Bye, Felicia

I walked out the front door of my home that morning to the exact sight I saw every morning-the same sight that could be seen from any direction-row after row after row of homes all the exact same design and all exactly the same color-beige.  I lived in a beige community. 

Every house looked exactly the same right down to the lawns and everything in them. The beige community allowed only the one color for houses and allowed only one decoration in the yard-a concrete birdbath-all placed in exactly the same place. There were shrubs beside each home, all in the same number and placement-but no flowers were permitted.

Every house had a one car garage attached to the right of the front door. No automobiles were to be parked outside that garage. NOTHING was permitted to take away from the uniformity of this sight.  It was beige in every way.

As I stood there, I watched several automobiles back out of their garages. Every car was dark grey and the same make and model. I found myself imagining someone sitting somewhere with a controller guiding everyone’s movements.  I found I didn’t like the thought. That was the moment I made my decision. I was going to escape the beige community.

I spent the next few weeks thinking and making preliminary plans for my escape. At first, the plan was to simply move away, but I soon came to a realization. No matter where I moved, I would have to conform to someone else’s plan. I was not prepared to conform. The answer was simple. I would form my own community and make my own rules.

While I quietly searched for the perfect site, my rules began to take shape. The first rule was simple: 

1. NO BEIGE.

The rest fell into place as I thought of what I wanted to accomplish.

2. Colors are required.

3. Individuality is required.

4. No two consecutive homes could be the same color.

5. Automobiles must be a personal statement.

Then, I began to consider the people who might live in my community. I wanted those with personality. I didn’t want people who would follow the crowd like a herd of sheep. I was certain the ideal residents would be the artistic types.  That brought the next rules.

6. Every citizen must create.

7. Every citizen must practice an artistic pursuit .

8. Each week, there will be an artist’s display on the town square where each citizen will display that which they have created.

I felt I was now developing the perfect community but I knew, of course, that people had a tendency to be, at times, hurtful and judgemental so more rules were needed.

9. No citizen will ever judge or criticize another citizen’s art, work, actions or personality. 

10. If any citizen has a problem with another citizen, they will QUIETLY bring that concern to The Committee.

After all, there had to be a governing committee since people could never be trusted to govern themselves. So that subject had to be addressed.

11. There will be a committee of three to oversee the community and deal with all issues.

12. All decisions made by The Committee will be final. There will be no arguments and no appeals.

I looked at this last rule and smiled. I decided that should any decision go against a citizen and that citizen was not happy with said decusion, they would receive one final order:

BYE, FELICIA.

One last rule for my list.

13. Should any citizen disagree with any rule, with any committee decision, or create any drama, they will be required to leave the community permanently.  

BYE, FELICIA.

It was perfectly simple. I would allow no nonsense, no drama and no negative behavior. I smiled believing my plans were perfect.

Some weeks later, I found the perfect site for my community.  I laid claim to a small island off the eastern coast of our republic. I immediately built my own home precisely the way I chose. When completed, my home was painted sky blue. I painted the front door bright red and I planted an array of flowers…all types and colors. I placed bird houses in the trees-all painted bright happy colors. Finally, I looked around my wild and colorful yard and I knew contentment.

I then spread the word where I could inviting like minded individuals to my island, which I named Shambala, after my favorite song. In only a few weeks, there were dozens of people inquiring about moving to Shambala. I knew I could not simply open the gates, as it were, and allow just anyone in, so I prepared an extensive application for each person to complete.

The applications soon began to arrive. I went carefully through each one to choose only those who seemed appropriate for my community. Within a couple of months, I had chosen 10 people for acceptance.  I soon greeted these people at the dock-my new neighbors. I liked most of them on sight and immediately knew who I would choose to sit the two open committee positions.

All the new residents were given the list of rules and required to sign an affirmation of agreement with those rules. All signed and were anxious and excited to be started.

My choices for committee members were a young woman named Arturia, who was a weaver. Arturua was in her 30s and of a tranquil, quiet nature.  The other committee member was a man in his 60s named Bastian. Bastian was a woodworker. He carved and also built unique furniture. I felt they both would be a great asset to our society.

In the weeks that followed, the new residents completed their homes. None were large or elaborate, but were definitely distinctive. Each one proclaimed the resident’s individuality, just as the rules required. I was pleased, also, to see that no two homes were the same color. 

Each resident had chosen a site for their home without regard for order. There were no streets on Shambala. A resident was free to choose where they would live while always being considerate of the other residents.

Life on Shambala settled into a quiet, tranquil and creative existence. The Committee had only to deal with making sure supplies arrived from the mainland and created items were shipped back for selling. I was thrilled at my creation.  Until I had to deal with Pater, the leather worker.

Pater had built his home farthest from other residents and rarely associated with anyone. At the weekly art shows, Pater set up his creations but had little or no interaction with anyone else. That was fine since the idea for my community was for all residents to be oeaceful and comfortable. All were encouraged to be themselves. Parer certainly followed that rule.

But Pater had a secret.    

If I had known about his secret, he would, of course, bever have been accepted. But Pater lied on his application. In my excitement and naivete, I hadn’t considered being lied to…it was completely against the purpose of Shambala. I thought all my residents shared my vision and my dream. That dream was soon to become a nightmare.

On a particularly grey  morning, the residents were gathering for the art showing. I was wandering through the tables looking at the various offerings when I came to a blank space. I asked around and discovered the space should have been occupied by a lady named Grinjil. Grinjil was in her 50s and did remarkable things with yarn. She crocheted and knitted and every resident was amazed at her creations. Grinjil was also an exceptionalky kind person, loved by us all. It was also very unlike her to miss an art showing. I was concerned so I made my way to Grinjil’s bright yellow home. I walked up the stone walkway admiring the abundance of flowers and grasses she had planted. 

At the door, I called out to her but there was no answer.  On Shambala we didn’t have locks on our doors, we simply respected everyone’s privacy so I knocked twice to no response. I then opened the door. Grinjil lay on the floor with a length if yarn wrapped around her throat. She was dead.

I called the committee to her home where we tried to find any sign of who might have done such a thing. There were no clues. 

All residents gathered a couple of days later to honor Grinjil and to mourn. Everyone was there. I found myself searching faces trying to see something which would give away the killer. Because we had a killer among us. The Committee met repeatedly to try and find a solution but there was no solution.   Finally, we decided we must have a meeting of residents to try and make things right.

All the remaining residents gathered in the community center that evening. I addressed them, explaining we had no clues to the identity of the beast who had killed Grinjil. I explained we must have everyone’s help to solve this horrible situation. I looked at each face. One after the other looked at me with sorrow and fear in their eyes..until I looked at Pater. I couldn’t really explain the look on his face, only that it was wrong somehow. 

I asked Pater to stand and tell us where he had been before the art showing. His response was that he had been home gathering his things for the showing. I then decided to bluff. I asked if he had ever been to Grinjil’s home to which he said a quick “no”.  Clenching my fist behind me, I asked why, then, did we find one of his gloves next to her when we found her. Pater quickly reached a hand into the pocket where he had tucked his gloves. He then glanced around the room, his face white.

Pater jumped to his feet and started to run but was tackled by Bastian. Two of the other men assisted in restraining Pater. He didn’t resist, but looked around with a smirk. I was about to state he would be taken to the mainland for punishment when one of the women stood.

Kalara cleared her throat before reciting rule #13. Several others rose and all escorted Pater to the dock where they tied his hands and feet. Bastian attached a large block of metal to the restaints on Pater’s hands. As a group, the resident’s of Shambala shoved Pater off the dock. They all stood silently as the bubbles slowed and, finally, stopped. Then, one by one, each resident turned, each going to their respective homes without a sound.  All I could think as I saw my dream die was…

Bye, Felicia.


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Stream of Thought-a Peek Behind the Brain

Yesterday we saw two smart cars. The resulting conversation was an excursion into the ultimate stream of thought, not to mention the comedic tendencies of me and my family. I wish we had recorded it, although it is likely it would not be nearly as funny to anyone else. Perhaps it was funny because we were tired. That happens often to people. I wonder why really average things become hysterical once you are exhausted.  When I am exceptionally tired anything can set me off into a laughing fit. Does that happen to you? And have you ever noticed when someone is laughing hysterucally, their expression looks as though they are in pain? I know thats how I look. I also know that when I am laughing my hardest, the tears flow freely. I also wonder why that is. It seems to me, laughing hysterically seems to grab all the other emotions and force them to react as well. Emotions are amazing things. They can come out of nowhere with no warning, or they can occur right on schedule just as expected. Either way, if allowed to proceed on their own, they can become uncontrollable. I think most of us are taught from a young age to “control” ourselves where our emotions are concerned. While that is necessary sometimes, at other times being too restrained can be detrimental to our well being. Perhaps that is a part of the world’s problems. I don’t know, of course, but my theory is that too tight a control on our normal and natural selves keeps us from being the person we are meant to be. Then there are those people who throw convention out the window and are completely themselves. Mostly, perhaps, they are the happier ones..but at the same time they find themselves condemned and ridiculed for not following the herd…for DARING to think for themselves. If you ask the average person about self expression they will regale you with their ‘belief’ that each person should speak for themselves..but  many times, that same person is the one looking down their nose at the person in the unusual clothing or the person happily dancing as if no one is watching. Personally, I would rather be the one dancing..and often am. But don’t take that as assurance that I CAN  dance. I am a terrible dancer and have, more than once, suffered a minor injury for my serious lack of rythym and grace. BUT I don’t care. When I am in a mood where dancing is my only option, it is a blessed day and I WILL dance..with a warning to anyone nearby to stand back. Better yet…take cover!   ~and all because we saw two smart cars yesterday.

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I watched Harry Potter

Sometimes  life is an ugly bully that thrives on screwing me over. Sometimes I see it coming but other times it jumps out of nowhere and grabs me by the hair. We wrestle and fight for dominance. Sometimes I win and sometimes the mood wins.  That is when I pull out my secret weapons…movies.
Yesterday was one of those days when the mood was winning.  I tried everything. I took a long walk past all those new age shops in the Chambers neighborhood. I went to the kids park on Faust Blvd and played on a swing for nearly two hours until some dude decided I was being creepy and ran me off. Guess he didn’t believe someone my age could enjoy swinging. Man needs to chill out, if you ask me..but I digress.  I even jogged the last three blocks to my building, but when I got inside and sat on my sagging blue sofa, the mood was right there, ready to choke me.
For anyone who has never dealt with the mood thing (otherwise known as depression) when you are in that place with the claws of it gripping your throat, you have odd thoughts. You wonder why your life is crap. You want to sleep until it goes away. You want to eat so you don’t think about it..and many other equally unhelpful thoughts. For me, on this particular occasion, the thought of eating was foremost in my arsenal of coping skills. I sat contemplating the attraction of eating an entire peach pie as opposed to a triple decker peanut butter and jam sandwich.  The pie was winning when that part of my brain that sometimes attempted reasonable persuasion piped up suggesting that consuming that many useless calories at one time might not be wise. I hate that part of my brain but I knew it was right.
I looked around the room in an attempt to distract my wayward  appetite and my eyes fell upon the wall next to the television. Floor to ceiling shelves…all filled with DVDs.  Yes, I love movies. I enjoy movies of all types. I probably spend far too much time in movie land but it keeps me out of trouble. At least that is my rationale. So, depending upon the mood of the time, I have plenty of choices. On this particular day, I needed something fanciful. I needed something as far from serious or tear producing as I could get.
I reached for the third Hobbit movie but changed my mind. I had an emotional attachment to certain characters and, knowing what happened to them, I needed to steer clear.  I was not in  a good enough mood to enjoy Star Wars or Indiana Jones and I couldn’t afford the extreme emotion of something like Steel Magnolias. My non existent love life made me avoid those ridiculous chick flicks.
Now, I was getting depressed about not finding a movie to watch.  Then my eyes fell on Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone. Perfect. No drama to bring about sadness. No lovey dovey crap to remind me of what I was missing. It was full of magic and fantasy. Perfect. I  could wingardium leviosa my way to a better mood.
So I watched Harry Potter. 

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Lonely Fear-Conclusion

One bright Saturday afternoon, as Tilly sat in the sitting room darkened by the closed curtains, there was a knock on the door. It had been weeks since that young man had invaded her private hell and she had nearly forgotten about it. Nearly. She didn’t even admit to herself that in her more lonely moments, she remembered his face and the smile he had suddenly shared. Then she would shake off the thought and remember herself.
But now, there was another knock. Tilly’s heart beat so hard it actually hurt. She moved slowly toward the door unsure what she would do once she arrived. She was contemplating putting her hand on the handle when the knock sounded once again. She lost her breath and began to shake. No one could see her inside her self created shelter, but she shook just the same.
“Miss Bledsoe?” Tilly fell to her knees. It was that young man. She recognized his voice. Why? Why had her returned? She opened her mouth but her throat was closed. She tried to control her breathing but her chest hurt. Her hands shook so that she couldn’t raise them to her face. She wanted to hide her face even from herself.
“Miss Bledsoe? Are you there? Please open the door. I just want to talk with you. I swear, it isn’t anything more than that.”
He lied! She knew he lied. Why would he just want to talk to her? They had nothing to talk about.
“Go away!” She croaked. “Leave me alone.”
“Look, I know you don’t see anyone, usually and I know you don’t talk to anyone, but I just want to talk with you. I don’t know about you, but everyone needs a friend, right?” He had a voice that reminded her of the syrup she used on her waffles. She was as attracted to that voice as she was to the sweet syrup.
“I…can’t.” She barely spoke above a whisper.
“Sure you can. Just open the door a bit so we can talk. You don’t have to come out. I won’t come in, I promise. Please?” He was pulling her into something she knew would destroy them both. She knew it was a mistake and she knew that opening that door would end every sort of dream or hope she had ever held in her heart.
But Tilly could not help herself. She turned the handle and opened the door no more than an inch or two.
“See?” the young man smiled through the words. “That isn’t so bad, is it?”
“I guess not. What do you want?” Tilly accused him of deceit with her tone.
“I want to be your friend, that’s all. Your name is Tilly? Is that short for something or is that your name?” She was sure no one was that casual talking to a stranger.
“Just Tilly. That’s all.” She whispered.
“Very nice to meet you, Tilly. My name is Steven. My friends call me Steve, though. You can call me Steve, if you like.”
“Nice to meet you…. Steven. I prefer Steven.” She shocked herself.
“I like the way you say it. Steven it is, then. Just for you. So, do you work from home?”
“I- work? no, I don’t- I mean I have and-inheritance.” Tilly continued to shake. He was invading her life.
“That’s fortunate, then. I work for the delivery company, but I guess you know that. I have worked for them for 5 years. It’s a good job, but I’m back in college, too. I am studying to be a teacher. Where did you go to school?” He was so casual. How could he do that?
“I-didn’t, I mean, I studied at home, I…guess.”
“Home schooled. That’s cool. It cuts out on all the garbage you deal with at regular school, that’s for sure. What was your favorite subject?” He talk to her like they were friends. Tilly’s head hurt.
“I- I like to read.”
“That’s great! I plan to teach English so I understand that. What is your favorite book?” Why did he keep talking? Why was she still allowing it?
“I just- I- it’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Are you done with this talking yet?” She ventured.
“I love that book, too. It’s classic. and finished? Am I boring you?” He laughed. He actually laughed as though he was happy. Then he did it.
“Wouldn’t you rather we talk face to face? Isn’t talking through the door a bit awkward?” He asked her.
Tilly’s heart threatened to stop beating. She suddenly slammed the door shut. She didn’t realize she hadn’t locked it. She simply sank to the floor.
“Tilly? Are you ok? Listen, I didn’t mean anything by it. Really. I would just like to sit and talk together. What’s wrong with that?” Why didn’t he leave?
“Why?! You saw me. Why do you want to look at me? I’m revolting!” She screamed. She scared herself with her sudden anger.
“Revolting? You? How can you say that? You aren’t revolting. Please, Tilly, let me prove it to you. Please?” He spoke in such a calm voice, Tilly was nearly tempted.
“NO! Go away!”
Tilly turned and raced up the stairs to her room. She slammed the door closed and curled into a ball in the corner. She cried until she fell asleep.
When Tilly woke, it was dark. It took a moment, as it normally does after a deep sleep, for her to realize where she was. Slowly, the young woman stood and made her way down the stairs.
Once in the kitchen, she put the tea kettle on the stove. She sat carefully to wait. That was when she heard it.
Behind her, Tilly heard someone clear their throat. She began to shake visibly. She began to whimper. She was unable to move.
From the corner of her eye, Tilly saw someone move from behind her around to face her. She looked up to see the young man from the door.
“Tilly, I am so sorry. I never meant to frighten you, but I was really worried about you. I had to come back and check on you. I knocked and knocked and called out but you never answered. You didn’t lock your door so I came in to check on you. I really hope you understand. Are you ok?” He was kneeling in front of her. He was looking straight at her. He was just looking at her. He wasn’t reacting to her ugliness. What was going on here?
Tilly couldn’t respond at all. She couldn’t breathe and she couldn’t speak. This young man, Steven, reached out and took her hand.
“Tilly. Are you ok?” He repeated. He was looking into her eyes.
“How…how can you stand to look at me?” She croaked.
“How can I…? Are you serious? Tilly, you are beautiful! Your eyes are the color of the ocean. I saw it once. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, until now. Don’t you realize how beautiful you are?” Steven was holding her hand.
Tilly could only shake her head.
“No.” She finally breathed. “I’m not. My Father told me a long time ago. I’m not. He told me.”
Steven sat with Tilly for a long evening not saying anything. He held her hand. He poured her tea and found her tin of cookies. He just sat with her.
Finally, Steven asked if she had a mirror. Tilly could only shake her head.
“I am going to go and bring back a mirror, Tilly. You have to see the real you. Your father was SO wrong. You wait right here and I will be back in just a few minutes, ok? Ok?”
Tilly nodded her agreement.
Steven was out the door and Tilly felt the silence begin to smother her. She had fallen for his voice. She had let him in. How could she have done that? He was coming back. No.
Tilly never thought to simply lock the door. Instead, she went up the stairs and pulled the small bottle of sleeping pills from the medicine chest. She drew a glass of water and emptied the pills into her hand.
One by one, Tilly began to swallow the pills.
She remembered hearing the front door close and she heard Steven’s voice call her name. She heard him coming up the stairs. She felt so sleepy.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Lonely Fear pt 4

Tilly’s hands shook so the package dropped to the floor.  She had faced someone and he had shown his shock. Her parents had been right; she was too ugly to be seen. But why had that man smiled? Tilly was certain he mocked her. She was certain he made fun and that made it so much worse. Tilly struggled to pick up the package before running up the stairs to her room. 

She gently placed the forgotten package on a side table and sank to the floor. Tilly had always known she would be alone but in that split second before she opened the door there had been…something. Hope? She didn’t know but she knew a mistake and opening that door had been the biggest mistake of all. 

Tilly sat on the bedroom floor, her back against the wall, as the hint of daylight traveled across the wall. When it was darkening, Tilly pulled a pillow from the bed and slid to lie on the floor. She was asleep within moments.  Then the dream came.

Her father was yelling at her mother.

“Why is she out of her room?!” He pointed toward Tilly.

“She came down to eat.” Her mother barely spoke above a whisper.

“What have I told you?” Her father stood very close to her mother and seemed to growl. “I never want to see that ugly little bitch. NEVER! Do you understand? Get her locked away or you will pay for it.”

Mother took Tilly’s skinny arm tightly, pulling her up the stairs. She shoved her into her room, slammed the door and turned the lock.

Tilly gasped as she woke. She sat up and wondered, for a moment, where she was. Taking a deep breath, she stood slowly. Carefully she left her room, holding her breathe when she passed what had been her parent’s room. They weren’t there. They had been gone for several years. Tilly’s father had beat her mother so badly she was taken to the hospital. He then ran away. Her mother had died from the beating. Her father had never come back. Tilly had word a year or so later he was dead.

Tilly had been 16.  People had come to the house after but she told them through the door to go away. Surprisingly, they had done so. Tilly never understood why no one cared to check on her until she found a letter her mother had tucked away. It seemed her mother had told others her “sister” lived with her and did not associate with anyone. Since Tilly had never gone to school, no one knew about her. Tilly remembered her father saying she was too ugly to be out in public. Once, when she had looked out through the curtains, her father caught her and beat her for it. She had been locked in her room for days after that. Tilly understood then how horrible she must look.

Tilly’s hands still shook as she put the tea kettle on to heat. She sat at the table wondering, not for the first time, why she was here. Why was she alive? She saw no reason. Not for the first time, Tilly remembered her father telling her she would be far better off if she was dead. Maybe he had been right.

Tilly didn’t know. There was the slightest hint in her mind that hope was a real thing but a larger hint pointed straight at despair.

It was well past midnight and the world was silent, so Tilly went to the window and peeked out. Her heart ached to just go for a walk. When the tea kettle whistled Tilly let the curtain fall back.  She prepared her tea and sat back listening to the clock take away moments from her hopeless life.

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Lonely Fear-part 3

Tilly could not move even to breathe. She listened as the knock came again, and then again. Tilly fought to keep herself from hiding beneath the table. She told herself that was ridiculous since no one could see her where she sat. Her drapes were always closed until sunset, then closed again an hour or so later..sometimes. Sometimes the drapes never opened at all.
There were times, like now, when Tilly wished for the outdoors. She wished for a life like others where she opened all the drapes, then the windows, each morning. She wished for a life where she could go out her front door in the morning and enjoy her garden, go for walks through the neighborhood and greet her neighbors.
But Tilly knew these things would never be.
She was jerked back to her reality with yet another hard knock on her door. She stood slowly and made her way to the door. After a moment, she peeked through the curtains to see that handsome young man standing there. He was whistling and looked as though he had no intention of leaving any time soon. What was she to do?
When the young man knocked again, Tilly’s heart leaped to her chest. The temptation was so strong.
“Ms. Bledsoe? Please come to the door. I have to keep coming back until this package is delivered. Just open the door a bit and you can sign the form and I will go. Please, Ma’am?”
Tilly thought his voice sounded like hot cocoa on a cold morning. She thought his voice must be the sound of the sun on bare skin.
When the young man knocked again and called out, “Ms. Bledsoe?”, Tilly put her hand on the doorknob. Before she could stop herself and before she realized what she was even doing, Tilly turned the knob.
Tilly had honestly only meant to open the door a crack to accept whatever the package might be, but her hand betrayed her as everything and everyone always had before. Tilly pulled the door open far enough for the young man to see her.
Tilly watched as the young man’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. It was just as she had feared. Her ugliness shocked him. But before she could slam the door closed again, the young man handed her the package. She held it as though it was something alien and foreign. The young man then handed her the form to be signed. Without thinking, Tilly took the pad holding the form and scribbled her name. Shoving it back in the young man’s hand, she stood glued to her spot there at the open door.
The young man simply stood there as well. When Tilly dared to glance up toward him, he smiled. HE SMILED!
With a small shriek, Tilly slammed the door closed in his face.
What had she done?

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Lonely Fear-part 2

“Ms. Bledsoe,
I have a package for you that you need to sign for. I am sorry if I startled you but I was not here to cause any harm.
I will come back tomorrow about noon. Please understand I am only doing my job. You don’t even have to open the door completely..just enough so that I can hand you the form and you can sign it and hand it back to me.
Thank you and Happy Holidays,
Steve”

Tilly held the note in her shaking hand. She read it a second and then a third time. What was she to do? She wasn’t expecting a package and knew no one who would send one but what it if was important?
There was a long hidden need in Tilly for human interaction and it was trying to rear it’s ugly head. Tilly fought to push it back where it belonged. She had no business even considering being face to face with anyone. She would scare them because she was so ugly, first of all, but they would hurt her as people always had. She had no need to dive back into that hell. Tilly fought off a long ignored memory of ugly words and uglier treatment. Her father? She thought so, but the memory was old and vague.
Tilly shook her head from the old hurts and came back to her present. She would never open that door to anyone…ever.
With that decision made, Tilly made a large mug of cocoa and took it upstairs to her bedroom. Placing the cocoa on her nightstand, she dressed for bed. In her gown, she climbed under the quilt handed down from her Grandmother to her mother and then to her. She picked up the book next to her and disappeared into the world of Jane Austen. She was, at present, living the life of Emma Woodhouse. Even when Mr. Knightly chastised Emma, Tilly would have preferred that life to her own. At that moment, Tilly’s mind whispered that the young man at her door looked a bit as she imagined Mr. Knightly…or Mr. Darcy or even Captain Wentworth.
“NO!” Tilly called aloud. She tossed the book to the other side of her bed. She did not want to think about that young man. She did not want to think about the pain and torture he would bring with him if she opened that door just to sign a paper. She did not want to see the look on his face when he saw her ugliness. She then remembered seeing that look on her Father’s face.
She had been about 6 years of age. She had come home from first grade in her favorite blue dress. Her hair had been brushed until it shined so brightly and been plaited into braids. Those braids were tied with soft blue ribbon. Tilly had felt like a princess all day. She had floated through that day doing all her lessons perfectly and even gaining smiles from some of the other children as well as a pat on the back from her teacher, Mrs. Roberts.
But when Tilly walked through the back door and into the kitchen, her father had been sitting at the table drinking beer from a bottle. He had turned and looked at her, his eyes red and vague. He had motioned for her to come close. When she did, he had ripped the dress off her as though it was made of air. She had stood there in her slip feeling paralyzing shock. Where had her mother been at that moment? She remembered listening for Mama, but she heard nothing but her father’s rough breathing.
That was where Tilly’s memory drifted off. She only had vague feelings of pain and fear. After that, her father was gone. She didn’t know where or why he had gone but she did remember being able to breathe again without his constant attacks.
Now, this young man tortured her with thoughts of what had been and what might be.
Tilly didn’t sleep that night. She listened to the night sounds as they were amplified by darkness and deep fear. Her hands shook for no specific reason. Her breathing was stilted for no specific reason. She was unable to turn off the light. Tilly was deathly afraid the dark would choke her. She feared the darkness would return her to a mostly forgotten hell.
When the sky began to lighten, Tilly’s fear threatened to overtake her. She felt that this day could be the one to pull her into the bottomless pit she feared more than anything.
She finally made her way downstairs to the kitchen where she brewed a bit of tea. Sitting at the table where, long ago, her father had always been, she sipped the tea and told herself over and over again that the bastard was gone. The devil was gone. Then there was that knock on the door and she froze.

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