“Damn it! Where is she!” Roger exploded, his fits hitting the desk with enough force to knock over the can of pencils, and skittle the keyboard dangerously close to the edge. He pushed the chair away from his desk, one of the rolling feet catching on the rag rug. Roger, screaming, flung the mat against the window hard enough to rattle the panes. He was in full rage now. The heat of his anger scorched the wallpaper. He paced, gesturing, cursing, the room was not big enough to contain his hatred.
Vera hid in the dressing room connecting the bedroom walk-in closet to the bathroom. Roger’s rages came more frequently now. She turned the small space into a refuge, a haven from Roger’s venom. The tattered and faded wing chair from their first apartment. A floor lamp from the guest suite. A table destined for charity collection. With a shim, the wobbliness disappeared. She could look out at the garden. Watch the light and the seasons change. Curl up hugging a pillow. Slow the anxiety and fear constricting her chest. Practice yoga breathes. And wait.
Wait until Roger’s feet no longer shook the ceiling. Listen for the sounds of his correcting the chaos of his destructive mood. Or, absolute stillness; the quiet when Roger, exhausted, the madness passed, dropped onto the daybed and slipped into somnolence. She could then pad the narrow stairs up to what Roger called “their garret.” The attic and servants’ quarters gutted to create, under the sweeping eaves, a bright, airy, inviting writing space. Books lined the walls, lay open on a desk, or perched on the edge of the daybed. Several state-of-the-air computers and printers purred. Rag rugs and worn Persian carpets muffled noises from below. Narrow French doors opened onto a small balcony. Just enough room for two chairs and a table. She and Roger, in better days, sat watching the rippling silver trail of the moon on the ocean turn into warmer orange hues. Mugs of coffee, plate of sweet treats, binoculars, camera. No words passed; there was no need. So in tune, they communicated telepathically. Comfortable. An embrace.
Vera’s legs and feet, drawn up beneath her, were all pins and needles. She painfully shifted her weight; her legs flopped over the arm of the chair like unstuffed stockings. As she massaged, she listened. The dressing room was shades of grey; she must have slept for a few hours. Usually the tension and noise kept her on edge; she wrote stories in her head to calm herself. These had never been bedtime stories before.
Quiet. Absolute quiet. Perhaps Roger left the house to clamber over the rocks, down to edge of his sea. Let the spray wash away his rage; let the tide pull away his frustrations. Inspiration might have slapped him out of his frenzy, without her next to him. But there was no soothing sound of rapid keyboarding. Vera knew she must go up and look.
Fears took root in her fragile psyche; the silence a trap. As she stepped into a darkened room, Roger would grab and shake her, screaming “Where were you! Who were you with!” The spittle from the corners of his rabid mouth lashing her face. Shaking and shaking until the world spun; spiraling into darkness. Or, wind from the open French doors swirled the detritus of his destructiveness. steadying herself against the railing, she knew a crumpled pile of bloody clothes lay below. Or his body would wash up in a cove down the shore. Self-destruction or her destruction. Trashing the garret was no longer enough.
She could leave. Let Roger deal with his madness. She was tired of hiding, of fear, of Roger’s denials. His refusal to seek any sort of treatment. So often, now, she thought she was the one loosing it. Her own sense of reality and fiction morphed. Had she become such a victim; why cower rather than confidently respond? Who, actually, was she hiding from? Give Roger one more chance? How had this bizarre co-dependence happened. Would he hunt her down? It wasn’t always so. Not like this.
Those were questions for another day. She cracked open the garret door. Roger curled up on the day bed. She slipped in, planning to put one of the colourful quilts over his shivering body. She stopped. Roger wasn’t shivering from spent anger. He was sobbing; his shoulders heaving. A trick? A joke? “Roger?,” Vera spoke his name just above a whisper. He unfurled his body, rigidly sitting up, then falling backwards until the wall and the railing of the day bed supported him. His face flushed, his eyes swollen, a lost and forlorn soul trying to focus.
Vera schoshed next to him, her arm around his shoulders. She felt the wetness of his cheeks as he placed his head against her. Vera gently rocked him, soothing motion at any age. “It’s alright, Roger.” He lifted his head, and turned so he could watch her eyes. “You will always be my muse. I’ll help you through this, if you’ll let me.” Before resting his head on Vera’s shoulder again, he nodded.
Woven for Tale Weaver 32: story in search of a muse
(c) phylor 2015