This is a short story that I wrote a few years back. Some of you may have read it on other social media sites that I posted it to back then. It is one of my favourites. Enjoy!
July 24th 2006
So many years of subtle ‘put downs’ and niggles about how she did or said things by the man she’d loved so passionately had culminated into this moment in time. Contemplating the freedom of death, than living another day with the realization that she would never ever be good enough for her man, her life. A mask wearing man who portrayed one image to friends, family and workmates. Images so contrary to the image behind closed doors. Prison doors!
Grace stood contemplating whether to jump. As the sun began to set over the beautiful cliff top of the Otago coastline known commonly as ‘Lovers Leap’ she replayed in her mind the twelve hours just lived and the certain life events that had happened one after another. ‘How ironic to be standing where lovers have leaped to their death because they cannot be together and here I stand because I can’t bear to be with my man!’ she calmly thought.
Life’s twists and turns had been harsh to her. “Thirty years young and so beautiful!” was a comment said many times, along with “How come you were so blest with such brilliance and beauty?” A question she too would like answered because it had become more a cursing than a blessing! Deep inside the dark recesses of her soul she just felt so dark, ugly and stupid. How could she be all that they said she was feeling this, living this pain and oh so real truth of failure! Fame and fortune had a price. Paid in anonymities loss and the deception that it brings freedom. Never being able to escape the glare of celebrity meant no one truly knew the truth, games are the given. With tears streaming down her face and the realization that the son she leaves behind, will inevitably follow his father’s example, is her biggest failure of all. As the saying goes ‘What walks in the father, runs in the son!’ Even for him she could not bear another day of living. It had started as any normal day up at 7:00 am to feed her baby boy and then she handed him back to the Nanny.
By 7:30 am, the alarms went off again in Grace’s heart. She heard him raging down the hall before she saw him; she looked up from the kitchen table in to a cold, hate filled stare from Damon her husband of the last 10 years. ‘Once again you disappoint me Woman! Can’t you get anything right? How hard is it to follow my simple instructions?’ He seethed. Instinctively Grace raised her hands to shield her face from the blow that sent her crashing to the floor, the boot that landed in her gut took her breath away. Whimpering, she curled into a ball waiting for the next blow to come. It didn’t, as the silence grew she tentatively lifted her face to see where Damon was. She was horrified to see such a blatant look of contempt from her man’s face. This man who had been her life for 10 years. A man who had so passionately pursued her and left other paramour’s for dead could look at her now like this? ‘What a mask wearing chameleon charmer! Such a honey tongued angel in the public eye but you hide a stone cold heart of a master player and manipulator in private. How I am coming to hate you too!’ she thought to herself as she lay there afraid to move.
‘GET UP. You stupid woman! Get up! Have you no pride? Look at you? Geez…you disgust me! Why do you have to provoke me? Why couldn’t you have had this suit sorted when I asked you last week? He demanded. ‘Just be ready by 7:00 pm for the dinner with the Chappell’s. You know how important this one is, and what I expect of you to get me the deal.’ He said. Grace groaned, as she knew only too well exactly what was meant by that comment. ‘Oh, make sure that damn child is quiet or better yet farm him out to your mother for the night. I want that navy suit and white shirt sorted like I asked last week. You can do that this time. Right?’ He said with a sarcastic tone of voice and menacing look. Grace nodded afraid of uttering words that could bring another beating. ‘This is such an important meeting. My future depends on a good outcome.’ He commented to himself more than Grace as he closed his briefcase on the table and headed for the door. Grace was numb. ‘No embrace or kisses like in our early years for me anymore Damon?’ she asked herself quietly, ‘No… they were the dream years, this hell is my reality! What was it that changed you?’ for the life of her Grace could not find any one defining moment. It had been a process of time and familiarity. ‘What is that saying. Oh yes, that’s it “familiarity breeds contempt”.’
The phone rang but Grace left it for the answer phone to pick up, as she couldn’t face talking with anyone at the moment. ‘Hi Grace… Mum here. Just ringing in to see how you are doing. Call me back when you get this ok, love you’. As she rang off Grace had a moment of sheer hopelessness’ flood her soul. The one person she’d thought that she could turn to in the early years of abuse had abandoned her with the simple phrase ‘Well baby, you have to stop what your doing to make Damon angry. Stop pushing his buttons and just be the good wife that I’ve shown you to be. Remember to hush up about it and tell no one else. We woman don’t talk about this kind of thing in our family, we just deal with it!’ When her Mum had said that, Grace had been gob smacked but quickly realised she was on her own. It wasn’t until now that she realised the full extent of generational ’secrets’. What is kept in the dark will always reappear. What had been Grandmothers shame became her daughters and granddaughters. Though she knew her Mum loved her, she had her own demons to battle and denial was her Mother’s weapon of choice to survive the pain of her own loveless marriage. It was the loneliest moment of her life at that time. She has had many more since. The one thing she craved was validation and intimacy. To be loved without fear. The realisation that her mother had lived the life she now lived but without the trappings of celebrity hurt Grace deeply. She blamed her Father.
A cold and emotionally distant man who was a creation of the post war babies whose Fathers were so scared by War, unable to give their children any affection or validation because of what they’d had to do to protect their sanity from the horrors they’d survived. What a legacy to give a child? Fear! Grace’s dad had given her life lessons that a good education and a position in society is the goal of a woman and that if you had beauty…. Use it! Grace had that in abundance and had learned well from her Daddy’s seeds. ‘Yes Daddy, I’ve harvested well the seeds of fear, rejection and pain. Why couldn’t you have told me just once that I was acceptable? That you would just love me for me, and not who I became to please you? Why was the real me so unlovable, so throw away and under valued?’ Grace cried into the pillow on the sofa as she used to do as a child, heart wrenching and soul destroying in knowing she would never ever get her Daddy‘s validation.
The day progressed and all was ready for the evening dinner plans when Grace’s cell phone rang. ‘Hi Grace speaking.’ She said. ‘Hiya Sis, you better turn on the 6:00 pm news. I think your gonna be really interested with the content of one of the items.’ Grace’s baby sister said with a vindictive laugh. Grace just hung up on her sick to death of her Sister’s need to play games. She wasn’t going to fall for it but curiosity got the better of her. The item sent her reeling. It was about Damon and a ‘secret’ lover that the paparazzi had caught him with. It was none other than Grace’s sister. This was the last devastation. No more! The shame and humiliation of this oh so public betrayal along with her private hellish existence pushed her over into the calm premeditation of suicide’s lie. She walked into her son’s room and kissed him as he slept. She then retrieved her keys from the coffee table and walked out of the house to her BMW and got in. She had been expecting the house to be surrounded by the paparazzi but realised the vultures were probably aware of the dinner at Bennu’s and were waiting to get the pictures of the humiliated wife arriving with a brave face. ‘Well you won’t be getting what you want from me tonight.’ she laughed as she drove to ‘The Leap’.
So, why did Grace choose this option? What was so bad that living became so untenable? What if there had been another way other than one way. Beauty dies when something that should be immutable and rock steady becomes mutable and inconsistent, Truth becomes the lies and lies become the comfortable truth lived. True beauty and grace comes from the depth of self. It is not about outward appearances but inward serenity. What is seeded into the depths of our soul and spirits from birth is what will be harvested in our adulthood. So much is taken, stolen when the child is ill equipped to counter the attacks on self worth, esteem, and confidence and for we woman our validation that comes through a fathers love. Grace and beauty die when all that you believed in, ‘the fairytale’ of future that you expected, believed would take away the pain of self-lost, is just that a fairy tale. When love burns you, scars you and wounds you so deeply that death is the only option. When you passionately love someone, expecting him to be ‘your everything’ and they end up deceiving and betraying you, life becomes meaningless, hopeless and so very lonely there is but one way out…Stepping off the cliff into free-fall…Grace took it!
A baby cries, unable to be comforted. He is the only innocent who will be truly hurt by Grace’s demise. A mother cries, caressing the cold cheek of her beloved daughter in her coffin whishing she could take back her years of silent compliance of abuse seen. A father withdraws into silent heart cries for a daughter left to long to know, guilty of his ‘too busy’ life to help rescue his daughter as only a father can. A sister relishes her time for the ‘now’ limelight and attention given to her famous dead sister. Denying the reality that tomorrow it will be just the same old same old, hoping and praying that just once in her life she too can be noticed and praised as the beautiful one, the graceful one. Sadly it will never eventuate because she truly is ugly on the inside and doesn’t realize we are all the reflection of our true self’s outside in.
A husband bravely holds his crying son…tears and sympathy flow toward him from all of those around. Inside he seethes with a fury because once again Grace disappoints him. Heartlessly he cries out to a God he doesn’t believe really exists and curses him for the predicament of being a solo Dad and the realization that she was the only woman who truly ever loved him.