Hello and welcome, last week I revealed “Broken” the first chapter, today, is chapter two. Please take the time, to leave me a comment. I value your opinions good or bad. As writers we put our heart and souls into our writing, in an attempt to get our message across. Although this book is a harrowing subject, that is both graphic and very sad in places. It is predominantly, a book about healing and hope that reaches out to those people who have suffered as Susan does in the book. It is a book I hope will raise awareness of this issue to others and if I am lucky will raise vital funds for Seren, a charity that deals with the aftermath by counselling survivors. As a proportion of book sales will be directed to this worthy cause.
Child abuse affects people in different ways, no two stories will be the same. Some will be worse than others but without doubt it has a far reaching effects on survivors. Some make it through that journey and sadly some do not. Child abuse is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about; but discuss we must, if we want to make a difference and protect our children. For those of you who did not catch Chapter One you can read it here
Wales October 25th 2007 pm evening
For as long as she could remember, Susan had stood on the edge of things. She realised now at the age of forty eight years, she had been observing from a distance, a safe distance. Always watching and observing, being part of the group yet apart from it, on the side-lines. The events of the past few hours had taken there toil on her psyche, dragging up memories best forgotten from the dark part of her soul were she had kept them hidden for so many years. Scars that still burnt into the very core of her being, their power over her, as relentless as the day they were born. Reducing Susan, in the confines of her own home, in the place she felt safest of all, to a quivering wreck.
She could make no sense of what was happening to her. The phone rang it was Kevin her brother.
“Hi Susan, how are you”
“Not to good actually”
She began to tell him what had been happening to her.
“I think it’s all connected to Wally myself”
“Why the things he put you through when you were a kid and when we were in care”
“Care we were never in care Kevin?”
“Oh yes we were, when you and I were spilt up”
“I remember vaguely staying with friends of mum’s in Kirby but that wasn’t care”
“Yes it was”
“Susan, have you ever asked yourself the question, were was your mother then?”
“My mother, she was yours as well”
“But … she was far from perfect and she didn’t get rid of Wally did she?”
“I always thought once she knew she would kick him out, why didn’t she?”
“Kevin, I can’t deal with this now I will ring you tomorrow”
Susan flew into the bathroom and was violently sick. After cleaning herself up she went into the lounge and sat down. She had dealt with the Wally things years ago, hadn’t she?
She reached for the cigarette packet on the table and pulled one out and lit it. Dragging the nauseous essence of the nicotine, deep into her lungs. As she coughed she thought, these things will kill me. Susan made a mental note to self to cut down, but not today, I need these today. Something had transported her to a place she did not want to go. A long forgotten place, she had left many years ago; and a place she thought, she would never return to.
Thoughts raced around her mind like a tornado, one mingling with another as it set off yet another chain of thoughts. Igniting old feelings of worthlessness and depression, her head began to spin and small beads of sweat trickled down her forehead. Susan started to feel light-headed and held onto the chair in front of her to steady herself; she sat down just as the vivid images began to flood through her mind sending her senses into overdrive.
No! No! I’m not going back there she cried out as her mind betrayed her. As she struggled to form a tangible thought she felt a familiar touch on her shoulder. A touch she knew was not real as she was alone in her flat; and it transported her back forty five years to when she was 3 yr. old child helpless in a world of adults. Susan was in the room now, THAT ROOM waiting in dread for him to come into her bedroom.
She looked around the room with the eyes of the child she once was, drinking in the environment as though the mere act of concentration would delay the outcome she knew so well. The large room was separated into two by a hardboard wall. On the left side slept Kevin her older brother with Susan on the right. Susan was 3 years old and Kevin was 10 years. The room was sparsely furnished but clean and tidy with essential items only. Blue patterned linoleum covered the floor with a similar colour, blue curtains on the windows. There were 2 beds, 2 bedside cabinets and 2 chests of drawers. In the corner of her room stood a portable 2 bar electric heater which kept the winter chill off the room.
Susan could hear her mother saying goodbye to her father, as she left for her night job. She began to cry silently into her pillow as she realised her torture would soon begin. Very soon her father would appear in her room with that glazed look in his eyes, as he did every night her mother worked. Her father had just appeared 6 months earlier out of nowhere. Before he arrived there was just Susan, Kevin her brother who was 7 years her senior and their mother. Her mother had told them that their father had been working away but Susan remembered thinking why didn’t she remember her talking about him before?
Susan’s thoughts wandered and flowed towards her mother, who she adored. Mum is so beautiful she thought, she could see her in her mind’s eye, her flowing red hair with the curls that framed her face and her big green eyes like pools you could sink into. Her heart shaped face and pale pink lips enhanced her beauty even more. Although they had little money now it had not always been the case.
Her mother’s expensive clothes from all over the world completed her perfectly manicured look. She was a woman who, when she entered a room demanded its attention silently, without uttering a single word. All eyes were upon her and her mother loved it! Susan’s heart melted with pride when people said she had inherited her mother’s looks, but deep down she didn’t believe them and thought they were only saying it to impress her mother.
Susan knew she was ugly she had always felt like this for as long as she could remember. Wally had told her she was an ugly, stupid little bitch and she knew he was right. When she grew up no one would want her, not like they wanted her mother. Susan’s world always stood still when her mother talked about her travels around the world, her clear blue eyes were mesmerised, drinking in everything her mother said. She savoured every word and drank in every experience as though it were her own, imaging the scene her mother painted as though she had been there. She especially loved it, as all children do, when her mother talked about the day she was born. The first time she had done was just before her father had returned home. A time when she felt safe, when there was just Susan, her brother and their mother.
“Your father” she said, eyes beaming with pride was over the moon when you were born. He sent me 3 orchids with a little note attached which read, “One for the day I missed and one each for my beautiful wife and darling daughter”.
“Your daddy was travelling with his job when you were born and didn’t get home until the day after you were born; but oh Susan, she said excitedly, you should have seen the presents he bought back for you”. He brought beautiful little dresses, hats, shawls, in fact everything a new baby could ever need. Her mother shifted in her chair to get closer to Susan and whispered in her ear, “There was no prouder father in all of England” she cooed. Susan never tired of hearing this story it and could recall it word for word. Her little mind worked overtime as she puzzled to herself
“What made daddy change then? It must be because I’m so naughty? Daddy says I am, so it must be true cos grownups don’t lie do they?
Susan was back in the room now with her tiny frame huddled under the blanket. Tears cascaded down her face relentlessly and she wiped them away, it would be worse if her father caught her crying. Kevin heard her and said,
“Are you crying again kidda?
“No I am not! Susan replied indignantly I’m a big girl now”
Susan was trying to sound as brave as she could whilst stifling back the tears which were now stuck in her throat. The tears rolled down her face silently and she wiped them away defiantly with the corner of the blanket.
Kevin’s voice softened now,
“Ok sis, you go to sleep now and I’ll look after you and keep watch for Dad and Jimmy Green teeth of course” he added laughingly.
Jimmy Green teeth, was a fictional character that Kevin had made up to frighten Susan into going to sleep when she was playing up at night. In the happier days before their father had arrived on the scene and it always did the trick! Susan was soon asleep dreaming her favourite dream of walking through the Tripoli Gardens in Italy, which her mother had told her about and they were looking at all the beautiful flowers.
As she wandered happily around the gardens with her mother, she thought it’s even more beautiful than mum told me. Her mother motioned her forward with a gentle touch on her back. Susan could just about make out the frame of a man by the bushes as her mother said, “Go on then, run to your daddy”! She ran excitedly as fast as her little legs could carry her, giggling to herself and stopped momentarily as she wondered to herself, why am I not frightened of him? As she reached him and looked up Susan was shocked to see he had no face!
Startled, she jumped back and the fright woke her from her dream as it had so many times before. As she slowly came back to reality she realised she was on the floor. She had fallen out the bed and bumped her eye on the bedside cabinet and a red angry welt was forming. Dazed, Susan picked herself up and rubbed her eye, wincing with the pain she hauled her body back into what seemed to a slight three year old, an enormous bed. Susan could hear Kevin’s gentle snores which frightened her even more, knowing he was asleep and unable to help her. Somehow just knowing he was in the other room and awake comforted her. Normally after her father had left, Kevin would ask her if she was ok and rock her back to sleep as she cried her distress out.
Susan pulled the Covers up to her chin and surveyed the room, it was dark and Susan was afraid of the dark that was when HE came. Her mind raced frantically back to the dream. Why didn’t my nice daddy have a face, she thought intently, with as much concentration that a three year old could muster? Her mind was searching anxiously for the answer as the door slowly creaked open.
Small specks of light from the lounge, streaked into the room as the dark figure entered. It hovered over Kevin’s side of the room checking he was asleep, before approaching her bed. Susan could hear Kevin’s deep breathing and knew he would be unable to save her from her plight. OnceIT the dark figure, was satisfied Kevin was asleep it approached her bed. It lent over her and pulled back the covers, in one swift well-practised, movement. Susan was trembling uncontrollably and had broken out in a cold sweat. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out. She could hear and feel her heart beat pounding in her chest and she desperately tried to move but was unable to, as she was paralysed with sheer terror.
Susan could hear HIS laboured breath and smelt it was heavy with the scent of whisky; he looked to her a slight 3 year old, like a gaint. Suddenly his voice broke into the darkness
“How’s my sexy little girl then? IT asked as the dark figure approached her and fumbled underneath Susan’s pink flowered nightgown.
“Daddy’s come to see if you’re alright” he croaked, his breathing heavier now. The voice sounded kind but Susan knew it was not kind, this was her nasty daddy, and her nice dream daddy had gone away.