Prompt: #14 - Tarmac @
Summary: The plane was waiting to take her away
Warning(s): Includes references to miscarriage and infant death
Word Count: 1,291
Disclaimer: All characters and situations in this story are property of me.
Twenty years. It was a long time. A long time to have been away. A long time to come back from.
Abby glanced out of the window at the plane waiting on the tarmac and snorted to herself. At 38 she had actually been away for longer than she had been home.
A tight, humourless smile played across her lips. ‘Home’? Where had that come from? Abby hadn’t thought of that little London suburb as home for a long time. And certainly that house, that dwelling, that place she had lived in for the first 18 years of her life, that had not been a home.
Abby glanced out of the window at the plane again. Sitting. Waiting. Waiting for her. Soon she would board, the engines would fire up, the wheels would turn onto the smooth surface of the runway and it would carry her of. Take her back. Not home, just back.
She thought back now. Back to what had been; what her life had been.
She was born kicking and screaming to parents she supposed had loved each other once, but had long since forgotten how. Her mother, cruelly betrayed by her own body. The body that had rejected so many tiny lives before they could even start. The body that had allowed two babies to be born; but to be born broken. Not kicking and screaming like her. Oh no. One already blue and lifeless; the other pink but with his insides all wrong. Doomed to survive just two days; fighting for breath in a world that had decided he didn’t belong.
Then her mother pushed her into the world. Not blue, not broken. Pink and strong and healthy. But then her mother’s body pulled its master stroke.
Blood chased Abby out of the womb. Blood and tissue as the very organ that had protected her for nine months split and ruptured; nearly taking her mother’s life with it and ensuring that no new life would ever be found there.
It should have made her special. Made her so much more loved and cared for. But it didn’t. To her mother she was the child that broke her. The baby that took away all other chances.
To her father she was a disappointment simply by her sex. She was not the boy her father had dreamed of. The one that would grow up to idolise him, worship him, become like him. The son that would grow up a furniture maker like him; join the family business; be the ‘and son’ in the historic company name.
Abby had tried. She had tried to be all things to both her parents. She tried to be perfect for her mother; tried to do everything; be every child her mother had dreamed of having.
She tried to be a son for her father. She kicked awkwardly at footballs; had joined him in the family workshop; tried to work the wood. For all her efforts all she gained was unerring disappointment and one index finger an inch shorter than the other.
So then she had hidden. She retreated inside herself; hid herself from her parents; from the world. She moved about the house as if she didn’t exist and no-one tried very hard to see her.
She was a ghost at home and not much more at school. People looked through her, not at her. And she became used to it. She wondered sometimes if she was there at all. Maybe she was a figment of her own imagination.
But then she would catch sight of herself in the mirror. Her mousy brown hair, the same colour as her mother’s but with the curl of her father’s. Large eyes that belonged to neither of her parents and a nose and mouth straight from her grandfather.
Her body was soft and doughy; puppy fat clinging to her through childhood, into adolescence and showing no signs of letting go.
She was real alright. Not a ghost. Flesh and blood real. The mirror told her so.
One other thing told her that she was real.
Her mind that came up with extraordinary pictures and people and stories. Her mind that overflowed with imagined people and places and adventures. From a young age she escaped into her mind. Fleeing her life she lived in her head with the creatures and the people there. They loved her; cared about her. And she loved them.
As she got older the people in her head changed. What they did changed. They became darker, more sinister. Driven by lust and anger they were dangerous inside her head.
And so she released them. She set them free from her head by letting them fly out of her mind through a pen onto a page. She filled books and books with her untidy scrawl.
But she didn’t just release these people by writing them down; she gave them life. And they returned it. Writing gave Abby a life. Gave her a reason to be alive; too feel alive.
Everyday she would come home from school and disappear like the ghost she was to her room. There she would sit with her books and let the stories and people free from her head.
At 16 Abby got a job; evenings and weekends in a shop. But she continued to write. Every spare moment she had pen went to paper. Every penny she earned was diligently saved, except those few pounds that would go on a new blank book to fill with her stories.
Then Abby turned 18. She spent a little of her hard saved money on a suitcase. She spent some more on a one way ticket to Boston. She packed some clothes and half a decades worth of notebooks into her suitcase and she left. She left the way she had lived. Not a word was spoken to anyone. But she wrote. Not the way she normally wrote; just a simple, short letter saying that she was gone.
And she had never looked back. She arrived in Boston. Lived on the remainder of her saved money and worked quietly in bars and clubs that didn’t ask too many questions in return for having a pretty English girl, no trace of puppy fat now, working behind the bar, drawing the men to her.
Abby wasn’t a ghost any more. Abby was someone. Abby was someone that people wanted to talk to; wanted to be friends with. And Abby responded. She pretended she was speaking to characters in her stories until she didn’t have to pretend anymore and could speak her own words to her own friends.
A couple of these friends knew people and helped her get her Green Card. She settled. She was happy.
But the people were still in her head and she continued to write her stories. People asked her about them, found them, read them and suddenly one day she didn’t need to work in bars anymore.
Her words were no longer in notebooks. No, now Abby’s words were in proper books, with glossy covers and smart words on the back. Abby’s words were loved by thousands; and Abby was loved by those she needed to love her.
Then one day someone wrote to her. Wrote to tell her that both her father and her mother were now dead. Drinking had claimed her father many years before, the words said; and her mother had now succumbed to a cancer.
So Abby decided it was time. Time to write a new story. Or perhaps it was the ending to an old story. She stared again at the plane waiting patiently on the tarmac for her. She would go back, and this time she wouldn’t be the ghost.