Short Story: Interrupted

PLEASE NOTE: This story is not be suitable for younger or sensitive readers as grown up themes, strong language and subjects are dealt with below. Thank you.

This was the fight of her life.

He’d actually leapt at her this time, pinning her with the finesse and precision of a professional wrestler taking down an equally matched opponent.

This wasn’t an even match though. She was only five foot four to his six feet and she weighed a little over nine stone.

He wanted the ring back again. Over and over this went on.

“I hate you, you fucking ugly, fat slag. Give me the ring back. I want it back now! Fucking don’t look at me like that, fucking get it done!” he roared.

Then she’d hide it, convinced him it was in her hand, when she’d really hid it somewhere else in the room. If he knew it wasn’t in her hand, he’d rip the room apart looking for it.

She’d managed to hold on to it each time and each time, he’d given up, hating himself that bit more for not being brave enough to just simply kill her there and then.

This time though, he seemed more angry. More determined.

What horrified her more was the idea that he could be after the ring to give to someone else. She’d heard the rumours for the past two months, but surely…

He straddled her, pushing his snarling, wild face into hers.

“Fucking give it me back you evil bitch”, he spat venomously, his voice up a pitch.

“No!” she wailed in panic and fear.

He grabbed at her closed left hand, smashing it into the wall, over and over again.

She yelled out in terror and pain.

He yelled out in sheer animalistic rage and frustration, a primal noise that lived deep down within him.

“Please!” she cried out, “please no!”

He slapped and punched her arm, pulled her hair and buried his knuckles into her ribs.

“Please help me!” she screamed out, but futilely believing that there was no-one in the halls of residence still there that weekend.

Of course, he always knew when everyone had gone home.

“Fucking – give – it – me – now!” he screamed through his teeth, using all of his strength to try to free her rebelliously closed fingers.

She yelled out in fear as his hands now moved with grim purpose to around her throat…

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

“IS EVERYTHING ALRIGHT IN THERE?”

He froze on top of her. She held her breath.

The wide eyed look of horror and panic that swept across his features scared her.

“F-fine. J-just ha-having an argument. Nothing. F-fine” she stammered, virtually incoherently.

“Okay…” came the voice belonging to the man who had hammered on the door in reaction to hearing the terrified screams of a woman being beaten.

Like any decent human being would.

He sat up, still on top her, sobering from his rage, panic leaving his face as once again the shutters started coming down.

She could read the message on his face: look at what you drove me to and now I’m trouble because you would not do as I said. This is your fault.

It is NOT your fault.

He’d never been caught before.

When he’d swept out of the room and passed her rescuer, she triumphantly retrieved the ring from down the side of the bed, like a mother hiding a child from something terrible. It went back onto her finger where it chained her back to him, once more.

A moment or two later, as her wound-up tight body began to collapse into terrible, shuddering sobs, the man who had saved her returned.

“You need to call the police. We have to call the police. He’ll do it again or he’ll do it to someone else, you know”.

Then the usual excuses and lies came forth from her raw throat:

He doesn’t mean it…

He’s having a bad time…

He loves me really…

He’s never usually like this…

He’d never usually harm me…

Yet the stranger was not remotely convinced by her implausible words, now overlapped by tears.

“If he loved you, he wouldn’t ever lay a finger on you. Ever. Over anything. This is not okay. That lads unhinged, love. It’s clearly not the first time he’s done this either, is it?”

“Please don’t tell anyone. I’ll sort it out. It’ll make it worse, I’ll lose him, I love him, I can’t let him get arrested, a criminal record, it’d ruin his life! Please, please, please don’t say anything” she pleaded in a wobbling, whimpering gush of words.

She was so conditioned to defend him no matter what.

The guy left the room, shaking his head with sadness and disbelief.

She hugged her knees to her on her bed and cried harder.

The pain of being with him wasn’t far out-ranking the pain of being without him.

She knew her time with him would end when the balance tipped. But how long before it did? How long before she couldn’t cope anymore with the destructive rages, the tantrums, the violence, the cruel words, the manipulation…? She knew it was months at the very best.

She loved him heart and soul, but if he didn’t change – just stop hurting her, he couldn’t possibly be her forever. Because if she stayed, she was certain he’d completely lose control and…

How did her once bright and wonderful dream end up like this? How come he had gone from the most thoughtful, loving, wonderful man when they’d first met, to a – a -monster? Was he right? Was it her that made him behave that way? Was she so terrible that she made him behave like this?

Her head hurt from these questions now. Her heart rattled with pain.

What thoroughly chilled her blood was the thought of what it was he’d have to do to her in order for her to believe losing him was far less painful than remaining at his side.

To hold on under such circumstances and keep it to herself made her feel weak and simple: too much of a coward to walk away because she was afraid of how much her heart would break. Yet she had no idea that it was because she was so strong. To live with such fear because her heart loved so absolutely was something so laudable, it needed a statue building to commemorate it. If she gave up in 10 seconds time from then, let alone stuck it out longer, she’d  have still gone through more than any person ever should.

Yet she could not see that. Instead, she hugged her knees, crying and rubbing at her painful left hand. She prayed the same tired, tatty prayer: please just be good, please just love me as I you.

My Mum is in the Thunder

Each year, when I was a kid, there was a massive event in the park across the round from my house called the ‘St Helens Show’. It was always at the end of July and it was always amazing.

There was a fair, tents filled with crafts and stalls, police dog shows, a plane doing stunts overhead, several radio stations and food stalls everywhere. There were representatives from the military there, as well as the fire brigade and the police. One year, Nintendo brought along a big truck with its trailer filled with Gameboys and SNES’ for kids to play on (and badger their parents for the games they’d just played). It was the gig of the year and every kid in my school went to the St Helens show. It was practically the law.

Smugly, I would always be chuffed to bits knowing that I could just toddle across the road to visit it. My friends would have to walk for a distance or get on a bus if their parents struggled to park, which people invariably did. People would come from miles and miles around to experience this spectacle.

The place was rammed.

In the evening one year, when I was about eleven or twelve, a colossal thunder storm erupted in the heavens. It was getting dark, but the fairground part of the Show was still teeming with life, light and noise.

2015-07-01 23.10.31-1

My mother had showered and tied her hair back and we sat, side by side on the living room floor. Our backs were against the sofa and heads turned to the window, watching. The lights were off and in the silence of that July evening, we silently watched a mega thunderstorm rage above the village of Sutton.

I wondered what it would have been like, to be on one of those rides, being buffeted about by the warm wind, the pelting rain and gravity, all under the mighty canopy of violet flashes and gravelly booms. I wondered if I was brave enough to go on one of those rides myself. I think I decided I was.

But given the choice between being flung around to the sound of 90’s trip-out beats, or sitting still and quiet with my mother? I’d pick my mother’s calm, comforting presence any day.

I’ve come to realise this inner truth recently, mainly because there was a massive thunder and lightning show last night. The lightening was too high up in the atmosphere for us to see the proper forks very well, but the light passed through the cumulous really well, lighting them up like big cotton wool lamps.

Every time I see lightening or hear thunder, my mind goes back to that night so long ago. I always think of my mother.

She was so like a thunder storm too – awesome, beautiful and stunning, but havoc, fearful and destructive.2015-07-01 23.14.46

She was as much the cleansing rain as the frightening booms. As much of a beautiful, chaotic swirl of a human being she was, she was still mine.

One of my favourite films of all time (V for Vendetta) says that God is in the rain. In the case of my Mum, she is not just in the rain, but in the thunder and the lightening too.

Fame Monster and Me

keep-calm-and-never-read-the-commentsAs a species, we are naturally curious. We’re curious about how things work, why things happen and about what other members of our species do.

Sometimes, it is a good thing. We have used our hunger for knowledge to further and better ourselves. Time and time again, ignorance has always equalled hate and discord and therefore, we plod on, occasionally getting it hopelessly wrong, but we persevere as a species.

Then we take the whole curiosity thing too far – especially when it comes to other members of our species that we do not even know.

There’s always been a cult of celebrity, the modern era of it beginning in the 18th century with figures like the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish. Newspapers have churned out caricatures forever, depicting the rich and powerful in various unfortunate ways.

Nowadays, this is on an utterly hysterical, overblown scale.

People love the pantomime of it: the villains, the hero’s, the pretty princesses and the rebels. People boo, hiss, shout and applaud, doing so these days on mediums like Twitter or the dreaded comments (never read the comments).

Sometimes, there are casualties. Celebs, it is argued occasionally, know what they are getting themselves into with the constant intrusion – you need to court publicity to keep working in some cases, but then when cameras are taking photos of you with no make-up on doing the school run, or buying biscuits at 10 pm in Tesco, there is a point where it becomes too intrusive. Why do we need reassurance that the celebs are the same as us? They might have more money, talent, luck, looks and stylists than we do – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have needs. They are still people.

The casualties are us. The little people: the non-celebs that didn’t sign up for a life in front of a camera at all – most notably, the families of the famous or those attached around the periphery.

This article, deals with that entire scenario playing out in my family.

My cousin, was in a very long term relationship with someone who was quite – but not enormously – famous. My cousins famous partner, went off with someone else, who is enormously famous and very well known. Because of the scandal, my cousin’s name and life came under the microscope, with people guessing the ins and outs of the whole thing.

This was polarised for me when I was reading an article on a newspapers website about it.

I did the unholy thing of looking at the comments.

There were hundreds of comments written about my relative. People, who have never met my cousin and never will, having a wild stab in the dark about the circumstances of the break up. They said some unpleasant, nasty and cruel things. They wanted the beloved celebs involved to be absolved of blame, so that it could be heaped onto the ‘peasant’ – the ordinary person.

It felt horrible to see my family member speculated about like that. I wanted to write on the thread “but do you lot not understand that the families involved in this are going to see these comments and feel utterly violated, hurt, angry and sad by the nonsense you’re writing??”.

There is this sense of entitlement: I pay to see your films, listen to your music and watch your TV show – so therefore, you belong to me somehow and everyone to do with you.

My cousin isn’t famous though. My relative has supported their famous partner in all of their endeavours and been loyal, understanding and loving. They have not courted the limelight and have, in fact, shunned it. They have stood in the wings and stayed back from it all, finding more camaraderie with the other behind-the-scenes people than out front, absorbing all the attention.

Now, my relative is being judged and gossiped about and it is pretty hurtful to see.

Unless someone has done some terrible crime or behaved in an outrageous horrendous manner (a la Operation Yew Tree), then do not stand there and talk about people you simply do not know. I knew we can all be guilty of this at times in our everyday lives, let alone about celebs, but before you broadcast your opinions on someone you have never met – consider the fact that these people have families who are going to feel the brunt of this.

They have to pick up the pieces and they have the horror of ‘reading the comments’.

I can promise you, you do not, in all probability, know my relative. Said person is quiet and unassuming and wants to remain so. I want to help my relative with that as much as I can.

If there is someone being an idiot and clearly doing and saying things for attention – then do what you were told to in the playground when you were little: just walk away and leave them to it. The less we pay attention to someone, the quicker they will go away.

We’re a weird species in that we judge others we do not know, based on how pretty their feathers are or how close to the sun they get, rather than restraining ourselves to the myriad of more deserving idiots do we know in our own, everyday lives.

Cat x

Tunisia Attacks

Nine years ago today, my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Tunisia.

The recent attacks have left me feeling sick, confused and saddened that this is the state of the world and that there are people out there that think this is an okay thing to do.

It horrifies me to think that my husband and I could have been easily caught up in this when we were a newly married couple, on the threshold of our new life together.

I just wanted to publicly pass on my condolences to the families of all involved and to the Tunisian people as well, who have demonstrated solidarity against such action. Ultimately, with the massive dent in tourism this will have (an industry responsible for 15.2% of Tunisia’s GDP – source: BBC), it will snatch bread out of the mouths of their families.

I also wanted to pay tribute to Carly Lovett, a fellow blogger. I didn’t know her at all, but as a member of the blogging community, I can certainly understand her importance and the significance of her tragic loss. Sharing your life, ideas, dreams, information, tips or advice is wonderful. She only made the world better and more positive, rather than destroying.

My thoughts are with her family and friends.

Here is a link to her blog, if you would like to visit: Carly Lovett’s Blog

Thanks for reading – let’s hope humanity eventually finds a better way.

Cat xxx

Grief Monster

2015-05-19 18.42.40It doesn’t matter how many times you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, it still hurts the same. Different things make you hurt, but the hurt is still there, in your heart.

I wonder why we, as human beings, are engineered to physically feel emotional pain in one of our internal organs. On a biologically fundamental level, I find that really fascinating. How did we evolve so that when we feel terrible pain from losing someone, the pain is concentrated in a muscle that pumps blood around our bodies?

From a day-to-day, have-to-live-with-it point of view though, it doesn’t matter why. It just matters that it simply does hurt.

There feels like such a lead weight hanging around my heart, making it unbearably ache. I think that because I’ve lived with this pain now and for such a long time, it doesn’t bother me as much as it did the first time I felt it.

I’m okay though and in a way, I find the pain comforting. It confirms beyond doubt how much I love someone who is no longer there and that I will never see again.

That is the brutal, but honest truth of the pain of loss.

It doesn’t just attach itself to bereavement either – it can be felt through loss of lots of things, including the break down and loss of a relationship, job, and friendship and so on.

My Mum was never a straightforward person in life and in death, the grief I feel for her loss follows suit. I don’t just grieve her loss, I mourn the loss of her potential to have changed and been something better. The fact that she wasn’t okay for a lot of years and how she would never know what it was like to be older and actually be well and okay.

I mourn the little, cheeky, smiling girl she was, that I see staring out at me from the plethora of black and white photos of her I have. That little person, growing up one day to be my Mum and not knowing what life had in store for her.

I have a photo of her as a child on my desk at work, amongst the photos of my children. I feel so maternal towards her, in a roundabout way, because I mothered her desperately when I spent my last few hours with her. All I could think of to do, was groom her, clean her, kiss her and hold her. I cuddled into her, like my toddler does now with me when she gets into bed with me.

She didn’t know I was there, but I cuddled down with her when she lay dying. I lay half on and half off her hospital bed, my fingers tangled with hers, our foreheads touching. I wanted to feel like I was five years old again and wanting my Mummy. I wanted to remember that, despite how much she couldn’t be in my life, she was still my Mummy and I was still her baby girl.

I felt that for the last time in my life. I got to remember being tiny again and needing her to just hold my hand and love me whilst I dozed.

My grandmother, her Mum, would have been 78 if she was still alive – which isn’t too old these days, adding the tragedy of her own early loss. I am just grateful for the small mercy of my Nan not being there to see my Mum pass. I know my Nan came for her soul when it was time for her to go on that sunny February afternoon, but if she had physically been around for it, she would have been blown apart by it. I’m glad I got to go through all this instead of her. I’ve buried two of my own babies and I know how annihilating that is, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

2015-05-19 18.43.46-1There is so much pain connected to those moments and woven into the fact that I’m grieving her as a grown woman who is also a mother, several times over.

Grief is utterly unpredictable, strangling and merciless. The pain is unyielding and really doesn’t care about you, your health and welfare or anyone around you. It cannot be bottled forever and there isn’t enough stiff-upper lip, stoicity, dignity or will-power that can stop it, remove it or replace it. It is water. It will always find a way out of you and it is as patient as the eternal rocks beneath.

It is shit for those around you and it will make you guilty and terrible – but it has to come out and it must play out. It will never leave, it will always be there, but the bulk of its confusion and horror must ebb away like the waters of a tsunami.

If you are currently feeling appalling too, on account of grief through bereavement or a break up of some description, then just remember – a hurting heart proves that there is love there and how beautiful that is. It not feel that way, but being able to produce something as beautiful as love is so amazing.

And I’m proud of you too – because I get how shit it is.

Cat x

It’s All About You – Our 9th Wedding Anniversary

9 years ago today, I sat in a vintage car in a big white dress covered in butterflies, next to my Dad. My Dad nervously, but PRC9E5~1somehow easily, sat chatting away to the driver about the Triumph Stag he had owned, that once belonged to his Dad. He went into the complexities of keeping such an old car going and how it wasn’t practical for everyday use.

I looked out of the window at the whirling-past countryside that made Sutton, then Lea Green, then Rainhill all melt and blend together into one.

It was overcast, but warm, good weather for photo’s the photographer had told me, an hour or so before.

I just took his word for it. I had other, bigger things on my mind.

I was 23 years-old and about to get married.

I had been with my fiancé for over three years by this point and we had been living together for 2 years, so it wasn’t an old fashioned affair were I was only going to get to know him after our marriage. I therefore knew I was making the right choice.

My wonderful Nan

My wonderful Nan

Everyone and their grandmother knew I was making the right choice. Even my Dad, who I think took a bit of joy in doing the whole give-the-daughters-other-half-a-hard-time thing, agreed. He didn’t sit there beside me in his beautiful dove grey morning suit and ask me if I was making the right choice – the traditional father of the bride pre-wedding speech. Instead, he sat there, jabbering on about the old Triumph Stag and lamenting its sale.

He didn’t ask if I was nervous – because of course I was. I was nervous about what my fiancé would think of me in my dress and with my half-curled, half-spikey hair. I was nervous of falling over, or spilling a drink down my dress or making a fool out of myself. I was nervous about everything.

I was also sad. Sad that people who should have been there, couldn’t be.

My brother was serving his country as a nurse in the Army, on tour in Iraq. My Granddad Jack was unable to attend, my beloved Nan Renee and Granddad Maurice were both in heaven. My mother could not be there, for lots of unhappy and unpleasant reasons, which meant my sister couldn’t be either.

There was a tinge of sadness.PRC5DF~1

But so much joy, so, so much joy too.

My grandparents were all represented by my fearless, fabulous and frankly fantastic Nan Ruth (as my husband said in his speech that day, she is basically what I’m going to be like when she becomes a pensioner – and that was fine by him).

I didn’t have a sibling there – but I had my sister in law Claire, who was 7 months pregnant with my gorgeous nephew, Luke.

My Mum couldn’t be there – but I had my Dad there, holding my hand, being there for me every step of the way. He represented both parents for me that day, as well as my step Mum.

There were silver linings and I counted and cherished every last one.

At 3:10pm, a tinny rendition of the wedding march played (for my Dads benefit, I wanted Pachelbel’s Canon) and the guests arose from their seats, heads swivelled around to look at me as I entered the long glass conservatory.PRD5E5~1

I think then my nerves hit me hardest, but you couldn’t tell. The smile on my face was too bright as I beheld my fiancé, who stood just as nervously, at the top with Colin the registrar. He beamed at me, letting me not have a shadow of a doubt of how much he loved me and couldn’t wait to make me mine before the world.

And I would answer all your wishes, if you asked me to.
But if you deny me one of your kisses, don’t know what I’d do.
So hold me close and say three words, like you used to do.
Dancing on the kitchen tiles, it’s all about you.
Yeah…

I know there are some people who say that marriage is just a bit of paper and what does it matter? I think they’ve maybe missed the point, or they’re trying to justify themselves. For us, it was a way of binding our hearts and souls together for life – declaring before the law, our friends, our family, and strangers even – that this whole “us” thing was for keeps in every possible way – in the eyes of the law, the eyes of our families and before any deity or spiritual force there may be out there. That whatever storm we were going to face in this world, this life, we were going to weather it together. Forever.

So hold me close and say three words, like you used to do.
Dancing on the kitchen tiles,
Yes you make my life worthwhile,
So I told you with a smile…
It’s all about you.

When things get broken – you fix them. Marriage isn’t a consumable, you don’t bin it when it gets too hard or a bit breaks off. You have to work at it and commit to it. As the registrar who married us said – marriage is a fortune that should never be spent.

PRDDE9~1He then went on to surmise that the key to a successful marriage was to go out to dinner once a week. He goes on Tuesday and his wife goes out on Friday’s. My whole ceremony was full of hilarious moments like these – which were a reflection of us. Fun, young, happy, silly and wonderful.

PRE5ED~1It was the perfect day to capture who my husband and I both were, aged 23 and 24 years old.

My step mum hated the way I’d had my hair done and told me that in years to come I’d regret it. It’s 9 years on and I still love it. It isn’t my style now, at all, but it was when I was 23 years old. When I was young and trendy and funky – that was who I was and what I liked and I love it.

My beautiful new husband and I danced and sang and chatted to everyone. It was a whirl of happiness and glittering madness that ended too soon.

Yesterday, you asked me something I thought you knew.
So I told you with a smile ‘It’s all about you’
Then you whispered in my ear and you told me too,
Said, ‘You make my life worthwhile, it’s all about you’

But the best bit was just beginning.

We threw our lots in together. We made a pact to do this life thing together, come what may. We used our love and blind faith in each other as the glue that would hold us together, hoping against hope that we were not the one-in-three marriage that went belly up.

We didn’t believe that before we had even got to our first wedding anniversary, we would be at our most tested – the death of our beautiful new baby daughters.Professional Wedding Photo's 205

I’ve seen grief that huge make or break couples. No, it wasn’t easy for either of us, or on our marriage, but the glue of love and faith held firm and we stuck it out. Our love for each other getting us through those dark, horrible days.

I’m a better person because of my husband. I am alive today, seriously, because of my husband. He gave me my daughters. He gave me hope, understanding, love, space, closeness, joy, laughter, courage, honesty, thoughtfulness, inspiration, self-esteem, help, encouragement, trust… He made me feel wanted and he made me feel cherished. Not just feel them, but made me understand them as facts, as though they were tangible in the form of a blanket that I could just wrap around myself and forget the world.

He never ditched me off, found me a burden or forgot about me. He didn’t fade into the background or find me a nuisance. I am grateful for each moment I have so far had with him in my life and for the years I know we’ve still got to come.Professional Wedding Photo's 100

9 years ago today, I was sat in the back of a cream coloured vintage car, with fabric flowers on the parcel shelf, whizzing along the Linkway. Each mile brought me closer to my happily ever after with the man of my dreams, who chased my nightmares away. To the man, who I would always look beautiful to, no matter how wrinkly, saggy and fat I would get.

To my future, my joy and my love.

9 years and you are still my forever.

Our song, our first dance :)

What Does Your Heart & Soul Look Like?

I read a quote, somewhere on Facebook probably, were someone said that you should be artistic every single day. You should paint, draw, act, sing, write, compose, play, sew, knit – something. The purpose for this industry is simply an exercise in finding out what is inside of you and seeing what those insides look like.

The idea is simple: by being creative somehow, you are showing yourself (and maybe others if you wish) what your heart and soul look like.

Have you ever wondered?

Sometimes, when I listen to my favourite song (‘Wish I Could Fly’ by Roxette), I often believe that that is the sound my soul makes. The heavy, moody strings and bass, the steady beat, the gorgeous vocals, the dreamy lyrics… perhaps we can recognise our souls architecture in the creative outpouring from other souls.

Yet, to see and even hold in your hands something that has come straight out of your head, is absolutely glorious, magical and pretty. I mean, beyond pretty and beyond magic – it reaches the depths and breadths and heights that Shakespeare referred to in one of his sonnets.

So when I write, or draw, or knit – it isn’t because I’m any good at it – it is because I think I need to understand myself better and actually see what my soul and my heart look like.

It might make you see art, hear music, even look at the design of your clothes or think about why your favourite colour is… whatever it is (mine is teal/jade/ greeny-blue, in case you ever wondered). If you apply that idea to it all and think that it is what a person’s soul looks like, you might see the world a bit differently.

How beautiful a sentiment and how glorious an idea is that? Get your inhibitions to bugger off and do this yourself. You don’t have to show anyone unless you want to – even then, you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.

If you do have a go at writing or drawing or organising kitchen utensils into the face of Optimus Prime on your living room floor – whatever it is – good luck and please, do send me a pic. I’d like to see that!

Take care and remember (not to sound a bit contrived, twee and all tree-huggy here), you are beautiful, in case no-one has bothered telling you this today.

Cat x