Behind The White Gate is my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. I wrote it in one month. I changed and edited it million times during the next eleven over more coffee than I care to admit to. And more may be to come. This version I am sharing, it gives a piece of me to you. I am open and love any feedback you might have. If you wish to share it personally you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I am that kind of writer who can tell you what I write..or what I am writing is about. But I will say that this one came to me by passing a white gate on a daily walk to a job I hated and letting my imagination go wild, combined with the coming of womanhood and the women in and out of my life through out the years who had shaped, molded, and influenced me, for the good or for the bad. There are also intertwined lessons in life we often learn the hard way and their shaping of oneself and there is the old “Nothing goes according to plan.” It is being lost and becoming grown up and recognizing yourself in others around you…especially those you tried to be the least like. It is often the lack of denying any longer all that has made you…all of it.
Behind The White Gate is secret’s that aren’t secret, controversy we face today and are just now beginning to speak of but in many homes still in hushed tones. It is shame that you carry and hide from only everybody else who also has their own. It is memories of childhood perceived as an adult. It is letting go. It is changing. It is forgiving, but also not forgetting.
It is raw emotion and no giving excuses.
It comes from a place deep of them that I hope resonate on the page for the reader.
It is fiction drawn on very real emotion.
Past that, maybe you can hep me explain it better.
I will release over time, the Prologue, and then chapter by chapter. I had previously released some bits and pieces. This new full chapter by chapter release will be named WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1 (and so on). You can easily search in the search bar for all pieces and keep in order as released.
Currently I hope this will go to publish sooner than later. I am in the search of, and have been researching for, a Literary Agent. Feel free to contact me at my email above.
Thank you for reading.
Peggy J. Davenport
The bell jingled as I pushed open the door to the one bookstore on the island….the one that my older sister, Sas, worked at.
“You still work in the same place you did through highschool?” I picked up a book and flipped through and nearly tripped over the big dog laying on the floor like a rug.
“Correction; I own the bookstore I worked at through highschool.” She said coming around the corner with an armload of books, setting them on a big table on a huff of breath.
“Out of shape a bit?”
“Old a bit.”
“We aren’t old.”
“We are old.”
“Mid and late thirties for me, Bird.”
“Remember when we thought thirty was as old as you got?”
“So what brings you here today? Hiding from the House?”
“Why is it that that house seems to have more judgemental life behind it than the old women who live there?”
“I’d agree there…sometimes it does seem that. If those walls could talk.” Sas stopped what she was doing and stood upright, looking toward something that didn’t seem to be there just after saying that, an intake of breath like she had said something she shouldn’t have said. Her hand to her lower back.
“It’s a story I wish I didn’t know.” I said, breaking the sudde fall of silence.
“Hand me that book over there.” Sas broke from wherever it was that her mind had gone and did what was one character trait we all shared, busied hersef suddenly to either distract or avoid from something else at hand.
“I just am getting around town…seeing the changes…and the not-so-changed.”
“Sas….I’m back. I am not sure if I can stay.”
“But ok what?”
Sas nearly shouted and slammed the book on the table, sending a stack falling over. “What do you want Bird? Do you want us to judge and yell and kick you out of a home you own just as much as we do? Do you want us to tell you what a spoiled brat you have been for sixteen goddamned years and how you hurt us all leaving the way you did? Do you want me to tell you how abandoned Mag felt? I felt?! Do you want us to not be doing so well? Like how do we have the gull to go on with life after Papa? Do you want us to be mad at you rather than accepting that you are here?! Do you want us to pry and ask why you are here? Well fine…why are you here?”
“You’ve seen and read the news. You know everything.”
“No…that is not why you happen to come back here. It’s about why you left. Bird, the thing is…you had a really bad life moment and until you are ready to heal you won’t. But Even with everything that happened I am not sure that healing is what you are here to find but it’s what you should be looking for. But I don’t beeive for a minute you are there yet ad I do’t beleive for a minute that you ran HERE to hide, either.”
“I don’t know how to talk about this, Sas.”
“Best told over liquer and some sit down time, right? Bird…I have to work right now.” She said as customer walked in with her own dog that made the rug on the floor suddenly jumped up and went to greet them with a waggling tail.
I set the book down I was flipping through and headed off. Sas was the level headed one. she had never dared raised her voice to us when we were lttle. she always seemed to feel that she had to compensate for Mama’s out bursts. To soothe our feet after walking on eggshells so to speak. To hear the shouting at me, and hear what wasn’t anger at al but something I didn’t understand was my second shock of the day, but n a world turned upsde down. A compliment from the woman who never gave them and a shouting from one who had never dared.
I walked through a sunshine filled street lost in some thought for awhile. I ddnt know how to act, react, or what to say. And I really didn’t know mysef why I was here. But I was more unsettled that I had not had the home coming I’d expected of shouting from certain people…or a cold shoulder. And argueing or…something. But what I was getting wasn’t what I had expected at all.
“Well, we are grown up’s for one thing, Bird. This isn’t sixteen years ago and the twenty years prior to that for us.” Mag said. My next destination, reflecting on Sas, had been Mag’s bakery. She had restored one of the many historic Down Town buildings, on the other end from Mag’s bookshop, and ran a successful bakery full of amazing crusty country breads, French breads, jalapeno cheese breads among more and also offered cheeses and deli meats and desserts as well as made wedding cakes.
I had told her the scene that I had just left, confused, and maybe looking to her for answers, never having even thought to seek out my little sister for such a thing. But she had always been the oldest as in mother hen by character even if youngest of the three by birth order, and even as Sas was the oldest by age but she was the Gatekeeper. Mag was the sweet and caring, sometimes the peacemaker but never the sugar coater. Our family seemed to lack one of those. But as kids she had always been good at watching over us and making every day play fun or making the best of bad situations and trying to keep us occupied and…safe from everything by trying to be the sunshine. Sas took care over al of us as a guard on watch. She was tender but stern. But never raised her voice to us. We lived through that enough and when it came down onto us she would intervene, redirecting the raised voices to hersef and away from us. It was as if the two of them felt it was their job to take care of everyone else in the different ways that were lacking by whom we needed it most. Father was loving and tender and attentive and there for us…but he was away for work often, too, and those hours could be filled with a lot to be missed. And when he was home sometimes what had come down on us through the day only turned to him. Though you would never know by his personality or smile the weight he carried from it…or that which he carried within himsef that eventually shocked us most. Pondering on Sas and Mag over the years I had often wondered how that must have effected such a young childs very soul. I wonder where I was between the status of care giver and guard. How had I become so lost? The lost child among them? Treated as the youngest when I was the second? Had I been that bad of a sister as not to contribute? Play my part?
Now I wondered at why Mag, or even Sas, didn’t have a family of their own and that both had chosen to stay on the island wasn’t a surprise, staying close to the family that they had since at a young age felt their duty to watch over care for and guard but running a bookstore did seem lower than Sas’s abilities even if she was an owner. I had kept in touch enough to know that her acedemic degree’s far surpassed small town shop ownership.
And there it was…the easy natural judgement that came out through our very viens in all of us. I was no less of what they were than them. And no better. This, too, was something that the good of the bad, we all shared with our Mother it now seemed. I was far from risen above it.
I sighed at the thought and wandered.
I had found my younger sister, Mag, where she worked at the bakery she owned and had opened on 21st street in the down town area just a few blocks away from her sisters bookstore in an old building I remember had been a bar on the first floor when I was a kid, with lofts on the few stories above it. It too looked as if a face lift had come along, likely much from Mag herself and her housecleaning and organizing skills. Craft must have grown into reconstructing. Taking a deep breath I had stepped in to see if another sister might be a little more kind. It wasn’t until just that thought entered my mind that it was something I supposed I needed, and was seeking, at least a little of.
I gathered myself a bit before walking in and seeing Mag in all of her adult grown up girl element. I truly hadn’t seen Mag at all since she was fifteen years old but she was who kept in touch and would keep me updated with monthly long letters. I did feel a dissconnect as a sister after so long of time. Or perhaps that was guilt I felt for not really being much of a sister back at all during that time. I wrote a few letters through the years that most just became a signed Christmas card at best effort or from time to time a postcard. Both of my sisters, successful on this small little island. This place I had felt was a dead town when I ran from it…and now seemed to be thriving pretty decently …more island-like than small town that I remembered it being. The homes were adorable and what had needed cleaning up had been cleaned up, I learned, from the Hurricane Ike. The sand had been hit hard, turned to ruble and drowned but bounced back with incredible speed and it seemed, a determination. New wood. New fences. New paint. New steps in front of many of the house’s. Not so much crumbling brick anymore. The Down Town and shops bloomed much more than I remembered and it seemed there was a younger crowd than the much older only retired community that I had in my memory of it being.
I told Mag this over a croissant and tea she served us up as we sat at a little table outside her shop on the sidewalk enjoying the passerby and sister chatting…for a little while I knew I wouldn’t be judged and could feel for a moment what real life was again.
She agreed and said that it wasn’t just my imagination and filled me in on much of the towns goings on and changes and why suddenly it seemed such a hip spot to be in…much contributed to the art scene and Austin had been somewhat outgrown, Houston was growing insanely but there was still us, a seperate and even devine little place, close enough to Houston and to Austin for an easy drive. The island was more artistic and beautiful and people were discovering that beauty and the historic buildings had become such a pupular thing in any town. Much ado given to HGTV type reality tv shows, no doubt.
“There is a ton of new fresh opportunity here. It would be a good spot for you if you plan on staying.”
“You sound like you work for the Chamber Of Commerce.”
“Well, I did for awhile, had a job with them through and straight out of school.”
A bakery shop didn’t surprise me about Mag. She was the nurterer, the peacemaker and with all that had from an early age come the idea that feeding people made Everything Better mentalilty. We all sought something of our own from an early age. One thing we got from our parents was independance and a sense of self…so why right now did I not have any of that? In fact why had I been the one who seemed to have spent my entire adulthood looking for it?
Mag leaned over and reached her hand over to lay on top of mine and looked me straight in the eye in her she is being oh so serious but had such a cute and charming face and voice that it was often hard to take her seriously way.
“Bird, you went through a horrific thing that nobody should ever have to go through. You are still you and you are free and you will and must find your way. I don’t think you realize just how much you even have already. But nobody expects you to have that down in only two weeks after the event. Give yourself time…we all give you time.”
Then she had to get back to work
…still without direction, I walked some more. That was the thing with the island, you could walk everywhere because everywhere was close by. Or you could walk many miles and just not notice the distance. Tree’s were still big in many places and gone from the hurricane of only a handful of years ago in others. Old falling down houses seemed to be getting a rebirth and there was an abundance of young families mixed in with the student life and the retired the island was known for as I walked through the down town again…everything on the island was just about a walk distance away. Only from time to time did an islander really get into their car to go a little further and for a little more bulk such as groceries if they did. The island was a part of Texas by address. One never said they were from Galveston Texas, but always stated it as Galveston Island. Once over the causeway or crossed by ferry, you were somewhere of it’s own. Even the air you breathed was different.
I walked until I came on the little coffeeshop I had passed a few times now. Deciding to stop, I ordered a plain coffee and thought that I might ponder on my plan in writing…as writing was my way. Always had been. That was my real gift, we all had song but only few of us had writing. And notes and lists were a big way of doing that. In LA I had written for the newspaper and several magazines I was published in as well as a documentary company and I wrote screenplays. In Los Angeles if you didn’t act you made the acting available. I had always wanted to write a novel but had not yet ventured into that.
I reached into my purse to pull out my notebook that I am never caught without. I always carry one with me and as I fill them they are kept on a shelf, often with notes I can return to later for an idea for writing, even a feeling of a particular moment, and whatnot…and found it missing…
“Looking for this? I believe it belongs to you.”
I looked up into the most strongly chiseled face holding what immediately struck me as the most kind eye’s after trailing up the view of my blue notebook held by a large strong hand and connecting to an arm covered in a sleeve of tattoo and then rounding off in shoulders that make a girl want to cry just to be able to lay her head on them.
“I saw you leave without retrieving it last night after you sang you left straight away…I followed but lost site of you. Figured I would carry it until I found you around somewhere…it’s how it usually happens around here. And the very least I had some interesting lunch material to read.”
“You read it?!”
“I did. Every bit of it actually.”
“Well….thanks…a lot…” I grabbed the book from him a bit harshly and slipped it into my purse….feeling a bit violated but strangly not angry…and I would have done the same had I found a random notebook filled with much scribble. There are boundaries of a writer when a notebook lay’s on a desk or has a name inscribed in it whom you know, such as a relative, roommate or significant other who’s house you share with but notebooks left laying on sidewalks, at bus station or in bars are given full reign of non-privacy, sometimes words soaked up in the best yet unpublished stories one could ever read. I got up to leave….
“Rushing off already?”
“Why do people keep asking me that?” I said turning around on the toe of my foot.
“Do you leave often in a hush and not even with a goodbye? Maybe the people who get that a lot have a reason to ask it.”
“No, Del, actually. ”
Hand held out….
“Well that explains the constant flight,then.”
“Nice to meet you, Bird. ” His hand felt strong, firm, holding mine….he looked straight in me eyes and had a confidence that I did not feel. “If it wasn’t for the newspapers and the small town gossip I never would believe the story written in that book could be true.”
So I heard you met Del today.” Mag said the very second I walked in the kitchen door, Sas behind me and her big ball of fur pushing around my legs.
“Does he think he’s a Pomaranian ?”
“No, that dog of yours.”
“So deflecting your deflection of the topic of Del…here is some tea…it’s starting to rain again. Sit and talk.” Sas demanded. Only slightly joking behind her smirk.
My two sisters sat around the table in the breakfast nook with hot mugs of tea, pulling me right in. We had been very close growing up even though our mom discouraged it. She thought we should be extremely independent of each other…as well as of her. She should really write a book on parenting. Call it ” Everything I say, do differently.” But despite this we had always had a bond. We had the glue of certainty of our father up until his last unexpected day, we’d needed each other in the uncertainty that reigned over our home.
I sat and added honey to my mug.
I told them there wasn’t much to tell about Del.”He sat and we had a coffee and a chat…learned who we each were in the basics. He says he knows you guys of course and had heard all the small town gossip and read the newspapers so he know’s who I am.”
“Bird…not everyone talks about this family as much as you believe “Mag interjected.”There might be a second and then they hop to the next piece of news. It’s small town but not that bored. And Del is pretty well known but he doesn’t get involved in nonsense from everything I know of him. He may know about it but he doesn’t get involved.”
“It’s hard coming back to the faces of everyone who knows everything…I left this behind and now I’m back, giving them more meat to chew on.”
“Why then? Time to talk…what brings you back? What has the last sixteen years been? More than why you are back, why did you leave?” Sas said in her no-taking prisoners voice.
“One at a time.” Mag said spooning sugar into her tea and shooting Sas a calm-it look.
Hands wrapped around the mug and feet pulled up on the breakfast nook bench I sighed and gave in a little bit to my sisters. I knew I had left in a way that could leave people with questions, but not one of them did I really feel like going into. However being in this house again it would be hard to avoid them eventually. And eventually I would be answering if I wanted to or not. Again I wondered why I came to the place I’d have to talk most about what I wanted to talk least about instead of some far off location where no one would even recognize me from the news.
“I just…I left. I left here…went out those damn white gates with zero plan. Just to get away.”
“How do I even begin to explain? After the funeral…after what happened and what Papa did. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t BE in this house anymore. I couldn’t take one more word spoken to me by…mom. Nothing. I can’t explain any further than that. I couldn’t stay here. So I left. There really isn’t more to it than that.”
Sas stepped in…to keep the conversation going but a slight change to do so for now “Where have you been…other than what we know of California. I mean in life…what’s your life like, Bird? We know nothing for so long and then the accident happen’s and you are back. It’s natural to want to know. It isn’t even that you left so much is how you left and why you shut the door on Mag and Me so firmly when you did.”
I nodded. I would want to know too if the shoe was on the other foot. And I understood what she was saying just then. I just did not understand what answers I had to give.
“All I could think about for as long as I could remember was leaving, or really even of mom leaving…and after the accident here. I did. It wasn’t all bad. Actually it was amazing and great. I am glad that I went out into the world and explored and learned. I went to California…dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean and fell in love as soon as I laid eye’s on the first man I saw I think…basically. We were just young…lasted a couple of years and then we just went our separate ways… Then I was single for a long time…hit the dating scene but remained mostly single…I got a job as a receptionist and went to school. Had that scholarship…you know the one mom hid from me…the last fight mom and dad had before he died?” The bitterness back in my voice heavy as syrup before I continued. “I did the whole school thing….got my degree and spent that time as a college student in a cute town…quaint but near the big city so had a pretty good variety. Big difference from here but still had the beach life, too. I surfed…rode my bike…ran mountain trails. Rode a motorcycle. Dated and had a lot of fun.” I paused and smiled at a few memories popping up for the trouble or near trouble I’d often gotten myself into but had had a lot of fun doing. Sighing I continued as my sisters sat ready for the story. “I worked for a few companies, anything that involved any kind of writing was what I had always leaned toward, freelanced a lot and then landed a job with a production company. They want me to still write for them, even after what happened but we haven’t gotten into talking about the details yet. I am taking some time. They are giving it to me. Under the circumstances. In all that time I made plenty of dating mistakes, even some job mistakes, lived in some really neat places and some really shitty one’s. Took extra jobs often, even waitressing. Had great friendships, went through others. You know…life. Danced a lot, had a lot of fun. Lived it up in Hollywood Hill mansion parties. Then…I got married….” I broke off….a part of the story I was nowhere able to touch just yet. Even they seemed to understand that.
They sat silent, staring and listening…ready for the story of the whereabouts and life of the long lost sister…I read true interest and concern in both their eye’s when I faced them but not the judgement and anger I had always anticipated. Especially for what I had done. For leaving and for …. However their eye’s remained clouded with question’s…and something else in both but different shades of that something else. Changing the subject onto another path; “But why did you….cut us off?” Mag asked slowly, treading carefully in how to even form the billions of questions that took her straight back to being a confused fourteen year old who’s sister she had looked up to had disappeared and abandoned her in a time when she herself needed her. The anger that she had held then was felt near the surface now but Mag wasn’t one to hold a grudge and soon that anger had diffused to confusion and loss but still not understanding. “Why couldn’t you have left but…called, wrote more, been in touch, even visited?”
I knew that this type of conversation would come. And I didn’t even know how to fully respond to it. I also realized then and there for the first time that I hadn’t left a house. I had left each person an individual with their own memories, thoughts, and feelings on the subject. And I hadn’t done it kindly. I hadn’t looked back. I cut not only the house out of my life…Galveston Island and my mother but also my sisters in the process. Knowing Mag had likely been most effected by my leaving I knew I had left a lot of hurt….but how could I convey to them the blinding hurt that caused me to do what I did, that I had left carrying? However at a time when our father died that we all shared…not just my pain and hurt, but all of our’s…all of our loss, it hadn’t just been my loss. It had been their loss too. I realized that when the rock of our family had abandoned me…he had abandoned all of us and then when I went and took off out of those white gate’s…never looking back…I had abandoned them too, especially Mag her easily sensitive young looked up to me self…but I saw, and realized for the first time…just how much I’d abandoned Sas too, leaving her dealing with it all alone..the unsureness of our mother but now without the barrier and brunt carrier of our father, nor his balance of love to our Mother’s lack of it, his calm to her storm…the loss and abandonment of our father and now the loss of her best friend and closest companion, a sister, who understood it all and with many younger siblings left to stand tall for, she had felt the weight of the entire house fall directly on her own shoulders while I had just run away from it all. I suddenly felt like the biggest ass in the entire world. But I couldn’t say I’d have done it differently. I’m not sure I’d fully had a choice.
“Mag.” I measured my words.”I ….didn’t know how to do anything else. I just had to…fly away from here. Leave. I couldn’t face the…constant sound of the emptiness that should have held dad’s voice. I was afraid of mom and her reaction…I was afraid I’d find her….again. I was more….I was more afraid of what I would do. Of me being just like both of them.” I leaned over and held her arm and looked right at her “I didn’t think about you and anybody else. I thought only about myself.” Looking over to Sas “And I am sorry.For what I did. I am sorry I couldn’t be there for you both. I just couldn’t react any differently, either, than what I did.”
We all just sat for awhile…thunder had begun to rumble outside and the slight rain had turned into a full storm. Mag stood up and walked over to refill the teakettle and Sas just sat, and nodded on occasion, both seemed to be letting things sink in, seemed to be evaluating how to feel about things just then. I stirred my tea round and round. Sas also reached over after some time and laid her own hand on my arm as I’d done to Mag. Her quiet way. And nodded again, her mouth set in an “Ok. Ok.” kind of way.
Mag watched this, paused halfway to walking back and then refilled our mugs, set a plate of warm biscuits and butter in the center of the table and sat back down. Also in her silent way seeming to simply soak in the words. The explanation. And the feelings that likely she had buried for quite some time farther from the surface they now emerged. I observed it all. Just took it in. Talking actually felt good. This kitchen actually felt good.
Mag nodded toward the biscuits and we grabbed our own and began to butter them, I chewed thoughtfully for a moment and as did they, then Mag nodded toward me as if to say “continue.” I swear the women of this family said more with their facial expressions than ever need with their words. As much as many of us often tried not to be anything alike, in many ways we couldn’t deny the blood we shared that came out strong in our mannerisms.
So I began…The harder part this time. Well, the harder part for the time.
“Then I got married. It was great. I want people to know that. He was…had been great…once. I don’t think he deserved what he got.”
“But from the start there was something. There was just something. Not anything I could ever quite put my finger on and everything love could make you ignore.
He didn’t hit me. He never made me feel unsafe or threatened. He was incredibly scholarly type even though he had chosen to work with his hands. He made the most beautiful furniture, and was a perfectionist. Amazing at what he did. Mostly self taught but he had sought interning at times in his younger years before and eve more after we met. He was a man about his loves and passions. We were best friends… Best.” I sighed and paused, letting the lump in my throat clear before I went on. “Then after a long time…a LONG time. Years. No sign to speak of, no hint, no anger. None of the “signs” the man who was tender and loving and caring and would give the shirt off his own back…he… hit me….just…just out of the blue…not even in the middle of an argument. His hand just backed across my face. I always said I wouldn’t be that woman. I would never let a man lay his hands on me. I would kill him and leave in a heart beat. Ironic isn’t it? But it’s true about walking in those shoes I guess. Once it happens to you your thought process changes about the situation altogether. It continued…at first you are thinking….that didn’t actually happen…not him…no. You really convince yourself you practically made it up. Imagined the whole terrible thing. This person you know isn’t the same person who did such things. You talk yourself into whatever you want to believe but not at all what’s actually happening.
Then you make excuses. What did you do to set him off? Was he having a bad day? Did you pester, pick, bring up a sore subject you know you shouldn’t have….or when your are angry it was your fault. I mean…it is true what they say, how woman realy do convince themseves these things and why they end up staying…some for very long times.
Then you try and get help and fix the problem. Counceling, individually…together, marriage counceling! Even curch dammit! You lay down the “This isn’t going to happen again” law. You make a plan. You have a “Real Adult Talk” about it. He even agree’s to everything. You set your boundares that you realize you had somehow forgotten.
Then you fight because you are the only one trying and then it just spins out of control and a lot of time has gone by and you wake up one day realizing that you are THAT woman.
What they call a battered woman.
Something you never thought you of all people would ever be.” They both nodded, understanding, picturing themselves in that place.
“You can’t tell your friends. The humiliation is….you just hide the bruises and you become a real expert at it too. When they might see a mark you couldn’t hide you got really good at making up stories…trail bike riding fall or whatnot. And he never shows his attitude in front of them. To them he IS PERFECT. The same perfect you had once known him to be, thought him to be. And now…leaving is humiliating on top of giving up on top of leaving a person you ove on top of ‘but have I yet given it my best shot?’ That is how time add’s up. And it add’s up quick.
But then…even that changes and he becomes moody all the time, out of the blue, unpredictable even with dinner parties and friends around. There were a few times he stormed off and left a bit of an embarrassing scene. Poeple…friends…they don’t know what to do in that situation either. They’ve known him forever too and like me in the start wouldn’t have been able to believe even if I’d shown the bruises, which I never did. Then all the time you are just living that and you wonder how you got there, and more so always your top thought, how to make it stop.”
“What did you do?” Mag asked, her voice a slight higher pitch and her eye’s a bit more wide than before.
“I walked out the door…or I tried to….I had bruises all over. He had never before touched my face, but that time he did and I looked like shit in the mirror that morning after the last fight….fight isn’t the word. Fight implies two sided. I never fought back. Not until that last day, I guess that was fighting back.
So I put on my coat…he was gone to work on site at a clients home…and I was locking the door behind me…He suddenly grabbed my arm and started yelling that I wasn’t fucking leaving him….I reached into my purse and pulled my gun and shot him. That was…it….” I choked up and my sisters leaned toward me resting a hand on my arm to comfort me as they saw the tears and the redness to my face rise.
“We followed the news on it pretty closely. They said you were real calm after. “Sas broke the silence and giving me time to catch my breath. I’d refused to see them, talk to them and even had refused the lawyer they had sent, at first but then I just gave up and sat staring at a wall thinking I deserved to be there, belonged in that cell.
“I was in shock.”
Nodding and swallowing the tears down, I continued telling the story, for the first time not to Police and Lawyers and Judges, “I walked away. I saw this man who I had loved and built my life around…I saw this man who I’d come to fear for my life. That was what went through my mind just then, I looked down and saw he wasn’t going to ever hurt me again or anyone else again. I saw the blood pooling over the front walk…rain drops falling into it…I stepped around and walked on. Into the rain. To the beach and stood there. It was a rare storm that day and I just saw this silver lining that said ” you will be ok” and I could only hold onto that. I was there hours later when they came and got me.” Telling the story actually seemed sort of out of body experience for Bird right then. The detachment she had to be able to speak but still the emotion rising up inside her, every bit that she’d felt that day. “I went through booking and spoke to the detective and went to the hospital for my own injuries. They saw right away that they had been often and extensive and I was released a week later with charges dropped in self defence. I mean how do I explain? I was in a fog, like a zombie up until I walked up to those white gate’s. I was just shocked and I couldn’t even think, not jumbled or unclearly…just not at all. I didn’t mean to shoot him. I didn’t even think about it…give it thought…I’d always had a gun and never even thought about using it before during bad fights. Or ever. Come to think of it now I realize that when his mood changed I should have gotten rid of them but I never even thought to. It was just reaction. I knew …felt…that if he had caught me trying to leave, as he’d said in fights before he would never let me do, that ….it wasn’t that I thought he’d actually kill me because thats too much to wrap your head around…that your husband might kill you….it was that …like knowing he just wasn’t going to let you go. My hand reached into my purse. Carrying had been normal for me for years, we both had.”
“Did you ever think he might use his gun on you?” Sas asked.
I looked up at her and thought, “No…actually that never crossed my mind. I never thought of being afraid of our guns at all. We had carried them for a long time. Back when our neighborhood was still a really bad location before it became sort of gentrefied. I…just never thought of that…”
“What did you do then?” Mag changed the direction that question had gone. “When you were released a couple of weeks later?”
“I went back…to pack my things and leave, thinking that I now could get all my things I was going to leave without before. But I stood on the sidewalk across the street just staring at the blood stain and I couldn’t. So I got on a bus and came here. I didn’t even think clearly enough to take my own car even though I held the keys in my hand. And now here I am.”
Mag; “You are home.”
Sas; “Why didn’t you ever ask for help?”
Bird “I didn’t know how to.”
Weirdly all three nodded at this. One of the things our family didn’t know was how to ask for help, in all things nessessary for it. Strife Family Trait’s.
“But everyone knows and it was all over the news and I can feel them staring at me. This is the last place I should have come. Not to mention dealing with how I left…and mom too.”
“Geeze what else could you bring to that story? Except…Oh Hell…you’re…”
“I’m pregnant. I was going to tell him that last night but he came home and just went off as he had been…it wasn’t drugs or drunk just…it started with depression and transformed into this monster that was nowhere near the loving husband I had known. I just never knew what to do…and I tried everything. He would…become this other person. HE wasn’t there at a any longer. Not even in his eye’s. Especay not in his eye’s.”
“He never knew. He never got the chance to. During the last one that day before I was afraid he wouldn’t be happy all of a sudden and go for punching me in the stomach, I just couldn’t see springing that kind of news in the middle of him going off anyway. And it was different than it had been, he was hitting my face, even grabbing my head, squeezing, pulling and twisting my ears, Slapping against my ears, my mouth. He had never touched my face before and everything he did was to ruin me it seemed….I mostly avoided the hits toward my stomach and just kinda….my head went in a different place that time. That was when the thought of leaving first ever even entered my mind and why I did the next morning while he was supposed to be on location delivering at a job, but….but…”
My sisters surrounded me and one laid a hand over mine on the tablecloth and the other wrapped her arm over my shoulders and in silence we just sat for a moment. Taking in the fact that all of it wasn’t done and behind me at all.
Of all that we had gone through we knew what a broken home felt like…even if all the members remained in it. It was one level field we all stood on. What I hadn’t known is that my mother over-heard our entire conversation from the living room where she was crocheting, the tears I had never seen her cry for us. The emotion I had never been able to recieve, flowed down her face in torrents now, her hand over her mouth to keep silent.