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Silent Lies

Anna is lying motionless, except for the odd flicker in her eyes. She has lost all track of time now, only aware it is morning because of the light. Occasionally recent events come back to her in fragments, people rushing around, crying, sirens. Anna could not remember putting her bike away. Her friends thought she was mad but she dismissed their concerns, Anna was going to own her midlife crisis.

“A car is for your body, but a bike is for your soul”, said the man who sold her the bike and he was right. She met new friends, explored different parts of the country and finally made her peace with camping. Well, glamping if she was totally honest, but it was still the great outdoors experience to Anna.

The door opened, two nurses entered, bringing Anna’s attention back to the present. They checked monitors and chatted to themselves. Occasionally one of them would address Anna as if she was part of the conversation, or debate they were having. This banter amused Anna and she longed to play an active part, instead Anna revelled in the company of an obvious friendship between colleagues. This morning they were discussing the #me too campaign. Anna tried to blink furiously in agreement that wearing a black dress when you’re no longer a struggling actor is all well and good, but how does that help young people today? Hollywood like so many male dominated industries was not going to change unless there were more women involved at every stage of the process. Anna enjoyed a proud moment, her daughter Faith was good with a camera, she was already part of the change. The counter argument in favour of the mild protest was also sound. Surely some awareness was better than none at all, and what better stage than The Oscars, televised live, with millions watching. Both nurses made reasonable points, but Anna knew the horrors of the casting couch only too well. Their conversation continued; Frances McDormand was not wearing black when she accepted her academy award, clearly not everyone agreed. This made Anna sad, she liked staying up late to watch the awards, what else had she missed? The nurses were rearranging Anna’s bedclothes, taking her temperature and marking her chart. Anna’s line of sight moved from up, to left, then right, before she was propped up in a sitting position. Faith will be here soon, Anna’s eyes flickered. It was the highlight of her day, but painful too. Anna could not say anymore how much she loved Faith and how proud she was. Anna was unable to talk about Faith’s father or explain why she needed to protect her.

Faith dripped over her shoe, temporarily losing her balance and dropped her handbag, she was rushing and didn’t seem to be getting anywhere fast. Her mind was all over the place, she was excited, sad and scared all at once. Faith just took a call from her boss, with the best news of her entire career. In fact; this was her career defining moment, everything before this point was just to get here; access all areas at the beginning of Fashion week. She needed to focus, concentrate and go tell her mum. Immediately Faith felt guilty. Her boss had graciously given her as much time as she needed to support her mum, but there was still no change, what else could she do? Faith spent 3 weeks constantly at her mother’s bedside after she first collapsed. That was over 2 months ago. Faith was only just easing herself back into work, she still visited her mum every morning and evening; but she loved her job. Faith was sure her mum knew she was there when she visited, she had to believe that was true, because the alternative was too painful to consider. Faith pinched herself, swallowed and fought back the tearful emotion threatening to envelope her. Faith rounded the corner into the ward, greeted by the nursing staff who knew her by name now.

“Any change?” she asked hopefully. The nurse shook her head.

“The same.” Faith thanked her and smiled opening the door to her mother’s room. 

Faith went through her usual routine, kissing her mother’s forehead, smoothing her hair and chatting to her as if she expected a response. As Faith shared her exciting news, she was certain she saw movement in her mum’s eyes. She would be gone all day, back quite late, but Faith would visit tomorrow.  Faith assured her mum she wouldn’t be lonely; friends and neighbours were happy to reschedule their visits to the hospital and cover her short absences. Faith was desperate for some sign her mother understood and supported her, but there was no change.

Anna could not believe what she was hearing, she thought she would have more time to prepare for this conversation with her daughter. Faith was almost sure to run into her father. He could always be found peddling his charm and promises of fame and fortune around hungry, desperate, young girls.  I have to stop her, she can’t go, not like this, oh god, oh no, I have to warn her. This was too much for Anna to bear, she couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. This was the real definition of hell; trapped in your own body, by your own mind.

Faith was kissing her mother on her forehead and saying her goodbyes. Anna was screaming inside her own head, please Faith, please don’t go, you don’t know what he’s like, please. Almost as if she sensed her mother’s caution Faith added gently

“Don’t worry mum, I’ll see you tomorrow, wish me luck.”

It would take more than luck to keep Faith away from her father’s far reaching clutches. Faith closed the door quietly behind her leaving Anna furiously trying to communicate, please, please don’t go, but no sound came. Instead a small, single, tear rolled halfway down her cheek.

As Faith promised several visitors came and went throughout the day, Anna tried to communicate through the mindless chatter but to no avail. Eventually the day came to a close, signalled by the fading light and the night shift making their rounds. The noise levels quietened, Anna tried to clear her mind so she could direct all her energy into movement, the only vain hope left. Her whole world fell dark and silent as the door opened. Anna recognised the scent and the change in the air, he was here.

“It’s been a long time Anna, too long. It would be an understatement to say I was surprised to see Faith at the Fashion show. I knew instantly of course, she is a striking combination between the two of us but it’s all in the eyes as they say and yours were always unmistakeable. I didn’t tell her who I was, but she sensed there was a connection between us, naturally. You’ve done a remarkable job raising her and credit where credit is due, but you should have told me Anna.”

He was sitting on the bed now and gently caressing Anna’s limp hand.

“I had a right to know.”

He squeezed her hand tightly.

“I promised myself I would not get angry, but you could always get to me.”

Releasing his hold, he continued.

“It’s sad to see you this way Anna, no spark, no passion, trapped.”

His long fingers easily covered Anna’s nose and mouth; with his large hand he pressed down hard.

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