50shadesofbrownlol

Close your eyes. Listen to the sound of my voice. Listen to the metronome; bring the rhythm of your breathing in sync with the rhythm of the metronome. Tick, tock, in and out. Empty your mind and picture yourself sitting alone on a chair. Breathe in and out. The walls around you are falling away and the sound of the metronome is fading into the distance. Clear your thoughts and concentrate on my voice. Breathe in and out. Now think back to when you first felt you had lost control of yourself. Keep calm and breath. Where are you Amiee?

It’s damp and old. A musty mix of yesterday’s cigarettes and today’s rainfall. Last year’s mould creeping across last decade’s ceiling tiles. The floor is damp and cold. Brown carpet made browner by spills, water damage, piss; blood. I’d gotten to know that carpet well. After spending so long lying on it, staring at it, I’d begun to pick out the different shades of brown and what they meant to me, what they had been to him. Darker, more likely to be cigarette burns or perhaps from the incense that he loved to burn, dotted sporadically around the five metre room. Square and squalid. A bed, a sink and a hob. Lighter shades, slightly yellow gave clues to last week’s meals. Each shade looked delicious to me and my insatiable hunger by day three. Each shade mocked me by day four. I’d lost any hunger, any desire by day five. No longer the need to be warm, no longer the need to cry or speak, no longer the need to eat. Brown was my friend. Darker shades and shadows were comfort. Light brought darkness when the door swung open and his silhouette, seeming so small but powerful, stood above me. His smile meant my time of comfort was limited. Brown would be tarnished by crimson and darkened by tears. Each day was a slice to mark a day more. Then back to the floor. Crimson to black, black to brown. Then just my friends and I fading together as the morning approached. Whilst the sun rose we perished in the light, desperately hoping to fall back into darkness so no one could see us, see how dirty we were. Darkness is comfortable, people look at you and expect you to be tarnished, it isn’t a shock. Black is one of my favourite colours these days. I love to wear black. I will never wear brown.

How do you feel?

I feel happy now. I’m out with my friends, good friends; old friends. He appeared but it’s okay because I’m with my friends. They don’t like him though. I asked him to leave but he said he couldn’t, not without me. So I ignored him. It was my time with my friends, I wasn’t going to let him ruin it so I pretended he wasn’t there. We were all in the beer garden at ‘The Swan’ pub. I used to love it there, we were always there. The big guy with the dread locked hair came out and said to drink up, time to go. We were all having so much fun though and I loved being with my oldest friends again so we decided to pile in to the karaoke bar next door. Kristy, Lola, Sharon and Katie were ‘Disney’ girls. They loved to sing along to pop songs and Broadway soundtracks. The boys just wanted to continue to drink so it was a good option for everyone.

We filed out of the back gate of the pub and I saw him out of the corner of my eye. He was still following but I  ignored it, everyone seemed to follow suit and ignore his presence. He had a huge back pack on and his eyes were so wide, so dark. I figured there was no way the bouncer would allow him in, he had the appearance of a deranged junkie that night, possibly homeless as he seemingly carried everything he owned on his back.

We walked up the narrow staircase in single file, music flowed down to us as we approached the door. Glasses clinking and inebriated wails of punters belting out Oasis helped my anxiety slip away. Ian went to the bar for me whilst some of us sat in the black leather booth. The place was so small, a tiny stage with two mics in the middle of the room and a small TV fixed to the ceiling in front of it. Everyone was laughing again, Sharon and Kristy were flicking through the songbook to pick out something for us. I’d never seen them so excited, it made me laugh to myself. Katie sat with me as ‘The Calling’ began to play. I looked around and he wasn’t there. I felt safe and protected in the dark little bar, in my dark little booth. Kate and I began to sing along together, looking into each other’s eyes, feeling every word as we sang them. In that moment you feel every word that you sing with your friends. Vodka fuelled harmonies bring you together and in those few minutes you’re married in rum based camaraderie, it’s just happiness in a shot glass and I lapped up every minute when I had it.

“If I could, then I would, I’ll go wherever you will go…”

 

blursing

Then he crept out from the shadows. He must have been convincing the doorman this whole time. I wasn’t scared anymore though. I felt so comfortable and safe with my friends so I allowed him to sit with us. He plopped himself on the end of our booth and just stared around like a lost little boy. I began to feel sorry for him; then I saw it. His hand slipped into his bag and dropped something into my drink on the small table in front of us. He saw that I saw him do it but I continued to ignore him. Ian had also seen, he had seen me see it too. I glanced at him and smiled, then lifted the glass to my lips and swallowed the entire contents, vodka, Olanzapine and all.

Why did you do that if you knew he had drugged it?

I don’t really know. I think at that point I felt like giving up. He was always there, I knew I was going to end up back in his control at some point, I was tired.

It could have been poison.

It wasn’t, I’d seen that pill before. I knew it was his medication but had it been poison, I still didn’t care. Ian looked so unhappy with me, J looked so pleased with himself. The rest of the night was a blur. I don’t remember leaving the bar or saying goodbye to my friends. I just remember standing outside St Mary Cray train station, a five minute walk from my home. He was with me. I was saying goodbye but he wouldn’t let me.

“You can’t leave me on my own!”

Then he pulled out his phone and dialled. “Hello? I need an ambulance to pick me up please. I’m with my girlfriend and I’m not well. I’m going to hurt her and myself.”

Did he hurt you that night?

No. The ambulance came, I don’t remember the ride or where exactly we ended up. Some sort of psychiatric place not too far from my house. He wanted me to stay but they wouldn’t let me. I didn’t want to anyway, this got me away. They asked if I needed a cab home but I said I could walk. The grey haired lady behind the counter looked so concerned about me.

“Are you sure? It’s 5am, it’s dangerous for you on your own.” I liked her, she didn’t know me but still cared. Where I live people don’t care about each other, my town is filled with people that hate everyone for everything that they don’t have. There’s no respect for the elderly, for property, for people or even animals. It’s a bleak place where you’re judged on the price of your trainers before you’re robbed of them.

The truth was I didn’t have any money for a cab. So I walked. There’s a motorway between the hospital and my house. I walked over the bridge and stared over the ledge at the cars rushing by. I remember thinking: “Why are there so many cars at this time of the morning?” I rested my face on the wall and watched the lights blur into an endless rushing stream of colour beneath me. The sun was steadily finding its way to the middle of the sky by the time I’d gotten home. I was surrounded by light.

A blinding light above me made me squint and daylight poured in through the tall windows, bouncing and reflecting off the white walls and varnished wood panels. The room wasn’t how I thought it would look. A little pine panelling here and there but mostly a clinical appearance. I was standing above everyone and as I looked down I saw his face. He glared at me from behind a clear partition. There was a tall and very stern looking bailiff standing next to him, he looked so small and weak in comparison.

“And what happened next Miss McKeown?”

“What?”

“What happened after you heard your mother call you?”

“My mum?”

“Do you need to read from your statement Miss McKeown?”

It’s cold and I feel exposed. They are all looking at me, waiting for me to say something. She’s staring into my face but I can’t think at all. She’s supposed to be on my side but it feels like she isn’t. It feels like they’re all on his side and I’m here alone, faltering, not knowing what to say. I can’t remember much of it at all now really. But that’s not good enough right now.

“Miss McKeown?” She looks angry with me.

“Then I came downstairs and went into the back garden and saw him there. It was 5am, it was my birthday! I didn’t know why he was there!”

“How was he standing?”

“With his legs apart and something in his hand, I couldn’t see what it was.”

“How did you know he had something in his hand?”

“Well he had his hand in his bag and was facing towards my dad. My Rottweiler was between them growling and barking at him, there was blood all over his face and hand.”

“What did you do next?”

“I told him to leave and started calling my dog..”

“If you felt he was dangerous then why didn’t you go inside?”

“I wanted to get my dog; I didn’t want him to hurt her!”

I felt like a stupid little girl now. I looked up and saw him smiling at me, like this was a game and he was winning. I felt as if he were. His eyes stood apart from his face, as dark as his hair. He was wearing a crisp white shirt but didn’t look smart at all. The buttons were undone and his hair was scruffy, he acted so humble as he asked the bailiff for some water. When it was handed to him he clasped the glass in both hands, raised it to the bailiff and bowed his head. I’m not sure which pissed me off more, this humble naive act or the fact that he believed he was a humble, naive person.

“What did the defendant do next Miss McKeown?”

He was looking at me with those dark eyes, they were almost smiling. My mind was awash of nothing ¬†and everything as I looked over at the panel of people across the room. They weren’t a jury, perhaps they were all judges? There were about five of them. I’d never been in court before, I didn’t really know what was happening. All had blank expressions and all eyes were fixed on me, waiting for my answers. I hadn’t any. My parents had pushed this, I’d never wanted to report him, I just wanted him to go away. Now my shame was being laid bare in front of strangers. This wasn’t what I’d wanted.

“Miss McKeown?”

“I don’t know?”

“Breathe Miss McKeown, Calm down. What happened next?”

“I don’t know!”

Breathe. Calm down. Concentrate on your chair, your empty room, on my voice. Breathe in and out, let it fade away, let it go.

 

chair 2

 

Catharsis?

I never really got the meaning of that word. I mean I get it, you go through some shit and you let it out, you let it go. You sing about it, beat something up, paint a damn picture, talk to someone, write about it and it goes away. That’s the bit I don’t get, doesn’t that immortalise it? You’re making this thing, this suffering, into art. It shouldn’t be art. It shouldn’t be pretty because it wasn’t. It shouldn’t be enjoyed by others because it wasn’t enjoyable for you. If it’s a memory to try and understand and then forget, it can’t be immortalised. I still don’t know why I allowed the things that happened to me happen. People tell me I should go for counselling but to be honest I don’t know if I could ever tell someone, face to face, what really happened.

You don’t think that speaking to someone about it could help you understand?

No, the court offered me counselling after the hearing.

Did you take it?

No. I didn’t want to feel like a victim. It was over and that was that. Done. What’s left after that?

Your mental wellbeing?

That doesn’t need tending to. I write, I’ve found my catharsis and I’m fine now. My experience has been immortalised for all to gawk and gasp at. It’s done.

So you don’t believe in counselling, speaking to someone?

Nah, I don’t. I never needed it. I won’t go to counselling. Never have and never will.

You don’t need to speak to anyone.

Nah, I don’t need to speak to anyone.

It’s getting darker.

You’re fine.

The room feels smaller.

Yeah, I’m fine.

It smells like rainfall and cigarettes.

Listen to my voice.

“I’m fine!”

“Don’t speak again, there’s a bowl of water on the floor for you. I don’t want to hear you speak again!”

I’m on my knees, it’s so cold in this room. The balcony door is wide open opposite me and I can hear the rain falling fast and heavy. I don’t want to look up, so I stare at the bowl on the floor. I can feel him behind me, his eyes are on my neck, there’s something in his hand.

“I’m fine, I should go now, I need to go home.”

It’s hot and sharp across my back; running, trickling down my side, I can hear a vague patter, it’s dripping onto the floor. Crimson to black, black to brown.

“I said don’t speak again. You aren’t speaking tonight. Not again, do you understand?”

I peek up at the digital clock on the bookshelf, the numbers glaring out at me like small, red eyes. Its 5 am. It’s getting light out.

In and out. Alone on my chair. No walls. I’m fine. I’m fine now.

Danni Warwick

Danni is a twenty something traditionalist with a modernist approach. She is from London, enjoys writing fiction in her spare time and appreciates the classics. When not dancing with Darcy (in her mind) she can be found under a tree or surrounded by macaroons, working on becoming the next Stephanie Meyers… just a little less twinkly and a lot more gore!