Playing with thought.

It’s Writers Island time again.

The prompt this week is impulse.

Here’s my story –

The trees edged the street, leaning forward like old ladies looking into a pram. It was a fortress of leaves, a clutch of branches that cast a watery green light onto the road. Rae stood at the front of the house, feeling the cool breeze at the nape of her neck, enthralled with a sense of liberty.

This time she had been held hostage for two days. Locked in that windowless, silent space where everything was black. Bound with rope and thick tape so that she could only move one foot a fraction, couldn’t even flex her fingers or incline her head until the pain, tears and frustration grew beyond lament.

It was her fault. So he said. That man. Her husband. She hated him so much now that she couldn’t even utter his name without a murderous rage descending. Yes it was her fault, she had forgotten that he wanted fresh peas for dinner, not frozen. How dare she have the audacity to serve him frozen.

It started with taunting, name calling, hitting her on the body where no one could see. Where Rae couldn’t see if she forgot to look. Her clothes covered the bruises but not the pain. Sometimes it was so bad she had to lean forward when she walked, clutching the sides of buildings for support. People made comments on her health, her colouring – white tinged with blue. She knew what they meant, she could see it when she looked out into the world, like a grey gauze was pinned to her eyes.

After several months when he realised she would not cower before him, he began to lock her in the room. At first she screamed, kicking the door until her feet grew numb, and she trembled as if sick with fever. Then she accepted it, not fighting, embracing instead the sense of regret that she had ever married him at all, as a way of facing her prison.

With acceptance of the quiet, the dark, came reverie. And something else, a change, a departure, an impulse burnished with jeopardy.

It started with a fluttering around her feet, difficult and restless. It was cold and unsettling. Once she had walked along the beach and had seen blood on the sand. She thought it might have belonged to a bird that had damaged its wings on the rocks or the cliffs above, but there were no feathers or little foot marks. It bothered her for weeks, that blood, turning dark red in the wind. She scoured the papers for evidence of foul play but found none. Over time the image of the blood faded but the feeling arising from it remained, mottled with dread, stronger than ever in her confined prison.

After the fluttering came an energy, rushing upward, pinpricks by the thousand, seeking her breath, her bone, her surrender. She was tied up, bound. She had to be free. The energy bounced against the walls where she was jammed, crammed in like a toy in a basket. She thought of, dreamed of, wanted to be free. And the doorhandle began to turn.

She thought he was back, either to release her or taunt her some more, but nothing happened. She held her breath, counting to one hundred, forcing her breathing to slow, and then the doorhandle turned once more.

The door burst open and she fell into the hallway. She struggled, wanting, dreaming, thinking of her bonds being broken and they fell away like torn paper chains.

She stumbled to the living room. The television was blaring. He sat there, the man she couldn’t name, staring glassy-eyed at the screen. He was drinking beer at two in the morning, dropping the smooth green bottle onto the rug when he saw her. She watched, fascinated as the beer spread in a plume, foam flecked just like a wave.

‘How the hell did you get out?’ he asked. He fumbled in his pocket and held up a key. ‘How the hell did you get out?’ he asked again.

‘I won’t be locked in there again,’ Rae said. ‘I am not yours to do with as you please.’
His response was less strident than she expected.
‘All right,’ he said. ‘We’ll see.’

The next few weeks were full of exultation. Rae sang, smiled, swayed with purpose. The energy surrounding her was incessant, vehement, making her feel like she was standing directly in a headwind. At first she resisted the impulse to do more, to make things move of their own accord, but soon she couldn’t help herself.

She drew books from shelves, glasses from cupboards, opened curtains with a single thought. If the day grew cold she thought of a blanket emerging from the linen press, or a thick pair of socks, and they appeared as if blown there by the wind.

She was delighted, enthralled, white-faced with apprehension at her new power. She felt she had entered a world only dreamed of in stories.

He had to spoil it. As she knew he would. Rae had let the milk run out. And the bread. It meant no toast for his breakfast in the morning. And his tea. How he hated no milk for his tea.

He came at her, roaring. Bending her neck like a sapling, filling her with a rush of despair. ‘You will be punished,’ he shouted, pulling out the cords for binding. She was surprised, shocked that he kept them in his pocket.

‘No,’ she screamed. ’ Never again.’

She managed to break away from him, fleeing to the garden, running out into the street and down the hill to the cliffs. He followed, hollering, filling the air with terror.

Rae stopped when she reached the cliffs, feeling the creaking basalt beneath her feet. It was a long way down. People always said that when standing at a great height, almost churlish at stating the obvious: It’s a long way down.

Tell me something I don’t know, Rae thought.

The waves collided with the rocks. The sea was gleaming, stars glittered on its surface, a black, glossy mirror.

He was beside her, eyes red, nose streaming with the touch of the night. ‘You will go home right now,’ he said. ‘You will get in the closet and stay there until I tell you to come out.’

‘No,’ Rae said.’ You will not tell me what to do anymore.’

She felt the pinpricks start once more at her feet, He moved towards her. She felt the impulse rise. She thought of rocks breaking away at his feet, falling into the gaping maw of the sea. The rocks fell. He fell, blinking and clutching at the air, stunned into silence.

In the morning she saw him, stranded on the rocks. His head on the sand, oozing blood like a plum split open by a bird. The blood had blackened in parts, thick as paint, the heat of it vanished like smoke.

Rae stood as the gulls circled, as the early morning fishing boats sounded their horns, straining for a sense of dismay but finding she was unashamed. Slowly, like a child wading through water, she turned away from the horizon and walked home. She didn’t look back.

17 thoughts on “Playing with thought.

  1. Oh, there is nothing quite like instant justice. Part of me wishes he’d been made to suffer a little bit of what she had to go through, but still… yeah… I really like how she can do it all with a thought.

    Well done. The opening lines about the trees is beautiful.


  2. Again, amazing story but it hit a bit too close to home so I couldn’t finish reading it. Again your story blew me away! I’m glad that Rae finally fought back!


  3. why is it that the words i love you and i do seem to be a license for abuse??? that is so misconstrued i cannot even get my mind around it… you did a great job on this… i can tell because i am angry at him….


  4. I second whypaisley. I can tell, because of the instant sick clenched feeling in my stomach, and the quiet victorious exhultation I feel at the thought of him lying there, silenced. Not even worth the trash bin.


    I think I need to go to confession. 🙂


  5. I ‘fourth’ paisley’s comment (whether it be possible or not! 🙂 ) Great read as per usual. Compelling.


  6. Excellently done, as always. As to the licence for abuse in words, I suppose it is to do with the naivety of trust.
    But it is not always like that.


  7. You knew I’d say it didn’t you? I fifth Paisley’s statement. Wonderful writing and the thing I really like about a lot of your stories is the bad guy always gets his just desserts in the end.


  8. Wow, my heart is palpitating, I’m soaked with sweat — you are to brilliant for a blog. You made time stand still and pulled me right in to the story to the point I had vertigo on that cliff. I pray none of this was autobiographical.


  9. KAREN – wouldn’t it be great to control things with a thought? I was a huge fan of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ when it first came out. I agree, I should have toyed with him a bit. He certainly deserved it.

    TBALL – I am so sorry if this upset you. Oh you poor thing, come here and give me a virtual (((hug))) I have had friends who have gone through similar things and have seen firsthand how hard it is for them to deal with it. It takes a long time to get over something like that. Take care of yourself.

    MICHAEL – great to hear from you. I have been a bad blog visiter this week and haven’t been visiting my fave bloggers. I have missed how much you make me laugh. Sometimes I can’t finish one of your posts for ages because I am so laughing so hard. Laughter like that is such a gift. You rule!

    PAISLEY – I know. What is it with that license? It’s a moment of transformation for so many people. And not always in a good way. I was angry with him too. So angry I toyed with the idea of making him spontaneously combust before he fell over the cliff. But I thought that maybe that was slightly over the top. Hehehe.

    NANNA – I’ll be queueing up behind you to get into that confessional. The whole church’ll be zinging by the time I’m finished. I’m the Queen of the Uncharitable Thought. It’ll take more than a few Hail Marys to save my soul.

    GERALDINE – you are so lovely. I really appreciate your encouragement. 🙂

    MELEAH – awww, what would I do without you. You have become such a dear friend to me.

    YUSUF – thanks for stopping by. I will definitely come and visit soon.

    DAVID – you are so supportive. I really value your input.

    ANTHONY – I know. It isn’t always like that. But there are so many stories out there that just break your heart. I wish it could be different for so many people.

    GYPSY – I was hoping you would fifth it. Hehehe. I’m like the Neo-Grimm’s fairytale where the bad guy always gets it. No riding into the sunset for me – just falling over cliffs and other forms of violent death. But hey, I AM a nice person…..I promise.

    TR – Wow. What a cool response. None of it was autobiographical, thank God, but I have seen some friends be manipulated and abused like that. The sense of powerlessness they felt was overwhelming and I often wondered what would happen if that powerlessness was transformed into an actual form of active power. So many of these abusers just get away with it. Thanks for your wonderful comment. You have made my day.


  10. Awesome – I was so cheering for Rae!

    Was the blood she saw on the sand, that she thought might be from an injured bird, a premonition that she would spill blood herself, or a premonition of her own pain and injuries? I thought it was cleverly foreshadowed with both images of the blood turning black.


  11. DAOINE – I was wondering that myself. The images seemed to connect as the story developed and I guess the initial spill of blood was a premonition blood would be spilled but at the time she didn’t realise she would be the one spilling it. Funny how these things can link up, isn’t it?


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