Chapter Five ~ Limbo

Chapter Five ~ Limbo

A Chapter by aubreydiamond

Today had gone from one of the toughest days ever to quite easily the worst day of my life.

Lazuli’s closed up early, but not for the right reasons; Carzel was beside himself. He slumped down into the nearest seat and bawled his eyes out. Juniper’s hands were clasped over her mouth; they were almost as pale her face. As for me, I was completely numb.

Luke was dead. The person I love. The person I'd shared so many memories and moments with. The person who gave me this tiny baby I didn't ask for and pulled all the heartstrings I didn't know I had was completely, utterly gone. It's not until you experience loss that you realise what grief really feels like. Hell.

My world was fractured in half. I didn't know what to think or do. My entire body was hot and I felt like I was going to pass out. I don't know how I was still alive. Luke was gone, and there was nothing I could do about it.

With my trembling hands I managed to pull my phone out and unlock the screen. Only moments ago, I had just sent him that text; expecting to get some sort of response at some point. It hadn't even been five minutes.

Delivered. It said beneath the green text bubble.

If I was supposed to cry or something, I couldn't. I couldn't do anything. Shock had overridden my entire body and was taking me to f*****g limbo. This was not a nice feeling.

Carzel leaned back into the seat and looked into the sky with red, puffy eyes. He'd practically just lost a brother. Someone he shared his childhood with. And the last time he’d seen Luke was on the island. I could feel the guilt emanating from him.

Juniper touched my shoulder. I couldn't even turn my head to look at her I was so lost. She began to rub my back and I could hear her quiet sobs.

How do you come back from something like this?

Luke,’ Juniper whispered.

None of us could find the strength to talk. For a while, we just sat in the courtyard and let our emotions play out. The sky was bright, but we were grey.

 

Eventually, Carzel’s mum came and picked him up. She had been the one who rung him on the phone and gave him the horrible news before he told us. When we saw her, she looked as broken as we were. She would have seen Luke grow up alongside her children and maybe even thought of him as one of her own. When she and Carzel saw each other they shared a long, heart-breaking hug that you only saw with souls at their weakest.

Before he left, Carzel came to give both Juniper and myself a hug too. We still hadn't spoken a word, and didn't as Carzel hopped in the car and drove home. What could we say?

Juniper had rung her mum and told her what had happened. Rose was held up for at least another half an hour but promised she’d be there to pick us both up and drop me home along the way as soon as she possibly could.

A whole half an hour of feeling like this.

‘Let’s go for a walk,’ Juniper said gently. She reached out to grab my hand which I had stowed in my pocket. I couldn't even move my arm out of my f*****g jeans. I started to well up, and just as I felt my knees buckle and my tears take over, Juniper leapt forward and caught me in one best-friend-swoop.

She held me so tight I couldn't help but erupt into uncontrollable sobs that I had never felt before. The delayed tears came out overwhelmingly quickly and for I-don’t-know-how-long we stood outside of Lazuli’s, holding each other. I don't think there is ever anything you can do to control yourself when you feel like this. You have to just let it out, which is simultaneously the most releasing and worst thing to experience.

Once I had managed to stand firmly on two feet, Juniper, who was holding my hand, lead me gently down the footpath. We walked at an incredibly slow speed towards the beach which was not far down the main road from Lazuli’s. I could see, hear and smell the oceans salty presence, beckoning me closer. I could've walked into the water and not come back at this stage, luckily Juniper was holding my hand so tight there was no way I could break her grip. She knew how much I needed support right now.

When the soft warm sand overflowed into my sandals, I couldn't help but slump down into it and look out to sea. Juniper knelt down next to me.

There was something about the ocean that made me feel like it understood my pain; a melancholy symphony of crashing waves and gusty winds on the surface, and a vast, open emptiness deeper within.

We didn't say much to one another. There still wasn't much to say. We just sat together, holding hands in support, letting the oceans energy wash over us. I could feel it working its magic, if only it could wipe my day completely.

I dragged my free hand through the sand, scooping up shells and debris around me, letting the sand drain between my fingers. A pale blue half-shell revealed itself in the palm of my hand with a few leftover grains of sand. Luke had always found shells and given them to me, this one was even his favourite colour. My windowsill back home was covered in the shells from here that he’d hand chosen himself. This was all too much.

‘You’re going to get through this,’ Juniper said gently, looking at me from the side. ‘And like I said, I'm going to be here behind you the whole way. Okay?’

I nodded in response. My voice was non-existent at this stage until further notice. She leaned over and gave me another sideways hug. It didn't matter how much or little Juniper showed affection; every single time she embraced me I could feel her love and warmth surrounding me in a big bubble. She had that warmth that some people just didn't have.

My phone buzzed in my lap. I looked down and saw a message banner light up the black screen.

[MUM:

Where are you???]

The screen went black again before I could even open the message, not that I wanted to. The sun was beginning to set, and I could almost hear the tone of my mother's voice just through her message. She liked me to be home in the evenings before it gets dark, so I was safe from any potential dangers... I think she forgot we lived in Raumu. I knew I'd be walking into the unknown once I got home. To be honest though I couldn't really care what she had to say. After the day I've had, nothing else could top off this s**t-sundae.

The half an hour we had together passed relatively quickly. The sun was only just visible over the moody evening horizon when the familiar sound of Rose’s station wagon motor rumbled its way behind us. By the time we had stood up, Rose was already on the beach with us helping me to my feet.

Her heavily ringed hand held me gently under my arm. She smelt of Kama perfume, and was wearing a long flowing dress with her long grey hair out behind her, and as always, was barefoot. She gave me an even more powerful hug than Juniper had given me. The art of hugging must've been hereditary with them; I broke down again in Rose’s bosom and let out whatever I had left in me.

Rose was my second mum. She always had been since I can remember. She was the most caring, understanding and supportive parent ever. I had to remind myself when I was younger that she was not actually my mother, no matter how much I wished she was. She had that maternal warmth that made you feel safe, secure, and loved. My mother should take notes.

‘Come on sweetheart,’ she said, and helped guide me back up the sand dune to the car, where she opened the door for me to let me in. She waited until I'd secured my seat belt before shutting the door and walking around to the driver’s seat.

My phone buzzed again as Juniper hopped in the passenger seat.

[MUM:

???]

I threw my phone down onto the seat beside me. I wasn't going to respond, just to piss her off more. This was going to make it worse for me later, but I didn't care.

‘Where too, Aroha?’ Rose asked me once she'd secure her own belt.

‘Australia,’ I half joked. ‘Home please.’ This was the last place I wanted to go, but the sooner I went the sooner I could shut myself away and try to end the day.

Rose pulled away from the beach and turned onto the main road. The sound of the ocean faded as we drove away, though I could still feel its charm on me; I had the blue shell clasped tightly in my fist.

Rose didn't ask us any questions on the whole drive home. She knew about Luke and I, so she knew what was going on inside my head. She kept glancing back in the rear-vision mirror to check on me. Junipers arm was stretched behind her seat so she could still rest her hand on my knee.

We turned down another side street, and then another, until we came onto Vale Road. It slowly ascended up a hill and dipped back down to the second half of the street. Raumu was practically one big grid; everywhere was accessible from everywhere, so it didn't matter which way you went. If you lived here for as long as most of the people here, you’d know the entire town like the back of your hand, and then some.

The station wagon came to a halt outside of number 17; a large pristine looking property with white walls, immaculate gardens and too much space for the one vehicle in the driveway. I had the misfortune of calling this my home. It had changed significantly since my childhood, but this was the same house I was born in. I remember how it used to be; colourful and charming, with lots of character.  Not any more though. “Progress for progress’ sake”, my mother would assure me.

It took me a few moments to gather my thoughts enough to take my own seatbelt off and get out of the car. I edged around the back of the car to the driver’s window, which Rose had rolled down and was leaning out of.

‘Now,’ she said softly. ‘If you need anything, anything at all, just give June a ring. I can always come back and pick you up if you need somewhere else to stay. Okay?’ Rose was well aware of the relationship I have with my mother. She and Rose had come head to head once before…

‘Thank you so much, Rose,’ I said. My voice cracked from inactivity. She smiled half-heartedly at me, knowing that I was not myself.

‘Text me,’ Juniper said through the window.

‘I will.’

And with that, they drove off, heading back to their beautiful little cottage of a home, snug and filled with good vibes. I could see Juniper’s silhouette waving at me until the wagon had turned the corner and disappeared out of sight.

I turned on the spot, and made my way up the driveway to the stone steps that lead to the front door. Passing my mother’s stupidly clean, bright red wagon. I began to climb the steps, and I could feel my heart rate increasing as I neared the front door. Fumbling for my keys that were in one of my pockets, I pushed the skinniest silver key into the lock and turned it. The door opened.

I met the long, bare, white hallway that welcomed you as you entered. It frustrated me how unwelcoming it felt.

I stepped over the threshold and took my sandals off on the small square patch of linoleum where guests were encouraged to leave their shoes. I chucked them right next to my mum’s heels, releasing stray sand as they hit the ground. Knowing it'd piss her off there was sand in the house, I left them where they were and walked down the hallway.

The hallway turned right in a large L shape and continued on to a bedroom and a bathroom. Built in the corner of the L was a staircase spiralling in square-shapes leading to the upstairs guest room, study and my bedroom. To the left, a door less archway lead to the kitchen, dining room and lounge. I could hear clattering about and movement from beyond the arch. I wanted more than anything to bolt upstairs and barricade myself in my room. But that was just asking for confrontation I was not in the mood for.

The kitchen and lounge were both bare of activity as I stepped through the archway. The three rooms were essentially built as one long open space, and typically, the furniture and style of everything matched so horribly, it made everything feel sterile and appear almost gray-scale, bar a few plants. It was funny to think in this very space I popped into the world. God, I can't think about babies right now.

‘Hello, dear.’ I looked at the far end of the room and could see in the study, with her back turned to me, my mother, shuffling her paperwork and typing on her laptop simultaneously.

‘How’re you feeling?’ She said with her back still turned to me. I didn't know what to say to her. How was I feeling about… Luke? The baby? How could she have possibly known about either of those things? My heart had taken up its new favourite place in the back of my throat. I was sick of this feeling.

‘Yeah, yeah, I can imagine.’ She said finally after silence, but I didn't click until she realised I was standing behind her. She swivelled on her desk chair and looked at me with a stern look of surprise and annoyance. I could see her furrowed brows beneath her aggressively straight fringe, which was the deep rich red of a supermarket hair dye, and fell to an ugly bob above her shoulders. Though she was at home, she was still wearing her office attire which made up 99% of her closet. She has a tendency to bring her work home with her. That was when I noticed the Bluetooth headset she was speaking through.

‘No, don't worry about that Donna,’ she continued, brandishing her long index finger signalling me to wait a moment. I hated the way she treated me like a colleague at the office. ‘Just have him email me the photocopied forms and I'll make sure they’re signed and processed by the morning. Oh, it's no trouble - truly!’

My mum had always been my primary caregiver as my dad removed himself from the picture when I was very little. Though it was just me and her, it didn't mean we had the greatest relationship. My mum worked in a law office and was too busy worrying about contracts and meetings than being, what I would call, a proper mother. Sure she was always there, always looking out for me, and gave me a roof over my head and all that crap, but none of that gave her the ability to see me as person with my own thoughts and feelings. I'm a product of hers that she wants to helicopter at all times in order for me to succeed. She's going to be in for a rude awakening…

‘Okay… alright… you too, Donna.’ She finished the phone call, pressed a button on the Bluetooth ear piece, brandishing an almond shaped dark blue nail, and took the device out of her ear. She turned to me.

She gestured her hands outwards while shaking her head. I f*****g hate the way she does this.

‘You could've texted me back?’ She snapped.

‘I was with Juniper,’ I said coldly. I know she still didn't know what had happened, but I was in no mood to have this kind of argument now.

‘Of course. I'm a mind reader, I just know these things without explanation. Seriously, Aroha. We’re almost a month into the New Year and you haven't even been putting in the time to prepare for your next term! You're gallivanting all over the town with that shoe-less girl having a great time, meanwhile I'm worrying myself sick as to where you are?’

Right. So worried you couldn't let Donna ring you back.

‘School doesn't start for another three weeks,’ I said ignoring the second half of her ramble.

‘Yes I know,’ she indicated her eyes to a plain, boring calendar pinned to the wall. The word ‘school’ was written in black ink and circled three rows beneath today's date. ‘It's been seven weeks of break and you've done nothing to set yourself up for this year, other than hang out with your friends, who do nothing but distract you! I don't even want to know what kind of things they get up to.’

She was on some thin ice.

‘It's my final year this year. I'm pretty used to what's to come.’ I managed to say. I could feel anger flooding back in. She was making it too easy.

‘Right,’ she said almost sounding amused. ‘I forgot you were an expert at life. You know, I always took you as the girl who liked to take her schooling seriously.’

‘I am.’ I think.

‘Then what are you doing? Wasting valuable time!’ She threw her hands up in the air as if she was giving up.

‘I've just had… things going on,’ I said. Apart of me wanted to tell her, just to see her face. The other part of me couldn't bring myself to say the words ‘I’m pregnant’ to her. She'd have me booked into the clinic before I had a chance to finish my sentence. I wasn't ready to think about that side of things just yet. I've had enough for one day.

‘Like what?’ She snapped. Her hands were on her hips and her lips were pursed very tightly together so that her dark lipstick wasn’t visible. This was the look that triggered me the most. ‘Not that drop-kick of a boyfriend you've been holding onto, is it? Honestly Aroha, he was trouble from day one! The fact he left without a word says it all for me. I never trusted him, not around our house. You're better off without him. He's probably getting into drugs or something.’

C**t.

Her viciousness was so familiar I'd learnt to be numb to it. But whatever kind of resilience I had built myself over the years had been destroyed and obliterated today. I was too weak for this, I couldn't defend myself nor could I bring myself to tell her the whole truth. I started to cry again. She looked a bit taken aback that I'd broken down. She was never one to accept tears, in fact it always made her uncomfortable because she never had time for the full spectrum of human emotions. But I'd never cried in front of her like this.

‘Great, now I’m the bad guy.’ She said, slumping down into her desk chair with her fingertips on her forehead.

He’s dead,’ I whispered.

‘W- What?’

‘HE’S DEAD!’ I screamed.

She went ghostly white. Today was a day of many firsts, as I'd never raised my voice like that at her. It felt good, but also horrible. Her bottom lip trembled as she tried to find the words that she didn't have. But she didn't need to say anything; it was written all over her face.

‘He died,’ I continued, ‘I found out probably an hour ago. I don't know how, but he's dead. And I never got to say goodbye. So thank you very much for topping the f*****g day off, PAULA!

She clasped her hand to her chest. She hated swearing, but not as much as she hated me using her first name, which made it even more satisfying to say.

She looked like she was trying to say something, before she closed her mouth and looked away. I shook my head at the woman who brought me into the world. She couldn't even apologise, she was too far up her own a*s to. This was our relationship in a nut shell. I didn't want to share my life with her because of how nasty and vindictive she is, yet because she's my mother she still expects me to cater to her every demand and divulge my entire life to her on a silver platter.

But I'm 18 now. I’m far more mature than half the people my own age, but even that's not enough for her. She still sees little Aroha who wants to grow up to be a teacher, and buy a big house and have make lots of money. I don't even know what I want anymore. But clearly I was getting nothing from her.

Still sitting in her chair, not facing me, she twiddled with her thumbs in silence. Almost waiting for me to apologise to her. But I turned on the spot and made my way for the stairs.

‘Aroha-’ she called out after me. I happily ignored her, and jumped up the staircase missing a few steps with each leap. In no time I'd made it into my room and slammed my door shut behind me hard enough so that she would have felt it from the study.

My room was probably the most colourful part of the house. I'd been allowed to choose the colour of the walls when mum was having everything re-designed. I'd chosen a nice mauve because she didn't let me have the bright violet I'd initially wanted. But I guess it wasn't grey.

I had a bed, my chest of drawers, a desk with my laptop and last year’s school books sitting on top. I even had my own en-suite. A few posters were stuck to the wall of a few music artists I liked: Estelle, Lianne La Havas, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, all annotated with notes and doodles I'd collected from friends over the years. And though I had all of these personal belongings and they'd been there for years, I'd never felt like such a stranger in my own room.

I'd been looking forward to getting home and being able to hide myself away in my own space. But now that I'm here, it hit me how different everything feels. I don't feel like myself anymore, and I certainly am not who I thought I once was.

The old me would have been focusing on what I wanted to achieve this year, and would have started making them happen. The old me would have happily turned down the island party because I would've been too nervous that mum would've found out I'd lied when I said I was staying at Junipers. The old me would have said no to Luke when he came closer to me that night and took my clothes off… But I didn't. And look where we are now.

I collapsed onto my bed and stared at the ceiling. I wasn't even thinking, just staring into space. It was nice not to be plagued by my own thoughts and emotions. Who knew I could feel so many things in one day.

My phone buzzed from my pocket. When I grabbed it and saw Juniper’s text come through, I opened it immediately, ignoring mums unopened texts beneath it.

 

[BERRY:

Hey Hun, you okay? Thinking about you xx sending all my love and light! Just found out from Carzel that Luke’s funeral is going to be on Thursday at McClean gardens. We can pick you up if you like? Don't have to answer me now, just thought I ought to let you know. Love you heaps my bestie xxxxxxxxxx]

 

‘I love you too my bestie,’ I whispered out loud to myself. I didn't have the energy to reply, but I knew Juniper would have known how exhausted I was.

Without much more procrastination, I began to strip my clothes off and kicked them into laundry hamper on the other side of my bed. I walked into the en-suite and jumped in the shower, letting the hot steamy water wash away the bullshit.

The shower was probably the highlight of my day. It didn't make me feel any less fucked up but it definitely tired me out enough so that I was ready to sleep.

Once I'd hopped out I looked at my naked body in the mirror on its side. Although my stomach wasn't any bigger than normal, over the next nine months it would only continue to grow. I remember watching a reality show about young mums-to-be and seeing their excited faces when they found out they were pregnant, only to share the emotional excitement with their mothers and fathers who were over the moon to discover they were about to become grandparents.

But not me. I looked exactly like I felt; s**t. I had heavy, dark bags under my eyes and my normal dark skin was still as pale as it was back at Lazuli’s. Not to mention my mother downstairs who would have taken the news of grandparent-hood as a death sentence. No, this was much more than that, because I still hadn't decided what I was going to do from here.

I wasn't making any decisions tonight though. I was far too drained. I turned the bathroom light off and walked over to my bed. But just before I hopped into bed, I noticed the light blue shell sitting beside my dirty clothes.

I picked it up and spun it in my hands. It had a fracture running from the top all the way down the middle, and as I twirled it, it snapped into two.

I could have put it on my windowsill with all the others, but instead I placed it on my bedside table, right beneath a silly acrostic poem that Luke had written me a few months ago. It was the last thing he ever made me.

 

To my favourite person:

 

A mazing

R adient                      

O ptimistic

H eavenly

A ngelic

 It's near dawn, and I've found my sunrise.

       - Luke x

 

I read it a few times, letting a final tear stream from my face and soak into my pillow. It didn't take long at all before my eyes became too heavy to open and I felt my deep breaths drift me off to the dream world. 

I’d had enough shock and heartbreak for one day.

 



© 2019 aubreydiamond


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Added on January 31, 2019
Last Updated on March 5, 2019
Tags: drama, young adult, pregnancy, coming of age, fiction, life, death, love, birth, teenage, comedy, baby, friends, family, murder, drugs, swearing, course language, aroha


Author

aubreydiamond
aubreydiamond

New Zealand



About
I come in peace! My name is Aubrey, I’ve been a creative witch for as long as I can remember. Writing, drawing and all of the creative outlets have been my source of magic since I could craf.. more..

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