Race you to the End

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli 1485

Her emotions were barely ascertainable. Shock drowned out her anger momentarily, and she was speechless. Confused as to what expressions to exhibit, her face remained expressionless. She looked up extending her neck while pushing herself up from that face down position with her palm. Her blank eyes stared at the chiseled face that was laughing, smiling at his grand achievement. She stood up slowly, in disbelief. What had he just done?

“Race you to the end,” he said. “I will even give you a head start.”

So she ran to the tree at the end of the alleyway. She was no runner, but lately her willingness to mobilise her hands and legs to the beat of exercise were more regular. She had even lost a few pounds. Maybe he was nice enough to give her a sort of confidence boost. The recent accident had caused her a reluctance to move. It was as if she looked at all things through fear-glasses which caused everything to look gray. She was a delicate being, pale, fragile almost. People often looked past her robust adequate body to see flimsiness. Because her face was that of a helpless child. An adult helpless-child.

She always bore that weakness of needing to please all. In her mind she was a sort of angel, born to make all happy. But deep in that pit it had all gone sour, and she knew it not. If she did not take a stand for herself soon, she would turn inside out, for the pit would outgrow the sweet girl, swallowing her soul. And what would remain was a monster. Of course she did not know that. Her weakness blinded her.

So she ran, her legs swiftly stepped one in front of the other. She picked up speed, and was pleased with her progress. Nic her physiotherapist would be ever so pleased. As her mind visualised her running, her body regained a sort of confidence and for that minute she shook off her fear-glasses and everything looked the colour it should be. Not grey. So she ran, with a little more abandonment.

She never really loved him, but she never needed to say yes. She just went with the flow. He was good at maneuvering, and often got things his way. He knew her weakness and used it to his benefit, much. He said he would be ever so sad if she did not come with him, and the last she would do was to make someone else cry. She was vulnerable too, right after the accident. So she came with. She never really liked him even. Actually, she did not even know how she felt for what he felt was of heavier importance. Since the day she came with him, her face had permanently assumed a confused expression for it could not ascertain the expression it should bear. It could feel none.

He always said he loved her, so maybe this was how he would show it. Letting her win. She heard him running up behind her, very quickly. Of course, he had longer legs. And she pushed herself further faster. She could see the tree and it was close. She was almost there. She would win the race, her heart let out a happy chirp. He knew all she had been through, and would let her have at least this, even if she could not have anything else, for she was not clear of what it was she wanted. He would let her win.

The last few seconds of the race went very slowly for her. She was nearly there, her hand stretched out to touch the tree before she felt a yank that caused her to fall face-down onto the ground. She was not ready for that fall, so her reflexes only kicked in at the last minute, just in time  to prevent her face from hitting the ground. She felt the hand let go of her ankle, before it touched the tree.

“I won,” he chimed triumphantly. “Headstart and yet I still win.”

She felt sick and as she slowly got up, hearing nothing but those words he chimed she studied the expression of that chiseled face in shock and disbelief. She was brought up surrounded by people who would do all they can for the betterment of others, this was foreign to her. And he professed himself of the noble breed, the good kind, and one who loves. At a time when her faith in men was waning, he pulled the plug to drain the faith that is left.

“What stupid person does not know how to prevent herself from falling,” he shook his head at her and laughed. “But I love you anyway,” he kissed her and pulled her towards him.

She was nauseated by those words and her face contorted to express a sort of disgust. She was disgusted.

Her mind began racing as her pit churned. The seeds of anger that were planted within her quivered, germinating. She recalled the time he jerked her head back by her pony tail while she was chatting with her friend on the street. She felt her head jerk. Words formed before her eyes, brash, obnoxious, rude, arrogant. She saw them float before her in a string. She saw her friends’ disapproving faces and their thick, and strong hatred for him. She understood. Then she saw their disappointed faces when she floated with him, unable to stand on her own two feet, unable to fight.

“Girls are not meant to fight,” she thought. So she thought. She assumed that they were all like the princesses in fairy tales, born to be fought for, born to be rescued. All they needed to do was tenderly nurse sick animals. She laughed at herself.

“Trust me,” he had said when he extended his hand and told her to come. She should have said no. No way anyone could trust him to care for another. Anger simmered within her, for him, and then for herself.

They sat down to dinner, and she pushed the edges of her bruises with her fingers. Her knees were still tender. Her palms had stopped bleeding, and she touched the scabs. As he threw his weight around, her disgust inflamed and anger sprouted. She studied his beaming smile. So proud of himself, like a little boy who had just scored candy. Thoughts floated in her mind of the realisation that he did not really love her at all. Disgust exploded, filled her lungs, suffocating her.

She choked a little and tried to concentrate on the words coming out of his mouth, just so she could respond appropriately. They ordered their meal and he talked on until the meal arrived.

“Thank you God for making me smart,” he said during the grace they all religiously say for he was of the noble sort. She was unsure of whether it was a joke, although he looked serious enough.  She never doubted his intelligence, until then, when he dared to mutter such a prayer. She took it as a warning of how he thought he was superior to her. Her picture of him as prince charming dissolved.

Throughout dinner she felt herself fall face down repeatedly. Over and over again. And while the very insides of her wanted to get up to leave, she did not. Months went on and she tried to tell him she was leaving, that he was not who he, who she, thought he was in the relationship. The chivalrous being he thought he was, fierce with fervour capable of loving, was a lie. She wanted to burst his bubble. He was just walking all over her.

The memory of the race and the end she never reached haunted her, and years went by. Her soul slowly left her, spoke to her softly at first, and then got violent, shouted accusations that she did not love her and threatened to flee. She kept this all inside her simmering, blaming him.

Years later they returned to the tree, and her soul was on the verge of leaving. She was a blank-eyed girl now. And he had not noticed because all his life he thought women were made to submit. To bow down and trudge behind him that way she did.

“Here was where I won, remember?” he asked her. And he snapped a branch off the tree.

And in that snap, she felt the last corner of her soul step out of her. And she turned to see it flit away, in sadness, in tears. Her anger welled up uncontrollable and she screamed. He looked at her in contempt. “Slap me if you are really that angry,” he challenged her. And when she did he returned her slap. “You did it first,” he said, “now behave yourself.”

She lunged at him with such a passion and her soul stood around to watch. She picked up a stone from the sidewalk and began to hit him firstly in the arm, and then in the head. Her soul sank, because when it left her, it gave way to madness. And that madness rose from the pits of her and took hold of her. The anger that had spawned within her had multiplied and it was now bigger than her.

She did not stop. She did not stop when his shouts ceased. She did not stop when his struggling ceased. She did not stop when his breath ceased. She did not stop when a passer-by pulled her aside and the police came by. She did not stop until they put her in the ambulance and took her to the hospital. Then she stopped. Her blank stare and vacant expression clung onto her face forever as words ceased to become known to her, all words but for two.

“I win.”

And that was all she would utter, all day, for the rest of her life.

And I, her soul sat by her and watched her while her limp life away in the asylum. I watched her in sadness, soaking in my own tears.

She should have stood up for me.