Monday, 4 May 2009

After Her short story

This is a story I wrote for a coursework assignment-see if you get the twist! x

Individual Project
After her
I looked at your pearl white tear drop, escaping from your eye
I wondered where it was coming from what had made you cry.
Down your soaked cheeks
Creating a puddle around your wet wet feet.
Pearl drops seeping, weeping from your heavy laden lids.
I collect your tears in a bucket of mine so I can help your sighs
Let me whisper in your ear “don’t cry”
-But nothing will ever cease your cries
I wish I could help
I wish I could help you stop
But nothing I can do will ever tear your tears
Nothing can stop even that one
Before she left, we had everything: Laughter, joy and a family. After her there is nothing, nothing significant in our lives without her smile, her presence, her love. I am not enough, this how I live now.
Did you know I loved her more than life itself? That is why I can’t go on. These were the last words I heard my dad speak, before he left us too, three months ago. Before his last utterance to us before he left, I had overheard him shouting to mum, that our pain would never ease, we would never be a proper family again, without Amelia.
We have been to many counselling sessions and we have met other families who have lost someone special. We have even met families that have children that have runaway. Who never return, who just disappear. These families, who have lost their children, tell us at least you know that your daughter is safe; at least you know where she is. But now we have no idea where Amelia is, she could be anywhere, lost in transition, in limbo. I envy the families that have lost their children as they will always have one thing my family will never have...hope. Hope is the one emotion people in desperate times cling to so tightly, but when that hope is gone. What is left? We tried to hold onto hope; we had a glimmer of it. But we had to let go, we had to let her go. My father had always said she was too beautiful for this world. Our hope was chemotherapy. The doctors had warned that Amelia was very weak and the cancer was growing, spreading through her bloodstream rapidly, it may just be too late to save her. I had noticed a few months before Amelia was diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia that she was looking very pale, she would often excuse herself from anything energetic as she always looked like she was about to keel over. Once she did, actually keel over and that is when we knew. Her games teacher at school had had enough of her bailing out of sports and forced her to take part. Amelia was so fragile that as soon as she picked up the netball she withered like a dying plant and collapsed onto the floor. Screams soon ensued and the ambulance was called after the games teacher could not wake her up. Mum and Dad were devastated; after the chemo failed she had only a few weeks left to live. They were painful to watch.
At least through these dramatic times, I had someone to turn to, someone objective who wasn’t affected by Amelia. Natasha has been my rock. When I’ve just had enough of hearing about Amelia’s condition, I can turn to Natasha.
She came out of the rain and drank my tears; she took away my pain and helped me survive.
Natasha has told me that I will never be in a family again, and that Amelia will always be the angel that died. I need something to control as my world is fragmenting. My first temptation came at the Dolly’s cream shop on Brock Street after school on a dreary Monday morning. For the first time in months I caught my faded reflection in the dusty shop window. I haven’t looked at myself as I can’t bear to see any resemblance to Amelia, that is why my mum doesn’t care when I leave the house for hours on end, she doesn’t want to be reminded of Amelia. She will just sit there staring at the television, switched off, and when I come back to the house in the evening she will still be sitting there, with no evidence of moving through all my hours of absence. The house echoes without Amelia. But it wasn’t my hazy reflection that mirrored my diminished self that snared my attention, but a single cupcake perched perfectly on the pine shelf display window. The cupcake looked down at me, it beckoned my presence. The button topped cherry was placed delicately on the cream filled topping held by a butter coloured base made of clouds. Or at least this is how I saw it; this was going to be my last temptation, my sin for the day before my life would change. Quickly I entered the quaint shop as the shop bell jingled my presence. I wondered how many shop owners had been driven insane by the constant bell ringing. The ringing identified my presence and I felt alone and uncomfortable. I had no one to hide behind. The kind, plump shop assistant asked me merrily, “How can I help you m’dear?” I hesitated. What did I want? Which cake was I going to choose? There were even more varieties of delicate cakes here; pastries laced with sticky icing, Yum Yums enriched with layers of stodgy dough, and Belgian buns encased with a maze of currants and formidable sugar dusting. Yet I decided to stay true to my initial decision. “One cupcake please.” I stated abruptly. The nice lady picked it up impersonally with a pair of cold metal tongs and placed it carefully into a small stripy paper bag. I waited impatiently as she rolled the end of the paper bag to keep the cake safe. Yet I saw it as another nuisance, a delay to my last treat. She added an extra hindrance to my delicious temptation by placing a store sticker on the creased paper bag. This was an awful waste of packaging as I knew as most people would with a delicious freshly baked cake that the cake would be devoured the minute the person stepped out of the shop door. And the beautiful, stripy packaging that reminded me of beach holidays in Cornwall would be discarded and thrown away. And this is exactly what happened as I drowned my teeth into the sugary dream cake. It was deliciously warm. The button shaped cherry was devoured whole along with the snow white, cold, sticky cream, which clung to my teeth, insistently. I slowly licked the cream off the ridges of my teeth and mouth, savouring every delectable taste. I didn’t want this sugar rush to end. I then moved onto the base off the cake. My teeth disappeared into the heavy, crumbly soft dough which had before held the exquisitely creamy topping. The base didn’t provide as much as an adrenaline rush as the sugary topping, but it was enough, for now. After the rush of sugar and temptation had left me, I felt more worthless, more alone than ever. The only way I could change my life, to have a family again was to become someone else, from now on I would be called Yellow Star.
I told Natasha about my new identity and she laughed in my face. “You can’t change yourself, you’re not strong enough for that, you will be and always be plain old you.” I replied defensively “But I don’t want to be me, I want to be Yellow Star.” Natasha asked me sarcastically “So what does this new you do?” “What does Yellow Star have to offer the world?” I thought about it for a moment, if I could be anything I wanted to be what would that be? “Well, erm I haven’t actually thought that bit through yet but soon I will be Yellow Star.” Natasha laughed mockingly. She got her phone out and started writing a text message. “Who’s that to?” I asked anxiously.
“Oh no one special.” She said casually. And she started walking away.
“Hey, where are you going?”
“Can you at least say goodbye, its common courtesy.” Natasha waited for a moment and turned around, looking straight into my eyes and said, “How can I say goodbye when I’m already gone.” I watched her walk away from me and I turned to walk home, alone. My phone beeped with one new text message from Natasha. “You will always be you.” And I kept on walking.
When I arrived home, mum was on the sofa clutching one of Amelia’s first toy dolls when she was younger. “Is Amelia with you?”
“No mum, she never will be and you know that.” Mum turned back towards the empty television. She still clung onto her hope, but her hope was manipulated by grief. Doctor Wright had told us it is common for grief to comprise many emotions, even sinister ones, verging on madness. My grief was to keep to myself and be ignored. Was my new identity as Yellow star going to be successful? Would Yellow Star always be overshadowed by a dead sister and a mad mother, a broken family? I sat in my room thinking about who I was going to be. I like chocolate. Yellow Star could eat as much chocolate as she wanted and never get fat. I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins. Yellow star would swim with dolphins every day and be friends with them. But I don’t think I could literally do these things I imagined, well not yet anyway. For now I would just eat chocolate. I crept downstairs, not wanting to speak to mum and I opened the sweet drawer. Amelia and I used to love sneaking downstairs and snatching a custard cream or two whist mum and dad were in the lounge. I grabbed as much chocolate as I could and stuffed in my pockets. I ran upstairs not knowing whether mum had seen me or whether packets of biscuits were flying out of my pockets. I knew what I was going to do. I could eat as much confectionary as I liked then go to the bathroom and get rid of it. That is what Yellow Star would do. She would be perfect. I would be perfect. Peering at all the chocolate made me feel sick before I had even eaten any. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough. This wasn’t going to work. I hid the sweet chocolate under my bed and I crept outside to look. I looked opposite my bedroom to the door that was slightly ajar that looked as if someone was coming back to it in a minute. This was my sister’s room. In the room was she once was,
I just become lost, the clothes she used to wear, I will never compare, and I will never be as loved as she once was.
Amelia’s room was kept exactly how she left it, clothes on the floor, her collection of cuddly toys sprawled on her bed, everything the same. I suppose this is so my mother never has to truly accept that Amelia is dead as her bedroom is the still the same, waiting for her presence. I think her presence is still there, its creepy I hate going in there, we have to accept she is gone, she will never come back. As I turned to go back into my room, I noticed Natasha sitting on my bed holding a chocolate bar with an evil smile on her face. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh nothing Yellow Star.” She paused and looked down at the chocolate. “So Yellow Star is a binger is she? Nice. Very nice”
“No I’m not” I replied angrily.
“You’re not, or you can’t.”
“I can’t, it’s not the right thing to do.” Natasha paused and looked around my room, at the cuddly toys, the pink heart pattered rug and matching curtains and duvet covers. “You’re just like her, Just like the dead one”
“I’m not, I’m not.”
“Well prove it then.” And Natasha pointed her head towards Amelia’s room. “Dare you.” Her eyes were burning through me as she said this. “If you want to be someone else you have to change...for good.” I thought about this for a moment. I need to change I need to become Yellow Star, this needs to change. My mother needs to realise that I’m alive and she is gone. I looked up towards Natasha and said. “Tomorrow, tomorrow things will change.”
I woke up and saw clumps of hair on the floor, clumps of my hair. I sat up immediately and with such force I banged my head on the head board. I touched my head to feel where I had banged it and it felt cold, bald. There was no hair. Where? How? What had happened? Did I have cancer too and not know it was I secretly dying? How could they give me chemo without me knowing? Then my answer came, in the shape of Natasha. “Hello Baldie” she merrily greeted me. She was holding a razor in her hand tightly.
“What, what have you done?” I demanded
“You said you needed a change.”
“Not like this” I ran to the dressing table mirror. “I look just like her, just like Amelia.”
“Yes exactly, you wanted to be noticed, she was noticed, and she was different. Amelia was the one with all the attention.”
I couldn’t believe it.
“But I don’t have cancer, I’m not dying.”
“Well this is sure to turn heads and your mother will notice you for once.” I thought about Natasha’s sick plan “What about the plan to change today? To become Yellow star. I thought we were just going to get rid of Amelia’s stuff.”
“That wouldn’t change anything!” she exclaimed fiercely. “Now come into Amelia’s room.” I felt sick, I didn’t want to see what she had done but I also couldn’t help myself. As I entered Amelia’s room I clutched my hand to my mouth in sheer disgust. Natasha has destroyed the room. Red paint read “DEAD” all over the wall and over photos of Amelia, clothes were ripped on the floor, soft toys had their stuffing evacuated and heads amputated. I fell to my knees. Looking at Natasha’s cruel smirk I asked “How could you do this?” And Natasha replied “I didn’t.”
So this is how I live now, as you can guess Mum was not happy about the mess Natasha made with Amelia’s room and knowing Natasha she did not take the blame and just disappeared as soon as she heard mum’s footsteps approaching. So here I am now, but not alone. I’m with Doctor Wright explaining to him that it wasn’t me who trashed Amelia’s room and I didn’t intentionally want to replicate my sister’s appearance by shaving my head to get my mother’s attention. Apparently Natasha does not exist, and I have caused all these incidents myself which according to Doctor Wright are common symptoms of bereavement and by creating an imaginary friend helped my console my feelings of rejection by my parents and loss of a sister. But this is not true, after being prescribed anti depressants I saw Natasha waiting alone near the hospital toilets, I quickly went over to her whilst mum finished talking to the doctor. “What are you doing here?” “Why did you leave so suddenly?” I attempted to interrogate her further but she interrupted me. “Enough with the questions, I just came to see if you were alright.” I looked over to mum and lowered my voice.
“They say you’re an imaginary friend that I’ve just created.” Natasha shot me a filthy look “Pfft and you believe them? I’m as real as you.”
“Well why don’t you come over and prove it?” I attempted to grab her hand and pull her towards the doctor, but I felt nothing as I went to grasp her hand an icy feeling soothed through my arm and as I looked behind me she had again disappeared. She wasn’t one for saying goodbyes. I told mum that I had just seen Natasha but she didn’t believe me and then it hit me, the text message! That would prove her existence, as I fumbled through my bag for my mobile phone, my heart beating heavily, adrenaline flushing through me as I was going to prove she existed. I entered my inbox, yet nothing was there, no message, and no contact details of Natasha had ever existed on my phone. I felt my heart halt for a second and my face felt like ice. Did she ever really exist? Or was she just a figment of my imagination, a distraction of my grief?
When I got home, I tried to search for any proof of Natasha but there wasn’t any. Nobody had ever seen Natasha and I had always known she hadn’t really existed as I never introduced her to anyone. It was me that had shaved my head, me who destroyed my sister’s room, my jealously of my dead sister had destroyed any hope of having a family again. I was just trying to blame someone else for my misfortune and vile behaviour. Even after this I still hate my sister, for dying, for taking my life away. And that’s when it happened, the tears, my first time since Amelia died I grieved for her death and it felt good to let go and to let go of Natasha, I don’t believe in her anymore.
A few hours later, mum knocked on my door, she said that she was sorry for neglecting me since Amelia’s death and that she would try and make us a family again, and I knew this was going to happen as she said “Tomorrow I’m going to sort out Amelia’s room, we have to accept she’s gone so we can move on.”
“I think that is a good idea” I added. Mum smiled and closed my door. I smiled contently on my bed, knowing that everything would be different now and maybe mum and I could be a family again. I just needed to grow my hair back now. I got up to look outside the window, it was an early spring day, and I wanted to pick some daffodils for mum so I went to go outside. Before I ventured outside, I looked at my bald headed reflection in the mirror it was not a pretty sight yet as I turned to go I swore I saw Natasha sitting on my bed through the reflection. Her nasty smirk still etched into my mind forever. She was not there, but I was not sure if her presence would ever truly leave me.
Gone for now she is, hoping for once for my life to begin, I have buckets of tears for you to wash away but for now, It’s time for us to say goodbye and to remember when I held your hand whilst you died.

Word count: 3,210

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