A monologue. To be heard.

This is Chris. You're in a room. Just you and Chris. Chris is going to tell you things. He is going to tell you about lots of things- some of them silly, some of them serious. He is going to tell you about Sally and Katja and Evie and Charlie. And, with sincerity and honesty, he is going to tell you about Manda. And Love. He'll be telling you all about love. (for full effect, have somebody read out this monologue to you, while you sit together in a room. It's meant to be heard.)

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1. Chapter the first. And last.

 

Have you ever been in love? I mean, really in love, not like... not like, "Oh, look at that face, I think I'm in love!".. I mean like really, really in love.     Have you ever... ever loved somebody so much, that you can't even begin to express, so much, you can't even imagine saying it out loud, because, well, what's the point!? Ever loved to the extent, that words seem almost like an... insult, to that one person, like there's just nothing, like nothing can even... like you can't even touch...oh, this is coming out all wrong, isn't it!?

It's impossible to say, I suppose. There's all this stuff about "proper" love, all these things that are supposed to happen, like love is some huge great thing that you can't ever really reach, and when you think you HAVE reached it, if all this stuff hasn't happened, then it's not real love. All this stuff about seeing fireworks, and knowing you have "the one", and how love is like some kind of... magical trip across the sky riding on a unicorn or some rubbish, and I hate it. It's stupid..

... It's going to sound really funny.. but love, in general, it's just too... romanticised, I suppose...

Love is beautiful, and magical, and mysterious, and perfect, and this, and that, and yakkity yack, on, and on, and on, and on into some sickly, gushing euphoria.

Anybody who says that is clueless.

Anybody who has that, does not know love.

Not the way I do...

I knew it better than anybody...

 

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There's something... wrong with me, you know... ... Is it obvious? You can probably see it, you know, most people do. It's perhaps not so clear to you, you're most likley a stranger, although why you'd be hearing these words....I can't really imagine.... where you've found them, or....... well, it's not like you can tell me, is it? Not right now......

sorry, anyway, if you're a stranger, maybe you won't have noticed yet, but to my friends, it's so glaringly obvious... ...that there's something wrong with me. They have a lot of trouble..... well....defining the problem. It's funny, like, right from the second they look at me, they see this big thing, a huge great big issue, right there... it's written all over me, but... not one of those people can tell me what it is. There's just something... wrong... ....

 

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You know, I was saying about love, how everybody will.. make all this big song and dance about it, like it's some massive, magical force to be reckoned with, and like it's something... unusual, but I swear it isn't. Love in itself is nothing special. It just feels like it is... I suppose that's why we'll make out like love is special, I guess it just feels like it should be. I suppose I can understand, kind of, that we'll pretend like it's something more. I mean, none of us matter in the long run- NOTHING matters in the long run, not really, so if we make up this thing that can last forever, and span cities and seas and countries and worlds and stuff... if we say that this link to another human being makes us special, we can sort of... kid ourselves into thinking that we are not insignificant at all. Seeking out people who we matter to is a bit like that- a task we take up to give us hope of mattering at all. Y'know, I can see it working, mattering to anybody, is mattering a little, in a way... I just find it a little bit frustrating, the whole thing with love... particularly love at first sight, oh, don't get me started on that... the very idea that you can look at somebody and then, well,... that's it, and you can never love anybody else after you look at that face... well it all seems.. sort of silly, sort of rediculous, really... and it's very superficial, what if that person turned out to be like... a complete mentalist, or racist, or what if.. what if that person was an assassin, or a rapist, or a murderer... What if they were a serial killer who murdered all their partners? I mean imagine that! If you looked at a serial killer and fell in love, and then you had to be in love with them forever, and ever, and ever, and ever and ever... even when they were like, ... chopping your head off or something and you just had to sit there staring going.. "oooh...ooh...  you beautiful, wonderful, magical little murderer you!".. I mean, if that happened, you really would be screwed, wouldn't you?! And suppose they got caught. I mean, imagine that- if you were in America or something and then they killed her, and all because you just happened to fall in love with her.. and..and.. if..if..if, say, not that I actually believe in a god, or a heaven, or ghosts, or any of that nonsense, but say if you actually could still feel stuff after you died, and you found out that they'd killed her, then what? You'd just have to spend all of enternity hating yourself always, and always and always, and you couldn't even kill youself to escape it, because you're already dead! AND, you didn't even do anything!... I mean, I mean.. like,  you just happened to fall in love at first sight, with a serial killer, who killed you and was clumsy enough to get caught! I mean, where would we all be then!? ....

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I actually had this conversation with my... great great great something or other or something... I don't really know how I'm related to her, actually, but her name's Sally, lovely old girl, I wish she was here right now, I tell you.. you really would love her, a woman like that, you can't really help but love..... she is endearing,... and kind... and she is one of the funniest people I've ever encountered. She's a very intelligent old woman, actually.. she's got like.. this little... glint in her eyes.. it's almost tangible.. you just can't.. quite..... ...Yes, anyway, she's a wonderful, clever old woman, I really should find out how we're related, actually... and I'd have conversations with her, they'd get very heated somethimes, almost like a debate or something, which I'm sure was very funny to look at, come to think of it... a very, very old woman, and a twenty four year old lad, sat in a park at a family picnic, just yelling at each other about... rights of man... or heaven and hell, that kind of thing, how the entire park weren't just dying of laughter, I don't quite understand, but people never quite seemed to notice...

So, at one of these picnics, we ended up discussing love. Now Sally, although she IS very intellient, has always been a great believer in things like God, and angels, and love at first sight.. it's.. you know, it's all we really talked about, so when I told her all of this stuff, she wasn't really pleased, to say the least.

She just sat there for a minute, in a stunned silence, which was only to be expected, really, because I was more than a little annoyed at the time of my remark...and.. well, I'd essentially just shouted at an old woman for five minutes, attempting to de-bunk one of her greatest beliefs in life by ranting about an imaginary relationship with an imaginary serial killer... in fact, I think I'd even managed to work in my Atheism somewhere, hadn't I?... Yeah, I think I did... so you know, it probably would take her a minute to respond, and, this is where we see just how marvellous Sally is, when she did respond, she did so in a way that made me seem juvenille and irrational.. which I suppose I actually was, at the time because this was about...e...le..ven years ago, I think.. yeah eleven... Amanda would've been pregnant with Katja, then so... yes, eleven. And I know that in terms of being an adult and maturing and such, eleven years might not seem like that much at all, but I'm telling you know, I am in no way the same man I was back then... not at all! Sally, though, Sally was very good at exposing my juvenility, because, well... I didn't actually seem imature, in fact my parents say I was never really a kid, I was just a very small adult, but Sally could always make it so very obvious that I was still, essentially, clueless, in the way that nobody else really could, and she did particularly well with this response, it really was a cracker this one... After I had just spent five minutes angrily attempting to crush her argument, she could just put me down with a few simple sentences. She looked at me, and she said... she said... and this really is quite briliant.. she says "Oh, stop being so ruddy silly! You just feel guilty because you don't remember meeting Manda! Now pass me a fig roll."

And I did pass her a fig roll. I'm sure she enjoyed it very much. I'll never understand why she was never prime minister, she'd have been excellent.. I mean, she could probably get the entire house of commons to support her with just a few minutes speaking to each of them.. AND, at the end of it, she'd have enough fig rolls to last her a lifetime! She certainly won that debate....she really pulled out the big guns, which I suppose shows just how important all the love at first sight was to her, because she definitley knows, I think everybody knows, that one of the things in life that haunts me most, is the fact that I don't remember the first time me and Amanda met.

It's not as bad as it sounds, you know, it's not like... like I met her and then just forgot about it for years and years until we met again and fell in love or anything, it's not like I have EVER overlooked her, but... well.... ...have you ever faded out a friend? Or BEEN faded out by a friend, either way, that would probably be enough to help you understand... if you don't perhaps I can explain... being faded out by a friend... it's like, well... when you stop being friends, so, so gradually that you don't even notice.... you just spend less and less time together, until one day, you suddenly realise that you haven't spoken for months, maybe even years, and the person you knew isn't there anymore, and it's difficult to remember a time when they were... it was like that. Except it wasn't! It was that, but the exact opposite of that... Amanda, I don't know how she did it, and I don't think I ever will, but she just slipped into my life, it was so neat, so perfectly executed, it was probably one of the things that made me love her so much- the fact that she'd done that... I don't know if I'd have loved her at all if she'd tried it any other way.... I can't really take the blame..for...for forgetting the first time, it was probably something so tiny and.... inconsequential, I'd not bothered to register it happening.

But Manda.. oh man, Manda... by the time I'd registered that I loved her, she was only Manda to me, never Amanda, she always hated that... it was funny, you know, one day, I just woke up, and suddenly there was this woman next to me... the most beautiful.... this perfect woman looking at me so intently, and I loved her more than anything. Somewhere along the line, I started to love her... she just wriggled her way into my life, and she never left, never gave up, until I loved her. It should have frightened me, maybe...I should have felt tricked or misled, because I suddenly realized that Manda was the most important think that had ever happened to me, that she was just...EVERYTHING... somebody had just become everything and even though I had no idea when we'd met.. when we'd clicked.. when I started to love, I simply couldn't recall a time without her....

I DO remember the day I knew I loved her. I remember so absolutley, she woke me up one morning, and there was this light coming through the blinds... made everything kind of fuzzy... with this soft yellow light, and it was so pretty, the way it fell across her face... she was wearing this thick towelling dressing gown, and some little silk shorts and a camisole, and her frizzy brown hair and those freckles on her cheeks, and he eyes..... her eyes were unique, deep, deep brown, but shot through with a golden yellow, and they had such depth.... I can't even describe, you know, she was lovely... she brought up tea in out matching stripey mugs, and she aksed me... she said.. "Chris.. I'm yours, you know. I'm completley and utterly yours.... are you... are you... will you ever be..." And she paused here, and took a deep, shakey breath "mine?" The fear in her then, she was...she was so scared, putting her heart on the line like that, and if you have never seen Manda afriad, you have never seen beauty. Something, and this is probably going to sound VERY cruel of me, but something about her fear just then... it brought together her face, and the way her lips parted, and her eyes flickered, and oh... what else could I say but yes? When such absolute love and sincerity is written like that... when you can just see how much you mean...

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... Ah god, I'm crying now! But then.. I've always been a crier, always, I mean sometimes I'll tear up at pretty much nothing... Manda and the girls.. they always rather enjoy teasing me.. they'll go, they'll go and look through the news, trying to find a sad animal story or something... because... they know me so well, they know I'll cry even at the mention of a dead donkey sometimes... they think it's very funny... and.. I enjoy it too, in a way. I mean, I don't enjoy crying, that's frankly, a little weird.. but it makes them laugh.... and, this is going to sound like some kind of stupid cliche, but... there's no sound in the world more glorious to me, than hearing all my girls laughing together.   Charlie, though, Charlie, bless her, she's still so young, and every once in a while... just on the odd occasion, she'll get frightened that it's not all a joke, she'll get scared that she's really hurting me, and then she'll run into my arms and she'll be crying herself... and... it's difficult to make out what she says, when she's so upset, but she'll just apologise so profusely... I think the idea of actually upsetting me terrifies her so much.... Usually though, she just laughs.... and their laughs, together, are such a miraculous sound.. .........

 

 

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.... and one I haven't heard in a while...

 

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.... do you... do you want... do you want to know... about... the most painful thing that's ever happened to me... about the most painful thing I've ever felt....

 

 

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... It's going to sound very funny, really it is... I suppose... I've not yet....told you enough for it to make any sense....but....

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......... I.... I was... I was in a supermarket.... Morrisons or whatever.... and... it was just the tiniest thing... I reached.... I... I reached out.. for some cereal... coco pops, I think... a kids cereal, certainly... but... but it wasn't for the kids... they never liked cereal.... not really...

...Y'know... I reached up... and suddenly... suddenly.. it was just....

...... I don't know, if you've ever..... if you've ever felt like... nothing can ever quite be right again... like suddenly, everything has just gone... like somebody just... like your heart.. like your very heart and soul has been... burned....burned right out of you... and you can feel every single......

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....I need...

 

...I need to explain, don't I?

 

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....... My family... we've always been a very social bunch, always very close, as a group... well, that's what we like to think, although me.... I'm not so sure that we actually are, it's just a nice thought. We make more effort, certainly, than most families do, to meet up all in one place, but that tends to be it for the whole year after we do that- nobody meets up with anybody for a good six months after an event of that scale, which is fair enough.. I mean, we all love our families, but I think, in reality, it's far too tiring to be as close as you'd like to be, that's why nobody is actually that way, we just don't really like to admit it.... which is also fair enough I suppose... ....we've always tried to be the best we can be, though... really, we have... we have these picnics, every year.. there'll be a big family picnic... huge things, they are... y'know, everybody comes, and that's how people like Sally come about... there's simply too many of us too keep track, there's loads of us! And it's nice, that we find we don't actually need to know how we're related, I mean why should it matter?.... We all know that we are related. So none of us can really be bothered with the hows and whos and whys...

So these picnincs, I mean, they've been a huge part of my life, one constant there's always been....we went even the year my Dad died, actually, and I was just crying the whole time, my Mum says... that it was just too much for me, although she's still glad she made me go, kept me strong, she said... and the first time I met my stepdad was at a family picninc too. That was certainly a risky move on my Mum's part, not that I could understand that at the time.... but anyway, I'd been going to the picnics my whole life, and when me and Manda got engaged, she started coming along too... every single year, we'd go together, it was a really lovely thing...

... Don't get me wrong, here, though- she HATED those picnics, I mean really hated them... always very good about it, though.. and that's a huge part of why I loved it so much, really, she'd suffer through that because it's so very important to me that we keep going, every year, she'd keep smiling, she'd never let on, I don't think my family had any idea that she didn't want to be there... she'd have made an excellent actress, she would... she's pretty enough, always has been, and she is an EXCELLENT liar... and acting is just lying, but fancier, isn't it?.... Really excellent liar, that woman, which should probably be a bad thing, but I love her for it...... explains how she got under my skin so subtly and quickly in the first place, actually...

... of course, after the kids were born we took them along too, and after that she began to enjoy the picnics a little, I think, although she never truly let go at them. It wasn't that my family were any kind of an issue, always very freindly, and she liked them, of course she did! She just couldn't quite get rid of the feeling that they were... judging her? I think, perhaps, secretly... she always felt that she didn't belong, not that she'd ever admit to it, probably because if she did, she knew exactly what I'd say.... "Oh, don't be so ruddy rediculous, love!" ... in a teasing manner, I think. My family pretty much worshipped her! It probably helped that I married a doctor... although I'm sure they could never help themselves from loving her as much as I did.

I'll never know what the problem was, because it's gone now. The kids made those days bearable for her, which made them beautiful for me.

We only ever missed two of the picnics....

The first time, it was because of Katja, actually, not that it was her fault, but Manda went into labour about a week before the picnic was supposed be happenning.. an earlier picnic than usual, I remember, because of an upcoming wedding or something, and I remember that when I heard the startled shriek from Manda in the bathroom, the first thing, the first thing that I felt was...was... of an intense disappointment, and I know that's stupid, I'll probably never stop feeling guilty for it, but I had really wanted to go...

Don't worry, though, that initial jolt, which I am ALWAYS gonna be ashamed of, was quickly washed away by a sheer terror, it was a very COLD terror, I remember that much, like ice shot right through me... there was warmth too though, y'know, I was very excited... I was desperate to see the face of the little girl that had been slowly shaping her life, even since she was nothing but a tiny curl of flesh, barely even alive...it was such an odd feeling, I don't think I'll ever be able to describe it properly, nor will I feel it again... it stopped me for a moment, just stopped me dead, I couldn't move... after that moment, I would love to say I kicked into action, but that would be a lie, and there's no use in lying to myself, so I'm just going to go ahead, and tell the truth, that I fainted...   Now, Manda must have called an ambulance, because I woke up in the hospital, and I remember... I was in a bed, which seemed really stupid, to me, and for a minute, I was worried that they might have helped me, but not her... .... I made it to her side eventually, and let me tell you now... it was terrifying... the sheer, cold undiluted fear, it was sickening... she was just lying there all pale and sweaty and she was in agony, I could see that she was in agony.... her face... it was so... she was just twisted and contorted and... I could see... I'm not a doctor like she is, but I could see that there was something very not right about the whole picture.... and there was a complication, not that I remember what because all I remember was this thick fog in my head, and a pulsing, I could feel this pulsing through my whole body... it took everything I had not to pass out again, and I know I must have been crying, because I ALWAYS cry..... and I'll tell you now, when she was dragged away into that operating theater, and they shut the door in my face, I have never felt more helpless in my entire life, than I did on that day.... I just stayed there, with my fingers up against the glass, like this... only I shut my eyes, I couldn't bear to have them open, I just stayed there, like this.... and I just pleaded in my head, and I don't who or what I was pleading to but.... I honestly thought they were going to die... I thought that my wife and my baby would die... I really did, and it was very, very wrong of me, but I remember it, I know I thought it, I thought in my head... I thought... I didn't care who else died on that day... I remember thinking- take them all, take my mother and my stepfather, and Sally, take them all, I remember thinking- I don't CARE just keep these two people alive... .... And when they put baby Katja in my arms...

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...They say, you know... they say you can't have two fluffy parents... you've got to have a fun parent, and a mean parent, and if you don't things won't work.... I know that Manda was gearing herself up to be the mean parent, and quite rightly so, too, because I have always been fluffy... you really couldn't imagine me being stern at all, but in reality, neither of us had it in us to be the mean one... we'd say no sometimes, but I have absolute certainty that from the second Katja was born, she had us wrapped around her little fingers...

.... she was a good kid, though, the most intelligent little girl... even from a very young age, she was eloquent, and inquisitve... she was head and shoulders above everybody in her school... we gave her an IQ test when she was about eight, and it was 125, which is phenominally high... Katja was, is and will always be, a genius... I stopped being smarter than her.. probably about a year ago, I'd say... yeah, about that... ...and it's funny, you know, she could easily beat us both, now, me and Manda, but she never does... she could get anything she wanted, she could manipulate us any way she saw fit, but she never does, and I don't think she ever will..... her intelligence has never made her difficult to raise....

..... she is very stubborn, though.... ... and VERY cynical.

I guarantee it, were you ever to meet Katja, you would consider her the most cynical eleven year old on the planet...

.... Katja never really enjoyed the picnics either, although she was far more vocal about it than Manda was! She would not stop complaining... from the day she learned to speak, whenever we went on those picnics, she's be complaining about how boring they were... she didn't really enjoy "playing" very much, almost as if she considered it a waste of her time, a waste of her intelligence... until she met Sally, she hated the picnics... Sally was very good with Katja, she was the only adult who really felt comfortable with engaging her in adult conversation, and before too long, she would be debating alongside me...

...one year.. one year in particular, I think, really confirmed her as a cynical genius, when shee was arguing with Sally and my mother, over the impracticalities of heaven and hell, and religion in general... and my Mum had certainly said something about how in heaven, everything is perfect, and you get to be with the people you love, forever, and Katja, Katja looked my Mum in the eye, and said... slowly, she said this, as though she were only halfway through figuring it out at the time, she said... "But Nana... you were married to my Grandad... and then he died... and.. you say he went to heaven... and then... and then you married Pops... right?" And my Mum was looking a little flummoxed, but she nodded slowly, and Katja said.. "That wasn't very nice! What...what about when you die! If you and Pops and Grandad are all in heaven, then... then who will you be married to!? You said that God said you can only marry one person! Heaven can't work when there's stuff like that! How does... how can it... how can it work!?" Now my Mother had nothing to say to that, she just.... she sat there, and she said to Katja that we weren't to talk about it anymore.... and you should realize, it upset Kat a great deal, because if there's one thing she's after, it's answers... she asks SO MANY questions, she does, it's mad.... she was very angry with her Nana for that... I'm not sure she's ever quite gotten over it... she won't talk to my Mum much anymore, even though it was four or five years ago now...

... the only other picnic we've missed was about three years ago, and that was because of Evie.... ...there were no complications with her birth.. everything went so smoothly, it was was actually a really nice occasion, although I am sure that Manda would be willing to disagree with you...

 

 

 

...no.... the problem with Evie was very different... she had.... she had something wrong with her head. Well, I though calling it wrong was criminal... Evie has the most unique, becautiful mind... she's wonderful, and that's just the problem...

...Evie is a tricky one... if you didn't know her, I should think... you might consider her... away with the fairies..... I've had a lot of people say she's not quite all there.... which is a terribly cruel thing to say about a child... there's nothing even wrong with her.....she's just different...

... we'd always known, I'm fairly certain, that she would be different... you can see it in her eyes... and when she first spoke, we could hear it in her voice....it's all over her, really... the way she... moves... the way she IS.... there is nothing remotley normal about her.

It has NEVER been a problem... not for us.. she's never been so clever as her sister, but she has never been so stubborn either.... she does fine in school... above average, even, and she is very, VERY good. People always see her as good... she is a good and kind and sensitive child, and I.... well, we.... me and Manda, and I'm sure that Katja agrees, that we she is not wrong... Evie is in no way wrong... her differences are right... Evie is so very right... .....

 

 

 

.......If only the world were so kind... not everybody can see her in that way... nearly nobody can....

...it all kicked off, that year... the year we missed the picninc, and that's exactly why- it all went nuts... me and Manda certainly didn't see it coming, and we often wondered if Evie had known for longer than we had, that the people were going to come...

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.... the school sent them... we had social services around first, and then we had phychatrist's appointments and we had councellors and we had doctors... all poking and prodding and "we want to help!"...

...they were so sure of that, that they wanted to help, and yet.... the only one who ever gave the impression of truly caring about Evie, was the last doctor we saw- the one who said Evie was fine... Nobody WANTED to admit that she was fine.. because.... I suppose to those people, who are not used to seeing people who are just... different.... she was clearly not fine, but she didn't actually HAVE anything.... she had no symptoms of autism, aspergers, personality disorders, anxiety issues, brain damage... they really checked her for everything, and she really had nothing, nothing, nothing at all, and my daughter was just bounced around for pretty much a whole year... seeing specialist this's and specialist thats.....

.... the day of the picnic, we had an appointment with a particularly... aggressive doctor, who was trying to make us give her pills.

... me and Manda and Katja, none of us wanted her to have the pills. We were NOT going to be drugging our five year old daughter, it was... quite simply... nuts. He didn't want to take no for an answer... he was making Evie very upset, anybody could see that, and yet me and Manda didn't quite have the guts to try and stop him...

... thank god for Katja, little Katja... she stood up, and said the most wonderful words I think I've ever heard... I will always be grateful to her for doing it, although quite what possesed her to is... a mystery... she almost shouted at this man, this huge, angry man, more than twice her size, she shouted...    "JUST STOP!! Can't you see you're hurting her!?... You've spent all this time... you've.. all the time we've been in here you keep saying you'll make her better- but you WON'T! Because you CAN'T! Because there's NOTHING WRONG WITH HER!!!! She just sees the world in a different way to you- Thank GOD!"

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..... and she just walked out... she just left! My little baby girl, I was so proud right at that moment, and.... I knew then, really... I knew that things would be ok for us, for all of us...even after everything.....

......we couldn't go to the picnic.. Evie was so... broken... by what had happened.. we just stayed at home... me and Katja and Manda and Charlie, who was just a tiny baby back then... we just cuddled up on the sofa with Evie and we all of us cried at some point.... and we just watched rubbish TV and we ordered pizza, and..... we were a family...

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... we went to the picnic the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that... those two were the only ones I've ever missed...

... we went to so many, you know, I'VE been to so many... they all sort of meld into one in my head... I can only remember tiny details... little snippets... a smile or a laugh... you know, they're all just a mess of memories... except for one...

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....Manda drove on the way up, that time... I was going to drive on the way back, we promised... Katja was eleven, and Evie was eight, and Charlie was four... they all sat in the back, and I watched them... Katja and Charlie... they both have this cute little habit of passing out then second they start a car journey.... Evie doesn't sleep much.. .she barely ever sleeps... she just sat with her sister sleeping on her shoulders.... and she was away... she was off in that way... in that little world that was entirely her own... they were so perfect... .... and when we stopped the car.... you know, it was such a wonderful day- it was sunny, I remember, and the grass was so lush, so green... we laid out a picnic blanket, and everybody was there- everybody... we ate crisps and scotch eggs and... just picnic food, and we just...... lived... we were so alive... .... And I remember so vividly me and Katja stayed to talk with Sally.. we stayed... and the rest of the family headed out to the other side of the park to play frisbee, I'm sure somebody.. Naomie, it was Naomie, had never played it before... and we'd laughed at her for reaching her twenties having never played frisbee... it seemes so silly that somebody could've reached that age having never played before...

... and me and Sally and Katja, we were sat in the wooded area... in the shade of this big old tree... this huge great tree and we looked out at the sheer brightness of the rest of the park, of the rest of my family playing with this puple disc... how it seemed so contrasting... so unreal.... like a picture on a tv screen... and I just watched...

.... I saw, as little Charlie was standing closest to the car parks... and I saw as Naomie threw the disc... just a little too hard, and I watched as she reached up her tiny toddler arms, and tried to catch the disk flying over her head.... it was funny, from so far away it seemed almost slow motion... as she... she sort of flung up both arms to catch it, and she did so with such force that it threw her off balance... and she fell over backwards, landing on her bum.... and I saw the disc land in the car park....

.... I saw as she put her arms forward and wriggled herself to standing... and I saw her toddle out after the disc... and I remember... I wondered why nobody had tried to stop her.... and I... saw the van....

.... I saw the van come screeching towards my child... my tiny child... and I was helpless once again... and I remember... Katja saw it too and she clung to me so tight.. but I.. I pushed her away and I was running but it felt so slow... so.. so ..slow... and I saw my wife...

...I saw Manda... I saw Manda as she thrust herself into the path of the van, shoving Charlie out of the way... I saw her try to move herself away too, and I saw in her eyes, the second she knew she was helpless.... I saw in such vivid detail, the last few seconds before it hit her, how she fell...

... And I remember, I reached her first... and I picked her up and she was breathing, she was breathing... but so slowly.... and... and... I was talking to her... I remember, I was talking to her, and I know, I know I said sorry when I scraped her legs on the rough gravel as I was pulling her into my arms, and I know, I remember thinking in the back of my mind....

..... there's sod all use speaking to her now... she's just a lump of meat and air...

... And I know she was still breathing... but my brain dug out some piece of medical knowledge that she must have given me over the years, because it was her voice that gave it to me.. I heard her saying... the body will go on breathing after the brain is dead... the person's gone, but the nerves in your head keep on pumping blood, moving your lungs for just a little longer....

.......but I was still talking to her, I know, I was still talking to her when the ambulance came, and I was still talking after it took her away....

.............

 

 

................

 

 

 

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.....

 

 

....................

 

 

 

 

............

 

 

.................

 

 

....  .. ....... It's funny, you know, I was fine at the funeral...

...... I didn't even cry, and I always cry, I ALWAYS cry... but... I held myself together....

....I even spoke to the congregation, I spoke to the group, and even made a joke...

...Sally did the main bit though... Sally did most of the talking... she was good, actually... she was very good. Sally has always been good.

Evie spoke too.

For the first time in her life, she spoke about her little world... it didn't make sense.

It was just some rubbish about stars.

But it meant a lot to her, I'm sure...

..eight year old logic...

...... Afterwards... afterwards.... I found Sally, and she was talking to our childr-... no.. it's just my children now...

... and I heard her say, I heard her say about heaven. I heard her say that's where Manda is now..

And I went over to her... and this... this.. this is by far the cruelest thing I have ever done... I took the hands of my children, and I led them away..

And as I walked past Sally... I said...

......

.....................

 

 

 

........... I said......

 

 

..............

 

 

............................

 

 

 

...........

 

"You keep lying to yourself if that helps you cope. But don't you ever lie to my children."

....................

 

 

.......

 

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.................................

...   .....

. . . . . . .  . . .   . . .   . . . ...

...........I held together well... I couldn't cry in front of the children, to a child, nothing is more terrifying than a tearful parent... unless it's a joke.

But the jokes... they're so, so far away now...

... and you know, I didn't cry, it didn't even hurt.... until...

until I reached for those coco-pops for Manda.

And I remembered that she'd never eat them again....

..........

 

..................

. .....

.........................

..............

.........

.................

....... there's something wrong with me... you know... ...

...it's like a crack, right through me... like a little bit of me has gone, and it made a fault line when it left... like I'm imploding...

Like the master peice has been taken, and the rest of me is just hanging on... just hanging on that little bit longer before it crumbles...

... it's like I'm falling absolutley inside myself... like every day another little peice of me folds away inside

 

 

 

......it's like I'll soon be gone..

 

 

 

I worry about the children, though...

 

... none of them cried...

Evie doesn't even seem upset... perhaps in her world..... there's.... it's.......

....

 

.......

...Katja, I know it's very, very hard for her, beacause.... she does not believe in anything. Like me... it's a bit of an issue with being a cynesist.... all she sees is a dead mother and a broken Father and nothing more.

... but... she's ok... she's strong

.......

 

 

.............

 

....

 

 

........

...it's Charlie....

..... she got the eyes of her mother, she really did....

....we joked about that when she was first born, me and Manda, about how those eyes were something I had marveled over for being utterly unique, and now they would never be unique again!....

 

 

.... and yet... and yet.... here they are, unique once more...

 

 

 

....You know what I see... when... when I look into Charlie's eyes?... I... I see nothing. Not any more. .....Where once there was such life, there's now just a ......shallow, empty iris.... When I... when I look at those eyes, all I see is Manda..... As she lay in my arms, her eyes glassy and unseeing...

And Charlie... she doesn't talk anymore. She hasn't spoken since that day. Not one word, not one indication of life. She's just breathing.

And people say, they say she's too young to understand, too young to blame herself, too young to know how her Mother ended up under that van.

People know nothing.....

.....

 

 

.......Charlie knows.

......

 

 

Charlie blames herself, I'm sure, and....

.... and....Charlie is suffering for it

I thought I would be gone soon. Charlie is gone already. She's just breathing.

It's been a month.

I thought I'd be gone soon, but I'm not going anywhere.... I don't think....

..... I owe them that liberty... all of them, I owe them so much...

..... I'll keep breathing........

.........

 

 

And me..... and Katja and Evie... we'll bring Charlie back, we will....

....You want to know how I know?

 

 

 

 

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............

...

 

............

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..

........

Yest..... Yesterday....

... Yesterday.... Evie came up to me, and she sat in my lap, and she said... she said to me....

...."Daddy," She says, in her little voice, she still makes me so happy....every second.. every word she breathes...  and..... and she probably knows it...."Daddy. There's no such thing as heaven, is there?"

And I'm just sat there thinking what the hell should I say, you know, because you CAN'T, no matter what you believe, just say to the face of your motherless daughter that there's no such thing as life after death, you just CAN'T.

She saves me, though, she carries on speaking....

"You don't believe that there is." She says. It's a statement of fact, and she knows it. "What DO you believe?"

And I think for a while, and I don't know what to tell her really, I'm desperate for something that will sound better than nothing, I'm DESPERATE... so after a while, I say some peice of trivia I found on the internet once, and it actually ends up sounding rather good.

"Evie..." I say, and I really am winging it here, "Evie, everybody on this planet is made up of different chemicals... and... those chemicals.. they can only be made in stars... do you know what that means?"

And Evie shakes her head.

"Evie, it means that you were... that all of us were once stars. We came from the stars, you know... and I believe... I believe that one day, we will all be stars again." And I nearly stop there, I certainly consider stopping there, but it all sounds nice, and I think there a little bit... more... I could say. So I go for it.

"And Evie, I believe that even though people die, their feelings might live forever. I believe- I KNOW that Mum will love us forever. So.... Evie.... if you ever feel alone, you can look at the sky.... and... you can know that there's a star that will always love you...." Evie seems to like the idea... she thinks we should all believe it, but by now Katja has walked in...... and She's holding Charlie, and she doesn't look like she wants to believe it at all.

She says.. she says to me, to all of us.

"You can't know that."

We're all crying, Evie and me and Katja, all except for Charlie, who's shown no sign of emotion since that day.

"No. You're wrong." Evie protests, but she does it quietly... softly.... a whisper... "He doesn't know that. Just because he doesn't know, doesn't mean he can't know. Maybe one day he will...we will..."

And Evie was right.... she was SO right...

....We will know someday....

.......And you know how I know that...?

Because when Evie says that, Charlie... poor, broken, emotionless Charlie.

 

 

 

 

She smiles.

 

 

 

 

 

She hasn't spoken yet.

 

Maybe she never will.

 

We don't know.

 

....but just beacause we don't know, doesn't mean we can't know...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe some day we will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm willing to wait and see.

 

 

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