12 [isobel] - to be inspired
Aug. 25th, 2003
10:10 pm - 12 [isobel]
bruised_easily talked me into posting this. Originally posted for her eyes only, I'm sharing it with the rest of you here.
The child cowered in the corner of her bay window, like some forgotten shadow of the past, some angel of darkness. People called her nobody important. Just a nobody. A messy patchwork of scars and bruises was this child. Just a blanket, frayed at the edges.
Her face pressed into the glass; a jagged breath fogging it up from the inside of a small broken body. Tears choking up an uneven framework, shaking every rattling bone like a cymbal, crashing like hailstones against the window, cracking it.
The door creaked open, the shadow creeping up from behind, laying an enraged hand on a miserable shoulder.
Her name was Isobel.
“Stop it! Stop you bastard!”
Isobel screamed and ran from the room, her face aching from the red hot tears. A door slammed behind her; as the old feelings swept into her mouth. She knelt over the bowl until there was nothing left inside her. Even her tears had stopped falling.
Isobel wondered when it would ever end.
It's getting harder to breathe again. Everything is diving down my throat threatening to choke the life out of my soul and leave me a soulless, heartless, mindless, forgotten shadow.
Do you understand what it is to feel like I feel? Torn. Bleeding. Throbbing.
It's strange...I feel you even when you aren't there. You are in every gap in my white room. You stare at me from every corner and I want to escape you, but wonder if I have the strength.
If emptiness is neither reality nor dreams then it is where I am. A closed, empty box.
eating power and
there’s a mask i wear
of faded leather
the colour of despair
h a v i n g
She knew the back of the closet door well, every grove, every slice of mute wood.
Isobel would wrap herself in the long-sleeved cloak as the night closed in around her, hiding her from the silent eyes of the world.
She would huddle there, in her slit lighted closet, covered by the many prayers of saviours to come; saviours she’d wish to be here. She knew she was safe here. Safe for the time. For every hour that passed; she knew she had survived another hour.
As another eruption of profanities exploded upwards and away from outside, she drew back further into herself, wishing simply to survive. To survive would be her miracle.
And to survive whatever got thrown at her next…was too unclear to think about.
“Where’re you hiding? Where’re you hiding girl?”
Isobel refused to breathe as he stomped around her room.
“Where’re you hiding!” he roared.
Isobel sunk herself further into the jacket. Suddenly, the closet was thrown open and Isobel blinked like a rabbit stunned by the headlights of an approaching car.
“Well, so this is where you were hiding girl.” A hand reached in and scruffed her, dragging her out, towards the light. Away from safety.
The Last Word
It's getting harder to hear my own heart, with all these voices falling around me.
There are so many voices here, they are invading my space. They're frightening me, all these demons who have scrambled to the surface through the huge cracks in my floorboards, the ones that won't go away.
He's a demon too, the kind that won't go away. He watches me struggle with myself, every past fading memory. They intensify their grip on me, willing me every which way, tearing me limb from limb, like a rag doll in the empty sea.
They taunt me endlessly, and I am afraid.
like lineless light
to break our single
of what we know
of what we’ve ever known
to break ourselves
changing us into something great
something we will love
that we can not
bittersweet rain falling on me
like acid on my cheek
searing my skin
tawny with my own delight
She moved through the halls like a shadow, like some empty ghost ship, never carrying any passengers, fueled by loneliness and grief. People never seemed to see her; never seemed to see Isobel on her way through the crush of teenagers.
The hood of her jacket was pulled low over her face to hide the unmentionable agony, to hide the glassy sorrow.
Isobel didn’t care what they thought anymore, Isobel was beyond caring.
She would just continue on her way, hiding herself between classes under the level three stairs, watching the endless procession of shoes travel up and down. The sneakers with their rubber soles; the high heals clipping harshly, echoing in Isobel’s ears; the loafers snapping their laces; just shoes, taking all their owners somewhere.
Somewhere away from here.
If Charlotte had not been on the look-out for subjects for her latest photography assignment, she would never have seen her. A girl, hidden away under the stairs, not moving. She sat so still that it made Charlotte wonder if she was even breathing.
Without even thinking about it, Charlotte slowly put her bag down, pulled her camera from its depths. She kneeled in the busy corridor; focused the camera; then slowly snapping a shot of this silent figure, hidden away. One photo was followed by another, and then another.
Then Charlotte stood back up and cast a glance at the girl before hurrying through the school, on course for the dark rooms.
My skin feels like it's stretched too tightly over my bones, making me feel exposed. I feel strangely bare against the will of the world.
It's like I'm turning back into a child of twelve again.
It's like I'm trying to collapse myself into something that I am not anymore, and don't even wish I was. That innocent creature, never pure, but definitely innocent, I don't want to go back to embrace ‘Isobel the Naïve’. The idea scares me so.
I'm shrinking and it's making me more and more insignificant.
A skeleton. Rattling her bones to a disjointed melody that I can not understand anymore, and really never could.
My skin still stretched, trying to hold myself in place, like it's afraid that if it loosens, I will slip away.
a satisfied mind
an unsettled heart
full of hungry mouths
and plate-lit glass
peaceful, yet disturbing
a golden creature
a feathered flighty thing
t e a r i n g o u t y o u r h e a r t . . .
The first time it happened, Isobel became an emotional mess. She hid in her closet for days. She desperately tried to smother the wailing echo that seemed to come in an endless succession.
The second time came just a week later; and left her so badly bruised the she could barely move. The smallest movement seem to cause her a fiery pain that sprung up from her chest and swept through every fibre of her body. Even her hair seemed to be on fire.
The third time was the worst, Isobel landing in hospital with a fractured rib and a ripped tendon in her left arm that came from the desperation to protect her face, and then having her hands torn away.
Her mother told the doctor that Isobel, Miss Clumsy Isobel, ‘had fallen down the stairs’. Isobel kept quiet, she knew better than to speak against anything they said.
She’d pay for it later if she dared say anything. She’d pay.
“You should be more careful, girl. You could have fallen harder.”
Isobel dived for her closet, shutting herself into the darkness, and stretching out her legs. She began to pray.
Let me survive this. Let me fly away with my angel and survive this. Let me survive this. Let me survive this…
Yes Daddy, one day my angel will come and I will fly away from you. I will survive. Yes Daddy.
There Are Times I Don't Feel Human
I think I may have forgotten what it is like to be human. I have so many fears inside, all crowding each other, trying to find their way out of my mouth. They want me to fight back.
My skin is burning, my muscles are a painful reminder.
Sadness from the past, happiness from the future, and I'm stuck in this infinite point of nothingness in my existence. I’m caught in this web of fate, the eye of the cyclone.
And there are times that I just want to let it all go. Let this confused feeling of who I am swallow me up, so I can forget in peace.
exile and brute walking
the whip behind me
the road in front
to the severe edge
like any other thing
i’d like one
of sleep-filled nights
of a warm embrace
i’d like a gift
but i will not receive it
until man is made
with some other
The couple making out on the blanket under the boardwalk didn’t even pause for breath as Isobel stumbled across it above their heads.
The sea gulls perched on the pier took off in a cloud of sea air and busy wings as she slammed into the end railing. Her shoulder length hair flew into her face; mixing with eyelashes and heavy sliding wetness on her cheeks.
She dared herself to climb over the railing and leap off; hitting the water and never coming back. At least the pain she was forced to inhale here would be gone. Maybe the water could be her sweet saviour. She’d lap it up like wind; cool and refreshing.
Before Isobel knew how it came about; her legs had clambered over the railing and now her toes were dangling free over the water. It called to her.
‘Come play Isobel, swallow your fear, we will guide you away. Come play Isobel.’
Isobel slowly calmed down, her cheeks dried with the sea breeze and she regained control over her shallow breathing. With a toss of her head she sent her hair away and stared far out to the water; and the who-knows-what beyond the horizon.
‘Come play Isobel. Come play…’
“Are you sure you want to be doing that?” came a curious voice behind Isobel.
Isobel jumped; nearly loosing her footing and turned to see a girl, who she did not remember seeing on her flight here. She had olive skin, chocolate brown eyes, a steady voice and the tiniest hands Isobel had every seen.
“Go away.” Isobel could not keep the fear out of her voice.
A hand closed around her elbow, urging her back onto the safety of the pier. When they stood there, looking at each other, and trying not to appear as if they were.
“I’m Charlotte, Charlotte Norris,” No reply came. “And you are?”
“I’ve seen you around school haven’t I? Linden High?” A sulky nod was the reply. “I thought so. I remembered you…”
“How I remembered you?” Charlotte looked confused.
“Yeah. How did you remember me? I mean, I’m not exactly there much, and when I am…well, I’m not exactly the most memorable person am I?”
“You’re in my science class. I sit at the front with Yvonne and Claire.”
“Oh,” Isobel pondered quietly. “Well then you can just forget me.”
“Just forget me.”
Isobel ran up the pier, not bothering to look back, just moved on in helpless flight; leaving Charlotte to stare at her fast disappearing back. Charlotte stood there long after Isobel had fled away before turning to face the water, slamming her hand on the cracked paint on the pier; angry at herself for scaring Isobel away.
From: Charlotte Norris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, May 14, 2000 8:32 AM
Subject: A real life angel
Hey buddy! Well, Charlotte here, bringing you all the news. I’ve had the strangest day…don’t know what yours has been like, but mine’s been an all-out weirdo. I suppose I should start off with the big news…you know that girl I was telling you about . . . the one I took that beautiful photo of, the one on my wall? Well, I had an encounter with her today! On the pier, and I swear Paul, I seriously thought she was going to jump off the end!!! God, I have never been that freaked out! It was unbelievable. But I managed to get her on the right side of the railing; with a bit of gentle coaxing. Paul, you should have seen her; Isobel has the most beautiful green eyes you’ve ever seen…auburn hair, flaxen…the type I’ve always wanted…you know the type. Like Sarah’s. Absolutely stunning…her face looked so…deep. I don’t really know how to describe it. Anyway, I better sign off, I’ve got some English homework to finish. Take care and give Jenny a hug for me! Luv ya, Charlotte.
place of truth
you’ll find me hiding
i’ll be watching you
waiting for you to
i stare into the mirror
n a u g h t and g r i e f
the lonesome type
that brings my
Isobel had always been the solitary kind; the wanderer; the ghost; the spirit beyond comparison. So it came as a rude shock when this…angel seemed to want to know her.
Charlotte followed her; dug her out from all her hiding places. From the depths of the library she dragged Isobel, she would sit with her in Science, wait for her after English and make sure she went to Maths.
Isobel could not isolate herself, Charlotte had attached herself so firmly around her throat that sometimes all that good will and well-meaning careless laughter seemed to be hunting her down. Charlotte had even dug Isobel out from her stairs. She rattled her up and intertwined herself in her life, like a messy knot-weed.
The bruises always took some explaining. ‘I fell down the stairs.’ She would say. ‘Oh, silly me, I tripped yesterday.’ She would explain. ‘I'm just clumsy.’
She thought she could fool Charlotte. She thought she could fool herself.
“So, who hits you?”
Isobel gasped. Charlotte looked up to see shock in her new friends eyes. She shrugged.
“It's just a question Isobel.”
“No one. I told you, I'm just clumsy, Little Miss Clumsy.”
“Who do you think you're fooling? Because it's not me. I know those kinds of…those marks of shame. You don't get them from falling down Isobel!”
“I don't know what you're talking about Charlotte!”
“What do they use? A stick? A metal pipe? A belt?” Isobel gasped again. “Okay, so it's a belt, nice heavy buckle too. If I'm right, one that you don't have to put a lot of force behind for it to hurt. Is that right? Isobel? Am I right?”
Isobel studied the ground, the groping sob welling up in her, but then she spoke.
“It's one of those heavy, chunky ones, really dull metal. He always seems to hit the same spots.”
“Has he broken any bones?” Charlotte's voice seemed tight and far away. Getting no answer, Charlotte desperately tried again.
“You don't have to put up with it Isobel!”
“Yes I do…bad Isobel. Dirty bad Isobel. I'll hit you Isobel…I will!”
“Isobel…Isobel, look at me…Isobel,” A nervous shake of the head. “Isobel…look at me please.”
Isobel looked up, eyes red with the pain of remembering.
“You don't have to play their games. You can get away. You can come live with me, Mum won't care, she'll adopt you. Please Isobel.”
A pause. “I can't.”
Isobel stood up, hit her head on the underside of the stairs and then ran off, letting her legs carry her away from Charlotte, who was left sitting in Isobel’s now invaded hiding place.
‘Oh, Isobel,’ thought Charlotte. ‘How I wish you would listen.’
I was right about Isobel…He, I think her father, has been hitting her. God, watching the haunting pain in her eyes hurt me so much. I want to help her. I want to help her so desperately that everything in my heart hurts when she pushes me away. If it wasn't for cousin Katie then I probably wouldn't have suspected anything. I wouldn't have even guessed. I just would have taken her word for anything she said.
I don't think she'll ever forgive me for pushing her so much, for prodding her until I got to the truth. It really hurt her, having me do that, but I had to. I knew that I had to push her to make her talk. It's better that she tells someone, otherwise it just eats away at your soul. I wish I didn't have to do that. But I just want to help her, protect her.
what is this secret
that i hold?
the lie that i
hide under my tongue;
i wrench from your grasp
i cannot tell
i’d rather die.
how should i greet thee?
the wandering figure
afraid and alone
how should i greet thee?
with silence and tears
Hands slapped against the railing as Isobel made her way home. The thought of home sent a shiver down her spine; she wrapped the tatty coat closer.
The kids on the street corner lapped at their lollies and exchange looks as Isobel passed, sharply turned the corner and headed into the autumn-rinsed park. The whole world seemed still here, like Isobel had suddenly been transferred into the center of a photograph, and there were no worries here, no cares.
Nothing to disturb the serene bliss. If it could be called that at all.
Isobel huddled under her tree; watching the old man ‘With A Hobble’ scatter bread to the ducks. He was here often; a friend in the loneliness. Isobel let herself drift into a world, her world…where she could be herself. The one where there was no fighting; no black marks on her body; and maybe even a real friend.
Charlotte suddenly popped up in her mind. Isobel tried not to think of Charlotte; her chocolate eyes and the sweet smile of a saint. ‘You can’t trust anyone; especially not Charlotte. You can’t trust anyone!’ Her conscience always screamed at her.
And yet…there was something more, hovering like an unseen shadow, a halo of gold, the silence of longing. There was something, but Isobel couldn’t let herself trust it. She knew she had to go back there. She had to go back to house number six; she would have to face the fear sooner, rather than later.
But for the moment, she leaned back into the tree’s safe arms, and let herself forget for just a second…just a second.
the ground beneath her hands
where the veins
like bottles bruised
under the brown earth
my hands are tainted
orange and red
the deep colour
of blood and tears
with the need of
staining my fingertips like
ashes of roses
She came home that day to see the door ripped off her closet; her room a shambles; the torn pages of her notebook were spread over nearly every inch of the floor.
Her hiding spot was gone, where could she hide now? Isobel panicked, her tears now streaming out of every inch of her soul; her screams reaching to the furthest corner of the house.
They came thundering behind her; there was a sharp flick of the wrist; and Isobel hit the far wall. But she was so angry, her blood was boiling and her screams grew in her throat and she flew back at them.
She pounded into his chest and clawed and scratched, still screaming ‘I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.’
It didn’t take him long to silence her screams though. It was surprisingly easy, and afterwards, Isobel lay there unconscious, her face distorted and the pool of blood growing silently.
The pages of her notes; and diary entries; and poetry soaked up her blood, all of them fastening together.
Charlotte sat there, stunned.
“She can't be!”
“I'm sorry darling.”
Her mother stood there, her uniform blended into the white walled kitchen.
“I couldn't believe it either, when the emergency was called in. I was there when she arrived. I couldn't believe it when I heard the name. I remembered you mentioning her. In the end, she just had too many injuries.”
and when the
and when the
s i l e n c e
a bed of oceans
of lonely walls
a bride bed fill of
b l o o d
of haunted roses
of unsung heroes
- finished -