It had taken her a long time, but finally, she felt like she’d reached the happy place that she’d always dreamed of. Like a queen of a fairytale, living her own version of happily ever after, with her handsome young prince right by her side.
She smiled inwardly, happiness oozing from her pores. She watched with quiet amusement as her young prince gorged on sponge cake, while steadfastly watching the antics of Ben 10 unfold. Noticing his mother’s loving gaze, he gave her a wide smile, fully showcasing half-eaten cake, in all its mucky glory. Nice, she thought, shaking her head with a smile as she wondered how boys always seemed to create mischief from out of nothing.
For her, these moments of simple joy weren’t lost on her, as for years things had been so different. She’d been so different. Choosing the highs of the whitest coke and darkest rum over motherhood. Embracing sweet talkers with ever stiffening manhoods over the school run. Back then motherhood had felt like a chore, the mundane routine of it all in direct conflict with her wild nature. A wild nature seeded at the tender age of just 14. Back when she’d believed she was in love, considering the furnace in her belly to be a divine sign and the heat of her hidden center, a direct confirmation that her neighbour Jermaine was meant for her and she for him. No one else made her feel like him. Appreciated her maturity. Took note of her intelligence. Guys her age were too immature to appreciate her. Her worldly fourteen years matched perfectly with his matured nineteen.
He took her innocence in the bush of Stoneydown Park that one lunch break. Frantically pushing into her. She bravely meeting each thrust head-on, the waves of pain broken with flashes of delight. She sought to claim him and hoped his actions meant that he’d claim her, becoming a union of both body and mind.
When he’d reached his peak, before his manhood was even fully dry, he’d just upped and left. No kiss goodbye, no talks of until next time, no nothing. A harbinger of things to come, he’d simply vanished into a shroud of unanswered calls and texts. He’d left in his absence a girl touched but unclaimed. The spawn of self-doubt driving her yearning to constantly seek approval from men. She’d allowed multiple tours of her innermost kingdom in hopes that at least one of the men would take permanent residence. The passing of seasons birth into a blackened rose of self-destructive obsession. She grew to believe that the only way for her to find love was through the lens of blackened eyes, accepting in substitute fingers wrapped around her throat instead of around the curves of her hips. A progressive toxic universe, just a newer version of the one she’d witnessed as a child growing up within the household of a forever cheating father and forever screaming mother.
She found comfort with men whose souls raged with hidden demons, one such demon through carelessness placed a seed within her own tortured womb. Giving her a child who through watchful observations was able to mimic to perfection the behaviours of their world. Screaming for attention, scratching to get his point across. This he’d learned was the best ways of obtaining what he wanted. Social services had been called in from early, as his bad behaviour in primary school flagged a cause for concern due to the other children felt scared in his presence.
The very real threat of having her little boy taken was the catalyst for her great change. With him as her strength, she went through the painful process of change. Changing through the acknowledgment of self. Of acknowledging bad habits and realising what needed changing. Real eyes see real lies, but realer eyes see the self-told lies. To better herself, she humbled her ego and sought the professional help she so desperately needed.
It had been a taxing three years for her and her son, but she managed to pull through to the other end. Enduring the punches and kicks dealt from a turbulent past, she was able to crawl through on blistered hands and knees to emerge stronger but weathered
She kissed her son on his cheek as he entered the kitchen to give her his empty plate. He tried to escape with a run but she grabbed him, pulling him into a firm hug which he finally surrendered into.
“Mummmm, can I go now?” he said with a slight roll of his eyes.
“Right that’s enough TV, you know you have homework” she replied in good humour.
“But can’t I just watch a little more?”
“When you finished your homework you can watch more.”
“Okay,” he replied as if the whole world was burdening on his shoulders and that he alone was the sole saviour to mankind.
“And if you finish quick who knows I might rustle up another treat,” she said this with a wink and smile.
“Okay,” he said with a smile, as he raced to his room to complete his homework.
As she went back to washing up the plates in the kitchen, she heard the ring of her doorbell. Still smiling, her face a picture of joy she walked over and answered the door. The perfect picture soon dropped and changed to the expression of when a person first discovers the remains of a dead rat.
“What are you doing at my door, Tony?” She managed to stammer out, the uneasy feeling in her stomach made it hard for her to stay standing.
As if rehearsed he simply replied “I told you when I called you that day and sent them messages, I want us to get back together. Your the best thing I had in my life.”
“Tony it’s been close to two years. I told you, I’ve moved on. Your lifestyle and where I’m at now, just don’t match.” she tried to sound sincere but authoritative. Giving him no room to try to weasel his way back into her world.
“What do you mean by that?” He said with a hint of menace now underlying his tone.
She spoke with caution as she heard the change in his voice and she knew personally how extremely volatile and prone to violence he could become. Years of drug use had degenerated his drug-addled brain, adding further to his screw-lose personality.
“Look,” she tried to reason “why don’t we talk about this another time. I’ve had a long day at work and just want to put Kyle to bed.”
His face instantly screwed into an ugly picture; rage being its title, as the skin of his forehead bunched and eyebrows furrowed into a dark glare.
“Ah…” he said placing a thick finger to his lips. “You have another c— now.” Before she could respond, he growled, barely above a whisper “you never did know how to keep those legs of yours shut.”
Moving to close the door she said, “I think it’s time for you to…”
Before she could expel the rest of the words he struck her hard across the face, hands hardened from a lifetime of cracking fists into skulls.
She couldn’t react fast enough as he pushed her into her home, slamming the door closed behind him with his feet. She recognised things were heading downhill but knew she had to protect her son at all costs. Shaking off the feeling of dizziness, she grabbed a vase from her mirror stand that stood at the entrance to her front room. Striking the vase upon the top of his head with the strength that only a protective mother could summon she shattered it into a thousand pieces bringing forth a tide of crimson red. But it only infuriated him further, turning him into a raging monster, lost now to humanity. Moving to a singular goal, he was now possessed with the idea of if I can’t have you then nobody can. If life is to end in the gutter, then he’d take a precious gem down to the depths of hell with him.
He charged at her, oblivious to the electric sensation of her striking him viciously with her feet, ignoring the pain as she scratched at him with torn nails.
Where she used to trace her fingers lovingly across his once handsome face, now she clawed long scratch marks along a face contorted with fury and made ugly by this physical exertion.
But He ignored it all. His objective was clear to him. Nothing else mattered. Nothing in the world mattered, other than her and him. Time seemingly pausing for their last act.
He overpowered her, pushing her onto her back. As he struck once. Than struck again. And again. And again. Her face mangled more with each impact. Her golden complexion, gifted to her by mixed heritage parents quickly turned a hue of black, blue and a bloody red.
She heard her son cry out to her. She knew she must overcome this beast to be reunited with the only thing that was precious to her. With the last of her strength, she aimed a finger gouging squarely for an eye. But her best just wasn’t good enough. As he batted her hand away, closing his injured eye, his mind now fully succumbed to the madness that had grown as his dependence on mind-altering Spice grew.
The only thing she heard was the cries for “mummyyyy” before the brightest of days turned prematurely into the darkest of nights…
To be continued…
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Photo Credits: Sai De Silva