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Neutiquam Erro - Chapter Eight

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”.

Gasp

She felt her fear turn to cold sweat running down her back, the silence heavy and threatening as she tried to adjust her eyes to the darkness. She had been dreaming again, if you could call the torment she faced each night a dream. She knew it was her own broken mind that created the dark and frightening images - her own fear - not a foreign enemy but one that came from deep within.

She had faced down fear more times than she could count but not this time. This time she hid from the fear; the pain of facing herself and the future, of owning the fear and moving on, of starting again.

In the dark she closed her eyes, curled her body until her head rested on her knees and wept, praying for the dawn to lift the shadows. The dreams always started differently, always different faces from her daily life creating a backdrop to the same terrifying final act – a finale that left her gasping, weeping and alone in the dark.

Bliss

Surrounded by her closest friends and so deliriously happy she dared believe in magic. He was her high priest, a role passed to him from one who had stood by her halting steps along an ancient path from Maiden to Mother. A sacred trust she willingly placed in this man who would be her husband.

She was in awe of his energy, his charisma; his charm - directed at her, this power and charm had left her giddy and weak with desire, lost in a dream.

Their marriage was no small affair, for 3 days they celebrated in a forest retreat surrounded by the Australian bush with 150 people, her handful of family bolstered by his many friends and family in a Celtic celebration far from home.

Calling the gods of old and new to witness their union and leaping the broom to seal their fate. The quarrel bell had been rung - calling a truce and declaring peace - the ribbons undone and the circle broken, finally they were wed and the bonfires leapt with the drums and the dancers as she wondered at her blessings.

Stop

“Please Stop! Just stop, I’m sorry please, please stop!” she tried to prise his hands from her throat, the roller door behind her threatening to bow out with the force of the assault. She closed her eyes, tried to shut out the rage before her, wishing she knew what to say to make the world right again…

His hands so big, he held her arms above her head as he tried to pry her eyes open, gouging at her face. “Open your eyes f-k you! Look at me, look what you have done, this is your fault you c-t!” She opened her eyes, hoping if she agreed it might somehow be enough.

Compliance had never been enough before, but she dared hope. “Please, I’m sorry, it’s my fault please, I didn’t mean to make you angry, I love you, please- please stop!” Her head pinned to the steel of the roller door he screamed in her ear “Look what you did! You deserved this you c-t, this is all your fault.”

Finally punching her in the chest he let her drop to the floor gasping, trying desperately to breathe while he walked away. She heard him light a cigar and sit down.

Crawling to the bathroom she leaned back against the bath trying not to make a sound, her sobs escaping into the towel she clutched to her face terrified he would hear her. She knew she made him angry, she knew she couldn’t stop him hurting her and she knew that she would die if he got angry enough. She had to be quiet, hope he calmed down.

The shed they called home settled and she shivered, wishing she had her jumper. It must be dark outside, how long had she been there? How long ago did she say the wrong thing? Standing up she wrapped a towel around herself against the cold.

The bruises on her neck and face were already changing from an angry red to a dull blue and staring back at her from the mirror, the sight wrenched another sob from her, too fast for her to muffle. She howled into the towel, trying to empty herself so the tears would stop, so she could catch her breath, so she could survive whatever came next.

He came roaring back - her muffled tears still too loud for him to ignore- screaming as he tore the curtain that served as a wall from its wire and grabbed her, dragging her by her hair and throwing her to the ground. “Stop crying you c**t, it’s your own fault”, kicking her for emphasis. She whimpered, trying to hold back the tears and curling into a ball.

“Please, I love you; I’m sorry, please, why won’t you stop? Please, we can talk, I’m sorry, I love you, please stop”. Responding to his rage, agreeing with anything that would make it stop.

He spat on her then. That one small act more painful than any beating, crushing any hope she kept of their love ever being whole. She no longer heard his angry words, his accusations and blame. There was no need to hear him any more, no hint of how to save their marriage to listen for…there was nothing to save.

She stood up as he walked away again, everything so very clear now without love to confuse the motives. He hated her and she was in danger. He turned, his face giving away the surprise he felt at seeing her standing, calm and pale.

He hesitated then, standing aside as she walked past him and picked up her phone. “Touch me again and I will call the police, no-one else can help us now.” Her voice was so quiet; he physically leaned forward to hear her, watching in silence as she went to the bedroom.

She lay there listening as he moved around, micro-waving one of the hideous TV dinners he loved so much that he wouldn’t eat her cooking. He turned on the TV and she covered her head and cried into the mattress.

Help

It was quiet, she must have fallen asleep but he hadn’t come to bed so what woke her up?

“You want me to die” she heard from beyond the wardrobe that marked the bedroom from the living space, “Help me!!” She struggled to free herself from the pillows and blankets she had gathered around her like a barrier, scrambling over the end of the bed and falling against the wall as she rushed to his side.

He looked so hurt; his eyes accusing her of murder - he really believed she would let him die. She got him water and sat with him until the pain had passed and he was asleep. So vulnerable and childlike, she almost felt something but she stopped herself reaching out to touch his face, the rage of the night before was still too real.

She went back to bed, the TV dinners probably would kill him but even though she tried to convince him indigestion wasn’t fatal it had still taken him 2 hours to calm down, to stop believing his heart was failing and that she would let him die…


short_stories | literature


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