The End (Final draft)

Keri felt the air being siphoned from her lungs, swallowing she tried to breathe. Her head pounded as her efforts to filter out the background noise failed. The pain was the stinging kind  you feel when something smacks you in the face. It even made her nose tingle. It was a surprise, so unexpected. The day had started out so great.  She closed her eyes and willed it all to just stop, but the voice booming somewhere in the background was relentless. He was on one of his tirades about the way she’d looked when he’d said something or her tone of voice when she answered. She couldn’t remember. She didn’t even know if she knew. She usually didn’t. She would just apologize and even more recently, just leave. But she couldn’t today. They were in the car, and like so many other times, she just had to take it. And it would probably blow over, and she’d forgive him, and they’d pretend it never happened.  She used to believe with all of her heart it wouldn’t, but now she had no doubt that it would. She pressed her forehead against the cold glass and stared out at all the other cars and wondered why everyone looked so happy.

sad rain on window

At first, she’d yelled back but realized that she couldn’t make him hear her.  There were no blows. Nothing physical about it, except for maybe when he yanked her arm. But that was not the pain she was feeling now. It was the humiliation and the shame. It happened more often, and lasted longer lately, and it exhausted her.

 couple fighting in car

They’d been driving. It was a beautiful rainy morning. The drops tapped lightly above them as they’d lay on the floor reading the Sunday paper and ended up making love right there, on top of the funnies. Jack suggested that they go to Polly’s for breakfast. So they jumped in the car and headed to the beach. They’d just been laughing minutes before. And then like a ball in her face, things turned. Jack’s anger came out of no where.  She’d learned lately that it didn’t have to take much. She used to blame herself because she didn’t know how to help him. She wanted to love him out of his pain. She even tried to make him believe that she loved him more than anyone in her life. She believed it. But, slowly she realized that it was not true. She did love someone more. Though he’d tried with all of his might to make her believe otherwise, she finally knew that she loved herself more. Enough to get out.

women writing at desk

Keri clicked the period. And stared at the screen of the last page of her book.  It was complete. She looked out the window massaging her neck absent mindly staring into space, still back decades, remembering. She’d thought that finishing her novel would feel different but it was anticlimactic. She forced her eyes to focus back on the screen and scrolled to the last chapter and reread it. She sighed. She was satisfied, after a few false endings, it was definitely a wrap.

This book had been a surprise in her life and much harder to write than she’d ever imagined. But she knew that she needed to tell her story.  Not just for all the young girls out there that needed to be educated about abuse, but for her own closure. So much had happened in-between sitting down to write the first page and today. But she had no doubt about what she had to do next..

She found her editor’s address, attached her book, clicked on the file, and pushed SEND.

type the end

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#59 That’s When I Began To Understand You Were Someone In My past That Taught Me Love Doesn’t Last

 crying quote

 

I’ve cried all the tears I’m going to cry,

for a while I thought that I would die.

My pain scared me, it hurt so much.           

I finally knew I’d had enough.

You took everything   I had to give

And then left me broken just like this

holding my heart in my hands

that’s when I  began  to understand

You were going to be someone in my past

that taught me;  forever  doesn’t last.        

And that promises are all just lies…

and  even true love sometimes dies.

Keri London

1977

#57 The Beginning of the End… Happy New Year

 

pie crust2

 

Dear Journal,

We planned our party for the night after New Years Eve.  I told my parents that I had to get ready for the party that we were having the next day and I didn’t want to drive home with all of the drunks and they actually were okay with me staying at Jack’s.  He came and picked me up and brought me over to his place and we stayed up late enough to welcome in the New Year all by ourselves instead of going out to one of the parties we were invited to, cuz Jack wanted it that way. We kissed at midnight and started messing around all the way to bed and welcomed in the new year some more.

young happy couple

 

In the morning, it was overcast and looked as if it might rain.  I got up early and Jack rolled over and said that he was going to take down the Christmas lights. I really didn’t want him to because he’d already taken down the tree the day after Christmas and he knew I wanted it up for the party. So when he mentioned the lights I asked him if he could just wait until after the party because I wanted it to still look at least a little  festive.  But he refused it was as if he wanted to take away any signs of it having been Christmas.  And so our morning didn’t start out too great.

arguing couples

I know that he is still dealing with stuff about his mom this time of year, so I tried to be understanding but I must say that I was not happy that he wouldn’t wait just one day since he knew that it was important to me for our house to look pretty for the party. It was just the wrong day to take on that project! Especially since we talked about our list of things we needed to get done before the party and taking down the Christmas lights was not one of them.  I needed him to help me with so many  other things and I knew that it was going to take all morning to just do that. But you know how stubborn he is, so he got the ladder out and climbed up on the roof and did what he wanted.

Christmas lights ladder2

 I got dressed and started baking. I’d planned on making a few pies and some horderves for the party. Pie crusts are kind of touchy, if you knead them too much, they get tough. If you let them sit too long they get crumbly and you have to start all over again.  I have to admit I was already frustrated but I really did try to snap out of it because I knew that it would not end well if I stayed mad. I never seem to win our fights. I heard Jack swearing on top of the roof and for whatever reason, he needed my help. Though he put them up all by himself. He called me up there twice. The first time I went up and handed him something and tried to be pleasant and willing about it, but just as I was ready to roll the dough out for the second pie,  he called me again.

ROLLING DOUGH

This time I called back and told him to hold on. I was so surprised when he snapped at me and yelled “NOW!”  I didn’t like his tone of voice and had not heard it since that horrible day at the glider port over a year earlier. I wasn’t too happy as I climbed up the ladder and saw him untangling the strings of lights. I  asked him to please hurry so that my dough wouldn’t get ruined and he threw them at me and told me to untangle them.

Christmas lightsAnd before I could object, he lost it. He got mad and told me that he didn’t want to have the dumb party anyway, how it was all my idea and “my party” and that I was “using” him to play house in “his” house. Those words really hurt. Especially the part about it being his house.  After he put the ladder away, and did whatever he did with the string of light I left lying on the walkway,  he came in and saw that I was crying and got even more upset at me. I’d already made one pie crust perfectly before he called me up. But the second time, I left the last one  in a ball and it felt too dried out when I started rolling it.

dough balll

Everything kept crumbling and falling apart. The thing that made me so mad was that Jack started laughing at me and told me that I couldn’t do anything right. I think maybe he was trying to lighten the mood and just joke around because everytime I tried to roll out the dough it just got worse and he may have realized that he’d just gone a little too far.

CINNAMON ROLLING DOUGH

But by that time I’d lost my temper and had stopped crying. Things just got out of hand. Looking back, I wish that ‘dI just let it go. But for the last three years I have let “IT” go and I am just tired. Anyway,  I was still hurt and angry about what he’d said about it being his house, and instead of saying that he was sorry he just kept following me around egging me on, laughing in my face. He followed me right into the living room as I tried to get away, brushing my floured hands on my apron and just kept laughing at me and my “pathetic excuse for pie crust.” THAT is what he said! He kept at it  until he had me cornered in the living room and I hit the wall of the bay window and to my surprise my fist went right through the paper thin wall! Just punched a hole right into it! I didn’t realize how those walls were made back in those days and well it just surpised me. I started laughing hoping that Jack would start laughing too and we would just see how stupid this fight was and fall down on the floor and make up. I was laughing saying that” I really didn’t mean to do that” and he got that look and said; “yeah, I  can really tell.” And then he started getting all of my stuff and throwing it out of the house in a wild rage and telling me that I needed to “call all of my little friends and call off the party” as he started throwing my books and my purse and my sweat jacket and all of Annie’s letters  out into the front yard. The ribbons slipped and they lay there strewn all over the wet grass.

old letters

He was so out of control I thought he was going to hit me but he didn’t. He just picked me up and threw me off of his front porch and into the yard. I was numb. I don’t remember if I was really hurt. I know later that I’d skinned my elbow being thrown like that but I just picked up my purse and jacket and left everything else and ran out of the front gate.

abuse

I didn’t even stop to think. I just ran. Right past Jess and Louise’s and down Pacific Coast Highway and all the way to a phone booth and called Lindsey. She and Larry came and picked me up. They were supposed to come to the party that night. I think they may have called everyone. I don’t even know. I didn’t care. I just let Jack deal with it. I was so mad. I never wanted to see him again. Happy New Year.

 

sad girl in hood b&w

 

 

 

#38

Dear Journal,

We have a break for Thanksgiving. It was nice not to have to drive all the way to Buena Park. I have four days off from everything and I am so looking forward to having it off. Jack got promoted at work and so the new guy is going to work this weekend so Jack has four days off too!  And the cool thing about it all is that we are both getting paid. It seems as if we are never just home. My mom invited Jack for Thanksgiving. She invited his dad too but he is going to his sister’s house. I wanted to invite his dad first but now that I know he has somewhere to go I was kind of wondering about his mom. But I brought her up last week and he was in a bad mood the rest of the day. So when my mom asked me if I’d invited her I just said she probably had someplace to go. Last year she went to her dad’s. Remember the one that I took home in a cab? I am worried. Jack told me that a lot of her drama happens on the holidays. Poor baby. Every year he hopes it will be different.

teddy boy holding hanging bear

I think I love Jack more because I want to make up for all the horrific things that happened when he was little. The suicide attempts and the fights with knifes and guns. I want to just love him happy. To make it all better for him. One day we lay in bed all day and he told me every bad memory that he could remember about every holiday. He said that they were either really happy or really horrific.  He told me about this old raggedy teddy bear that he loved and how his mom ripped it up and threw it away and called him a “girl” when he cried. She told him, “You don’t need a doll anymore and I will make sure of it.  And then tore out the stuffing with a knife and then shook it at him to stop crying.

All I know is that he has been really happy just being part of my family and I’ve told my parents that I want to make him feel special. My dad is very nice to him but a little more formal than usual. I am not sure if that is because he is dating his daughter or he is his boss. And my mom, well, I know she has seen me sad because of him. I have tried to not let her know too much exactly because I don’t want her to hate him. But she is different with him than with Laurie or my other friends. I am not sure that he notices. He just seems to be so grateful to be a part of our family. Part of any family I suspect.

#34

Dear Journal,

I wore pants for the next three weeks after that weekend even though it was the end of August and reeeally hot. When I got to Jack’s  to drop off his car. I parked it in front of his house and dropped the keys through the mail box slot. I could have sworn I saw someone look through the curtains but  I was so done with everything about him. And then I realized that he had my books and all my other stuff too. I woke up the next day and realized that I’d have to go back  sometime and get my things and especially my books right away because I still had that test on that Monday night. I had my own set of keys so I called in sick on Monday and waited till I knew that Jack would be gone.

When I drove up, his car was no where to be seen. I was hoping to just slip in and out but Jess was outside mowing his lawn. I waved and he smiled and nodded. I decided that I would just get my books and go and come back another time for my other stuff. All the blinds were drawn and it was dark. There were six empty beer cans on the coffee table. My heart stood still. Jack did not drink. Period.  He hated his mom’s drinking and so just didn’t do it. I was so confused. I had to remind myself that I was just going to grab my books and leave and then I realized that I’d left the book I needed in his car. I silently berated myself. I looked around trying to figure out what to take that I’d need right away when Jack walked in the door.

I jumped and grabbed my heart. He obvioulsy figured that I’d come and didn’t seem surprised to see me. I told him I needed my book. He went to the built in dresser and grabbed it. He had brought it in. He’d known that I’d need it. He explained to me that he’d tried to catch me on my way to work that morning and when he hadn’t, he came back home and found my car here. I told him that I called in sick and then he said “I see that.”

His eyes were sad and he looked hollow. He started to say sorry and I held up my hand to stop him and  unbuttoned and unzipped and then slipped my pants down so that he could see my leg. He dropped to his knees and kissed my bruises and cried. I wanted to push him away and run but all I could do was cry too.  He lifted me up and took me to his unmade bed and all the  planned speeches I’d rehearsed seemed to fall from my head. Jack loved me like he’d never had before.

Later I asked about the beer cans and he agreed that it was a stupid thing to do but that it made him just pass out rather than go hunt me down and try to make ammends before I was ready. He told me that he had a fight with his mom and quit Amber Oil and that I’d gotten the brunt of it. She’d said some horrible things to him and didn’t know where to go with it. I told him that I wished that he’d told me about it and that maybe if we’d talked about it that might have helped. But I must say that I never thought that the next time that I wrote in you that it would be telling you that I was still with Jack.

I finished my modeling classes and have been asked out a few times so I know that Jack is not the only boy who would ever like me, like he likes to tell me when we get in our fights. But if I hadn’t thought that we’d be together forever I never would have made love with him. I really was saving myself for the one I was going to marry and I really do want it to be Jack.

huggggg

#33 Bruises

 

Dear Journal,

I don’t want to be writing this right now but I have a feeling that I need to have it written down somewhere so that I can look back and remember just what happened. I am still not sure what I am going to do about all this but for now I am just numb.

Jack has been working for his mom a few days a week and also at the computer operator job that my dad got him at night fulltime, and I have been working at the Speech And Languge Center  in Buena Park during the day and taking some  classes at college for Speech Therapy a few nights a week this Semester  and  and so we have not had a lot of time together. I always want to be with Jack first. And if I have a night off, I will surprise him and bring him dinner so we can spend time together.

This weekend Jack talked me into going Soaring. We hadn’t been for a while  I don’t feel that comfortable  flying Jack’s new plane and I really needed to study but I told him that I would go with him and wait while he went up, but that I needed to study for a test on Monday and didn’t want to fly. He seemed okay with that. But when I told him that I needed to change since I only had shorts on. He said that I looked just  fine in an impatient tone, so I grabbed my books and hopped in the car and we drove to Lake Elsinore. It was a beautiful day. Jack bought an orange Honda Civic with a sunroof when he started driving back and forth  to work at his mom’s company everyday to save  gas which is almost seventy cents a gallon now! I remember when I first started driving it was about half that! I’m so glad I have my little Fiat that gets over thrity miles per gallon.

Anyway, I could tell that he was in that kind of mood. He started rubbing the back of his his neck and  I reached over to massage it and he shrugged me off which hurt my feelings. So I just stared out the window and he turned on the radio. I started watching all the people driving by and saw that a lot of people were happy and talking and laughing and suddenly felt so lonely. I almost wished that I’d stayed home. I’d like to tell you that it got better but it only got much worse.

Jack had gone in with another pilot and  purchased a plane with him a few months earlier. He’d been so excited and I loved seeing him so happy.  It’s orange like his car and much lighter than  the heavy rental gliders the glideport provides. He really is a wonderful pilot and can stay up for two hours or more at a time unlike my twenty two minute record.  Like I said I am not comfortable flying it so I still have to fly the rentals but I am happy that it makes Jack happy and have no problem waiting for him whenever he wants to go. I mean I really don’t mind at all. I always bring an apple and visit my favorite horse “Pal” that stays on the property at the glider port and study and really do enjoy hanging out with him and brushing him.

Jack went into the office to pay for his tow and when he came out he  threw me his car keys so that I could sit in if I wanted to and then asked me to help him  roll his plane out to the chalk line where the tow plane picks up the gliders. I followed him out to where they have the plane stored and began helping unhook it with him. I felt the tension building even  before he picked up the tail and I lifted the wing. That is when he yelled at me that I was picking up or pushing the wing the wrong way. I’m not sure what happened but something in me broke. Maybe it was driving in a dead silent car for almost 2 hours or the way he was jerking around having a tantrum in his own head all day long or the ridiculing tone of voice that he used when he barked at me but I’d had it too. I swung around and just snapped and  asked him why he even wanted me here and said some other things I can’t remember and asked him if I made him so miserable why was he even with me. That did it. He told me to get in the car. No, he pretty much roared it.

I watched as he hooked his plane back up without my help and then braced myself for the ride home.  He backed out of the parking lot and then screeched out of the glider port as I ducked my head trying to avoid  any eye contact since we both knew everyone. I could still felt the apple for Pal in my pocket as he started driving about 85 miles an hour. I told him to let me out. I tried to have absolutely no emotion. He looked at me and  I saw someone else in his eyes as he balled up his fist and brought it down hard on my thigh. I was shocked and gasped as the pain made me nauseous. And then the blows came, over and over and over and over again while driving close to ninety miles an hour. Raging about how he couldn’t catch a break and how he had two jobs and all he wanted was one day of peace on his only day off and was that too much to ask? He’d always been the one to yell. I’d never even raised my voice before. But as I watched his fist land another blow on my already purple leg.  Finally I’d had enough and  screamed STOP! Until I had no more voice.

He pulled over on the side of the freeway and got out of the car and threw me the keys as they landed on passenger floor and without looking at me said; you drive and instead of going to the other side and getting in, just started walking. I just sat there. Numb. I’d yelled so loud I felt as if my throat was bleeding. But it got him to stop.  I sat there in my shorts and halter top and tried to ignore my throbbing leg.  I began coughing and crying and trying to forget what happened.  I’m not sure how long I sat there like that and then finally I limped around to the driver’s side of the car put the key in the igniton and put the car in first and merged into the traffic and stayed in the slow lane all the way home and just drove. I never saw Jack or knew where he might have gone and for the first time…. I didn’t care.

bruises

A Poem About Anger

I Fell In Love With Your Pain

hugging couple in the rain

I think in the beginning

Maybe just a little…

 I fell in love with your pain

hugging2

I wanted to hold you inside

 and let you in

to gather you up

 kissing standing up

and help you let go

And now did you know

that you spit a little

arguing couple

when you yell?

Keri London

1974

#16 Bringing His Mom Into The Picture

 

Dear Journal,

He wants me to meet his mother!! I am not sure what to do. I certainly don’t want to!  This is the woman who I have heard horror stories about. Who has screwed up practically  every semester when he has gone away to college and then when he has come to “help” her she has turned on him and been horrible. And if only you knew all the stories he’s told me about what she did and said to him when he was a little boy! Well, it tears my heart out! My parents would never treat me like that in their worst nightmares. He is like the kid you hear about with the story no one would believe!  I just don’t want to meet her. I am afraid I might tell her what I really think of her!

sad boy crying on porch

I asked him why he wants us to meet and I think he is expecting us to like each other. I already told him that I hated her for how she treated him and he smiled and said he understood but he keeps bringing it up and I am afraid that he is not going to let it go. I have a feeling that he thinks that I might have some kind of magic glue to make things better but I really don’t think that even a miracle is going to fix them.  I really don’t why I have to meet someone who won’t ever care about anyone more that she cares about herself.

mirror and make up

 

We spend a lot of time studying for our Glider exam now. Jack is trying to solo first but I think that my instructor Glen, is going to have me solo with less flights.  Glen is more competitive than I am. It is so funny. I am not sure, but I don’t think that he really likes Jack. Poor Jack, he gets pretty intense sometimes and so no one really understands him like I do.

After relentless conversations I finally gave in. I took his face in my hands and told him that if it meant that much to him, I would meet his mom.

 

sad couple in a moment