Fiction logo

More Than One Can Bear

When You Cannot Break But Just Keep Bending

By The Dani WriterPublished 24 days ago Updated 21 days ago 10 min read
Top Story - February 2024
37
More Than One Can Bear
Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

Many people are under the impression that big things don’t get lost or forgotten. I know firsthand that many people are delusional.

Beg to differ all you want and stop reading right now. Ain’t no loss to my truth, and I’ll only deign to share my journey with those who’ve got common sense anyway. The way I figure it, common sense is the L.C.D. (lowest common denominator.) I can work with that. Maybe find a heart with some untainted love left in it. Sure don’t have it in me to work with anything less. I’ve witnessed humanity’s dredge…

Barely a week ago, and although her screams were muffled, they punctured my soul affixing it to the back side of a void so vast, there remained no point to sentience. Kinda like how clinical depressive folk feel on a good day.

The reason someone like me knows something like this?

Michael, that’s why.

A single baby-boomer Dad living on the outskirts of Cardiff where maximum winter festive skies did nothing but drone on interminably long in the life of his son Alex. That miniature adonis could easily have been a teen girl’s dream with his mass of chocolate curls and smooth-swirling eyes to rival Galaxy Minstrels and precisely as tempting.

Like any other kid, ordinarily, he’d range from a tad scared through to excited for the transition to secondary school.

Adults meeting Alex often assumed him autistic, somewhere on the spectrum. His vocabulary, robust after nine years, dwindled to a monosyllabic word or two uttered a day merely thirteen months later. Yeah, there was therapy and all with moderate progress but what benefit was that when you just needed your mother to come home?

The neighbors tittered and tutted but Michael became more adept than barbed wire security fencing in parental protection. His son clung to him like a life raft when home. Hell, I would too if the police grappled my Mom away kicking and shrieking profanities in the middle of a Sir David Attenborough Atlantic Ocean documentary and I never saw her again.

The trade-off Alex proposed, one his Dad couldn’t refuse:

No more counseling and I’ll go to high school.

By mid-term, Alex made zero friends but completed assignments while other classmates were boisterous and disruptive. Teachers hid concerned looks but by end of term, nothing had externally changed with a cursory glance. A lingering kestrel-gaze however, would show crisscross fringe scars from wrists to forearms, unseen wearing the classic tapered Bryn Llantrisant school uniform most days. Black or dark blue hoodies camouflaged weekend/bank holiday anguish. Until they couldn’t. Guidance offerings to Michael were a concoction of pharmaceuticals which he rejected less vehemently each time as his worry grew.

The Yuletide season hurtled Michael into desperation purchases. I came in as a second buy after a Millenium Falcon from the Lego Store and before a YA novel Wintergirls that overrode his reticence (Like really, girls? Come on!) with the back cover quote excerpt:

“They tied me back together, but they didn't use double knots. My insides are draining out of the fault lines in my skin, I can feel it, but every time I check the bandages, they're dry.” ― Laurie Halse Anderson

When the stakes are only a selection of one, it’s love or nothing.

I’ve no remembrance of life before being top-shelf-perched in ‘The Entertainer’ stuffed animals section, I simply understood upon arrival to a 2-bedroom semi-detached house on Llandgynidr Road, that cuddly-comfort-approachable-24/7-irresistibility-‘A-game’ win was the only option.

“Daa! A teddy bear? Seriously???”

“I’m partial to big bears, fy mach i (my little one)” Michael reasoned, “and I promise not to peek if you gives it a cwtsh (hug.)” Alex ducked a second before Daa playfully swiped at his head.

Of course, accidental glimpses caught Alex snuggled around my extensive girth, his dreams saturated with dark putrid coiled lines I furiously tried to obliterate. Most times, they would ease away, but on the odd occasion when they didn’t, a sour stench roiled about my innards as sea blue flannel pajamas jerked and seized in fitful sleep.

My view of him through a magnifying glass. Every change in breathing. Any change in gait. Routine. Daily, a solitary Fox's Glacier Mint from a glass canister on the pine Ikea bedside table. The minty scent did nothing for me. Funny thing was, I could tell it did nothing for him either but Daa made sure it stayed topped up with sweets.

A heavy eerieness took root in me one Tuesday afternoon, the second week of the new school term.

No one came home for three days.

My butt implanted on Alex's ocean-themed pillow. It matched the bed linens. The pillowcase, not my butt, you wise ass. At home, I'd be moved from bed to floor to window sill to gaming chair. He'd place a game console in my lap each time even though I couldn't—well...you know.

Panic rose steadily.

When Daa returned, his demeanor was morose and silent. The house grew mold, cobwebs, and dust. No relief for the constant dull ache that tore through my chest where Alex would lay his head. Constricted chest pain emanated from Michael as well, combined with a vile bitter odor that nauseated an unspoken finality that Alex would never again come home.

When Daa meandered into the bedroom he lifted the glass canister of mints and flung it against the wall. Glass shards and sweets, a hideous contrast. He wailed with a hellbound howl I possessed but could never emit. A hint crystallized inside me during that painful moment...rituals. It was Mum who loved those godawful Glacier Mints.

Alex.

Not one friend.

I had cared for his ‘fy mach i’ almost a month but never once did I comprehend how children could be so cruel.

The house felt empty even before being cleared and put on the market. I wound up in a box bound for destinations unknown. Darkness did its damndest to cover my inadequacy. It failed in misery. Maybe defeat was my baseline in the back of a lorry where black sulfurous lines pointed at me from all directions threatening to coil.

Once as Alex slept, I distinctly saw his Mum inside his mind. She smelled of French lavender and airy summer dresses even there. Committing the scent to memory might have helped me win. Maybe. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. When desperation reaches for you and you lose the plot, it's hard. Ten times worse when you lose a life.

I didn’t deserve another home. so unpaid work as a theatre prop matched emotional segments of me that would never heal.

A couple of pantomimes.

One updated twisted musical of Goldilocks.

Loads of rehearsals. Bright blinding lights. And hours on end alone.

Plenty of time to think. And have the stuffing nearly knocked out of me.

Truth.

The stagehand would pummel me routinely after the cast left the building. He reeked of liquor and cruelty. Around his aura, I could see the abuse his wife and nephew suffered routinely at home. It would hurt less for him to stay longer. When he hurled abuse toward me, I’d think to myself,

That’s less torment for those two at home.

But mid-spring, the turd carelessly tossed a cigarette. The damage could have been catastrophic but remained considerable. The Brislington Theatre Company had to find a new base of operations.

I’ve awoken with cold shivers at odd hours since then. Mostly nightmarish imaginings of a Greek brunette with blood pouring from her ears, sporting broken teeth over bruised lips, and a ten-year-old bony lad with anxiety who neurotically talks to himself a lot.

My translocation didn’t involve a box this time which was probably why I got 'nicked' as they say. A defining moment and flutter in my heart when a gruff Scottish man passed me to Iyla in a three-bed terraced property in Melksham. I didn’t have any feelings left to be felt but Iyla didn’t care. She called me Baba. She called me Angel. Every day a different name and they intrigued me out of indifference. Her eyes played laughter and light near my nose. She’d wrap my arms around her 7-year-old cream-colored frame and the fit wore away at me. Day after day. Exuberance that bounced, rebounding in my cheeks. I swear they got bigger from not trying to smile.

But Iyla was also layered puzzlement with stringy blonde hair who never attended school. Spent most of her time in her room with me, conflicted about the attentiveness and unsettled for reasons I could not explain.

Three to four times a night, her eyes would lose that light when the man came to her door. He didn’t act like any father I would like. Cold. I despised him. Internal dissonance because he gave me to Iyla. Clinical and unyielding sludge when the men came with lewd looks and she’d leave for the spare room. There’d be clunks and bangs. Whimpers I’d strain to hear with explosive hatred surrounded by worry. My whole body one gigantic cringe on needles until she returned, tear-stained, always to hold me tight for hours before she bathed. Iyla the Brave. Iyla the courageous. Iyla who could hug me tight no matter how awful she felt for months on end.

Until the end month came.

Last week, like I said. That cold clinical thing burst into the room, eyes fire and nostrils flaring. I held Iyla, terror taking hold of me for the first time in fuzzy life. He threw clothes, shoes, comb and brush, and a few dolls in a small pink suitcase. Grabbed Iyla by her hair as she screamed. I yelled hellish curses for all the good it did. He dragged her down the stairs, coarse hand covering the mouth that would kiss me better although she bore untold hurts, and drove off in that battered dingy grey Suzuki four minutes before the blue flashing lights arrived to find disheveled nothingness and an utterly broken, battered and bruised bear who didn’t want to exist anymore.

Placed in a donation bag for a local charity shop in Radstock.

A day as bleak as my non-existent soul crying in vain for my precious Iyla without the river inside me to reach for tears.

Expendable. Useless. Nameless.

Hopeless, as the volunteer places me outside in the display bin when of all people, a writer happens by. One glance. The kindest kind. She calls me Behrouz. Fortunate, lucky. Must be mistaken.

Uncertain endings.

And yet another story begins…

Behrouz, my low-tech lumbar support to help me write in bed and the first concrete "check" off my list for the Vocal #200 Challenge

***

You are sincerely appreciated for reading this story. Although fictional, these events are real-time issues that require real-time solutions by real people like you and me. Please don't be afraid to speak up when abuse is suspected. You and I may be the only support a person in need may have.

There are over 8 billion people on this planet. That's a LOT of eyes. Let's value life by our actions and show that we care.

***

National Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 2000 247 (24-hour Freephone)

Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men - 0808 8010 327 (Freephone)

Galop - National Helpline for LGBT+ people who have experienced abuse and violence - 0800 9995 428

Respect - Choose to top: We provide help for domestic violence perpetrators - 0808 8024 040

Family Action

Action for Children

Report Child Abuse - hants.gov.uk

Prevent Child Abuse

Health and Human Services

Health and Human Resources

Short StoryCONTENT WARNING
37

About the Creator

The Dani Writer

Explores words to create worlds with poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Writes content that permeates then revises and edits the heck out of it. Interests: Freelance, consultations, networking, rulebook-ripping. UK-based

Medium

FB

Twitter

Insta

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (22)

Sign in to comment
  • Anna 14 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • Joe O’Connor17 days ago

    Heartbreaking, but a powerful message around the abuse so many children suffer. Sometimes a stuffed toy can be the world to a suffering kid! “Darkness did its damndest to cover my inadequacy. It failed in misery” - this line does a great job of showing the bear’s sadness and despair. I like how your author’s note lists places for people to reach out to if they need it🤗

  • Great story

  • JBaz20 days ago

    Amazing gift you have, writing with feeling and the emotions you gave to an inanimate object has changed my view, they do have feelings. Your writing is brilliant but you also wrote a compelling story. Congratulations

  • Sandra Matos20 days ago

    This overwhelmed me. I never thought that I could feel a teddy bear's feelings but,you made that possible! It was frantic, sad, terrifying, and so much more! I'm glad I stopped to read.

  • Naveed 20 days ago

    Fabulous work! Keep it up—congratulations!

  • Leslie Writes21 days ago

    Incredible piece! Brought me to tears.

  • masterplay9721 days ago

    Brilliant story

  • Ashley Shiflett21 days ago

    The expression in this was phenominal. Congrats on top story!

  • Andrea Corwin 21 days ago

    Wow, what a ride this story took us on; I loved all the snarky comments you inserted. If the walls (or the toys) could talk....you did it here, congrats!

  • Denise Larkin21 days ago

    This is was so incredibly a great read. Raw and sentimental. Congrats on the top story.

  • I like Alex’s name! Great work, too! Congrats on top story!

  • I can’t decide what’s better- the storyline or the writing. This is absolutely beautifully written, and so raw. Gosh. You crushed it

  • Mije Mwanza 21 days ago

    Back to say congrats

  • Cathy holmes21 days ago

    Omg. Girl, this is heartbreaking, rage-inducing and utterly fantastic. Congrats on the TS.

  • Dana Crandell21 days ago

    Your writing blows me away, every single time. The imagery, detail and emotional impact of this are priceless. So well done. Congratulations!

  • L.C. Schäfer21 days ago

    Back to say Congrats!

  • I'm so sorry but I'm so confused. What happened to Alex?

  • sleepy drafts24 days ago

    Oh, this was so, so sad. I used to work at a thrift store and often wondered about the children's items that would come in. This brought them to devastating life ❤️ Thank you for writing and sharing this!

  • Babs Iverson24 days ago

    Heartwrentching and heartbreaking!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Tragically hopeful, in spite of all the hope which has been lost. Achingly poignant, Dani.

  • L.C. Schäfer24 days ago

    Oh the poor jaded bear, bees seen some horrors 😫 I'd like this better if it was pure fiction, but those kids exist 💔

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.