Chapter 1 - Part 2 Choices

Chapter 1 - Part 2 Choices

A Chapter by C. Rose

Struggling in the arms of life's torture, Pearl has to decide how to get control back of her life.


I had watched two people I loved die in front of me in my short time on this world and I was now witnessing my own living death. I sat in my small apartment sleepless night after night staring into the mirror. My eyes were vacant, shallow of all color and void of any emotions. I was entranced by my appearance, gaunt and pale, I looked like my mother as she approached the end of her life. The image so jarring that I became frightened and tried to focus a real effort to feel once again. It was then that my gaze turned from my invidious image to the antique vanity table I was sitting at. It was one of the only items I brought back from Ireland with me, a special gift from Sully's mother after his death and I promised to always keep it safe. I began cascading my eyes along the intricate carvings in the dark wood and the delicate angles of each joint and edge. The details were dancing before me as if I was being born into a new light. The drawer pulls, carved from mother of pearl, felt cool against my fingers as I caressed them gently allowing my skin to feel the sensation of their smooth sheen. I sat for a moment with my hand tense against the hardware and then I slowly inched more pressure and watch the drawer slowly open to reveal Sully, looking up at me with that mesmerizing smile. I never knew of the existence of this picture, likely placed for me to find by his mother, I was not ready to see it before that moment. I first left it in the drawer, only daring to touch with the smallest hint of my fingertip. Unable to resist smiling in his image, I gathered him from the drawer and placed him against the mirror over the vanity. I felt myself breath a sigh of relief to feel him around me once again and began talking to him for hours. I talked about how sad and angry I was. I yelled at him for even interfering with those fools in the first place. I said all the things I was robbed of that night and as the sun rose and pushed its warm beams through my window, I was peaceful. By no means was I over my loss, but I knew that he would want me to live my life, live without fear.

I started trying to get back into writing by taking odd freelancing jobs and a weekly magazine column that was on an "as needed option" basis. My writing was still lacking the passion I used to try to capture. Most of the freelance jobs were technical writing and my newspaper column was called the "Cheesemonger Persuasion" and featured different types of cheese that I would describe and recommend as meal and wine companions. Cheese seems to be an odd passion, but it was always one of mine and I needed any passion I could cling onto to keep myself from sinking back into the abyss I was so desperately trying to escape. I was making enough to live on my own, barely, but it was far better to live in my little studio than with my aunt any longer. My life was mediocre at best, I spent my nights trying to write, but mainly sat and stared at the picture of Sully. I never cried anymore, I just did not have any tears left, but my heart endured an unbearable ache. As time sped along that unforgiving path I tried to move forward a little each day. I held onto all the good times I shared with Sully, no matter how cliche it seemed. I could pull those memories from my minds eye and relive them every night, feeling the joy of his laugh and the warmth of his embrace. I felt as if I would just try and get through the rest of my time here until I could move into wherever it was that Sully would be waiting, but life had very different plans for me and I would discover that one autumn morning in Chicago.

I enjoyed the city in the fall and tried to accept the success of little motivations that kept me actively out in the world. The last of the summer's humidity was beginning to trail into a brisk breeze that reminded me of the shorelines of Ireland. I was walking to the offices of the magazine editor I published my cheese articles with to make a new submission of a tasty Gruyère and hopefully talk my way into a more concrete contract. I practiced my talking points and checked my appearance in the stainless steel elevator doors, before making my way to the seventh floor. Confirming my arrival with a ding and soft rumble, the doors of the elevator opened and I was amidst a flurry of activity. Trying to obtain directions from random employees bustling about the maze of cubicle walls, I finally made my way to the office of my editor, Paul McClellan.

"Pearl, come on in and have a seat." he said as he quickly ended a call at his desk. "I'll have to call you back." he said as the receiver was almost hung up. "We loved your article submission Pearl, you have become a nice addition to the magazine. Are you focusing on any other work at the moment?" he inquired.

"Just some freelance stuff, mostly technical really." I responded. I knew I couldn't come across as desperate for this contract so I tried my best to play it cool, although I don't think the death grip I had on my shoulder bag was sending a very convincing sense of calm.

"Well we may have something more permanent if your interested. Would you like some coffee or tea?" he asked as I finally released my grip and set my bag and coat on the chair beside me.

"I would love coffee, thank you. Just cream, no sugar." I requested as I looked around his office. It was more of a view than an office. The brilliance of Chicago architecture never ceased to amaze me. I starred at it's beauty not really listening to anything Paul was telling me as he was pouring my beverage.

"Pearl? What do you think?" he asked curiously, assuring me that he realized I was not paying attention.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I was taken by the view you have. I must of let my mind go somewhere else." I apologized hoping he would forgive my transgression and restate the offer.

"Ah, yes. I guess that is what I deserve for leaving the blinds open when a writer visits. You all do tend to have a way of drifting off into your own worlds. As I was saying, I would like to offer you a contract to write weekly for the magazine. We like the direction you have taken the column thus far and feel we can turn it into a good relationship. I can cover all the terms with you, but I wanted to gauge your interest first." he said ensuring my victory at this meeting was in hand.

I agreed and we discussed terms and details of the contract. It was enough to upgrade my lifestyle somewhat, at least I could afford a place that didn't have a bed in the middle of the living room anymore. This was the sad part of life now for me, every time something good happened to me I wanted to share it with Sully, but couldn't. It left even joyous occasions empty and pointless. I tried to muster up the celebration I deserved with this accomplishment and agreed to attend an event that was being hosted by the magazine that night. With every step I took after leaving the meeting I began to dread the event more and more. What was I thinking? This was the worst way to step back into the world. I hated these environments, the mingling of those trying to get above those currently reigning above them was unbearable. No one ever seemed genuine or real and I knew it would likely be a wretched display to endure, but I made my commitment and I would attend. I decided to buy a new dress since it was a black tie affair and bought the first dress I tried on to get out of the store, filled with gushing beauties,,as quickly as I could. I didn't care what I picked as long as it fit, it did not matter. Tonight I would just wear my mask and make a star appearance in my story.

I arrived at the same time as Paul and he happily escorted me inside the event. I found a corner table by the bar to hide at for the rest of the evening. From time to time Paul would bring editors and other staff by to introduce me as a new writer and the conversations were that of generalities. I sat and wondered that night why people talk about the weather when they are uncomfortable to speak about anything else. I instinctively reached to my side to start writing my thoughts about it in my journal when I realized that I hadn't carried it with me since I left Ireland. It was almost a year since Sully's death, it was almost a year since I had written my scribbles in that journal, it was almost a year. I watched the party goers move around the room interlacing conversation with the occasional dance or toast. Most didn't seem to carry a ounce of pain or worry in their eyes. Beaming with hopeful ambition and ignorant conformance in the plight of success. I wondered if any of them felt anything or if their spirits were as vacant as I felt. I thought about the last year without Sully and how my eyes must speak incredible anguish. What would become of me? I had only dealt with this hell and torment for just a year, how could I take a lifetime of this pain? It was then that time interrupted my angry plea and once again introduced a new branch to the ever twisted path time was determined to travel.

"Pearl" Paul called my attention as he and another gentleman approached. "I hope you are enjoying yourself, I wanted to introduce to you Fisher Tenson."

A man approached that was of obvious wealth. He was adorned in an elegant tuxedo and was fairly simple in attire except for the flash of his ruby cuff links, glistening in the lights as he reached to greet my hand. He was well groomed and likely what most women would consider handsome and term a "catch". I didn't see men under the terms of attraction as I once did, but was charmed by his amiable demeanor.

"Nice to meet you, I read your column whenever I can and was happy to hear you will be writing for the magazine full time. Congratulations on your success." he commented as he greeted me with a gentle kiss to my hand.

"Yes thank you, it is nice to meet you." I replied thinking how refreshing it was to greet in such an old fashioned manner, it was endearing and it made me smile. It was a genuine smile, it felt like an eternity since I felt the corners of my mouth raise out of instinct and for that I was happy to entertain his company for a time.

Fisher spent most of the evening sitting at the table occupying my attention with conversation. He was an architect and loved to talk about his inspirations for the buildings he has designed. It was nice to spend time with another artist. It had been so long since I spent time with someone with passion and creative drive. For the first time since that fateful night I wasn't reminded of Sully or re-discovering the pain in a new form, for the first time I was sharing time with another person and I was completely in that moment. I knew that these were the times I needed to embrace, as the misery that filled me was sure to find a way to creep back in.

The days following that night Fisher pursued me with vigor. I was receiving flowers, cards, chocolates and large amount of phone calls all including dinner invitations. I declined repeatedly until that evening, when I walked home from the market to find him sitting on my doorstep.

"Good evening Pearl." Fisher said as he stood to greet me. He looked nervous, like a young man about to make his first entry into the world of love and courtship.

"Good evening Fisher." I replied. "What has you here this evening?" I asked knowing the answer already.

"Why simply you Pearl. It would appear you are my motivation for most things these days." he commented as he took the bags from my arms.

"That is very sweet Fisher, but I am just not..." he interrupted, "Pearl, I am only asking for one dinner. We can just do that can we not?" he asked with the most pleading of looks in his eyes and I could not refuse.

Fisher took me out that evening for dinner and a few drinks and I actually enjoyed myself. I knew that I would never feel the way I did in Dublin and maybe the acceptance of that became easier with Fisher around. It is hard to feel bad when someone tries so hard to make you happy. We continued to see each other in the proceeding months, it was not an epic romance, but I wasn't expecting it to be,unfortunately Fisher was. My life now spinning in the difficult complication that was fueled by Fisher's desire to have me love him the way he loved me. It is an odd thing, the way the heart loves. I believe that we often think we can somehow control love with our minds, but I knew that my heart was connected to another and no amount of logic, discussion, effort or even time would ever break that connection. My absence from the kind of love and emotion that Fisher desired from me placed a tremendous amount of pain on him. I cannot even look back and blame him for his anger or even rage, I knew the pain of not receiving what is so desperately desired. I understood his anger, I had felt the same rage flow through me without pause since the moment Sully was struck dead. I watched as he became obsessed with our obvious disconnection and struggled to understand how to break into my heart. Time again flowed like a river taking me along it's current without regard to the debris being demolished in it's path. I watched as Fisher went from gentle and kind to bitter and demented. It was saddening to watch this happen and I knew that I could not provide what he wanted from me, that I could not feel the intense embrace of love anymore. It was a year ago today that the breaking point of this strain would surface, collapsing everything like a house of cards and time would once again demand my attention.

I knew I had to end it with Fisher, but I could never get the courage to speak to him about our troubles. I was scared of Fisher now, he was obsessed with earning my affection and it was turning into an ugly display of vexation. It was a typical evening at his home, Fisher already drinking to mask his pain, myself trying to keep the topic of conversation light and pleasant.

"So Paul was telling me you are going to start writing a weekly column on architecture Fisher. I think that is great." I complimented.

"Well maybe if I can become a writer you will start to open your cold heart to me." he said with a rough scratch in his voice, pouring more whiskey into his glass. "God knows nothing else I have ever done for you has worked." he mumbled staring at the counter as if he was trying to pierce it through with his gaze.

"Fisher, please." I quietly pleaded. "I think maybe I should go." I moved for my coat and bag, purposely kept close to my side.

"Your not going anywhere!" he declared as he moved to block my exit.

I was more frightened looking into the depths of his eyes that night than I ever had been of Fisher. He looked haunted, unwilling to dwell in the pools of ration and sensibility, ready to unleash his fierce anger on me. I tried to stay calm and determine the best way to safely get away from him and foolishly played a game of trickery to gain my exit. I dropped my bag and coat from my hand to the floor and brought my hands up to Fisher's face. I stroked my fingers against his cheeks and gently pressed my lips to his. He must have felt my tension and immediately called out my masquerade.

"If you are going to kiss me then you had better kiss me." he said in an angered whisper.

The room was silent for only a brief moment and in that second of silence I became very aware of the danger I was now facing. My deception had certainly backfired and Fisher was now a man possessed. I knew there was no amount of reason that would end this situation and made a quick move to grab my things resting at my feet. Fisher grabbed me by my arms, moving me across the hall in a struggle and threw me to the couch. I felt his body slam against mine, using his strength to overpower my limbs and pin me into submission. He used his legs to try and spread my thighs apart as he struggled to hold my arms still. I felt his slobber on my skin, a sense of cold as his panting breath passed against it. I knew what was about to happen. I knew that right now in this moment this man was going to rape me. Time cruelly began to move like molasses, as I felt him tear at my clothes, exposing my skin, anger began to fill me like warm liquid. I decided then and there that I would not be a victim of this, Sully would want me to fight. So I took all the strength I could gather and began to fight. My arms and legs started swinging wildly in an attempt to hit any and every crucial area on him I could, while trying to free myself from his grasp. Never skilled in any type of combat and prone to prefer the peaceful solutions in life, I was amazed at my own vehemence as I felt each one of my blows striking him in objection to this violation. My fury must have been unexpected as I could feel his grip on my arms lesson and I knew it was my chance to get away. I made a final blow with all my might to his groin and he began moaning, curled in pain. I crawled for my coat and bag and ran to the door. My escape was victorious and I ran as fast as I could home without ever looking back to see if he was in pursuit.

When I arrived back at my apartment I was shaking from a mix of fear and adrenalin. I could barely latch the lock and swipe the chain on the front door, still unable to fathom what had just occurred. It was an odd mix of emotions I experienced as I sat on my couch trying and calm down. I was horrified, scared, angry, disappointed, and proud at the same time and it made me miss when I couldn't feel anything at all. I fought with assuming the blame for Fisher's madness. I fought with the guilt of turning him into a beast. As I allowed my mind to glide through the warped reality I was drifting in I found solitude in my strength. I found solitude in the truth that Fisher was responsible for his torment, it was not my blame to hold. I took refuge in the history of honesty that I had always given him. There was only the grace of knowing that I saved myself, no one needed to do it for me, when the time came and I was threatened I found the way to save myself and with that conclusion I turned to see the sun rising above the Chicago skyline, beaming a small light onto the table in front of me. The small strand of light coaxed me from my trance and my only focus was on what I needed to do next to keep myself safe. I debated on going to the police, but after all I had made my escape without any injury and I felt at that point calling the police would only exacerbate the tension rather than correct any behavior Fisher displayed. This was for him to live with, this was his burden to carry. I knew he was not a criminal, only driven mad by love and with time, I hoped in my absence he would heal, like I was never able to. I assigned my freedom from the issue and moved my thoughts towards the logistics of living in the same city as Fisher, embracing the clear moment of pragmatic energy that now took control. Chicago was, of course, large enough of a city to get lost in, but when someone violates you in this way I don't think any city is large enough. I knew that Fisher and I would see each other at the magazine, where we both were writing weekly columns. I knew that I would have to see Paul who would inevitably try and aide in a some sort of discussion between Fisher and I. In the presence of that beam of new day's light, I made the decision to leave Chicago and try and regain some happiness in my life. I quickly started moving about my apartment, excited with the thought of being so cavalier in life. I tossed some of my clothes into a suitcase and loaded a shoulder bag with my journal, two favorite books and the picture of Sully. I stood before the vanity that was given to me by Sully's mother, Mrs. Sullivan, I knew how upset she would be if it didn't stay with me. It was the hardest thing to leave behind, but I could not realistically make my trip with a large piece of furniture. I decided to leave a note with my landlord with the final month's rent to save it for me in storage and I would send for it as soon as I was settled. It was a long shot that I would ever see it again, but I felt better knowing that at the very least I was doing what I could to keep it.

I took a final look at the picture of Sully. I did not know what I was heading into or even where, but I knew that as long as I had Sully by my heart I would be okay. With the last of my things packed and on my shoulder, I headed into a new horizon, a new time in my journey. I was suddenly in the chill of the morning fall air. I made my way to the closest bustling intersection, the entire time telling myself not to look back, fearful if I did I would never leave. Now lost in the myriad of business men and women hurrying to start their day, I flagged down a cab and with a grunt and screech of the dirty, marred taxi I was off to the train station leaving behind only a cloud of exhaust along with my past.

© 2011 C. Rose

Author's Note

C. Rose
New edits *2/2011*

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To go from a great relationship to a horrid one is a hard thing to endure. The want and need to escape can be overwhelming. You displayed it beautifully in the chapter. Brilliantly written.

Posted 12 Years Ago

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Added on July 6, 2010
Last Updated on February 15, 2011


C. Rose
C. Rose

Albuquerque, NM

I am a poet and writer that pens under the bohemian dogma; "Truth, Love, Beauty and Freedom" and believe any form of expression is precious. I am a thirty something, living in the American Southwest .. more..

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A Poem by C. Rose