A Story by Albatross


     I heard them whisper.

     They were speaking to me, breathing a quiet ocean of words into my ears, my heart, my soul. They would never ease, never cease etching their voices into my mind. When hushed, they grow louder. When suppressed, they grow stronger, faster, more urgent. Sleep only helps me to escape into almost freedom. Almost.

     I dream. Images flash before me, past me, through me. Each picture I glimpse at reveals worlds. Places never seen and never heard of by any other human being. I would wake in the morning, my head throbbing. Then came the whispering.

     I know in my mind that everybody had them, the voices. Some were louder than others, babbling a stream of consciousness that cannot be influenced or controlled. Some spoke softly, brushing consciousness, formulating parts and fractions of ideas, dreams, emotions, and actions. Always they spoke, telling of guilt and happiness, fear and success. The ideas would shift, stepping forward, backward, around in circles, streaming continuously throughout my present consciousness and my ever elusive subconscious. They were my thoughts.

     And I could never escape them.

     That’s what was going through my mind as I stared in the mirror. I examined the superficial facial features. The fine arches, long eyelashes, golden hazel eyes, they were a lie. They told a beautiful, pleasant story. My face, my body, was the shallow mask that hid the depth of my mind and heart. I was like a book with one cover folded over the dusty yellow pages of my life. Pages that were folded over, that were hidden, stained with the ink detailing everything that made me, that was me. That ink was my soul. That cover, my body, my mask. I grabbed my hairdryer and threw it at my reflection.

     I watched as the mirror shattered in front of me, the shards flying and reflecting light like tiny shooting stars. For some reason I felt more sorry for the mirror than I did myself. I fell back, hurt. Hurt because of me. I loathed, hated and despised myself. I was screaming, on the inside, for my thoughts to stop, please stop telling me how terrible everything was, how awful everything is. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. But my thoughts persisted, grew louder, screamed back at me.

     I decided I wanted out. I needed out, at least temporarily. I looked down at the broken, shattered mirror, and carefully stepped over it. I wanted to leave it there, in pieces. I felt that if the mirror stayed shattered, lying there on the floor, so would my image. I would never have to face myself again. I grabbed my coat and walked calmly through the door.

      It was snowing outside. I drew my coat in tighter as I wandered the streets. As I walked I looked down at my feet. I didn’t care who I was or where I was going. Sometimes I would stop and watch as the footprints I left behind me disappeared as the snow slowly blanketed them. I silently wished my life could be erased just like those footprints. I wondered if time was anything like the layers of snow covering my footsteps, if slowly my past would disappear under the layers of thoughts and experiences of the future. I deeply, passionately hoped so.

     I found myself in front of a bar. I’ve never drowned my sorrows away. Maybe now was a good time to start. I walked through the door, shuffling the snow off my boots as I stepped inside. The place wasn’t classy, far from it. It was shabby and the business was slow. It was perfect. I chose an empty stool at the bar, sitting down tentatively. The bartender looked up at me.

     “You want something?”

     “Uhm, yeah.. Anything that’ll get me drunk.”

     “ID please?”

     I patted my pockets, already knowing I’d left it home.

     “Uh,  just water I guess.”

     He smirked and slid a glass toward me. I centered it in front of me and left it, watching the condensation drip slowly off the cup, pooling on the counter. I guess I wouldn’t be drowning in anything but sorrow tonight. I wouldn’t try drinking again. I left slowly and silently, invisible to everyone but myself and God.

     I headed towards the main square in the city where I lived, avoiding eye contact with any passersby, who in turn avoided me. It was dim, bleak, and cold. I sat on a bench and watched the snow fall, forgetting to feel the ice landing on my face and hands as I lost myself in my thoughts.

     I couldn’t handle it. How much I had screwed up, how many terrible things I’d done. I was appalled and abhorred at the very thought of my faults. How did I get here?

     I looked down and saw the blood on my hands. It wasn’t my fault, I knew that. But the fact that I could never undo it, that I’d never, ever be the same, scared me. I blinked. The blood was gone, but its memory was still there. His memory.

     I choked as he crossed my thoughts again and shook my head. No. This wasn’t happening. I wasn’t going to think about it.

     I got up and walked, swiftly now, my legs carrying me in a definite direction. I was breathing hard when I finally made it to the church and quietly opened its doors. It was empty, all except for the old wooden pews and the Visage of Christ. I wasn’t a believer, not in salvation. But on this night, I prayed to whatever God was out there, words slipping quietly past my lips and into the empty, quiet universe around me. Wanting to have something to believe in, anything to believe in. I’ve been suffering, aching, hurting for so long. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed. Not since that day…

     I heard footsteps behind me, coming up the aisle. I looked up and around. It was then I saw the stranger. I smiled halfheartedly and turned back, bowing my head. I heard him sit on the pew across from me.

     “You praying?”
      I shook my head. I wasn’t willing to admit it, not to a stranger. Not to anybody. I turned to look at him again, this time examining him more closely. He wasn’t bad looking, but he looked about as happy as me. He caught my eye and smiled warily.

     “Do you believe in God?”

     I was caught off guard. He was so blunt and direct. I liked it.

     “I guess. You?”

     “I’m open to anything.” He said.

     We sat in silence, then. I looked back down at my lap, glancing at him from time to time. I found myself wondering why he was here, what he was going through. Who is this man?

     “What’s your name?” I said out loud.

     “Brendan. Brendan Pierce.” I almost grinned on the inside. The way he said it. Bond. James Bond.

     “Want to sit by me?”

     His eyes shifted to mine again, I watched as he examined my face. I felt slightly self conscious and surprised, I wasn’t usually this bold. I wondered what he was thinking.

     “Sure.” He said.

     We sat together. He seemed to be staring at the ceiling. I stared at the floor, trying not to let my memories interrupt what warmth I felt being around the stranger. I felt like we shared something. Almost. I was lost in the thought when he spoke again.

     “Why are you so sad?”

      I was shocked, staring up at him, awestruck. He was still gazing at the ceiling. Oh, he was bold.

      “Why are you?” I retorted.

      He snickered then, softly. It was a sad, cynical sound.

     “I’m sad,” He said, “because I am nobody, without anybody or anything.”

     I bobbed my head, acknowledging what he said. Again, his words surprised me. I wasn’t used to this kind of conversation. It was so… direct. I looked around, unable to find a decent place to direct my eyes. I decided to stare at the ceiling too.

     “So?” He questioned. “Why are you sad?”

     I gulped, telling myself I didn’t want to say it. But I did.

     “Because,” I glanced over at him and stared, “I killed someone.”

     His sharp intake of breath told me that he was finally the one to be surprised. He looked down at me, his features reading shock.

     “Self defense.” I added, feeling like it wasn’t decent justification.

     He nodded. I was glad when he didn’t say anything. It would’ve been awkward.

     We sat there for a long time. Hours in a strange, quiet peace. We sat together till the dawn came and the sun illuminated the church pews with color through the large, stained glass windows. Slowly it grew brighter and brighter. As the day progressed, people came in and out. We were left undisturbed.

     We shook hands as we parted ways, walking our own separate directions once again. I went home to my cold, empty apartment. I went into the bathroom and stared at the cracked and broken mirror. I felt a tinge of sadness. They were pretty, the shattered pieces on the sink, on the floor. I left them there and walked into the kitchen. I wasn’t hungry. I poured myself a glass of water from the fridge and turned on the tv.

     It was all so depressing. Everything. Nothing worked out for anybody. Ever. Success was a false thing. So was happiness. I had tried for years to obtain it, and I couldn’t. These thoughts led me back to my guilt and depression. I sunk into my old sorrows and regrets. That’s all life was, a never ending chain of regrets.

     I didn't hate myself, I hated him.

     No, there was some self loathing. I felt like it was still all my fault. I'd let him get to me, let him into my life. I should have known better, with the way he looked at me and the way he talked to me. I hadn’t been forceful enough when I told him to go away, to leave me alone. I wasn’t being careful enough when he found me alone and came at me. I wondered how it could have been different if I hadn’t been asking for it when I first met him, when I went by myself. Perhaps, if I’d gone to a different party. If I’d been on the other side of the room, even. But I didn’t, and I wasn’t. And because of that I suffered.

     The abuse had been terrible, frightening, a bad dream that I couldn't wake up from. Even after everything ended, all was not well. I was still living in the nightmare. I shunned it, shunned my thoughts, cringing on the inside whenever he crossed my mind.

     The police said it was in self defense. I didn't believe it for a second. I didn't want to believe it.

     But now he's dead. And it was my fault.

     As I listened to my thoughts whispering to me, to each other, I cried myself to sleep. Again.


     This is how it’s supposed to be.


      Is it? For the first time I found myself questioning the stream of voices that constantly ran through my mind. My thoughts as I woke up the next morning, alarm clock buzzing, back cramping as I rolled out of bed and pulled on my uniform. How is life supposed to be?

     It was another slow day at work. I got there early as usual, rubbing sleep away with the corner of my sleeve. I found that loosing myself in my work made time go faster. Talking to clients, smiling brilliantly, I felt like an actress, taking on a new role. It was such a charade. As I filed papers and cliental rep sheets I wondered if anybody really knew what reality was. I doubted it. Truth was too transitory.

     I didn’t go home after work. I never did. It was overcast and gloomy as I walked myself to the nearest park. I sat myself under a tree and looked around at anything and everything, tugging at the grass. I saw the ever present children at the playground. I had wanted kids, once upon a time. But I’d never found Mr. Right. I didn’t believe I ever would.

     Hours passed, and I sat there. I stared at the birds, and the trees, and the people who came by, contemplating what I might be missing. If I stopped thinking about my past, then perhaps I could look forward to the future. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. And so I laid back and stared at the sky, forgetting everything. Time eventually blurred. I liked it like this. It felt like my life was an eternity of nothing.

     I went to the church again, later in the evening. He was there again, Brendan. I flashed him a small smile and sat next to him. We talked more this time, about everything, sharing stories about our heartbroken pasts and our hope for a better future. He literally had no one. His wife had died, leaving him with no children. His family? Gone. He alone faced the world.

     I told him I’d be there for him.

     “You want something to eat?” He asked when the conversation lulled.


     The place was a regular fast food chain, but I was grateful. I hadn’t eaten in a while. Too long. He seemed amused as I gulped my burger and fries down. We sat after, on a bench by the street, counting the trolleys that went by. He made me laugh even, once or twice.

     We hugged goodbye. Before he walked away he told me he’d be at the church the next evening.

     I knew I’d be there.

     I walked home by myself, somehow feeling less alone. I walked up the stairs to my apartment and crashed into bed, letting myself really smile for the first time in years. My thoughts were finally quiet. When I woke up, hours later, I began to sweep up the shattered remnants of my mirror. I’d get a new one.

     Suddenly, I had hope.

© 2011 Albatross

Author's Note

I think sometimes what truly blocks us from personal happiness is ourselves... She was abused, and now she's her own victim.
Is the ending rushed? Any way I can fix her life story? I'm open to suggestions. Tell me what you think.

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I honestly don't know if the ending is rushed, or about tenseness, or any of that . . . in my experience, victims of abuse and trauma don't just shy away from the opposite sex and strangers, but from everyone--even their own family (especially their own family.) What I do know, however, is that the portrayal of guilt turning to hate turning to self-loathing and blaming yourself for other people hurting you is a horrid vicious cycle, one that feeds totally on itself and can be fatal--and you captured that accurately enough. It was very well done, I thought. Nice work :) The coolest thing is when you cross over from VICTIM to SURVIVOR, and you learn to live again. You just need to hang on with all your soul, and Life will come back! :)

Posted 13 Years Ago

i loved it! the ending was good its better a short story unless you want to make the writing more complex and yeah sure you can fix her life story but i think is good enpugh how it is

Posted 13 Years Ago

Other than a few issues with tense, this was really good. I especially liked the ending, I guess I do like the idea of hope a lot too...I became endeared to your characters even though this was only a short story...very well done. :)

Posted 13 Years Ago

"Sleep only helps me to escape into almost freedom"
I feel like i know exactly what you're saying here
I use sleep to hide from my nightmares, and i like the way you put it.
i love your writing its all really good

Posted 13 Years Ago

I like what you've put forth, but there are some parts that seem repetitious. Think the dialogue could be fleshed out more. People may reveal a great deal by the way they speak...

Posted 13 Years Ago

I don't think its rushed for a short story. If you wanted to draw it out, I could definitely see you doing that though. Showing more glimpses from her past, more of her hesitation to this new friend, more of everything. But you wrapped it all up very nicely. Great storytelling.

Posted 13 Years Ago

It is too concise and all way too neat, everything rolled up in a nice tidy package and a happily ever after scenario just does not fit someone who has just killed in self-defense and who was abused during the whole relationship. Mostly, women who have been like this don't even want to speak to men for long periods of time, so movements and only little nuances are all the relationship they will ever have unless.........she killed him on purpose and now.......she can start conversations, and ask him to sit by her........that is the real clue.....this woman is not afraid of anything. It would take a BOOK of just glances, just barely touching and not even a date to begin this new life and not all summed up in just a couple of paragraghs or moments. Ha Ha, anyway I liked it. Yes, ending is rushed.

Posted 13 Years Ago

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7 Reviews
Added on November 4, 2010
Last Updated on August 26, 2011
Tags: Trapped, Denial, Misery, Loathing, Freedom, Hope, Peace, Renewal




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