Oakleaf Retreat - Wednesday 17th February, 2016. 2:00pm.
As she scratched at her chipped black nails Bethany wondered how different her life could have been had she not been a Black.
She’d probably still be a virgin and in school. She’d probably have an unbroken heart that was yet to know how falling in love with the wrong person was a one way ticket into hell.
As the polish gathered under her fingernails she wondered if you could hate someone for what they had done to you, but still long for who they had been. She wanted to believe there was enough love left to give, but she was hollow...all her years of desiring things that destroyed her had left her with the heaviest weight of all.
The worst thing in the world is realising you can’t love yourself, because your heart still belongs to someone who broke it.
Waiting in the dining room of Oakleaf for her fiancé to visit her, Bethany stopped scratching at herself, long enough to survey the strangers around her. She chewed her gum hard as she looked at their scared, deranged faces. These broken, dying birds all forced into the same cage. She was one of them now. Frightened and alone, medicated and sedated. She knew her life would never be the same after this, her doctor told her this was a good thing, a wonderful thing and she so desperately wanted to believe it.
There he was, standing before her - Grigori, her fiancé, with his grey eyes gleaming down at her. She caught his gaze, but felt the air become thick with tension as she did, so turned her head away from him.
He nervously pulled open his chair and sat down across from her fidgeting with his fingers.
“I brought you something. Two things actually,” he opened a large box and placed a gold tin of chocolates on the table separating them. She opened the lid to discover small dark chocolate hearts piled on top of each other, waiting to be broken in her mouth.
Dark, bitter hearts.
“Someone has been missing you...so I had to bring her along,” Grigori pulled Miss Squee, the kitten he had gifted her, out of her box. Bethany reached for the animal, pulling it into her chest and pressing her lips on its velvety soft fur. Miss Squee purred quietly and stretched out in her mother’s arms.
“Bethy, look, I know you must hate me," Grigori began, "I know you think I abandoned you, lied to you… but I promise you I just wanted you to get help. I want you to get better. I thought it was best for you. I didn’t want to tell you that night...what Bella and your Daddy had decided, because I was afraid. Bethy, I didn’t want you to run away. I...know how much coke you’ve been...and I know what happened with Niki really…hurt you…I just want you to be taken care of…I hope you understand..”
Bethany didn’t lift her head as he spoke - she kept her eyes fixed on the warm ball snuggled in her arms - but she absorbed everything he said. Grigori wasn’t a bad man and she knew she couldn’t hate him for long. She knew he was carrying his own darkness; that he needed someone to kiss his wounds when they hurt too. His wounds wept in the still of the night when his body was warm and resting, they seeped out of him and danced with the moon. The first night they had spent together Bethany had watched him curiously as he battled his demons in his sleep, she had slid her fingertips all over his sweaty chest and felt the rapid beat of his aching heart. In that moment all she hoped for was that they could find the beauty in their struggles together and not feel so lost.
But that was then and this was now.
Now she was in her cage and she didn’t know how to get out. She wanted to reach him and utter the words...
...yes I understand why I’m here, why you didn’t stop them...yes I hate you for it, but only because I hate myself and eventually that hate will transform into love and I just know I will be okay and you will too and we will get married and have our beautiful babies and grow more in love with each turning sun until we are old, until our very last breath when we are reunited with the stars. Yes, my dear Grigori I understand you...
But she felt it foolish to speak such hope when there wasn’t any.
“Bethy, do you understand?”
Still refusing to lift her head and engage with him properly, the stubborn child she was, Bethy stroked her kitten and chewed her gum in silence.
“Sure, I do”
Grigori reached his hand out to touch her.
Please don’t let your skin meet mine I’ll break into a million pieces.
She felt like stone, that his one touch would turn her into dust and she would be swept away with the wind, never to return. She pulled back and squeezed the kitten close to her. It let out a meow, which brought the first smile to her face since she had been here. It lightened her slightly and she lifted her head to look at Grigori.
They smiled at each other in silence.
The kitten was getting restless and pressed her sharp claws into Bethany’s milky skin. The rush of the prick of pain was like an electric shot of pleasure...it had been so long since she had felt anything so visceral, so violent, that it brought tears to her eyes and a sea of desire to her underwear.
I miss the burn of coke rushing up my nose.
I miss the burn of tequila running down my throat.
I miss the burn of a man pounding between my legs.
“Bethy, are you okay?”
She stood up suddenly and gave Grigori back the kitten, “I think our time is up.”
Grigori stood, “Oh…that was quick...”
“I know, my doctor thinks it’s best our visits are short to begin with. My doctor wants to make sure you’ll be good for me first. My doctor is very brilliant and we should listen.”
He nodded and smiled, “I’m glad you have someone to talk to. I’ll be back soon I promise, I hope you feel better and I hope you can be home soon.”
They stood there awkwardly for a moment before Grigori put the kitten back in its box and wrapped his large arms around Bethany's tiny frame.
“Goodbye little one.”
Bethany didn’t lift her arms to embrace him, but she took one long deep breath of his scent so he could still be with her when he was gone.
“Goodbye Fiancé, be good.”
Bethany watched him leave and felt a sting of sadness as she placed her hand to her chest. She was alone, but despite the ache she felt like it might be okay. She wondered if maybe destroying herself was the only way she could learn how to fix herself. Maybe leaping onto the path of recovery was the only way she would really ever know herself?
She felt softened by the thought and wished she could capture herself in this moment...and hold onto it forever.
Written by Pippy Scream.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.