Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Lost on the Rock Contest - 3rd Place
It was Neville, you see, who found out what had happened all those years ago. He had been exploring the woods and had come across the old potting shed at the back of the old nursery. It was all broken down and overgrown; the glasshouses standing vacant, the panes broken or missing.
I’d stopped crying by then, afraid it was the nasty man come back to check on me after he'd pushed me down into that dungeon-like cellar. When I felt the noise of footsteps above me I panicked in the darkness and stumbled into a pile of old clay plant pots. With his curiosity aroused Neville had discovered the door and pulled it open.
Thinking to make my escape, I’d leapt forward snarling and spitting like a cat, ready to attack and plunged forwards bowling him over. I was startled by the brightness and by the figure of a young lad rather than the horrible old man who’d smelled of dirt and tobacco. I’d been almost hysterical when Neville had grabbed hold of me and it was only when he shook me hard and yelled back at me that he wasn’t going to hurt me that I finally stopped screaming.
Neville, my saviour. He became a good friend in the days and months that passed, after he’d taken me safely home. I swore him to secrecy that he must never tell anyone what had happened to me and when we finally arrived back at my home he honoured our agreement. My mother was crying with relief and my father just wouldn’t let me go. They’d been about to call the police when they couldn’t find me, having searched the surrounding area for hours. Neville backed up my story that I’d been playing hide and seek with some friends, down by the old nursery, when I’d got stuck in the potting shed after the door handle had come off. He’d heard me crying and rescued me.
So, Neville became quite a hero and a fixture in my life from that time on. We grew up, he went off to college and I stayed on at school, being a few years younger. We courted and eventually married. At least, that’s the happy ending everyone believed.
The truth, hidden behind the aspects of middle-class conformity and appearances of genteel post-war Britain, was quite a different prospect; 1950’s society still clung precariously to established stereotypes of propriety that would not have openly accepted the arrangement that governed our marriage.
Neville endured the probing questions that suggested our lack of offspring might represent a failing on his part, even to the point where he didn’t contradict the misconception that others were happy to believe.
All these years he has patiently stayed beside me, content to be my protector and allow me to live a quiet and sheltered life. Our arrangement is simple – that part of his life is separate. He is very discreet, of course. I often wonder what makes him stay. Perhaps there is more to love and living our lives together than can be explained away by a simple definition.
But even now after more than sixty years there are times, flashbacks, to a long ago summer when a sunny day brought to a halt the excitement and wonder of youth and ushered in the loss of innocence, as I retreat once more to my place of forgetting. There, in my times of solitude, I block out the worst images and fight to replace them with blackness, as if splicing and editing cine film until I can look back and not see the past.
Neville found me, he rescued me and he has sheltered me all these years, but still I am tied to the trauma of what happened back then. How I wish I could wipe away the memories of a past that will not go away. Perhaps, if I had the determination and the courage, I would bow to his gentle suggestion of counselling, but I am trapped by the fear that it might bring other memories to the surface. Solitude is a small price for me to pay but it has cost Neville dear.
I hang out at my blog: http://www.irefusetogoquietly.blogspot.com/ - callers there are most welcome, especially if they'd like to contribute to 'Thursday @ 3'!