I picture myself standing on some vacant tranquil beach. The sea is calm and what little movement there is, laps at my naked feet. There is not a cloud in sight, and a realisation beckons to me that mine are the only footprints to have ever touched this shore. I am as I have always been; alone, yet for the first time in my existence, I am privy to company.
Though I cannot see her, I know she stretches far from my reach and I can feel her every tear in each consecutive drop of water that cleanses my skin. She comes to me first as a child, laying discreetly in the shadowy confines of a dank midnight cellar. Her breath is light and her eyes are transfixed on an infinitesimal fracture in the darkness, where the cellar door meets the neighbouring stairs. The unbroken light is a temporary figure of surety meaning there is no-one above the stairs. There shall be no visitors in the coming seconds. Her eyes dare not flinch should she miss what could be a warning dressed in the shadow of her father’s footprints.
A fresh wave rolls in over my feet and a shallow breath takes the young girl. The transient light is eclipsed by the epitome of unforgivable love. She whimpers lightly, fearful to make any sound which would celebrate the inevitable. So accustomed is she to these nightly visits from her father that she knows any unworldly gesture will only see this misplaced affection prolonged. She remains completely still and unemotional.
The darkness that once attained her bedside has now given way to the light she wishes she were blind to. The cellar door opens, peeling back the darkness above the stairs. An imperious figure appears, completely blackened in the wake of the daylight pursuing. It is a man, her father. His scent is unmistakable. It would be impossible to wash his smell from her skin if even she had rights to bathe herself.
It is her father, appearing anything but vestal, making his way down the stair case on another of his nightly conquests to relinquish her innocence and trust. Love is what he calls it. It is a duty he commands of her that he says is her obligation to the only man who loves her in the way that god intends.
“Nothing is as sacred” he would say, “than that of the love between a father and his daughter. You remind me so much of your mother. You have her eyes, her gentle touch and her forgiving heart. She would be so proud of you.”
He would say these things as if they should offer some reassurance for what would become another torturous memory, another emotional scar; another black spot on her subconscious; as if she should somehow be comforted into accepting that this sacred violation is o.k. “I love you” he whispers as he removes his belt and lays a cruel hand on the girl’s trembling thigh. She sheds a tear and her soul escapes once again, retreating into the open sea.
I cast an itinerant sigh that seems to travel neither here nor there. Instead it lingers before me, echoing my discontent to none but myself. The tide recedes briefly, as if it were building some mass swell to press on the shore. I am still tuned to the horizon, twitching my toes in clumps of wet sand, apprehensive about what memories are to come. It is as if the girl were receding the waters to give me a moment to contain myself and measure my thoughts. When that moment adjourned, the memories return.
She appears to me now in adolescence, maybe sixteen or seventeen years old. She is in a room that can only be described as squalid, with men twice her age, six men to be exact, all with emaciated appearance. Her half naked body is slumped on a sofa, seated between three men, leering over her exposed breasts. Her right arm is bound in a tourniquet and in front of her, one of the men, being approximately five feet ten in height, grossly underweight, and having an uncanny resemblance to her father, is hunched over a blacked spoon with a dirty syringe, preparing a cocktail of drugs.
In the grimy spoon lies a concoction of heroin, crystal meth and cocaine. Into this the man squirts eighty units of water, lifting the spoon and holding a flame to it, dissolving the powder into a milky white fluid. He drops a filthy cigarette butt into the solution to act as a filter even though the carcinogens present would do more harm than good.
The man resembling her father then takes the worn syringe and draws back the fluid until there are forty units in the syringe. He lifts the ‘pick’ to the horizon and gradually pulls back on the plunger, flicking the syringe with his index finger as he gradually moves the plunger towards the heavens, removing any residue of air from the liquid. The man gives the syringe one last invigorative flick and turns to the girl whose body has become a mantel piece of sweaty cumbersome hands.
There is not a sign of emotion on her face at all. Her eyes are uncaring and stare absently into the adjacent room where a running tap drips water homogeneously into the underlying sink. One of the three men fondling her positions himself to her right, steadying her bruised arm as the other two men elatedly remove her panties and continue the only display of affection she has ever known.
She whispers silently a rhyme that, time and time again remains caught in the chambers of her mind. The words seem to trip over one another as they fall from her tongue. “There goes that girl over there, whose not really here as she is over there. Unbound and unknowing, unwilling to care, mute to your calling and blind to your stare. See her you will and by that you will swear, that the girl over here is the girl over there.”
Her father figure leans over her body, pushing his whole weight on her right leg and aligns the syringe with her exposed sinking vein. He pushes the needle vigorously through her flesh and the sting provides her with a familiar sensation of being alive; pain being the only feeling kinder than love. The man draws back on the syringe, filling the milky solution with blood and upon seeing the mix of colour, immediately forces the solution into the girl’s vein.
Her mouth palpitates for a brief moment as the liquid soars through her veins, accelerated by her failing heart. The taste of the shot coats the back of her dry aching throat. She swallows several times, savouring the evidence and escapes once more, with her eyes never straying from the tiny droplets of water escaping from the clutches of man to join its brethren in the search for the open sea. She casts out her soul in a single tear and she escapes once again to her saviour’s arms, the ocean.
My limbs now shake feverishly. Anger has enshrouded my whole consciousness and I wish only that a day may come where I can take her into the safety of my arms and if need be, spend an eternity redefining trust to this poor broken girl for whom every man had betrayed when they ushered the words ‘I love you’.
The tide recedes once more and then swiftly returns to steal my sight.
Her last memory washes over me. She is standing on the shore of a beach identical to mine self but on the other side of the universe. She is staring into the horizon where the ocean blue meets the cerulean sky and tasting every breath that she welcomes into her lifeless body. She sighs uncontrollably as she runs through a catalogue of indisposed memories. How she failed is how she thought, blaming at first herself for how life did unfold, then with every new breath, gaining clarity and accepting the inevitability of circumstance.
Her idea of love was different to you or I. To her, affection meant intolerable cruelty. A vacation was not merely an exercise in family togetherness; it was escaping to her subconscious where her soul and last drop of sanity were spared from her incestuous father, and all the men in her life that fate would have her drawn to. Succumbing to this revelation will not prevent it from happening again; it will just add unconscionable irony to an already predestined path of surrendered faith and molested love.
She opens her eyes to remove the images from her mind. With every transitory breath, she is alive. She stands as I do, toes twitching and moving in the wet sticky sand beneath her feet. I can sense in her that for the first time, she is akin to innocence. The gentle wind lifting her long blonde locks of hair fills and expands her lungs.
She exhales her final breath and dives into the ocean. With no desire to take another breath, she sinks lifelessly into the water and gives herself to the currents which take her invitingly out to sea.
I inhale profoundly and exhale a sigh of relief. She was now free, moving in spirit with her brethren as the essence of life. Soon clouds would form above her and her spirit would evaporate momentarily, parting from the sea and moving through the sky to rain down on the world below.
Her soul would scatter into millions of droplets that would descend upon the earth, filling the cup of every man and cleansing the soul of the earth. She would nourish the thirsty planet that would in turn feed its starving guests.
Her soul would exist in every flower, in every grain of sand and in the heart of every man. And it is the heart of man that she would judge astutely. Those she deemed worthy would be wrapped in her delicate arms. She would sing to their spirit and lesson its state of alarm. Those undeserving would taste her in every breath. She would poison their souls and send every man to his death.
When I open my eyes again, I am on the train. I’m not quite sure how much time has passed but I notice the blur of buildings and signage passing the window in front of me and realise that I have passed Perth station. There is little I can do now except wait for the next station, whatever that may be, and alight there to board another train back to the city.
Support Independant art before it cuts its own ear off A RISING FALL b00k 001 in the CITY trilogy 83,040 Words / ...