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The other side of silence...
My mother and I never did get along. It was like living with a stranger but somehow still knowing everything about them but yet unwilling to figure out why. I would call her by her name just to get her blood boiling and watch the smile on her face derail into a menacing stare.
Elizabeth was her name; she couldn't stand me formulating that name on my lips. She would go on and on about not showing her any respect. Truth be told, I found pleasure in winding her up. I loved her really. Sadly,arguing was the only form of attention she ever gave me. Day’s would pass without a single word being said. The sounds of the kettle erupting while the eggs were being fried were the only voices that seemed to matter in our place.
Mind you, if there was anything we could agree on, it was her skill for cooking. She made the sweetest pancakes with the just the right amount of lemon juice and a little bit of chocolate sauce to get your taste buds dancing to the sounds of the samba. She always kept a very strict routine when cooking; she had it in her head that she was cooking for the Queen and the entire royal family. She insisted on only using the finest ingredients that money could buy. I never could understand why she put so much effort into it; it isn't like she won a medal or anything. Its sad to think that women of her generation were trapped in a boring society.She must find something else to do.
If anything,she should really spend some more time on buying herself some new clothes; her wardrobe looked like she was living in the ice age. It was painful to see anyone living and breathing wearing such hideous garments. To be fair, I guess we were two different people who did not have anything in common. I loved being the centre of attention, while she was very reserved and watched people from a distance;taking her time to figure out her surroundings was the norm for her. I didn't mind making a fool of myself, drinking bottles of wine and taking silly photos with the guy from the local chip shop. My mother, was a proud woman, who had the respect of many. There was not a day that went by that I would not meet a person complimenting me on how lucky I am to have such a great role model in my life. A real women they would call her, no one ever called me that.
I was the problem child that everybody wanted kept away,behind the stairway or,gently tucked in between old shoe boxes that occupied the basement. Everything I seemed to do was seen as a cardinal sin,or a heinous act of crime. I couldn't do anything without being criticized by mother or her friends at church. Apparently I was possessed but it wasn't true, they just don't understand me,no one does.
I couldn't understand why nobody liked me, and feeling this way often led me to start thinking about my dad. We never talked about him,he was the invinsible man who walked around our home but was impossible to see . There were empty picture frames placed in the cabinet draws, and a study room filled with books from across the world that nobody ever touched. I’m not sure when he left; i think i was still a toddler.The more I think of him the more I forget what he looks like. My mother barely talks about him, and when she does it’s usually in a negative manner using rude phrases and unkind words her friends at church would find shocking.
I used to wonder to myself if he liked the things I was into or what job he might have. I wasn't sure if he was a sales man who thrived on meeting targets and was always thinking of work. Or was he the labor type who loved getting his hands dirty? Maybe he was an astronaut and the letter's he wrote got lost in space, or perhaps he was too busy fighting aliens who were planning to take over the earth? I knew I was making up excuses for him but I had to. I couldn't face the fact that he didn't want me...
Even though I hated him there was still a small part of me that wishes he was around. My mother would smile more often too. Deep down I knew she was hurting,I could see it in her eyes. They were warm and gentle but cold and grey when no one was looking . She was lonely and she hated it...
I do remember this one guy who was close to making her smile, he was a bit of an odd ball to be honest. His hair was always slicked back to the side and his shoes were always shiny. He had an unusual grin plastered on his face, a mischievous look to be exact. I never could keep a straight face whenever he was around, I always had the giggles. Although strangely enough he was good for mother. There was a sense of calmness whenever he came around,he was very assuring but fun too. He always brought me gifts,and I guess that was his way of trying to win me over,but i couldn't let him win that easily. Maybe if he had bought me a car then i could have been more tempted to. Unfortunately that never did happen,and he never came back... No reason whatsoever just a sorry note and a bouquet of cheap supermarket roses slowly decaying on the door step.
Mother did not speak of him again,I guess it was to painful to see another man walk out of her life. It's a good thing she had her church friends, they always kept her busy. They usually met up in the afternoon with each meeting taking place at one of their houses. Some of them were very polite but very loud too. Watching them have their usual debate's was the last thing on my mind so i walked back towards my room but stood in the middle of the hallway with a thought that wouldn't go away.What was so forbidden that my mother did not want me to see in the study room?Why was it always locked?
My brain was on overdrive struggling to cope with every question running through my mind. My body was engraved with new emotions I had never experienced before. I was so angry, what was she hiding from me? This was my only chance to find out what hidden secrets awaited me behind that door. So I ran to her bedroom in search of the hidden key. Now at any moment she could walk in and find me rummaging through her stuff and I would not have the slightest clue of what to say.Nothing could stop me from getting to the truth.
How was I meant to find this key and put everything back exactly where I found it? She had so many boxes of old stuff dating back to the ancient times it was impossible to find this key. My left eye was twitching;my nerves were racing through the roof. I knew I was close I could feel it; I just needed to dig a bit deeper. My mother and had her friends must have finished by now, surely she's wondering what have I got up to? I quickly and carefully put all the boxes away when suddenly it stares at me and I’m too scared to look away.
Placed in a small corner behind the mirror there it was, the missing key.Finally I could figure out who my dad was and what had happened to him. I slowly crept out of my mother's room to see if the coast is clear and strangely enough everyone was gone. This was it, there was no going back. I made my way towards the door and took a minute to take in what I was potentially about to encounter. Refusing to let my trembling hands give way. I carefully place the key in the hole and slowly turn the lock. It seemed to be a struggle getting this bloody door open;my fear was getting the better of me.
Despite this I tried again and my face lit up as the door slowly opened. I was about to see the truth in all its glory and my heart was beating like never before. There was a bright light coming through the window and the curtains reached the floor with ancient Greek letters kissed the floor. Everything was so overwhelming, it reminded of the time I got my first bike. Not knowing where to start or what to do with it, but just feeling happy and smiling constantly. I was in awe of this new discovery and I did not know where to begin.
There were many books just like mother said, some looked comical, and some looked very strange. I could not work out why my dad has so many books; surely he was not that boring? There was a desk , a quite large one, with notepads on either side. Both were empty with sheets ripped out. The draws were empty too,and the leather chair behind the desk had little tears with some gradually getting bigger. I did not seem to be getting any closer on finding out the identify of my father,and trying to stay upbeat was proving to be a difficult task.
Disregarding the fact that i felt like a failure i had to push on.Somewhere in this room lay the awsner to all my questions. So it was back to rummaging through the cupboards and the dainty shelves when a segment from a newspaper slowly drifted to the floor.It was not a big peice, but more or less average. There was a picture of man who had a large build and short hair. He had a very stern face and a mysterious look about him that sent shivers down my spine.
This man was not a good person;i could feel it in my stomach.There was no warmth in his eyes, and i could not help but think, who on earth would ever want to live with such a person? Looking at the heading above the picture made the hairs on my skin jump. This man was a murderer, a killer. He prayed on the innocent whether young or old and showed no remorse. what kind of man would do such a thing? As i read more my heart stopped and the piece of paper dropped to the floor...
Why did i dig so deep? Why couldn't i just ignore the voice inside of me telling me to find out who he was? The picture,the last name,it all made sense now. This horrible man,a man who found no shame in hurting innocent people was my father.There was no stopping the tears pouring down the side of my face and puking until my stomach got rid of the dire feeling erupting from the pit of my being.
The door slowly opened and mother stood there shaking,figiting, with her hands behind her back. We didn't speak or move; she was to afraid to look at me. This was the very fist time i had ever seen mother so scared.The warmth in her face had drained and her mouth trembeled with fear. I hated her for keeping this secret away from me and i did not want to hear her pathetic excuses but i needed to know her side of the story.So there we stood in the middle of the study room not knowing how to begin or where to start but one thing was for sure , nobody was leaving this room until the truth was uncovered.....