As the big yellow taxi hurtled down the road, Rebecca tried to make up her mind in the few seconds left. For most of the things, they would never get any better than this. In fact, lot of of things would get worse, starting soon. She could have to go on like this for years and years, only it would get harder and more painful every year. Wrinkles, tooth decay, falling hair, osteoporisis, diabetes, heart problems, asthma, joint pains. Looking in the mirror would be a blow to her vanity, which she had had so much off, in a naiive way. Every movement would make itself felt in her bones. Her skin would grow thinner. And she would be as alone as she was today. Friends, relatives, loved ones: both the beloved and the loving, would keep their lukewarm, impotent, distant way, neither releasing her, nor embracing, in effect.
And ofcourse, the old fear. She was not one of them. They would discover and since they didnt believe in witches and stakes anymore, they would label her mad and lock her up. She couldnt bear that. She had had nightmares about it all her life. Discussing it with her sister, who was amongst the few she had trusted. Pressing her into fervent promises to hide her away somewhere in the house, if it happened. not to let them take her away and lock her up. She had frantically read tomes on madness and searched for the signs in the mirror. She had looked at other famous people who had had the fear. And she had fallen in love with Woolf.
Now her sister was grown up and caught up with her own life. They loved eachother still, but that sense of claim was no longer. Not there, nor anywhere. Maybe it was unnatural and unjust, the thing she wanted, really. No. She made up her mind and stopped.
In the last few conscious moments left, she noticed the look of shock and dismay on the drivers face. She hope he wouldnt get into trouble. Like a fly in an ancient slab of Topaz, the thought froze in her mind as it stopped.
The train was at eight. He couldnt afford to miss it, thought Phillip. So much depended on it. He glanced at the meter, and said a little prayer. He tried to avoid cabs, but this was an emergency, he supposed.
Liz was already too angry with him to bear thinking about. If he met her at the station now, and somehow made it up to her, she might still forgive him. He could move back into their house. He liked waking up to the children, even though, as Liz rightly said, he never did a thing for them once their nappy stages had passed. It was nice having them in the house: the lively buzz of their voices, the homely feel of the house, and Eizabeth.
Liz was no longer the startling pretty brunette that he had fallen pasionately in love with. Her hair was almost all grey now and she wore it in a strange stern style, which she claimed was more practical. Women! He would never understand them. However, it was still nice to have her in the house. He still loved her, though not in the same way as before; but that was to be expected, wasnt it?
Why was she not Happy? Why was she so discontent. Seething with a quiet supressed resentment, almost. Spoiling for a fight. It was almost as though she felt she had been cheated. She had won: she had thought when she got married to Phillip; Triumphed; Been proved superior; but now, it was almost like she was, for the first time, seeing and questioning, what she had won
She was being too dramatic. She must stop whenever she caught herself thinking this way: it would only get her more mixed up inside her head. Frowning, she looked down into her lap. Funny, she thought, how often she found herself unconsciously twisting the pale silver band on her finger. Like an abandoned dog straining at its leash, she thought. She sighed and looked out of the train's window, at the blurred country flying past her and thought of the children. Abraham would be at school. Probably playing happily with his little mates. Oh, to be young and carefree like that. To not feel things, not care.
Abraham scowled and looked down, as he settled into the blue corner. Margeret, his teacher, sighed and went away. He had become a frequent visitor. Once he used to hold so much promise, she had thought. Now he was either illtempered and even abusive or just vacantly quiet. He hardly ever participated, except in fights.
As the Taxi screeched suddenly, Phil sat forward in his seat, alarmed; jolted out of his thoughts. There was a woman, a lady, in the middle of the road. It looked she had been crossing and either she had not seen the car coming or mis-judged its speed. The vehicle slowed and swerved as the driver hit the brakes, but it was too late. A sickening thud went through it. Phil felt it like he were one with the car, and its guilt. They both jumped out together and ran to the front of the car. The woman lay there in a heap of red and black. Her red jacket glistened in the sun. It took him a while to realise it was blood.
Already they could hear the sirens of the ambulance and the police. As he watched the bloody pulp, a part of his mind, detached, wondered who how they always seemed to know instantly, like magic. And another detached part of his mind thought, Damn! I'll never make it to the station in time now. Unless, he turned and ran. They were at the George Street crossing and the station was only a little while away. Could he do that? Was there time? Would they need him for the formalities?
As the train rolled in to a halt, elegently slow, Liz looked out to see if she could spot Phil. She half expected him not to turn up. How typical. He was nowhere insight. He would no doubt have some very colourful excuse when he did turn up. He was always brilliant with excuses. Something he seemed to have passed on to Abraham.
Slowly the whirring feeling of dizziness stopped. The pain had been sharp, instant but it had passed soon. It was cold: clammy, wet and cold. Perhaps it was the blood. She must have bled. And a panic of fear at the very last minute. Why had she done this? She wanted to live!
But it passed. And there was just a feeling of all encompassing peace. And cold. In a way, it reminded her of Amsterdam. That feeling contentment. Of destination of having reached. She shivered. Then all at once, Rebecca became aware of something very strange. It was as though her whole body was numb. It was almost like a feeling of paralyses. Like those intense moments between sleep and waking. When you are conscious, but not yet in command of your body. You have the feeling of wanting to move but not being able to rouse your body to movement. You feel that you are outside, impatient, hovering just above and around. Then all at once you snapped awake and it had just been a dream.
It was late in the evening. Liz was home and settled in with Abraham and Lilly gathered around her, telling her about how they had spent the last few days, and she in her turn telling them about her trip. Phil hadnt made an appearance yet. Underneath the briskly normal appearance she kept up for the children, she seethed with anger. How typical of him. How had she changed so much from the man she had once married. Or had he? Maybe it was she who had not seen him well enough through the rose coloured lenses of those early romantic days. How young she had been.
She had been a secretary in a firm of Accountants. Small but reasonably well known. She had had an ordered life, and a satisfying job, which she did with pride and efficiency. She had lived alone, near town, an easy run from work. Her parents lived in the village and she went down to see them often on holidays and some weekends. She had been well satisfied with her life. Ordered. Predictable. Sensible. If a little boring, but she hadnt minded that. Somewhere there was a dream tucked away however that it would all change one day and her 'future' her 'life' would really begin. She didnt think about how. She didnt think about it much. But it was there somewhere at the back of her mind. And then she had met Phil and everything had changed in way she could never have dreamed off, even if she had been the dreaming type.
She came back to the present sharply as little Lilly spilled her tea on the carpet. The child instantly realised she had done something 'catastrophic' and looked her Mommy with a sharp intake of breath, her baby blue eyes huge and round with fear. The instant spike of anger died in Liz like a drop of water in a desert as looked into her baby's eyes. She laughed and rushed to soothe her, staining carpet forgotten for the moment.
Can anyone explain motherhood? That one moment that made the whole of life grow meaningful. To make life. The exquisite torture, the unbearable joy. The little ball of flesh and blood that had moved and floated inside her. Like the food she digested. Like another organ in her body. By what magic had it become a real, living, breathing human being? Can any mother forget the moment when that magical transformation takes place? Can anyone forget? Can anyone explain in words, to those who have not lived it? Can life ever be the same without it? It made everything worthwhile. A new life is born. She didnt make it, she knew that. But she had let it pass through her. She had been a part of the magic. The eternal magic. Who created it, she wondered. This life. For she knew she was just a vessel. Where did it come from. It had to have come from somewhere? In that dark, wet, cold moment when the world falls away and it is just the mother, the child and that something: what was it?
Slowly the cold decreased. Or maybe she just got used to it. She still felt strange. Where was she, Rebecca wondered. She felt a little like those moments, after the helpless paralysed dream, when one wakes up and regains control of hands, legs, eyes and slowly comes to - she felt like that. A slowly regaining sense of freedom. Slowly, she could move. A little at a time. Easy. For a brief second, she felt giddy with relief. When suddenly she realised it wasnt her arms and legs she was moving. Rather, she was moving, but her 'body' wasnt. It was still there crumpled in a bloody heap on the floor. Everything else was just the same. But surely, thought Rebecca, it couldnt have been that long. She felt like she had been going through this slow coming awake process for ages now. Surely they would have moved the body by now. Then as she expanded her field of perception, and she saw the men gathered around, she realised that only fleeting seconds had passed. That was it then. She was dead. She had passed on, whatever that meant. No. This was what it meant. She knew now and she would keep finding out more and more. It was just a matter of time. Time. It seemed that it pass slowly in this dimension. She smiled a little to herself and wondered where she had picked up that word from. She had always been so skeptical about that kind of literature. No one really knows. They all talk. Know I will know, she thought