Episode Eight – Victoria and The 22nd Day

Doctor Harrow has been waiting for approximately twenty minutes for Rebecca to show up; he has two more patients after her before lunch.

In mid-thought, an elderly woman in a tight fitting pink dress shuffles into the room.

“Is it a special occasion?” Doctor Harrow inquires with a wry smile.

Rebecca’s face is tight. “It’s September 22nd,” she whispers.

Confusion writes its way across Doctor Harrow’s face. He rises and goes to his desk to look through the case file to see if he should already know what’s important about the date.

He finds a small post script at the bottom of an evaluation from Rebecca’s previous psychologist, the one she’d had before the “discovery.” All too soon, he realizes why Rebecca has dressed so formally, and why she seems to be so distant.

“I’m so sorry,” he says. Secretly he wonders to himself that he hadn’t noticed the post script before; and why of all reasons had he decided to schedule a session today?

Rebecca remains impassive, much as she had in their first session.

“It wasn’t your fault,” she states bitterly, “It was mine.”

“Rebecca…” the Doctor begins, “You can’t blame yourself like this anymore.”

No words are uttered, and for but the slightest moment the room is filled with terrible, agonic emptiness.

Doctor Harrow hesitates, unsure of how to respond.“There is a question I’m afraid I must ask,” he finally ventures forth.

Rebecca’s face remains an empathetic shroud.

“I hate to ask this, Rebecca – I really do. You knew a woman named Victoria Andrews, if I am correct.”

A wave of unidentifiable emotion crashes across Rebecca’s face.

“Anyways,” the Doctor goes on, “This woman, Victoria Andrews. Can you tell me what happened to her?”

Her back slumps and she transforms into the same woman that had been there the first day, but in a different dress. Her lips part, unwilling, perhaps, as a faint whisper ghosts from her mouth, “I can try…” Rebecca shifts her eyes towards the floor with an air of humility that Doctor Harrow has never seen before.

They sit in quiet musing, she over the date and the woman named Victoria Andrews, and  he over the enigmatic creature unraveling before him. With every passing second, more and more of Rebecca’s tightly-wound composure is falling apart, and Doctor Harrow begins to realize the unidentified emotion that seems to be controlling her.

It is shame.

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The preceding writing is the last of Season One of The Last Attempt. Special thanks go out to the following people:

The readers, as always, for their faith and patience, Seaweedy for her continued support of my writing, and TSS for being such a wonderful group of people. Thank you to everyone who has ever read or commented! 🙂

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Episode Seven – Two People

Christina had been in school for roughly three weeks, and I at work for two. It was a Monday, as I recall.

I had just gotten my first paycheck; it wasn’t large by any means, but I still had a little bit left after I paid the bills.

I wanted to give her something…As a sort of apology, I guess.

“Hi, Mom!” Christina was perky as usual, but her voice had an almost imperceptible strain of exhaustion too it, not that I could blame her. She was going to a charter school; the best we could afford, and it was definitely a demanding institution.

“How was work?” One of the things I loved about Christina was that she never forgot to ask me about my day, no matter how bad hers was. In retrospect, however, she may have just been too kind; sheltered. But that’s beside the point.

“Well…I happened to get a little paycheck today, and I was wondering if you’d like to go shopping, Christina.’

‘Just the two us; like old times.” My nervousness surprised me; why was I shaking asking my daughter such a simple question? We’d done it plenty of times before. But that was exactly it. We’d done it before the fight, before the divorce, before the whole Teddy incident. What’s the old saying about even the sweetest fruit becoming tainted when sown in bad soil?

She smiled and nodded.

There was a lovely little bedding shop about a block south of the apartment.

The first one she saw was turquoise. It had a distinct regal look to it, but with a touch of modernity in a padded headboard. A salesgirl, probably in her mid-20s, stalked around her like she was a tigress and Christina was an unsuspecting gazelle.

“Good day, Miss. May I help you?” Her purring voice was like a razor blade; sharp and just a smidge too smooth for its own good. The tigress was quickly zoning in on my baby gazelle, and I had to protect her.

“Christina,” I yelled, “There are some twin sheets over here!” 

My little gazelle sauntered over thoughtfully, perhaps remembering that her room was not large enough for a queen bed.

The tigress angrily stalked over to where we were standing, a mixture of disappointment and fury dripping down her face. “These are our older twin sets.” Older. Why did that word have such a demeaning tone to it?

“Do any of these look good to you?” 

Christina thought for a moment then pointed to the bed in the middle. “That one,” she said, “It looks very…I don’t know. But I like it.”

I nodded assent and went to the tigress with a smirk of satisfaction on my face. The gazelles had won this round. It was roughly two weeks after that when I had finally gotten everything together.

I took off work to put up the wallpaper and finish moving the newly painted furniture back in. Right after she got home from school I grabbed her and pulled her back to the bedroom.

Christina walked in and stopped immediately, her face frozen with what I hoped was pleasant surprise.

Blue had always been a favorite color of hers, and I figured a soft cream with it would make the room look cozy while still retaining an air of maturity.

I watched from the desk.

Christina sat on the bed and felt the pillow, a slow smile inching across her face.

“Mom, you shouldn’t have!” She tried to make her voice sullen, but her excitement carried over into her words.

She was probably right. The paint, curtains, bed frame, bedding, ect, had put us back quite a bit.

But I would gladly go in to work early for the next month so she could smile a little bit every time she walked into her room. We embraced, and for a moment everything stopped.

We were just two people in one window,

In one apartment,

In one city.

And we were happy.

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To the readers: First off, if you are reading this, Congratulations! You have enough patience to wait three weeks for an episode that should have taken only one. Wasn’t this a nice break from all the sadness in her life? I felt like, “Let’s be happy for once!” And I was. 🙂

Due to time constraints and plot changes, the next episode looks as if it will be the season one finale. We will rejoin Doctor Harrow in psychotherapy with Rebecca as information is revealed that will make you question some of the characters even more. This episode should be out next Tuesday, as it doesn’t require a lot of changes in setting, costume, ect. Thanks for reading!


Episode #7 – Postponed

I hate to do this again- I really do- but I don’t want to publish half of an episode.  I’ve been ridiculously busy as of late; I haven’t even had time to be on the normal Sims site, TSS, or Writer’s Block, for that matter.

I don’t want this story to become another one of my projects that just kind of fades away, and I will do my very best to prevent that.


Next Episode (August 30th) Delayed

The episode still needs to be edited, and tonight I need to study for my test over To Kill a Mockingbird, and for my first monologue in acting.

Tuesday postings will return next week on September 6th. The 5th is Labor Day, so I’ll have time to get everything ready. Thank you!


Episode Six – Doctor Harrow’s Notes

Doctor Harrow sits stubbornly in his office, refusing to give up. Maybe there’s some small detail he’d overlooked, some slight word he’d missed…Just one more check…

“The subject, whom for confidentiality purposes will remain nameless, presents herself to be dumb, but that is not the case. I have not yet decided if she is very intelligent or simply very driven.

All of my attempts to discern something useful from her were tossed aside with an embittered smile or a careless wave.

It is my firm belief that she has been vastly underestimated her whole life, and has only recently arrived at her current level of action. I am unsure of whether or not to further press her on what I believe to be the key details, or to simply let her finish her story.

She carries an empathic air about her, but she still manages to induce a decent sense of pity. On one hand, it is as if her body has become a shell and her past is all that remains inside.

But on the other hand, it as if she is a spider controlling a gargantuan web, and I am but a fly who does not yet know her true intentions.

At this point, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between the two.

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Thanks for reading! A quick note: I’m officially back in school, so the episodes will get a bit harder to put together. I have the rest of season one finished (The photos, that is), but the writing and actual posting could take a little bit longer on some occasions. Most chapters will be published late Tuesday evenings. If a publishing date has to be pushed back, I’ll make a post letting you know. Thank you! :)


Episode Five – Silence the Doubt

It was morning. The night had passed without sleep for me and without noise from Christina. “Honey,” I called into her room, “Breakfast is ready.”

Silence answered me, and it wasn’t until that moment that I learned how much I hated the word.

What was there to do but muse? I sat down at the kitchen table without food; I was too concerned to eat. Less than seven hours ago I had held a gun to the father of my child. And he had told her that I never wanted her to begin with.

Things looked even bleaker in the morning than they had the night before.

Hesitant footfalls echoed softly from the hallway, and I saw a pair of pink pajama pants slink into the living room.

Christina passed me in silence. There it is again, that stupid word that doesn’t seem to leave me alone…Silence. It’s like a knife thrust deep into my heart, then twisted into my subconscious.

She sat down quietly, and began to eat the waffles I’d made. They were burnt, mind you, but I was never much of a cook.

There it was. The moment had come to break the silence; to twist out the knife.

“Chrissy,” I began, using her childhood nickname, “We can talk about this or pretend it never even happened. It’s up to you.” Christina sat stolidly while I talked, only moving to pierce a piece of waffle with her fork.

I looked at her, but she avoided my gaze. The silence had been broken, but I could already feel it rebuilding. It was no longer a knife. Instead it was a noose, tightening around my neck with every second of eternity that passed by in insufferable silence.

“Rebecca,” she said, “What did Dad mean when he said you didn’t want me?” I’d take silence any day over the words I heard creep out of my daughter’s mouth. She refused to call me Mom while still referring to Teddy as her father. That was the first time in my life I’d felt my heart truly break.

“Well, you see…” The words didn’t want to come, and I couldn’t blame them. How do you explain to your child that you wanted to get an abortion?

“We were young, your father and I. He wasn’t working and I was barely pulling us through with the money I made at the newspaper. And then came a baby?

We had ramen and water every night for dinner, Christina. We didn’t think we’d be able to provide the proper care for a child. We scheduled an…an…an abortion at Women Now, and we got all the way to the parking lot.

But at the last second your father talked me out of it, saying he’d get a job. Which, believe it or not, he did. That was one of the things about Teddy that made me think I loved him.

Sitting in that parking lot and deciding to keep you was the greatest decision I’ve ever made. I promise.” She looked up at me, then, and our eyes locked.

Her lips parted and she began to speak, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad at first. But…I…understand why you thought the way you did.

And Mom? Can I ask one more question?”

“Of course!” I’d never felt so relieved; she had called me Mom again. I started to feel my eyes misting up.

“What is it?”

“Last night…Was the gun loaded?”

“No.” I answered too quickly for my own good, but it was the truth. There was no way in Hell I could’ve shot Teddy. Not because of what I thought about him, but because Christina loved him somehow. And I loved Christina.

She didn’t answer; only smiled and gave a slight nod.

“Thanks for breakfast.”

She went into the kitchen and washed her plate, like she always did. I went to my roomand made my bed before returning to the kitchen to clean up.

Christina was gone, probably in her room.

Maybe she was reading.

But she wasn’t. She was sobbing in the bathroom; I could hear her.

For the second time that day, my heart broke. It broke because it meant she didn’t completely trust what I had said; that she had doubt.

And that doubt hurt.


Episode Four – A Trivial Detail

“You held your ex-husband at gunpoint?” DoctorHarrow is startled, to say the least. Her record had no indication of this kind of behavior.

“Rebecca?”

She remains silent. Her cigarette is out and she briefly considers lighting another one.

But there’s too much left to talk about.

“Alright, fine. Where did you get the gun?”

A thin smile crawls across her face, but the sign of happiness is too foreign to her to convey anything.

“Why is that funny to you?”

“It’s such a trivial detail, don’t you think?” Silence ensues.

“I got it in a small shop on Thirty-Eighth street. It was about a hundred bucks.”

Doctor Harrow considers pressing her further, but Rebecca is lost in the memory of that night. “Do continue,” he says instead.

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I’d like to apologize to my readers for that gap between the last two chapters. I originally planned to have episode 5 prepared for you as well today, but SILC really pushed things back a bit. Regular publishings on Tuesday should return next week. Thank you for reading!


Episode Three – Bullets and Mothballs

A loud banging was emanating from the front door. Christina’s eyes fluttered open.

“I know you’re here, you bitch,” a wavering voice yelled out from the hallway.

“Open the God damn door!”

Christina sat up in bed, dazed and disoriented. The clock read 2:37 AM; who would be here?

Christina rose and stood by the front door. As she became fully awake, two thoughts descended into her mind. The first was recognition. The second was realization. The two were hand-in-hand, and for a moment she lost her judgment. She reached out and turned the knob, throwing open the door.

“D…Dad?” Her voice came out quiet and doubtful, conflicted by its own question. The man in front of her was middle-aged, balding, and had on a slightly yellowed sleep shirt that she knew instantly.

Theodore Robinson leaned in towards his daughter. He squinted at her, as if examining a piece of art. “Kitten…” he murmured, “Is it really you?” Theodore was in awe. Here in front of him was something that had come from him, that always held a part of him.

Christina remained silent. She was both elated and terrified to see her father again. It had been almost a year since they had been alone together, and almost five months since she had seen him at all. She gestured him in, forgetting everything her mother told her, and invited him into the living room.

Theodore’s awe quickly melted into pain, and then into rage. “Why haven’t I been able to see you?” he hissed between clenched teeth.

“Am I not good enough as a parent to you? Or is that harpy mother of yours doing this?” Christina was frightened by two things. First: Her father had never yelled at her before. Second: Her mother had told her that her father didn’t want to see her.

I woke up at 2:41 AM. Shouting near the kitchen had ripped me from my fitful turnings. It took me but a moment to recognize the angry voice screaming at my daughter.

It took me but a moment to decide what I was going to do.

“Step away from her, Teddy.” My voice was dripping with ice, even more so than I intended.

“Becky, what are you going to do? Shoot me? Kill me in front of our daughter?” He was getting louder with every word; I didn’t know what to do.

“Are you going to kill me in front of our God damn daughter?”

“Hey! Both of you, calm down…” Christina tried unsuccessfully to mediate the situation. She had seen us fight before…But this?

I ignored her. “Step away from her, Teddy,” I repeated. I spent 23 God-forsaken years in fear of my husband; well, not anymore.

“Mom! Put down the gun!” For a moment I wavered; Christina actually thought I was going to kill him. But scum like that doesn’t die so easily.

The gun was getting heavy in my hand, and Teddy wasn’t moving an inch. I felt pure, animalistic fury rising inside of me. I’d worked so hard to keep her from him, and then he goes and does this? “Step away from her, Teddy,” I repeated for the third time, losing my patience, “Before I put a hole in your bald spot.”

Teddy looked over at Christina. “She wanted to get rid of you,” he muttered, I stopped her.” As soon as the words left his mouth I knew I was in trouble. Christina looked to me for denial, but I was silent. This wasn’t something I had ever wanted to talk to her about, least of all now.

She tried to look strong, but I could see small tears clutch at the corners of her eyes. She turned and left the living room, and a moment later I heard her door slam and low whimpers edge through the darkness. It tore me apart to not be able to run and comfort her, but I had to deal with Teddy first.

I held the gun at his back until he got on the elevator. Never once did the thought of killing him cross my mind; I just wanted to scare that piece of trash back to Twinbrook.

By then the commotion had woken some of the neighbors, and I can only imagine how my first appearance made an impression on them. In fact, it’s a miracle none of them called the police. After Teddy was safely out of the building and my apartment door was locked, I sat down at the kitchen table.

“Good God…” I muttered. It was our first day of life in Bridgeport, Christina had already locked herself in her room, and I’d held her father at gun point. Only a few hours ago I had been lying in bed like a normal person, just thinking about how trapped I was in my little cocoon; never a butterfly.

I’d come out of my damn cocoon, alright. But I was a moth. A bitter and dirty moth.


Episode Two – The Cocoon

I was looking at the wall. A cold metal beast was waiting in the center, its rusty jaws rearing to open and swallow me. Yellow stripes rose from either side, rising endlessly upwards in parallel gaits.

You wouldn’t believe me now, but I was young once. Well, not young. But not entirely old, either.

“Mom, this is taking forever. Should we just take the stairs?” Christina’s voice echoed out pure and soft behind me.

As if in answer to her plea the beast roared and opened its jaws, revealing a small mouth with purple and golden tissue surrounding a polygonal tongue in the center of the floor.

Christina and I settled into the cramped space and waited as the creature ascended up the tunnel.

After about a minute we arrived, the beast digging its claws into the side of the cave to lock itself in place.

I walked out and turned back to the elevator, almost laughing that in so short a time I had transformed it into some sort of mythical monster. I’ve always been creative. For the longest time I remember wanting to be a writer, but it never seemed to work out.

Christina’s face was utterly impassive, but I managed to discern one meager feeling: Anxiousness.

It was certainly mutual. Even I felt a tingle of anxiety creep up my spine as we stood in front of the door to our new apartment. With a grimace and push I managed to overcome the lock, granting entrance to what I’d hoped would be a home.

It was surprisingly cozy. Sitting in the dining area across from Christina, I felt suburban, as if we’d never left the shady courts of Twinbrook Acres.

“I know it’s…Different,” I began, “But it’d be impossible for us to afford the other place, and I can’t drive this far to work every day.”

Finances were never my strong suit. After I divorced Teddy, money had been especially hard to come by. However, it took but the smallest dose of motherly love to convince myself that having my daughter was worth that lacking.

Christina nodded, cheerful as always. “I know, Mom.”

“It’s like…like…an adventure,” She professed, “We can decorate it all ourselves and make it ours.”

I smiled. Christina wasn’t happy. I didn’t have to be her mother to tell that. The good thing was that she was willing to redefine what made her happy, and I could work with that.

Christina went to find her room, like most children would.

It was sparse, it was small, and it certainly wasn’t gaining in the looks department.

There was one thing that I had splurged on. Christina found it immediately, which wasn’t surprising considering the room was so small.

She sat down at the piano and held her fingers suspended above the keys.

Within a moment she began to play.

Soft chords stole out of her bedroom and found me in the kitchen. I was preparing dinner as I always did, but with less than half the counter space and only the most affordable ingredients.

Hearing that music made me smile because it certified that Christina was coping. Ever since she had been little, music had been her escape. Whenever Teddy and I fought, or she’d lost a fried, she would go to her room and play on her little piano we had bought at some Christmas or other.

If Christina was truly sad she wouldn’t have played at all.

Nonetheless, the quality of the sound was perfection. Even a small second-hand electronic piano could be beautiful in the hands of a master.

But then again, her skill rose from her constant playing. It made me sad that she had had so many things to cope with. But what is done is done. The past is dead and we are living.

Dinner was short. Christina had to get her things ready for school, and I for work. At around 11:00 PM I was brushing my teeth. The bathroom was utterly disgusting to me. The linoleum squeaked at every move I made, a mocking reminder of the smooth tile that had been there before.

Even so, it would work. I didn’t need the apartment to be beautiful. We would make it our own, like Christina had said.

It was 11:30 when I finally slipped into my sheets.

They were rough and heavy, smothering me in what felt like a cotton cocoon. The difference, of course, being that when I’d wake up the next day I wouldn’t be a butterfly.

I’d be the same tired woman, in the same tired apartment, in the same restless city as I’d been the night before. I spent 23 years in a cocoon of shitty marriage, and here I was again, wrapped up in my own monotony. It was like I was a caterpillar for life. I pushed these thoughts aside and tried to go to sleep.

So far Bridgeport hadn’t welcomed us with open arms. But it hadn’t completely repelled us either.

And for that I was grateful.


Episode One – Doctor Harrow

 

A sallow cigarette hangs limply out of her lips as she fishes for a lighter.

 

Rebecca,” begins Doctor Harrow, “I’m ready whenever you are.”

 

Almost complete silence answers Doctor Harrow. Short breaths of nicotine and shame are all that are heard.

 

Doctor Harrow clears his throat. “Rebecca…”

 

She pulls the cigarette out of her mouth and looks up. “Where do I start?” Her voice comes out raspy and abrasive.

 

“Wherever you think it began.”

 

Her face contorts into a mask of anguish; every wrinkle seemingly filled with regret. A minute passes without talk before she clears her throat.

“It began in Bridgeport.”