictures of those babies became her companions. Her absolute conviction that one of these twisted children would be born of the secret in her home, through her body. The child saw herself birthing monsters with hideous faces and twisted bodies and she drew the shadows around herself and closed her eyes at night, hoping he would not come in, hoping she would not dream of the monsters her body held.

Images of children born with congenital defects found on one of her many lunch times spent in the library. Images that made her curl up and plead sick so she could hide in the medical room. She understood what she was reading, she had been reading since age four but although she was sexually active and aware, she was still a child and at 12 years old she tried to kill herself.

~

The child woke up in the hospital, cramps making her double in the bed and cry with pain. When the nurse came she gave her water and told her they pumped her stomach, the black bile around her lips from trying to force charcoal down her throat.

The woman came then, she bought grapes and asked why the child would do this to their family. The woman never asked why the child wanted so desperately to sink into darkness where there were no monsters.

~

The sewing teacher was so kind and so clean… The child told her the secret, so maybe she could help keep the monsters away

She was also the emergency foster carer who took the child home when the secret finally came out.

She was kind when the police bought the child’s clothes from home. Most were rags and none were clean. She helped the child unpack and sort through them and a lot of them seemed to disappear, replaced by new pieces bought and sewed with genuine care.

Showing the child each step and teaching her how to hem the skirts she made, a teacher with a huge heart gave the child skills she would continue to use through out her life.

For the first time in her life the child had a bath all to herself, she didn’t have to take turns with the water, it was a bath run just for her. She climbed into warm flannel pyjamas and slept in a clean, freshly made bed. She felt, for just a few weeks, almost normal. If only the shadow of the secret would go away.

She missed her family and her brother and she needed to talk to them about what happened. She needed to tell them about the pictures and why it was so important someone knew the secret. She wanted the woman to tell her it was OK.

The woman didn’t want her to go home. The woman said she was uncontrollable. The child was made a Ward of the State of Victoria and she was never going home. It would be 20 years before the child would ever feel clean again. Nasty dirty little girl no one wants.

As a woman herself, years later the child would ask herself; if she had understood that her step father was not a blood relative and that the congenital deformities she feared were a result of inbreeding the same bloodline, would she have kept the secret?

~


short_stories | literature


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