Rage Against the Darkness

Jenny Solomons lives a quiet life with her long-time partner Bruce Whitfield and their daughter Melody.
One morning she receives a disturbing call from her sister Melanie and two days later Melanie commits suicide. Melanie was a diagnosed Bipolar Sufferer and was stable for many years. It does not make sense to Jenny what had suddenly changed and tipped Melanie over the edge. To make matters worse, Jenny has the unenviable task of notifying her estranged father. These events challenge Jennys’ strength and wisdom and just as she starts to unpack her emotions, she discovers a dark secret that takes her to the precipice of destruction.
Then the unthinkable happens and it is up to Jenny to bring closure to her past and move forward with her life.

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1. “The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

The change in Melanie sneaked up as unobtrusive as a snake. Jenny missed the nuances. It became apparent to Jenny that Mel was ill during a very disjointed conversation with her that morning. Jenny tossed and turned in bed for most of the previous night and decided to start her day at five in the morning giving up the idea of sleep. She finished her shower, dressed and entered the open plan kitchen. Turning on the filter coffee machine, she turned to her cell as it buzzed ‘Fly me to the Moon’, interrupting her mental organization of the day ahead. Jenny checked the caller, frowned, pursed her lips and with sharp exhalation said “Mel everything okay?”

 

“They’ve been following me all week Jenny,” Mel cried “all week. I knew they would. I warned everyone, but no-one would listen”.

Jenny’s heart started racing and her face flushed “What? Who is following you?” pressing her hand to her forehead.”

“The Illuminati of course. Or could it be the party?” Mel stammered. Her speech was loud and fast-paced and Jenny imagined Melanie pacing the room while speaking. She did that when she felt out of control.

Why did you not pick up the signs Jenny, she chastised herself.

 

This relentless drama was familiar to Jenny and like a bad sequel to a hideous movie unfolded in the same predictable way. Hospitalisation.    

Jenny lit her first cigarette of the day. She cut down and aimed to quit by the end of the month. Her desperation for one now trumped the quitting process.

“Jenny you have to come down. I need you. Besides, I don’t know whether this line is secure.” Jenny bowed her head as she raked her fingers through her hair and tried to figure out how to free a few hours during the hectic week she had, to drive from Franschhoek to Cape Town, where Mel lived.

“It’s okay Mel, it’s okay?” Jenny made a futile attempt at talking Mel down.

“No it’s not okay Jenny!” Mel sputtered, “My life is in danger and you’re saying it’s okay. Please don’t tell me they got to you too”

 

A shadow of fear crept into Jenny as she wondered whether Mel was delusional or whether there was a grain of truth in what Mel was saying. The Illuminati of all things. Jenny now recalled a conversation with Mel six years ago during Mel’s last manic episode. Something about some exclusive group which she remembered reading about in The Davinci Code’ by Dan Brown, a book Mel bought for Jenny. It was all too unreal for Jenny’s agnostic brain.

 

Jenny's boss put considerable pressure on her to complete the book reviews handed her two days ago, and Melody, her sixteen-year-old daughter, started art classes. To top it all, she had a book she was ghostwriting and she finally started working on her own book. Mel, this is the most inconvenient time. Jenny blew over the steaming cup of coffee she had poured while speaking to Mel. Guilt ran through her veins over her self-absorption.

 

 

The tick, tick-ticking sound made Jenny look up. Seven am and so much to do. Lowering her head, eyes drooping she listened to Mel’s deluded account of her paranoid imaginings, interjecting at certain times. Mel did most of the talking.

“I can hear that you’re frightened Mel and that must be a scary place for you right now. Tell me about the Illuminati.”

“I told you about how they have been following me,” Mel hissed. As for the party… maligning me for two weeks now. They know and now they’re in high dudgeon and wanting to take me out.”

 “Mel why don’t you come spend a few days with me?” Jenny could not see any possibility of jetting off at this crucial time.

“I’m scared Jenny, really scared”

“I know Mel. I can hear the panic”

 

Jenny managed to placate Mel…for the time being and ended the call. She entered her office located in the loft of their three bedroomed house and rumbled through some files on the bookshelf. The yellow walls burnt bright with the glow of the sunrays bouncing off them making her head spin. In an act of impulsiveness, she painted her room last month hoping that the bright colour would inspire her to work on her book. She drew one curtain in front of her desk, twisted her head to the corner of the room, as she spied Lily, her small yellow and green parakeet, pecking on her favourite seeds. Having forgotten what she was searching for she stroked Lily’s tail and muttered “Morning Lily” as she passed by another bookshelf.  She received a “morning, morning” from Lily, a few of the words she could speak.

 

There were three large bookshelves containing manuscripts, books, and files keeping her busy with book reviews and ghostwriting. A large maple table and chair, which she had placed in front of the two cottage paned windows, overlooked the garden. The smell of the iceberg roses infused the room spreading their floral odour. Jenny inhaled the sweet smell as her chest rose, providing momentary release of the tight-chested crush she felt while speaking to Mel.

At the opposite end of the room, a long balcony with ceiling to floor lime green voile curtains opened onto a view of the pool. She heard the swooshing of water as the creepy crawler snaked its way around the pool. There were two occasional chairs, one next to Lily, the other close to the balcony. A lime green two-seater settee filled the space between the desk and start of the landing. She sat there when she wanted to read a book.

 

She pressed her lips together and furrowed her brows clenching her jaw so that her mouth felt like it was in a vice grip. Her heart did hula-hoops. Her stomach muscles ached from tightening it all morning. The call earlier from Mel, bounced her right off her game. If it were not for the fact that she needed to review two books by the end of the week, she would take the day off and go for a massage. Fat chance of that happening as Wednesday reared its ugly head. She gave a lopsided grin but the start of her smile faded as she recalled how panicked Mel sounded.

 

She sat on the occasional chair close to the balcony, bowed over, pressing her hands to her eyes. Then crossing her arms she rocked back and forth. Mel had been well for so long. What was her undoing now? Lighting another cigarette she pulled herself out of the chair and paced the room, drinking cold coffee wondering how to deal with this crises. Her heart was drumming and her thoughts were a runaway train. She called Bruce, her partner and Melody’s dad. Damn, voicemail, just what she needed. Trying a different tack, she called Jill, a mutual friend of Mel’s.

“Hi Jill, it’s Jenny how are you doing?”

“Jenny it’s been way too long. How are you?”

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