Sunset over Glory

 

Synopsis - Reflection

 

A frightened, yet releived, nineteen year old Katie, is travelling home,with blood on her hands, in a pick up truck she is learning to drive.  after being kept as a hostage, where she was regularly abused and raped at the hands of a man she named Hulk. A merciless bully, ironically at a remote farm, set deep in the welsh hills and valleys, a farm named Glory.

After her seven -year-long terrifying ordeal, at an eerie place, she learned crying wouldn't do her any good, a place where silence became her best and only friend, and a place where only by playing to his rules, would she be able to survive. Katies manages to escape.  

The story opens after a horrific scene, where she manages to kill her capture in a bloodied rage, a man three times her size, a bear of a man with a cruel and visious temper. A man she has studied and finally, after carefull observation, managed to outwit. She steels his pick up truck and begins her journey home. At nineteen years old and being hidden away from civilisation for years, she sets off. With no map, or particular driving skills, only a number of turns to follow,  she makes her way across country, at night, fearing her own shadow, reversing left for right and right for left. Turns she kept stored in her head and her maths book for this day. A journey she has been planning for seven years.

Katie was kidnapped from the school gates, on the last day of the Christmas term on her 13th birthday, after wondering out on the street alone,  her sister Fran had refused to walk with her. Francesca, her older sister by two years , now seriously affected by her sisters disappearance, has become a manic-depressive and part time recluse. The only place she visits is a coffee shop, every day, where she chooses a time she knows she will be alone. A strategicly chosen place, she can sit in the quiet and think, a place where she can look down onto the Dickenzian style market town and look out for Katie. It's there she meets a man who she eventually learns to trust and confide in. Through their conversations, she looks back over her time of guilt, self harm and fear and comes to realise, it wasn’t her fault. After years, a stranger manages to do what the an endless string of councillors couldn't and set her free.

Katie has time to think and reflects over her story of hell, as she continues on her way back to safety. Nervous and terrified of every one she meets, she goes through the entire journey reliving every sickening moment  in frightening flashbacks.

Two sister's, telling their tales, each uneasy and each traumatic.

After an emotional look back over the time apart from her family. Katie makes it to a park, she recognises a swastika painted on the brick wall next to a red heart painted from a spray can, this tells her she is home. She runs to her house, heart pounding and knocks on her door . Her family are having a 21st birtrhday party for Fran, who has only just come to terms with the fact Katie isn’t coming home. Yet here she stands on the doorstep seven years older.

 

Emotional, shocking and the fear of every parent!

Scenes of violence and sex apparent.

 

 

 

 

Sunset over Glory

by

Carla Day

 

CHAPTER ONE – Halcyon Sun

 

 

I feel lighter than a speck of dust as I travel westward bound. A colossal halcyon sun is setting to my right creating eerie shadows over a tier of rolling hills. I wind down the window and unfurl a cloud of smoke, lick my lips and flick out my ash. A smile creeps across my face, I realise; I haven’t smiled in a very long time. I press my head back against the head-rest, glad of the support for my weary neck. Cool air bathing me and the sweet scent of early evening bonfire smoke filling the car. My back is sweat-soaked, I'm glad the sun is sinking. I welcome the cool evening with its soft golden shimmer as the last of the daylight becomes a line of gold and disappears.

 

The open road is full of promise. I wipe my bloodied hand across the leg of my denim shorts but it the blood has dried and is starting to crack making me itch. I must have been driving longer than I thought. I glance in the mirror and notice faint streaks of blood, where I have absent-mindedly wiped my brow and patches have made it into my blonde hair, like I have been sprayed with paint and the spots have bled and seeped to pink splotches.  It makes me smile, it isn’t paint, the smell is unmistakable, an iron-rich victorious smell, I want it to linger, I’m comfortable with having his blood on me, my hunters trophy, my badge of honour, I’ll wear it with pride until my next wash.

I don't know when that’s going to be? I'm enjoying driving, destination unknown, I have longed for this sense of freedom. I sink back in my seat chew my gum and turn on the radio. Hotel California plays, I put my foot down. It's over, I’m free!

The petrol light flickers, indicating my need to stop soon. I hadn’t planned on stopping, then I hadn't really planned on being alive. I have to get used to this sense and let is breathe into me. I am an no longer running - I look in the mirror again and I repeat it:

“You are no longer running, just driving, Just you, you just gotta breathe it all in." "He can't hurt you any more.” I cant cry, my tears dried up after a year. I kept them stored away, learning they were of no use, accept to cause me more pain. 

I look at the empty road, a simple line of grey, beautiful, a long line to home - I see no end to it, it’s flanked by a patchwork of dark squares, farmed fields, all neat and tidy like the squares in my maths book. I quickly check to see if my rucksack is on the back seat. Its there, tattered and frayed like the purple fleece blanket I had on my bed at home. It comforted me, even from afar, just the thought of it.

It doesn’t contain much, my bag, just my maths book, with its 2.452 coloured in squares and a byro pen that I have chewed at the end. A doll my mum left me before she died, three shirts, a pair of ripped jeans, and ten thousand pounds, inside my purple jumper, inside a cake tin, hidden inside my bag, my possessions, my world, my sanity. I never asked for more.

I don't know, how to put petrol in the car and I’m sure someone will question this. I have lived as a woman , or as he thought a woman should be, and  now I must remember what it was  to be a child. I reach into my pocket for the crimson lips stick. Always crimson. I smear it across my lips, it makes my look younger somehow and my skin iridescent . He liked me to wear it. I will never wear lipstick again. I wipe it across the back of my hand, flaking off dry blood; I toss it out of the window. I don’t want to look older. I wonder how I might get petrol and how to change gear and how to stop?

Lights puncture the darkness ahead, orbs of orange glow, making me squint. I apply the brakes slowly making the car jump and I come to a bumpy stop. A man in front putting petrol into a shiny white car turns to at me, I know that look. It makes my knees tremble and my stomach lurch. I have to lean on the car so I don't fall.

    

“Hey, can you help me, I've just passed my test and I'm still figuring out how to put petrol in ?” I smile sweetly; I know how to do it just right. I know because I wore that smile for the last seven years, a smile of terror disguised as a young woman full of lust, it's how I survived with that deceptive and tragic smile.

He eyes the car and then me, he must think it's an unusual choice for a first car, a pickup truck. Then he eyes my cut off jeans and the bare skin on my legs. I know that hungry smile. I shake and  have the urge to punch him right in the nuts.

     “Well, can you help me or not?” I push my face forward and gesture my open hands toward the petrol pump.

     “Yeah, sure., this is a big first car?”

     “My parents are farmers.” I say trying  to sound casual. He rubs a stubbled chin with a rough hand, and  I'm guessing he is a farmer  too, looking at his muddy unlaced boots and open lumber-jack shirt with a white smeared vest underneath.

     “Oh right, I live on western point up by the Yews. Where is your parent’s farm?”

My hearts starts to flutter and I don’t want to get caught out. I flinch as he steps forward, making him retreat

 “My parents farm is back in Shrewsbury.’The Pickles.'” I say, I make it up quickly, the last thing I ate, a pickled sandwich. I bite my lip suggestively, just like he made me. It worked, it made things over with quickly.

     “Never heard of it?” He lifts the flap and forcefully pushes in the nozzle.

     “Here take it, you have to learn sometime. Don't squeeze too hard. He winks as I take hold of the nozzle.I want to fiorce feed him the petrol. His smile is  greedy dirty smile, I want to wipe it away. I bite my lip to stop me speaking.

     “Just keep on squeezing, until you get the amount you want, keep your eye on the gauge, how much do you want to spend?” He looks at my cleavage as he speaks and licks his lips. He could by my Granddad, I shake, I feel sick.

     “It’s OK, I’m fine now, thanks for your help.” I pull the cap lower down my forehead, hoping he didn’t notice the blood.

He spots my hand.

    “Whoa, what did you do to your hand?” He looks concerned, his leathery face making lines as he winces and reaches for my hand .

“Oh, that, it’s paint, I paint.” I can see he doesn't buy it, I start to walk quickly towards the brightly lit booth.

     “Thanks for your help.” I say without looking back, I stopped at twenty pounds, not knowing how much to put in. I can see he hovers, trying to make sense of me and whether he should step in. I linger in the booth and get supplies, coke, chewing gum, crisps and sandwiches. He drives away. The assistant looks at my face and gasps. My bruises must be out, I put my finger tips up to my my face, it feels stiff and numb across the bridge of my nose. My skin is tight.

     “Oh, it,s nothing , I fell.” I laugh.

     “You should get that looked at. It looks nasty.” She also looks concerned and starts to look at the bigger picture, scanning me with her heavily made up eyes. She looks at the pick up, looking for a driver.

     I walk quickly across the courtyard and jump in the truck, I speed off making a racket with my underdeveloped clutch skills, leaving a smell of rubber and smoke in my wake, I notice she is on the phone.

     “Shit!”

I turn off the main road and I to a dark lane shrouded by dense trees and dark shadows, I know I’m not supposed to turn yet. I fiddle with the stick that alters the lights until I find full beam. The road is narrow, I decide I should stop for a while and then get back on the main road. I don’t want to get lost.

     I like the silence as I turn off both engine and lights. The cooing of an own and the rustle in the bushes indicates life is all around me, I’m used to these sounds and the dark. I wear them like a comfort blanket, the animals are my friends. Particularly the rabbit, Jester, I’ll miss him and his warm fur. I find a can of water in the back and try and wash off the blood and freshen up my face. The water is icy and takes my breath for a second, the blood smells strong diluted with water. I lay on the warm bonnet under the night sky, dense cloud is hiding  stars and shrieks of milky white escape the moon, it looks pretty. My wet hair fans out across the warm metal and steam rises. It looks like a scene from  horror movie. The irony.

     I start to shiver, another familiar sense, as night falls and darkness cloaks. A feeling of impending doom and a dull sense of defeat.

“I am free, I am free, I am free.” I whisper, my breath spurting upwards in straight lines. I look at my pinched skin, smothered in goosebumps and stone cold.

     I get out all three shirts and wear them all, tying to trap in any warmth and I pull my jeans over my denim shorts.

I start the engine, with a cold key and turn around the huge truck, taking several attempts. I get back onto the main road. The long line heading forward with no end in sight excites me. I sit my doll in the passenger seat, my accomplice. Tiny with a seat belt around her.

     “Don't complain Doris, It's for your own good.” I laugh so loud I almost wet myself. I haven’t laughed for the longest time. It feels good, even though I'm talking to a bloody doll. I can't stop. I drive through the night and stop only once to pee by the side of the road. Morning arrives quite suddenly, as a line of lemon to my left bleeds into the land and the sky pushing up a sun, It yields a golden glow to the landscape. I yawn and stretch out my back with my hands in the air.

     I plan to snooze in the warmth and rest my eyes, I unwind the seat until I’m almost flat the sun directly  on my face I flutter my eyelids and my body slumps heavy all at once and my breathing slows, sleeps awaits me.

 

** *

 

     The last flick of light as my eyes close, starts to shine brightly, I feel warmth close to my face, nine of them, small yellow flames, white wax dripping down the candy pink candles.

   “Make a wish Katie.” My sister Fran smiles then smirks, I don't know why she is so mean. I poke my tongue at her. And gloat as I look at my pink fairy castle cake and than back at her.

     “Not today girls please.” I hear this sentence every day, like it makes a difference. Just like my mum rolling her big green eyes and pushing her bony hand through her blonde hair as she lets out giant sighs. It makes no difference, we don't get on, never have. We are fine with it.

     “Go on then, blow!” I detect a bitter tone. I blow with all my might covering Fran with flecks of wax.

     “Mum!” “She did that on purpose!” I did.

     “Don't be silly Fran, it was an accident, what did you wish for Katie?” Fran storms in to the kitchen, slams the door the room shakes. Mum rolls her eyes and sighs.

     “Cant tell.” I say, thinking please, please,please let it be the doll. The one with a purple jumper and hair like gold and a tiny teenie hairbrush. PLEASE. I wished for a Doll, if I said it out loud, Fran would tear me to pieces I am thirteen, thirteen year olds don't do dolls, I am a young thirteen. I want a doll.

     Mum slices into my castle,  the cake implodes and the tower of my cake plops onto the silver-foil covered tray.

 

     “Sorry Love.” Sod the cake, I think.

     “Can I open my presents?” I see them stacked neatly against the fire place, wrapped in white ponies and pink hearts.

 

     A stack of small boxes, all for me. I stuff cake into my cake-hole letting cream fall on my chin in big dollops, I don't care it's my birthday and I want to get stuck in. Fran would use a letter opener and sit for hours, folding the paper to use again. I'm a shredder, I like to rip em open. No patients.

     “That's discussing mum. Tell her, for god sake mum...God Katie, you're bloody sick!”

     “That’s enough of that.” Eyes roll again.

     “LANGUAGE!” Dad pipes up from behind his paper.

     “Come on then get them opened.” Dad rubs his hands together and then ruffles my blonde bed-hair and sits next to us on the floor. Fran throws herself at the settee and sighs. Our house is one big sigh. I take off my thick purple dressing gown, sweating with excitement.

     I take the one at the top, shoe box size or doll size? I shake it and dig my nails into the thin paper. It tears and I see a plastic window. I tear some more to reveal a Super Skate in scrawled writing – a pair of skates! I clap my hands feebly,  trying not to let my disappointment show. I wanted Skate boys.

     “Thanks mum, dad.” I rip through the next presents throwing a pile of crumpled paper behind me, so I can no longer see Fran. Bed socks, books, new school bag, water-bottle cover and sweets. Last but not least, is a box, this is my last chance, I squeeze my eyes tight, pleeeeease!

     I open the envelope on top with the birthday card, savouring the box for last and a twenty pound note flutters to the floor. I think I am rich, a throw my arms around my mum then my dad and then sit back down chewing on my bottom lip and running my hands across the soft cream carpet. What if it isn't the doll?

     “Go on then love, hurry we have work and school.” Dad urges looking at his watch.

 

     I tear at a corner and it comes off if one long strip. There she is. Laying perfectly groomed and pinned down to cardboard by black wiry twists. 'Dame Doris,' hair shining like gold. A tiny handbag and a hairbrush and small mirror all displayed in plastic hollows by her side. I’m so happy I could jump the moon.  My insides feel warm and my heart is beating like a runaway train.

     “Thank you.” I hug them tightly and push it at my dad to unleash her from her plastic tomb, wanting to run my fingers down her silky hair. He struggles to pull apart the plastic and shouts at Fran to get the scissors. After a few huffs and bloody this and sodding that’s. Dad presents her to me.

    

     “Happy Birthday kiddo.”

 

A door slams upstairs, Fran huffs her way through getting ready for school, and I place Doris in my new school,bag I want all my friends to see her. I do everything quickly, we are late, birthdays don't stop time. Porridge eaten, socks on, teeth brushed, coats zipped, mum runs back in to get the forgotten packed lunches and we are in the car. Three doors slam shut and Mum sighs.

“OK, let’s go.” She checks herself in the rear view mirror and sighs again.

I have butterflies, birthday excitement; Fran has her head phones on, scowls at me then look away watching the morning go by.

We pull at St Mary's High Scool and a throng of girls with knee high socks and back packs, noisily make their way to the tall iron gates. I spot my friend Lynn and try to jump out without unfastening my seatbelt, it cuts into my neck. Fran laughs.

“Walk her in Fran, please?”

“No mum, she's a retard, I am not going in with her, the door slams and her pump covered feet trot and her long brown ponytail swishes as she marches to the gates.

Mum rolls her eyes gets out of the car and walks me to the gates. She squats down and hugs me tightly smelling of flowers and fresh air,

“Have a lovely day.” She smiles, it makes me warm.

“Thanks Mum.”

I never saw her again.

 

***

 

     I have calculated my first turn is about now, I am aware that I need to reverse the turns to take back to where home is. I know that when I was trapped in the dark boot of that fusty old car, which I later found go be a Ford Carpi, I managed to slow my heart down by counting. I had wet myself and my inner thighs stung. I counted turns as my head bumped for right and my toes touched for left. Its funny how it became a plan. At thirteen years old, I knew it was important to have a plan. I had no idea what I was doing in the boot of a car apart form that it was badf, really bad. But I remember smelling petrol and seeing small shards of light coming in through tiny cracks. My mouth was gagged and my hands tied behind my back but I could count, my mind was free if my body wasn’t.

     That is something that stayed with me over the next years, my mind was free to take me anywhere, especially when it happened. I was pinned to the bed by a bear of a man but my mind was in Disney Land, big hands around my throat but my mind was at home in my bed. I was chained to a wall and made to wear woman’s clothes from his dressing up box. but my mind was on the beach, on warm day eating pickle sandwiches and swimming in the sea. My mind saved me from dying inside. I dont think I will ever eat a pickled sandwhich again.

     I remember being sick and having to spit it out lumps of my school dinner slowly, over a gag that smelt of petrol and blood. I remember being so terrified I thought I was going to die. My mind franticly searching for the words of a prayer I had learned at Sunday school. I ached and my heart bumped so fast I thought it was going to run right out of my chest. I remember looking at my school socks and shiny black shoes and thinking that I should have put on the knee length ones, mum had said it was cold and she was right. Itreid to scream her name mum. It didnt come, just tears and terror showed up and sat with me. I shivered in the dark, retching and counting the turns of my bleak journey, for what seemed like an eternity. I never shut my eyes, not once. I could see my school bag at my feet. The one thing that I would posses over the next seven years that gave me hope. I would pick it up and sniff it, trying to smell home.

     He let me keep it. He let me have a small slice of home, the rest he took, dignity, childhood, freedom and innocence. He stripped me bare, right there in the stinking farmhouse kitchen and took it all. Big hands on innocent skin, grunting, thrusting and squeezing, smelling of cow shit and holding a dirt smeared hand over my small mouth. I counted, hot tears dripped and I counted flowers that were delicate across the ripped damp wallpaper, in faded rose and lemon.

Then he sat me at the kitchen table and gave me a pickle sandwich and made me a coffee, I was just thirteen years old with my new doll in my bag and my heart shrunk into a ball of fear and my mind frozen.

I shook so much that my hands rattled on the table as blood gathered around my feet in a pool. He barked for me to get a bucket and water clean it up. I ate the sandwich, I don’t know why but I was ravenous. Terrified and weak but knew I had to stay strong.

     “GET A BUCKET GIRL AND CLEAN YOUR MESS. MOTHER DIDNT LIKE MESS IN NER KITCHEN!” I did, I took A dirty rag out of the sink filled with unwashed mould-covered pots and I cleaned up my blood, with icy water, my virginal blood.

     He was, I think, the biggest man I had ever seen, shoulders that sat in a straight line, from a thick neck and arms so wide they looked like tree trunks. His teeth were dirty,and uneven. He didn’t wash and he didn’t shave. His black beard was matted and stank of coffee. When ever it happened, I prayed it would happen from behind so I didn’t have to breath in his rancid smell.

     He grabbed me , his big fingers closing around my upper arm. He dragged me to where I was to sleep for the next seven years. A barn, a cow shed filled with straw, field mice and grain. It was my first glimpse of where I was. As I crossed the farm yard, naked and aware of naked breast - apart from my shiny school shoes -  and shaking violently. I noticed it was littered with dark outlines of machinery and troughs. I saw looming shadows that looked like mountains. Beyond the cattle shed, I saw a fingernail moon and lots of stars. I saw a black line of trees and I saw emptiness. The emptiness that I saw when travelling on holiday with my parents, sat in the back of their car, fields, that stretched for miles and nothing beyond. My heart sank and I died a little that night.

     There was at least a pillow and a chain fixed to handcuffs, fixed to a wall, fixed to an exhausted and terrified me. A pair of handcuffs that would leave a thousand minute scars on my pale wrists, so faint they looked like strands of pink cotton. A dustbin liner of clothes was at my side, Next to a dirty mattress.

     “PICK STUFF, SO YOU DONT GET COLD!” His voice more a grunt. His eyes as narrow as slits.

     It was old ladies clothing. His dead mums, it stunk of pee. I put on three layers of old dresses that smelled faintly of sweat and cardigans that itched and sank into mattress covered with straw. He threw my school bag at me. It hit me in the chest and i fell onto teh mattress. He leant over me, I pissed myself.

     “SLEEP! He bellowed, I watched his giant shadow walk out of the barn into the moonlight with a limp and I sobbed into my small snaking hands. I never slept. I sat all night, hiding in a thatch of straw listening to scuttles and owl and noises of the night. I had never heard before. I was so frightened, I wet my self again and again . I was too scared to even feel the cold.

     I took out my maths book out and turned to a blank page , coloured in one tiny square at the top right hand corner with a sad face, day one. I hid it behind a wooden panel that was loose in the wall. I curled up into a tight ball the only warmth a trickle of blood out of my de-flowered vagina and on to my small aching thigh and I watched my breath in clouds of white, puff out into the black. I though I would die. I wish I had sometimes.

Turn three, I have to keep concentrating...

 

***

 

     “Fran, you're going to be late for work, hurry up I need to brush my teeth.” I bet she is rolling her eyes. Out side the bathroom door and tapping her foot. I hear her sigh and wonder does she know how fucking irritating it is?

     “Mum I can't piss any faster now can I?” Sigh.

 

     “Well I don’t know what you do in there, I really don’t!” I sometimes wish it was me that disappeared, she has always blamed me, they both have. I think about her every day. I live the nightmare of her absence with every sigh, snap and look. I didn’t walk her out of the school gate. Its my fault, It will be my fault until I die.

     They didn’t need to say the words. I just know. Like when you know someone’s mad by the way they slam doors and huff or how you know someone’s happy because they smile, hum and laugh. I know my parents are angry with me because for the last seven years, they have given me the look . Its set deep into their eyes sad and angry but I’m their daughter so they can't show it in words. Although every words is laced with accusation and every gesture a slap in my face. I have lived that guilt and I'm destroyed because of it. What do I say to them? I lost their daughter, my sister, my little sister. Who annoyed the shit out of me, who I never told I loved and I never got to say goodbye too.

     I see a therapist. Joe, He is a dick, He listens and scribbles into his pad, I saw once when he went to the loo and left it face down on his desk. It was full of doodles, as if he were designing sci fi comic, faces, stars, shooting stars, lightening bolts, drops of blood, Dracula's face and a hand with claws. I wondered who was more bonkers. So now, I talk nonsense when I am there. I just talk about the same boring stuff but never say what I’m actually thinking . I think they would lock me away if I told them the only way to take away my pain is to cut myself, or how I want to die most days. I think that would send my parents bonkers and I would be locked away. Katie, there is no chance of forgetting what she looks like, I see her in my nightmares, I see sad faces drawn in red ink and I see dark shadows and blood and I feel cold and I see her lying dead, in a field with eyes open-wide and her mouth parted, blood at the corner, a spider crawls out , I scream.

 

At first my parent came into me and held me, but now they know that there is nothing they can do. It must remind them every night. Their torture in my torture.

 

After college, they stopped for a while, when I met Ed, A lad who works at the Bookshop, 'Book', where I went at lunch, it had a trendy red velvet sofa that looked out onto the bustling Tiger Street and smelled of freshly ground coffee and vanilla. I used to order a cappuccino and read. I didn’t like him at first, a bit slimy and too keen. I wanted to be left to read and just relax. But he wanted to chat, Oh My God he was annoying, he was too clean looking, all neat,thick blonde hair gelled back into slices and buttons done up to the top. Big annoying white-toothed smile and soft skin.

 

“So what’s that you're reading, looks good?”

 

“It's a book about death!” I look him in the eye without smiling and look back to the book.

 

“Oh, death, interesting, fact or fiction?” He wipes the coffee table in front of me and stands waiting for an answer.

 

“Fiction” I don't look up. 

“Ah that’s good not plotting a murder then?”

 

“I could be, if you don’t go away.” I mutter

 

“Ooh feisty, you come in here a lot, is it to escape something? Or do you just like to read?”

 

“Bloody hell, nosey aren't you, do you interrogate all of your customers?”

 

“No just the pretty ones, who come here to read but instead stare out of the window for ages letting the £3.00 coffee go cold.”

 

“Observant.” Again I keep my nose in the book.

 

“Like I say just the pretty ones” He winks and doesn’t look so clean after all.

 

“So what’s the deal, do you have a busy job and enjoy the quiet, no , let me see, you are a guide at the museum and are sick of talking?”

 

“How did you know?”

 

He points to the badge with my name on.

 

“Smart arse, I see, now can I read my book please?” His smile looks not so pure.

 

“Absolutely.” He whistles his way back to the counter and serves and old man who has come in from the rain with the daily telegraph tucked under his arm and his comb-over hair flapping the wrong way. I see Ed whisper into the man's ear and he quickly flicks it back over. It makes me smile. maybe I misjudged him?

 

I finish my coffee, I manage to drink it while it 's still luke warm and take my cup back to the counter.

 

“See you tomorrow.” He calls out, as the door bell tinkles on my way out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                          Sunset over Glory

                                                      by

                                                 Carla Day

 

                CHAPTER ONE - Freedom

 

     Lighter than a speck of dust, I travel westward bound. A huge bronze sun setting to my right creates shadows over tiers of rolling hills. I wind down the window and unfurl a cloud of smoke and flick out my ash. A smile creeps across my face, I realise I haven’t smiled in a very long time. I press my head back against the head-rest, glad of the support for my weary neck. Cool air bathes me and the sweet scent of early evening bonfire smoke fills the car. My back is sweat-soaked and I 'm glad the sun is sinking. I welcome the cool evening with its golden shimmer as the last of the daylight disappears.

 

     The open road is full of promise. I wipe my bloodied hand across the leg of my denim shorts but it the blood has dried and starting to crack. I must have been driving longer than I thought. I glance in the mirror and notice faint streaks of blood, where I have absent-mindedly wiped my brow and patches have made it into my blonde hair, like I have been sprayed with paint and the spots have bled and seeped to pink splotches.  It makes me smile again, it isn’t paint, the smell is unmistakable, an iron-rich vicorious smell, I want it to linger, I’m comfortable with it, my hunters trophy, my badge of honour, I’ll wear it with pride until my next shower.

    

     I don't know when that’s going to be? I'm enjoying driving, destination unknown, I have longed for this sense of freedom. I sink back in my seat chew my gum and turn on the radio. Hotel California plays, I put my foot down. It's over, I’m free!

   The petrol light flickers, indicating my need to stop soon. I hadn’t planned on stopping, then I hadn't really planned on being alive. I have to get used to this sense and let is breathe into me. I am an no longer running - I look in the mirror again and I repeat it:

     “You are no longer running, just driving, Just you, you just gotta breathe it all in.”

    I look at the empty road a simple line of grey - I see no end to it, it’s flanked by a patchwork of dark squares, farmed fields, all neat and tidy like the squares in my maths book. I quickly check to see if my rucksack is on the back seat. Its there.

It doesn’t contain much. Just my maths book, with its 2.452 coloured in squares and a byro pen that I have chewed at the end. A doll my mum left me before she died, three shirts, a pair of ripped jeans, and ten thousand pounds, inside my purple jumper, inside a cake tin, hidden inside my bag, my possessions, my world, my sanity. I have never longed for more.

     I don't know, how to put petrol in a car and I’m sure someone will question my age. I have lived as a woman , or as he thought a woman should be, and  now I must learn to be a child. I reach into my pocket for the crimson lips stick. Always crimson. I smear it across my lips, it makes my look younger and my skin iridescent . He liked me to wear it. I will never wear crimson again. I wipe it across the back of my hand, flaking off dry blood; I toss it out of the window. I don’t want to look older. I wonder how I might get petrol and how to change gear?

     Lights puncture the darkness ahead, orbs of orange glow, making me squint. I apply the brakes slowly making the car jump and I come to a bumpy stop. A man in front putting petrol into a shiny white car turns to at me, I know that look.

    

“Hey can you help me, I've just passed my test and I have never put petrol in before?” I smile sweetly; I know how to do it just right.

He eyes the car and then me, he must think it's an unusual choice for a first car, a pickup truck. Then he eyes my cut off jeans and the bare skin on my legs. I know that hungry smile.

     “Well, can you help me or not?” I push my face forward and gesture my open hands toward the petrol pump.

     “Yeah, sure, you look younger than seventeen. This is a big first car?”

     “My parents are farmers.” I say trying  to sound casual. He rubs a stubbled chin with a rough hand, and  I'm guessing he is a farmer, looking at his muddy unlaced boots and open lumber-jack shirt with a white smeared vest underneath.

     “Oh right, I live on western point up by the Yews. Where is your parent’s farm?”

My hearts starts to flutter and I don’t want to get caught out.

 “My parents farm is back in Shrewsbury.’The Pickles.'” I say, I make it up quickly, the last thing I ate, a pickled sandwich. I bite my lip suggestively, just like he taught me. It worked.

     “Never heard of it?” He lifts the flap and forcefully pushes in the nozzle.

     “Here take it, you have to learn sometime. Don't squeeze too hard. He winks as I take hold of the nozzle.

     “Just keep on squeezing, until you get the amount you want, keep your eye on the gauge, how much do you want to spend?” He looks at my cleavage as he speaks and licks his lips. He could by my Granddad, I feel sick.

     “It’s OK, I’m fine now, thanks for your help.” I pull the cap lower down my forehead, hoping he didn’t notice the blood.

He spots my hand.

    “Whoa, what did you do to your hand?” He looks concerned, his leathery face making lines as he winces and reaches for my hand .

“Oh, that, it’s paint, I paint.” I start to walk quickly towards the brightly lit booth.

     “Thanks for your help.” I say without looking back, I stopped at twenty pounds, not knowing how much to put in. I can see he hovers, trying to make sense of me and whether he should step in. I linger in the booth and get supplies, coke, chewing gum, crisps and sandwiches. He drives away. The assistant looks at my face and gasps. My bruises must be out, I put my finger tips up to my my face, it feels stiff and numb across the bridge of my nose. My skin is tight.

     “Oh, it,s nothing , I fell.” I laugh.

     “You should get that looked at. It looks nasty.” She also looks concerned and starts to look at the bigger picture, scanning me with her heavily made up eyes. She looks at the pick up, looking for a driver.

     I walk quickly across the courtyard and jump in the truck, I speed off making a racket with my underdeveloped clutch skills, leaving a smell of rubber and smoke in my wake, I notice she is on the phone.

     “Shit!”

I turn off the main road and I to a dark lane shrouded by dense trees and dark shadows, I know I’m not supposed to turn yet. I fiddle with the stick that alters the lights until I find full beam. The road is narrow, I decide I should stop for a while and then get back on the main road. I don’t want to get lost.

     I like the silence as I turn off both engine and lights. The cooing of an own and the rustle in the bushes indicates life is all around me, I’m used to these sounds and the dark. I wear them like a comfort blanket, the animals are my friends. Particularly the rabbit, Jester, I’ll miss him and his warm fur. I find a can of water in the back and try and wash off the blood and freshen up my face. The water is icy and takes my breath for a second, the blood smells strong diluted with water. I lay on the warm bonnet under the night sky, dense cloud is hiding  stars and shrieks of milky white escape the moon, it looks pretty. My wet hair fans out across the warm metal and steam rises. It looks like a scene from  horror movie. The irony.

     I start to shiver, another familiar sense, as night falls and darkness cloaks. A feeling of impending doom and a dull sense of defeat.

“I am free, I am free, I am free.” I whisper, my breath spurting upwards in straight lines. I look at my pinched skin, smothered in goosebumps and stone cold.

     I get out all three shirts and wear them all, tying to trap in any warmth and I pull my jeans over my denim shorts.

I start the engine, with a cold key and turn around the huge truck, taking several attempts. I get back onto the main road. The long line heading forward with no end in sight excites me. I sit my doll in the passenger seat, my accomplice. Tiny with a seat belt around her.

     “Don't complain Doris, It's for your own good.” I laugh so loud I almost wet myself. I haven’t laughed for the longest time. It feels good, even though I'm talking to a bloody doll. I can't stop. I drive through the night and stop only once to pee by the side of the road. Morning arrives quite suddenly, as a line of lemon to my left bleeds into the land and the sky pushing up a sun, It yields a golden glow to the landscape. I yawn and stretch out my back with my hands in the air.

     I plan to snooze in the warmth and rest my eyes, I unwind the seat until I’m almost flat the sun directly  on my face I flutter my eyelids and my body slumps heavy all at once and my breathing slows, sleeps awaits me.

 

                                                                   ** *

 

     The last flick of light as my eyes close, starts to shine brightly, I feel warmth close to my face, nine of them, small yellow flames, white wax dripping down the candy pink candles.

   “Make a wish Katie.” My sister Fran smiles then smirks, I don't know why she is so mean. I poke my tongue at her. And gloat as I look at my pink fairy castle cake and than back at her.

     “Not today girls please.” I hear this sentence every day, like it makes a difference. Just like my mum rolling her big green eyes and pushing her bony hand through her blonde hair as she lets out giant sighs. It makes no difference, we don't get on, never have. We are fine with it.

     “Go on then, blow!” I detect a bitter tone. I blow with all my might covering Fran with flecks of wax.

     “Mum!” “She did that on purpose!” I did.

     “Don't be silly Fran, it was an accident, what did you wish for Katie?” Fran storms in to the kitchen, slams the door the room shakes. Mum rolls her eyes and sighs.

     “Cant tell.” I say, thinking please, please,please let it be the doll. The one with a purple jumper and hair like gold and a tiny teenie hairbrush. PLEASE. I wished for a Doll, if I said it out loud, Fran would tear me to pieces.

     Mum slices into my castle,  the cake implodes and the tower of my cake plops onto the silver-foil covered tray.

    

     “Sorry Love.” Sod the cake, I think.

     “Can I open my presents?” I see them stacked neatly against the fire place, wrapped in white ponies and pink hearts.

 

     A stack of small boxes, all for me. I stuff cake into my cake-hole letting cream fall on my chin, I don't care it's my birthday and I want to get stuck in. Fran would use a letter opener and sit for hours, folding the paper to use again. I'm a shredder, I like to rip em open. No patients.

     “That's discussing mum. Tell her, for god sake mum...God Katie, you're bloody sick!”

     “That’s enough of that.” Eyes roll again.

     “LANGUAGE!” Dad pipes up from behind his paper.

     “Come on then get them opened.” Dad rubs his hands together and then ruffles my blonde bed-hair and sits next to us on the floor. Fran throws herself at the settee and sighs. Our house is one big sigh. I take off my thick purple dressing gown, sweating with excitement.

     I take the one at the top, shoe box size or doll size? I shake it and dig my nails into the thin paper. It tears and I see a plastic window. I tear some more to reveal a Super Skate in scrawled writing – a pair of skates! I clap my hands feebly,  trying not to let my disappointment show. I wanted Skate boys.

     “Thanks mum, dad.” I rip through the next presents throwing a pile of crumpled paper behind me, so I can no longer see Fran. Bed socks, books, new school bag, water-bottle cover and sweets. Last but not least, is a box, this is my last chance, I squeeze my eyes tight, pleeeeease!

     I open the envelope on top with the birthday card, savouring the box for last and a twenty pound note flutters to the floor. I think I am rich, a throw my arms around my mum then my dad and then sit back down chewing on my bottom lip and running my hands across the soft cream carpet. What if it isn't the doll?

     “Go on then love, hurry we have work and school.” Dad urges looking at his watch.

 

     I tear at a corner and it comes off if one long strip. There she is. Laying perfectly groomed and pinned down to cardboard by black wiry twists. 'Dame Doris,' hair shining like gold. A tiny handbag and a hairbrush and small mirror all displayed in plastic hollows by her side. I’m so happy I could jump the moon.  My insides feel warm and my heart is beating like a runaway train.

     “Thank you.” I hug them tightly and push it at my dad to unleash her from her plastic tomb, wanting to run my fingers down her silky hair. He struggles to pull apart the plastic and shouts at Fran to get the scissors. After a few huffs and bloody this and sodding that’s. Dad presents her to me.

    

     “Happy Birthday kiddo.”

 

A door slams upstairs, Fran huffs her way through getting ready for school, and I place Doris in my new school,bag I want all my friends to see her. I do everything quickly, we are late birthdays don't stop time. Porridge eaten, socks on, teeth brushed, coats zipped, mum runs back in to get the forgotten packed lunches and we are in the car. Three doors slam shut and Mum sighs.

“OK, let’s go.” She checks herself in the rear view mirror and sighs again.

I have butterflies, birthday excitement; Fran has her head phones on, scowls at me then look away watching the morning go by.

We pull at St Mary's and a throng of girls with knee high socks and back packs, noisily make their way to the tall iron gates. I spot my friend Lynn and try to jump out without unfastening my seatbelt, it cuts into my neck. Fran laughs.

     “Walk her in Fran, please?”

     “No mum, she's a retard, I am not going in with her, the door slams and her pump covered feet trot and her long brown ponytail swishes as she marches to the gates.

Mum rolls her eyes gets out of the car and walks me to the gates. She squats down and hugs me tightly smelling of flowers and fresh air,

     “Have a lovely day.” She smiles, it makes me warm.

“Thanks Mum.”

I never saw her again.

 

 

                                                              ***

 

     I have calculated my first turn is about now, I am aware that I need to reverse the turns to take back to where home is. I know that when I was trapped in the dark boot of that fusty old car, which I later found go be a Ford Carpi. I slowed my heart down by counting. I had wet myself and my inner thighs stung. I counted turns as my head bumped for right and my toes touched for left. Its funny how it became a plan. At nine years old I knew it was important to have a plan. I had no idea what I was doing in the boot of a car but I remember smelling petrol and seeing small shards of light coming in through tiny cracks. My mouth was gagged and my hands tied behind my back but could count my mind was free if my body wasn’t.

     That is something that stayed with me over the next years, my mind was free to take me anywhere, especially when it happened. I was pinned on the bed by a bear of a man but my mind was in Disney Land, big hands around my throat but my mind was at home in my bed. I was chained to a wall and made to wear woman’s clothes from his dressing up box. but my mind was on the beach, on warm day eating pickle sandwiches and swimming in the sea. My mind saved me from dying.

     I remember being sick and having to spit it out the lumps of my school diner slowly, over a gag that smelt of petrol and blood. I remember being so terrified I thought I was going to die. My mind franticly searching for the words of a prayer I had learned at Sunday school. I ached and my heart bumped so fast I thought itwas going to run right out of my chest. I remember looking at my

     school socks and shiny black shoes and thinking that I should have put on the knee length ones, mum had said it was cold and she was right. I shivered in the dark, retching and counting the turns of my bleak journey, for what seemed like an eternity. I never shut my eyes, not once. I could see my school bag at my feet. The one thing that I would posses over the next seven years that gave me hope. I would pick it up and sniff it, trying to smell home.

     He let me keep it. He let me have a small slice of home, the rest he took, dignity, childhood, freedom and innocence. He stripped me bare, right there in the stinking farmhouse kitchen and took it all. Big hands on innocent skin, grunting, thrusting and squeezing, smelling of cow shit and holding a dirt smeared hand over my small mouth. I counted, hot tears dripped and I counted flowers that were delicate across the ripped damp wallpaper, in faded rose and lemon.

Then he sat me at the kitchen table and gave me a pickle sandwich and made me a coffee, I was nine years old.

I shook so much that my hands rattled on the table as blood gathered around my feet in a pool. He barked for me to get a bucket and water clean it up. I ate the sandwich, I don’t know why but I was ravenous. Terrified but knew I had to stay strong.

     “GET A BUCKET GIRL AND CLEAN YOUR MESS. MOTHER DIDNT LIKE MESS IN NER KITCHEN!” I did, I took A dirty rag out of the sink filled with unwashed mould-covered pots and I cleaned up my blood, with icy water, my virginal blood.

     He was, I think, the biggest man I had ever seen, shoulders that sat in a straight line, from a thick neck and arms so wide they looked like tree trunks. His teeth were dirty,and uneven. He didn’t wash and he didn’t shave. His black beard was matted and stank of coffee. When ever it happened, I prayed it would happen from behind so I didn’t have to breath in his rancid smell.

     He grabbed me , his big fingers closing around my upper arm. He dragged me to where I was to sleep for the next seven years. A barn, a cow shed filled with straw, field mice and grain. It was my first glimpse of where I was. As I crossed the farm yard, naked apart from my shiny school shoes and shaking violently, I noticed it was littered with dark outlines of machinery and troughs. I saw looming shadows that looked like mountains. Beyond the cattle shed, I saw a fingernail moon and lots of stars. I saw a black line of trees and I saw emptiness. The emptiness that I saw when travelling on holiday with my parents, sat in the back of their car, fields, that stretched for miles and nothing beyond. My heart sank and I died a little that night.

     There was A pillow and a chain fixed to handcuffs, fixed to a wall, fixed to an exhausted and terrified me. A dustbin liner of clothes was at my side.

     “PICK STUFF, SO YOU DONT GET COLD!” His voice more a grunt.

     It was old ladies clothing. His dead mums, it stunk of pee. I put on three layers of old dresses that smelled faintly of sweat and cardigans that itched and sank into the straw. He threw my school bag at me.

     “SLEEP! I watched his giant shadow walk out of the barn into the moonlight with a limp and I sobbed into my small snaking hands. I never slept. I sat all night, hiding in a thatch of straw listening to scuttles and owl and noises of the night. I had never heard before. I was so frightened, I wet my self again . I was too scared to even feel the cold.

     I took out my maths book out and turned to a blank page , coloured in one tiny square at the top right hand corner with a sad face, day one. I hid it behind a wooden panel that was loose in the wall. I curled up into a tight ball the only warmth a trickle of blood out my de-flowered vagina and on to my small aching thigh and I watched my breath in clouds of white, puff out into the black. I though I would die. I wish I had sometimes.

Turn three, I have to keep concentrating...

 

                                                                                             ***

 

     “Fran, you're going to be late for work, hurry up I need to brush my teeth.” I bet she is rolling her eyes. Out side the bathroom door and tapping her foot. I hear her sigh and wonder does she know how fucking irritating it is?

     “Mum I can't piss any faster now can I?” Sigh.

 

     “Well I don’t know what you do in there, I really don’t!” I sometimes wish it was me that disappeared, she has always blamed me, they both have. I think about her every day. I live the nightmare of her absence with every sigh, Snap and look. I didn’t walk her out of the school gate. Its my fault, It will be my fault until I die.

     They didn’t need to say the words. I just know. Like when you know someone’s mad by the way they slam doors and huff or how you know someone’s happy because they smile, hum and laugh. I know my parents are angry with me because for the last seven years, they have given me the look . Its set deep into their eyes sad and angry but I’m their daughter so they can't show it in words. Although every words is laced with accusation and every gesture a slap in my face. I have lived that guilt and I'm destroyed because of it. What do I say to them? I lost their daughter, my sister, my little sister. Who annoyed the shit out of me, who I never told I loved and I never got to say goodbye too.

     I see a therapist. Joe, He is a dick, He listens and scribbles into his pad, I saw once when he went to the loo and left it face down on his desk. It was full of doodles, as if he were designing sci fi comic, faces, stars, shooting stars, lightening bolts, drops of blood, Dracula's face and a hand with claws. I wondered who was more bonkers. So now, I talk nonsense when I am there. I just talk about the same boring stuff but never say what I’m actually thinking . I think they would lock me away if I told them the only way to take away my pain is to cut myself, or how I want to die most days. I think that would send my parents bonkers and I would be locked away. Katie, there is no chance of forgetting what she looks like, I see her in my nightmares, I see sad faces drawn in red ink and I see dark shadows and blood and I feel cold and I see her lying dead, in a field with eyes open-wide and her mouth parted, blood at the corner, a spider crawls out , I scream.

 

At first my parent came into me and held me, but now they know that there is nothing they can do. It must remind them every night. Their torture in my torture.

 

After college, they stopped for a while, when I met Ed, A lad who works at the Bookshop, 'Book', where I went at lunch, it had a trendy red velvet sofa that looked out onto the bustling Tiger Street and smelled of freshly ground coffee and vanilla. I used to order a cappuccino and read. I didn’t like him at first, a bit slimy and too keen. I wanted to be left to read and just relax. But he wanted to chat, Oh My God he was annoying, he was too clean looking, all neat,thick blonde hair gelled back into slices and buttons done up to the top. Big annoying white-toothed smile and soft skin.

 

“So what’s that you're reading, looks good?”

 

“It's a book about death!” I look him in the eye without smiling and look back to the book.

 

“Oh, death, interesting, fact or fiction?” He wipes the coffee table in front of me and stands waiting for an answer.

 

“Fiction” I don't look up.

 

“Ah that’s good not plotting a murder then?”

 

“I could be, if you don’t go away.” I mutter

 

“Ooh feisty, you come in here a lot, is it to escape something? Or do you just like to read?”

 

“Bloody hell, nosey aren't you, do you interrogate all of your customers?”

 

“No just the pretty ones, who come here to read but instead stare out of the window for ages letting the £3.00 coffee go cold.”

 

“Observant.” Again I keep my nose in the book.

 

 

 

“Like I say just the pretty ones” He winks and doesn’t look so clean after all.

 

“So what’s the deal, do you have a busy job and enjoy the quiet, no , let me see, you are a guide at the museum and are sick of talking?”

 

“How did you know?”

 

He points to the badge with my name on.

 

“Smart arse, I see, now can I read my book please?” He smile looks not so pure.

 

“Absolutely.” He whistles his way back to the counter and serves and old man who has come in from the rain with the daily telegraph tucked under his arm and his comb-over hair flapping the wrong way. I see Ed whisper into the man's ear and he quickly flicks it back over. It makes me smile. maybe I misjudged him?

 

I finish my coffee, I manage to drink it while it 's still luke warm and take my cup back to the counter.

 

“See you tomorrow.” He calls out, as the door bell tinkles on my way out.