I grew up in a quiet town.I always felt like I was an outcast. My father was my best friend but my mum didn’t really connect with me. She was a strangely menevolent woman that pretended profusely to be ‘nice’ when in public. The fake nice that even a child could see slathered across her face. I never understood why she bothered, when she smiled like that I always felt her dark energy. Her mean character would grimace through a pretend smile and creep across her face like thunder. She had a mark on the right side of her forehead long dark unkept hair that strangled her face. Even though I was terrified of her, I wanted so badly for her to like me. I wished a million times that we could be closer, that she could learn to love me with all of my obvious imperfections.
As a child my mother would physically abuse me when my father went to work which was most of the time. Every day I had a new bruise somewhere from being shoved around and hit like a piñata at a birthday party. Quite often she would burn me with cigarettes while I screamed in pain. She would hold me firmly in place with a look of concentration on her face, almost as if she was feeding on my pain. I never felt like I had done the wrong thing by her, even when I would try my very best she would still be so cruel towards me.
She would leave me home alone with no food. I always remember feeling so hungry, the piercing of a thousand blades burning through my famished stomach. She would always seem disappointed by the state she would find me in. I almost felt like she expected me to look after myself. Like a five year old child somehow had that capacity. My mother wasn’t home very often. Early one morning; she left me alone for a few days, I decided to play outside. I was around nine years old at the time. It was the most beautiful summers day and the warmth in the air was hot and musty. I decided to put my feet into the swimming pool to cool down before doing the housework. With no worldly experience to speak of, I slipped off the edge of the pool and fell face first deep into the crystal blue water and started to drown.
As I sank to the bottom of what felt like a bottomless swimming pool, I stared out of the crystal blue water as the beautiful colours trickled over the waters surface. I began to really panic, my heart racing like a thousand electric bolts. As I attempted to move myself through the thick water something unusual happened. The water parted around me, my hands moved through the water as if it was solid and I thudded hard onto the concrete swimming pool floor. I stood up in shock and quickly climbed out of the swimming pool in a frenzy while water pooled on either side of me like I was standing between two infinity pools. Somehow I had parted the entire swimming pool into two equal cascading bodies of water. I started thinking about the story I heard once at school of a man who parted the sea.
As if a dark cloud came over me sucking away all of my energy, I started feeling so sleepy. I felt like I had been kept awake for a week. I barely made inside as I laid on the floor collapsing in complete exhaustion.
I woke up being dragged into the kitchen by my mother.Her fingers dug into my arm leaving dark purple bruises and deep cuts from her sharp pointy fingernails. “You are disgusting Jane, you’ll always be a failure and everything you do is embarrassing to me. Have this house cleaned by the time I get home.” My mother hissed in her shrill ear piercing voice.
Feeling sad I wiped the tears from my eyes. I stood up properly and straightened my clothes. I hated not being able to talk to her. There was something weird about me and I could feel it radiating through my entire body. Weird was the operative word. That’s what the kids at school thought. That’s what my mother thought too. Weird had inadvertently become my middle name. I guess it’s easy to look weird and be weird when you feel like nobody cares about you.
I didn’t bother trying to bring up what had happened, I didn’t want to be beaten up for lying but I knew it wasn’t normal. I’d only ever seen things like that in movies or on tv when dad was home. For weeks I tried to move the water while standing outside of the swimming pool...Nothing.
I tried outside with a bucket of water and with the bath water while I was submerged in it...Nothing. I even practiced with a cup of water hoping a smaller amount would be easier but the more I tried the less ‘special’ I felt.
I began to wonder if it was some type of divine intervention that had saved me that day. Was there something watching over me?
I could have sworn it was me, that my arms cut through the water like two blades slicing through cheese. For years I wondered if I had made it all up in my mind.
I didn’t have any friends and I would often arrive at school with bruises all over my body. I was dirty and unkept. However my father always made sure I was well looked after whenever he was home. I knew he assumed I was taken care of in the same manner during his long absences. I had never quite mustered the nerve to tell him the truth. The other students didn’t seem to notice that I was alive, even though occasionally, I would sleep in the toilets at school when things would get really bad at home.
At around fifteen years of age I woke up & the house was eerily quiet. You could hear a pin drop. The power had gone out and my alarm hadn’t woken me. I walked outside into the back yard when suddenly I felt my mother appear behind me like a dark black shadow.
She was red with anger like her whole face had been badly sunburnt, filled with rage that I had overslept and hadn’t cooked her breakfast. She pushed me as hard as she could and I fell forwards into the large sliding glass door. My hands went up over my face as I awaited the impact of a thousand shards of glass piercing my petite body. When I opened my eyes I was floating on a 45 degree angle.
My mother creepily smiled at me with a sinister expression on her face.
The look in her eyes was terrifying. I scrambled to my feet, grabbed my small tattered green school bag and ran as fast as my tiny feet could carry me.On the way to school I was approached by an old woman, she had weathered skin and grey hair but seemed kind and warm. She had beautiful green crystal eyes. Her voice was gentle and she made me feel at ease. “Jane, I have something for you.” She said softly. She handed me an old worn book and disappeared quickly into the crowd. The pages inside the book were all blank. The encounter was strange but I felt a calmness. It had been a while since I had felt that kind of energy. It had been a while since anybody had given me anything. The only other person to give me a gift throughout my life had been my father.
For the next few nights I slept in the school toilets. I knew my dad would be home from working away soon and I was excited to see him. He would know what to do. I had decided that this time would be the time I would tell him the truth about mum and the truth about who I was. I hoped that it wouldn’t change the way he felt about me. I was tired of pretending and I was tired of being scared. I was so afraid of what she would do to me now that she knew I was different, the creepy expression I’d last seen on her face lingering heavily in my mind.
My mum was always so different when my father was around. She was so nice to me. Sometimes when he came home from work we almost felt like a real family. Even though she was so mean to me otherwise, these were some of my fondest memories. Even though I knew it was all an act and we were both just puppets in her play. I had become better at seeing the mean look in her eyes than anybody.
I went home a few days later and noticed my dads car in the driveway, I ran inside and wrapped my arms around him. “I’ve really missed you dad.” I said warmly. “I’ve missed you too beautiful girl.” He said seemingly flustered. My dad was in the middle of packing two big brown suitcases. Clothes were scattered all across the room as if he had thrown them all in the air. He seemed distracted, even scared.
“Listen before your mum gets home we need to leave.” He insisted. It was then I noticed that he had already packed my belongings. I went to grab a few remaining things before he ushered me into the car and sped down the road at an alarming rate.
“I want you to trust me. I need you to go to boarding school for a while.” He said looking sad and semi shouting over the road. “Have I done something wrong?” I asked.“No honey, I have.” He said.
“I’ve found a fantastic school for you to stay at and I need you to understand that you can’t come home or tell your mother where you are, okay? Promise me.” He said strongly. “I promise.” I said looking into his eyes. “Dad, mum hurts me when you aren’t around.” I blurted our like word vomit all over the car. As if the bruises and cuts on my arms were not telling enough.
“I hadn’t realised who she really was until very recently. Let’s just say I came home and saw something I wish that I hadn’t. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. You will never have to be around her again.” He said with the most disturbed look upon his face.
I didn’t press any further.
We told each other how much we loved one another and he put me on a large rickety brown school bus with patchy paint. I climbed on board, the seats were beige and the upholstery was torn in places. I sat down quickly.
The trip was nine hours long, as if my father had found the furthest education facility possible to enrol me. A tear rolled down my cheek as I left everything behind that I had ever known. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on, but I knew my father well enough to know that it was important. Maybe he just started to realise that my mother wasn’t the person she pretended to be when he was around. I was sad to leave my father but felt nothing but relief about leaving behind my mother.
I opened my backpack and found the old tattered book handed to me earlier by the old woman. The book had a hard brown cover, it looked so old. The pages were stained and weathered. I opened the book and on the first page it now read: ‘Only a witches blood will reveal the pages.’Slowly I reached into my school bag and took out a pair of scissors slicing open my finger just deep enough to draw blood. The passenger opposite me gasped heavily and looked away in disbelief.Carefully, I pressed my index finger onto the first page of the book covered in my red oozing blood. It dried onto my finger as I pressed it to the weathered paper.
Instantly the books pages filled up before my eyes like magic. Colour and light swirled around me, surrounding me. At this point the passenger next to me had erupted with disbelief. “What are you?” He blubbered irrationally.The book was instantly filled with spells and flung open to a random page. My hands shaking, I read under my breath.“The truth once hidden, must be unsealed. With these words spoken, the truth is revealed.”
“Last stop.” The bus driver called. The bus arrived in slow motion to my new life..
& that’s the end of that chapter.
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Book written by Jessie Aitken