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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sometimes You've Got To Stop Hearing



Before I even write this story I'm crying, and yet I will write it. 

I came into this world with my eyes open wide, and with a mind so quick that nothing has escaped me, nothing, not even memories.   Some memories I recall and I smile as I relive them; some memories have caused me pain and I've learned to let them go.  And then there are other memories buried deep inside that I don't remember, but one word, one touch, one energy passing in front of me, can pierce through my layers, if only barely scratching the surface, and bring those memories flooding back and exploding like magma.

"I have told you Mummy, I don't want to go with him.  I just don't like going that's all."

"But I don't understand why not.  You are lucky that he has taken such an interest in you girls.  I never had a father, and you're lucky that he wants to be your father."

"But he's not my father Mummy, he's my step-father, I don't really know why you want us to call him Daddy?'

"Hush up.  You're ungrateful don't you know it?  He does everything for you all.  How many step fathers put children that are not their own in private school? You're lucky, but ungrateful.  Now go with him.  Your sister is going to be there. There is nothing to be scared of."

"But Mummy please, it's dark out there. I'm scared of the dark.  Mummy please."

"Why are you annoying me?  He is going to be there with you.  Do you think he'll let anything happen to you?  Get away from me. You're acting like an idiot.  I don't want to hear anymore now.  Go and get a long sleeved shirt, it might be chilly down at the beach."


What else could I do but find my older sister and squeeze her bony hands in mine.  She was already five years older than me, but at eight years old, I felt that I somehow had to protect her.  I knew things though I could never explain what those things were.  Our eyes met over the lantern, hers sad and dull and yet our mother didn't see.  Or was it she didn't care?

Our father, well he really was our stepfather, was busy preparing for our turtle hunting outing.  In the many years that we would go turtle hunting, I cannot recall what he brought except the lantern, which I held on to so tightly hoping it could so, somehow  give more light.  It never did, and the path down to the pitch black beach always seemed shorter than it was. 

It always seemed as if we arrived there too quickly, me holding onto his strong arms trying to keep time to his quickened steps.  I can hear his breathing now, sharp and ragged, as I asked him curious, innocent questions.

"Daddy, why are you breathing like that?"

"Breathing how?" he'd ask.

He was almost playful then, even tolerant to my incessant questions; something that he normally swatted away in annoyance.  On these nights nothing seemed to anger him; and me, and my younger siblings could make as much noise as we wanted to.  He knew that he was going to escape and have some quiet, if only for a few hours down at the beach.

"Daddy, your breathing is loud in my ears.  I can barely hear the sea."

“Daddy, do you know in my encyclopedia it says you should not take the turtle eggs?  They are in-danger.

"Next time you need to write about that in one of your stories."

"Write what Daddy?"

"How you can barely hear the sea."

He tells me things like that.  Me, a child always lost in a world of words and sentences, and books, and faraway places.  I won’t remember how long it took to get to the beach, but all too quickly I’m there.  I hold on to him tightly as I stumble over the thick roots of the succulents that scramble over the rocky ledges.  He tells me to sit there and wait for the turtles, and he knows I won't move, as I ponder if it is possible to barely hear the sea.  He will be back he says, as he walks away with my sister who tells me not to worry.

I can hear in her voice she is scared for me to be there alone, by myself.  She knows that I am scared and yet there is nothing either one of us can do as we do not want to make him mad. I am frightened but I clutch the lantern closer to me for protection and I train my ears to not hear the furious pounding of the sea against the rocks. I am suddenly alerted when I realize it is indeed possible to drown out the sound of the sea, and then my heart sinks as I hear an innocent wailing coming from the small inlet where my sister has gone to pick up turtle eggs.


When you stop hearing, you realise that innocence, and not turtle eggs,  is often plundered on those pitch black turtle hunting nights.

SArthur