by Maite Rodriguez
My parents have passed. Lost in this surreal world, I am contemplating my purpose, my place. In search of worthiness, I choose to see a specialist. An outfit neatly sprawled out with suitable shoes for tomorrow. I set my alarm, turn off the light and close my eyes.
The light magically appears from the darkness, illuminating empty black chairs scattered on darkened grass. The earthy scent of wet soil as my foot sinks into the mud. All the chairs are empty. I can see the horizon in the distance behind the scattered empty chairs. I pass the first chair. Echoes of people talking and laughing stir in the air mixed with the scent of stale red wine. I choose a path walking past each chair on that row. Noises flooding my senses, I can’t make out the voices, but I recognise the choices of my past. Then it fades as another starts. I walk and walk, never reaching the light. I feel the mud pinning me down. I desperately wiggle around trying to lift my foot. Life is seeping out of me. I choose to live. The world starts spinning.
Suddenly, it is autumn. The tree burned with bonfire reds and golden leaves. I follow the leafy path to find a wooden cubby house. Laughter is coming from inside. I can hear the thumping of nuts hitting the ground as the wind shakes the branches. On the fork-shaped branch, I can see the shadow of a girl covered in the sun’s golden rays. I cannot see her face. The joyous laughter made me curious, who is she? The darkness crept in slowly. The thick grey clouds cover the sun. The girl is running down a long corridor. I am panicking and didn’t want her to go any further. I called out to her desperately, running behind her. I can’t move. The girl is not listening. There is no sound only her laughter. Bang. I scream. I wake up.
Pearl will be here soon. The warm water falls over my body. Closing my eyes, I enjoy the cleansing feeling. Mornings that start heavy usually end with me yelling ‘watch out woman held hostage by emotions coming through’.
“Olivia, open up” Pearl was here.
“I’m coming” I yelled.
It is a long drive through the city traffic to the clinic. Cocoons turning to butterflies in my stomach and no fresh air make my breakfast flood violently against the windscreen. Pearl quickly pulls over, the gross smell of vomit lingering in the car. Hurling as I get outside, Pearl hands me tissues. I sit on the kerb cleaning the vomit out of my pants and hair.
We pull up at this mansion overlooking Watsons Bay. I follow Pearl down a long corridor. The ten foot tall engraved door surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens with flowing water makes a grand entrance. Dr Tess Hardy’s a tall, elegant woman, in a plain grey suit, with topaz eyes and rosy lips greet us. The unsettling feeling in my stomach is giving me chills. Stepping into the house my throat tightens, I can’t breathe, wheezing I desperately search for my inhaler. Tess touches my shoulder speaking calmly.
“We can take this slow.” Tess turns to Pearl reassuring her that I will be okay.
“Would you like to start?” Tess’s voice is full of compassion easing my apprehension. I can’t speak. “I’ll start,” Tess’s sweet scent of lily magnolias, tender eyes and gentle smile reassures my vulnerability. Tess a navy brat lived in Japan for fifteen years and graduated from Stanford University with a PhD in Psychiatry and Hypnotherapy. Half an hour has passed.
“How does this work?” my curiosity taking over.
Tess’s soothing voice is mesmerising me; I am gazing at her pendant. It is a circle made of a continual swirl with no beginning or end. I focus on the impossibility of the circle.
“Olivia, you are safe. Where are you?” Tess is asking.
I am standing outside the gym after training. Everyone has gone. It is dark, noises of the creek behind the building start as the weather drops. Four hours later my husband shows up.
“What?” he snaps. His eyes black as night I can tell he is high even though he is still in his uniform.
I am looking straight ahead hoping he isn’t angry with me. Grabbing my chin, he turns my head violently. My long plaited blond hair is whipping me in the face. My jaw sores from the fracture he gave me two months ago.
“You are lucky that I love you”. Cruz says pausing for effect, “after all you are a rotten apple sitting in the fridge that everyone has bitten”. Tears are pouring silently down my face.
“Olivia, go further back, to the first time” Tess’s voice guiding me back to a memory I am avoiding.
It is sunny, Cruz’s mate, Jack picks me up from work. I see Cruz on the balcony and wave up to him.
“We have been married for four days” speaking like an innocent teenager “I love the choices I’ve made, my job, our apartment. I am happy”. Jack puts his arm on my shoulder.
Cruz opens the door; gives Jack a beer and kisses me. I enter our closet size kitchen to start dinner. I hear the front door shut. My stomach is sinking heavily, something is happening, I am scared. Screaming as Cruz shoves the end of his baton into my stomach thrusting me against the kitchen sink. Then an upper cut landing on my right eye, the throbbing starts instantly. I hit the floor. He grabs my hair, drags me to the lounge room, pulls me up, as Cruz’s baton flies through the air. My hands are flying up to cover my body; I hear the bones crack. My mind is spinning. I feel the glass shatter and the wood of our cabinets break as my body falls to the floor.
“Good, Olivia, you are safe, I want you to go forward to the day it happened” instructions taking me to a place I forbore. Tess pushing me to go, but I don’t want to. “Tess you can do it, you are safe”.
White linen table cloth decorated with good china, fine cutlery and my favourite crystal glasses. The glasses are my mother’s from her wedding. Clinking glasses and laughter fill the room. The conversation changing as the dishes arrive. My father’s strawberry flambé grand mariner dessert is flaring. My stomach is sinking like anchors in the sea; something is coming. The room darkens as the crystal glass hits my face.
“Slut stop flirting with my boss” Cruz is screaming at me across the room. His workmates are trying to calm him down. I know the switch has flipped. The only thing to calm him was releasing his anger on me. Blood is staining my emerald green dress from the slash in my face I stand to search for a way to make this go away. The next punch in the face clears the room. Now it is just Cruz beating me senseless and Jack desperately trying to stop him. Cruz pulled out his gun, a standard issue, threatening to kill Jack.
“Go, Jack; he’ll kill you,” I screamed out, “I’ll be ok”. Jack hesitantly leaves to join the six police officers outside my door listening to my husband strip the last ounce of my self-respect.
I am running to the bedroom to jump out the window. Cruz tackles me to the floor through the large wardrobe glass doors. I laugh hysterically and kick him in the face. Glass splinters all over my tender body. The adrenalin pumping so wildly I can’t feel the glass beneath my feet. I laugh hysterically, walk past the dining table and pick up a steak knife. Cruz pulls a piece of glass out of his cheek. His eyes are glaring as he lunges at me. Overpowering and straddling me, my heart is racing. He is going to kill me. I stab his arm. He pulls the knife out of his arm. Cruz’s blood splashes on my chest. His gaze hollows with rage. His superhuman strength thanks to candy from his mates. I don’t recognise the monster threatening me with the steak knife.
An intense piercing in the right side of my stomach, then another, he is stabbing me. I scream in silence from the pain.
“Olivia, you are safe. Walk down the long path. That’s good. Come in and have a seat”. Tess hands me tissues. Snot is drooling out of my nose, eyes sore and swollen. Tear flooding sobs are replacing words.
“My choices robbed me of motherhood” I whimper between sobs.
“Good start. Next week then?” Tess is gently encouraging me. I agree.
Silently, the realities that every choice and bad decision I made resulted from the loose way I guard my heart. And the way I over protected my soul as a result.
Now, I am healing.
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