Saturday, December 05, 2009


Another writing challenge -- begin with the word "tomorrow" andset it in a time of change for the character

Tomorrow the plane will land and she will be in the far away country. She will be alone, gloriously, terrifyingly alone, and probably very, very lonely. But, be honest, when was the last time she wasn’t lonely? Their relationship was a farce, a bitter caricature of all that love is supposed to be; and she was never more alone than when he put his arms around her.

Truth hurts, and this truth hurt horribly, as if the whole world had played a mean, cruel joke on her. But it wasn’t the whole world, only him; yet, in that time, in that place, he had been her whole world, and she had thought all the rest of the world well lost in order to be his. And yet, even then, at the beginning, it had all been a monstrous lie, a cruel and pointless abuse of her trust. And what she felt most ashamed of now was not the things he had done to her (she knew the blame for that was solely, totally, his), but that she had been so gullible, so stupid. The counsellor had told her not to blame herself, that men like that were professional deceivers, but she had always prided herself on being intelligent and perceptive – perhaps it was her pride that was most deeply injured?

She owed that counsellor a lot, for relentlessly, almost brutally, she had kept naming his behaviour for what it was, using labels that sliced through many foggy layers of excuses. In the beginning he had made wonderful excuses for himself, spinning stories of such convincing pathos that she ended up feeling sorry for him when he victimised her; soon he had her so convinced that she made the excuses for him all on her own. She shook her head at the memory.

Tomorrow would be different: a new country, a new life – at least for a season, until she could forget, until she felt truly safe to return. Strange that she had never told him that the name he knew her by was not her legal name, the name written on her passport; that she had anglicised both her first and last names in order to fit in. Even her initials were different. And because he had so quickly isolated her from her family, he had never even realised her ethnic origin. Strange? Or some blessed gift of self-preservation? Now he could not stalk her, could not haunt her. She had cut and dyed the long hair he had insisted on, bought herself new clothes, and finally was beginning to convince herself that she was no longer that shamed, helpless, injured woman whose life had only begun to change one night when she desperately entered a hospital casualty department.

It was time to try and sleep, if sleep she could. Sleep had been one of the first casualties in that long maelstrom of emotion, and she was still regaining it. “I am safe, I am safe, “ she murmured, breathing in and out slowly, deliberately. Even money, whose lack so often shackled the abused, had been provided. Again, knowing and caring nothing about her wider family, he had not known of the old uncle who had recently died and left her a nice little legacy. She remembered with a shudder those days when she could not leave the house because he had taken the car and her wallet. She had been so helpless, just a punching bag to exercise his ego against. But never again – those days were finished, flushed away like the dirty water from an overdue bath. Her mouth could not resist twitching into a smile, and, amazed and delighted at her own sense of empowerment, she summoned the stewardess and requested a celebratory glass of champagne.

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