Just Like Magic

older couple at the beach

I never thought I’d feel like this again,

And yet…Nothing has changed~

For once again it is about your pain.

couple in back seat

You asked me to forgive you and so I did.

For after all I said, we were “just kids.”

sad couple on beach

Forgiveness is such a simple word,

almost like a magical choice,

an eraser that removes the memories,

of all those times you raised your voice.

Or the silence of  a hundred nights,

from the aftermath of a thousand fights.

Just like magic and POUF it’s gone.

A simple act that rights all wrong.

I might have been able to forget but in the end,

You made it all about  you again.

sad man reading

Keri London

2011©

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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

#62 YOU CAN’T HAVE ME NOW

praying man B&w

I am lost in your shadow

as I bathe in your tears.

You can’t have me now

so stop following me here!

future past present signs

I won’t be charmed

by your pleas and your sighs.

For my tears have cleared

the sight in my eyes.

You captured my heart

like  birds who fly into their cages.

bird cage

your words were like whispers

upon old folded pages.

folded page A

Your love haunted me

until I finally gave in,

But it was too late for us,

for… we began at the end.

Keri London

1977

#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

#58 The Storm

journals

Dear Journal,

You are my witness that I tried. I tried so hard. You were the ONLY one that I ever told ANYTHING to! I wanted to protect Jack from himself. And I was embarrassed. So embarrassed that anyone would ever know any of what I have put up with. I never wanted to tell anyone because what if we got back together and all of it was out there? Well, there is NO chance of that NOW. I know that Jack thinks that I talk to people too much and try to get everyone’s advice. I never talked about our fights or Jack’s temper. EVER! But this time, I’m not sure what happened. I guess I kind of feel like if I tell someone what has been going on, I won’t go back. And Oh my dear friend, my faithful little journal, I KNOW I won’t go back this time. Are you applauding me?

So much has happened since I last wrote in you.  I think that anger is a kind of a key that has allowed me to shut that door. Instead of mourning what I have lost and all those broken promises, I feel a relief that I never felt before. I used to sit home and cry after a fight and think about all of our  plans.  NOW you better believe me, he is begging me to set a date. He said that any day would be fine with him. Even Tommorow! It has been exactly one month since he threw me out of “his” house. He has been sitting outside of the entrance to my neighborhood almost every night the last two weeks since school started again. He has parked next to my car at the school where I work so I had to talk to him and after my classes at night at Harbor College. I can’t tell my dad because he would kill him and I don’t want my dad to go crazy because he would if he knew what has been happening. I am protecting my dad. Not Jack.

steering wheel shot

The other day I was at Lindsey’s house and Jack called me there. He told me to go look in my car. I didn’t know what to expect. Even though it was sunny, it was freezing. I ran out with my barefeet because I didn’t know what he might have done. Well, he showed me his true colors. I found Switezer meowing inside my cold car. He said “I don’t want him.” That was the first time that I have cried since I stopped crying after the first week. I didn’t know what to do. Larry ended up calling right when I was having a melt down and Lindsey told him what Jack had just done and Larry asked for my phone number and told me that he might know someone that will take him because I know that my mom won’t let me have him. This is just like Jack. Begging me to take him back and then getting mad and doing something like this when he doesn’t get his own way. I haven’t softened at all. I am glad that he keeps getting mad and doing stupid things because it just reminds me that I deserve better.  I can’t believe that I ever loved him. The thing that surprises me, is that no one was surprised. They knew what was happing all along. I thought that I was fooling everyone.  I’m pretty sure that I hate him now. THIS was the last straw. But it’s not just about the cat. There are so many other things that happened besides the obvious; literally THROWING me out of the house. It is so over.

cat in car

 

#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

 

 

 

#53 Kids and Marriage and cigarette Burns

orange honda civic

Dear Journal,
Jack and I have been looking for new cars and just bought a brand new 1976 bright orange Honda Civic with a sunroof and everything. It was almost $5000! Can you believe it? My little Fiat was less than half that and it was only three years old when I got it. But I love it. I love the smell of a new car! The weekend that we bought it, we drove it to to the glider port and we both went up and ended up staying in a little motel near there so Jack could go up again the next day. It has been really good between Jack and me lately.
Jack has a friend at his work Bob, who is going through a custody battle with his kids. A boy and a girl. It is so sad. I never saw such a good dad. He really loves his kids and his wife is not very nice. We took them soaring one weekend right after we got the car and Bob and his kids met us there. The kids got bored pretty fast and complained because their dad’s car didn’t have air conditioning and it was really hot that day. Of course our new car did, so while Bob and I were up flying in different planes,  Jack was in charge of the kids and let them sit in our car with the air on while their dad finished flying with Glen, my old instructor. After we said goodbye to Bob who had to get the kids back by a certain time,  we got back in the car to drive home and noticed the front passenger seat had a burn mark where it looked as if the kids had been playing with the  car lighter.

burn mark

I have to admit that I was really surprised that Jack was so calm about it. I think that he realized that it could have been a lot worse. Though the kids were older and should have known better, it is never smart to leave kids in a running car, period. But I didn’t need to say anything. I knew he “GOT” it when he saw the damaged seat. And I mean it was right in the middle of the seat! We tried to get an upholstry and carpet mending glue but it only made it worse. That is when Jack had an idea, for “me” to re-upholster the seats with my new sewing machine that he’d gotten me last Christmas!

sand bags

I have been making weighted sand bags out of canvas with my sewing machine for the sail planes to trade for tows, but that has been the extent of my recent sewing.   Jack said that whatever happened, we’d have to get the seats fixed anyway so that I couldn’t really hurt anything. And so I told him that if he could get the seats out, I would try. We never really liked the checker board insert in the upholstry so we went shopping and found this great faux white leather and he pulled apart the seats. (Which… I know, I know, could have been quite a disaster!) But we actually worked really well together!

orange honda civic armorange honda civic reeo

I measured the inserts and actually re-upholstered the two front seats with it. And if I do say so myself, it looks way better than the checkerboard. Especially without the burn mark!

sewing

 

Jack was so impressed and said that he was proud of me. It gives me hope. Something that could have been a huge blow up, became a positive project for both of us. It felt so good to accomplish something together without one fight!

orange honda civic interior

I think that just maybe, he is learning that we can get through a lot without it becoming a huge blow up everytime something doesn’t go exactly right. And that the way that his parents handled the hard stuff doesn’t have to be the way that he does or we do. We can break the cycle and have a grown up relationship without always breaking up everytime we have a disagreement. I just hope that those kids and all of Bob’s problems don’t influence Jack’s thought on getting married!

 

 

 

 

#44 The Worst Christmas Ever Continued

Dear Journal,

I really couldn’t believe it as we stood out on the curb waiting for the valet. It couldn’t be possible that everything had been so perfect just the night before could it? When the Valet opened the passenger door for me, Jack handed him a few dollars,  and I started to open the backdoor to get in, when Jack stopped me and told me to sit up front. I slid into the front seat without an argument even though Rachel and I’d ridden up in the back seat and Liz had been in the passenger seat up front.

holding hands

Jack didn’t say anything at all as we were waiting. It was hard to know that to do or say. He’d shared stories about times like these but now I’d seen it all  for myself.  I just reached over and held his hand and he let me. Even with a coat on, I shivered. And I prayed! I wasn’t sure what to expect. Finally after what seemed like over an hour, Liz and Rachel appeared. Poor Rachel looked as if she was practically carrying her mother.  Before they reached the car, Jack quickly said to me, “We will go up long enough to get our things and then leave.” Liz never said a word when she saw me in the front seat. I think she was a little relieved to not have to sit up there with Jack.

Even though the drive was only about twenty minutes, it seemed like it took hours. Finally we all piled into the elevator up to Liz’s apartment. No one said a word the whole drive home.  But as soon as the elevator doors closed Liz went crazy asking Jack who he thought he was and then she literally jumped on him and knocked his glasses off his face and scratched his nose. Jack just held his mother off. When the doors opened. Rachel got out. I thought she was going to open the apartment door but when we got to the door, Jack took his key and unlocked it. I looked around, but there was no Rachel. I was so mad!

winebottle

I took off the coat that Liz gave me and told Jack I didn’t want anything but  what he’d given me. As he was gathering everything up, I could barely believe my eyes. Liz picked up a wine bottle and held it over her head ready to send it crashing down onto Jack. Without thinking, I almost tackled her as I ran and grabbed it out of her hands She held on so tight, but something  happened to me at that moment and I caught her and myself (for that matter) by complete surprise, and found strength that I never knew I had, yanking her arms back, I told her “Oh no you don’t, you wicked old witch!”  as she hit the half empty bottle against the table shattering the glass. Just barely missing Jack as his head jerked up. He  hadn’t even seen it coming.

wine bottle broken
His eyes looked so sad  when he realized what had just transpired. He just looked sick and as if he wanted to cry. Me too. I knew that he’d envisioned a night so different.

frustrated man

Liz was in the middle of cussing us both out when we heard a thundering knock on the door and someone shouting “Police, open up!” I ran to the door but Jack got there first and opened it and there stood Robin behind two police officers. I was confused and then relieved when I saw all three of them.

police knocking

They each took turns listening to our stories and immediately realized who was drunk and belligerent and who was devastated and embarrassed. The officer that spoke to us was very kind and allowed us to get our things and escorted us to our car explaining that they get more calls like this during the holidays than they can count and to just let it blow over and that everything would be okay. I wondered if he knew for sure that everything would really ever be okay again.

I thanked him for being so nice and Jack shook his hand. When he dropped me off that night, I started to get out of the car and then  turned around to say Merry Christmas.  And thought “Seriously?” How could I let him go home alone after everything we’d been through? I told him to come in. He looked so grateful he didn’t even try to argue. I just couldn’t picture him going home to an empty house. My parents had already gone to bed. There were still gifts under the tree that I still hadn’t taken up to my room yet. As I surveyed my home and the scene before me, I felt very grateful. I started a fire and got some pillows and blankets and we fell asleep in each other’s arms. That night I thanked God for giving me the parents that I had and I think I may have even loved them just a little bit more than I had the day before.

fireplace

 

#43 The Worst Christmas Ever!!!!

 

Dear Journal,

I hate even remembering this. But on the way to the restaurant Liz kept complaining that Jack did not have a dinner jacket. Of course it didn’t matter to her that the plans had changed and if we’d known that he would have worn something different. Fortunately Rachel and I had on long dresses so we were dressed up enough. As the valet opened the door for us Liz still was going on about it and Jack stayed silent. When we checked in, Jack traded his coat for a dinner jacket and  Rachel and I breathed a sigh of relief.

perinos

 

I have to say that the place was lovely. Our booth was set beautifully and I eyed Jack as we slipped in and sat down. He was not the happy relaxed Jack with so much hope that I’d seen earlier that morning. We got the menus and Liz ordered a cocktail before we even had a chance to open them and she also ordered a bottle of wine. Though I couldn’t drink and Jack doesn’t drink and I was pretty sure that Rachel wouldn’t have more than a glass and she said as much so Liz changed her mind and said that she still wanted the cocktail and to bring two glasses of wine. At that point I hoped that Rachel was going to have at least one because Liz was getting sloppy. Rachel complained that we hadn’t even ordered yet and perhaps white wine would have been a better choice to go with turkey and then got up to go to the restroom and I had to go so I followed.

We walked into the room and immediately a woman dressed like a nurse handed us steaming moist  white wash cloths. We both were kind of taken off guard but Rachel motioned to a woman in front of us who wiped her hands and then placed the used wash cloth in a copper bin below the counter. When we walked out the woman offered us another washcloth and we thanked her and left. Giggling all the way back to our table. Rachel said “Did you see that money in a bowl?” I nodded and said I wonder if we were supposed to take some for using the bathroom and we both started laughing until Liz said sternly or as sternly as someone half sloshed can sound and said “Oh girls that was the antendee’s tips and you were supposed to leave her one.” We looked at each other and said “OOOOooooh” and then couldn’t stop laughing.

drinks

I noticed that our maitredee must have made a mistake and there was a bottle of wine on the table along with a cocktail and two poured glasses of wine when we returned. All I could think was, Oooh boy! Jack looked miserable but we ordered dinner and it was very good. We all had the prime rib so Rachel was fine with the red wine. We even began to have a nice time and even Jack seeemd to relax until Liz motioned loudly,  pointing out a woman across from us who had a nice white pants suit on. I actually thought it was very pretty, but Liz started in loudly again about Jack not wearing a proper jacket and saying, “How would you like me to have worn pants like that?” and actually pointed to the poor woman who graciously ignored her.

perions1

 

I am not sure what may have happened when Rachel and I were in the restroom but Jack calmly said, “I warned you mom, that’s it.” And got up and waited for me as Liz raised her voice at me and said that I better not go with him. I wanted to just melt under the table. But I slipped out of the booth and glanced at Rachel apologetically as her brother grabbed my hand and guided me out the door as  I heard her yelling but didn’t look back. We only stopped long enough for Jack to exchange jackets and for me to get my coat and we walked out the door as I felt a thousand eyes burning through me. In my lifetime I’d never been so embarrassed.

#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.