As a precursor to my next blog ‘Endometriosis and Me’ I thought I’d share this short story I wrote in 2013:
So, it was Thursday, right, when it all started.
The script already written, we knew we’d need the professionals.
We had to lie, there was no way they’d see us otherwise. They wouldn’t be interested unless it hurt. A lot.
We waited a while, well you do, don’t you?
The Usuals were there.
The fidgeting child in the anorak. Mum yelling at him. If only smoking wasn’t banned inside. He may be young, but he knows full well with that friend around he’ll be OK.
The man who hadn’t washed for weeks was there too.
And the old couple. What will he do when she’s gone? The garden will be OK, the roses are spectacular this year, and there’s more green beans than a couple with their diminished appetite could get through in a year.
But he can’t cook, can’t run the washing machine, and certainly doesn’t know where the Hoover’s kept. He supposes there is one…? It’s not his domain. I’ll do it darling.
The young couple are… oh, sorry… it’s our turn.
She takes our vitals. She is the shopkeeper and we are but groceries on her conveyor belt. She isn’t interested in us. She looks at the script and directs us through the door.
Some of the murals on the wall were bright once, but now they are lost in peeling paint. It’s a long walk and the heat is stifling. This is really it then. It’s really happening.
They put us in a cupboard. An inconvenience elsewhere and anyway, they thought we’d be happiest in the cupboard. Away from the prying world. From the stage of life.
Eventually, He arrives.
He is dressed as a clown, but his face paint is sinister.
I’m shit at my job, he smiles, but my dog is here to help me. Sorry you got landed with us, but everybody else is on stage.
He sits down with an air of unfounded arrogance. He doesn’t stop to look at his directions. The plot. The history. The clown and his assistant don’t know their lines and they cannot hear the prompt.
My distrust is overwhelming. It hurts more than anyone could ever know.
We are there for a while. And some.
And then suddenly, like that beautiful moment when the sun appears from an extended winter, the sky is the most intense blue. The birds begin to sing the most exquisite melodies and the petals of the most delicate flowers open up in the warm glow of the moment.
There it is. Quivering in the breeze as the wings of a hummingbird.
With reluctance and hesitation we gently allow ourselves to open the front of house. The reception begins, a precarious flute of champagne. Why does it feel like one false move and the fragile glass will splinter?
The clown goes in search of help and returns all too soon with the Ringmaster. The Boss Man. The character who keeps the standards around here, meets the quotas, delivers the figures.
And within seconds the dreams and hopes are no more. He’s physically gone inside and ripped out my heart beat with his bare hands and yet, he doesn’t seem to see me there. He can’t see the tears coursing the pattern of my cheeks. Can’t hear my cries of pain, the screaming in my brain, I’m here, I’m real. Speak to me. Tell me what’s happening.
And then the clown is back. His Joker face still grinning. He doesn’t seem to have noticed the lights are out. The power is cut. He just wants to talk about that fleeting glimpse of life. He wants to stop it. He wants to murder it. He wants to see it’s blood on my stomach.
And the vomiting doesn’t stop.
The drugs don’t work. Any of them. I’m hooked up to machines.
Nobody looks me in the eye. They all say ‘It’s just a rehearsal dear. The next time’s The Real Thing. The Big One’. But I didn’t want a rehearsal. I didn’t need it. I know how this show goes.
While I’m alone they take me for a walk. They take me to a place where everybody else has what I want. My Utopia. They leave me there. I can’t move. I can’t see. My eyes are stuck staring at the base of the red bucket.
I can hear them all around me. The tones of delight, everything we ever wanted is happening here and now. They can see it. They take pictures. The exhilaration is palpable. But they can’t take my pictures.
They can’t even stay in the room alone with me. The photographer yells for help, and when it doesn’t come, urgently pounds the corridor.
And still, I vomit.
They don’t want me there. I’m not really suitable for ‘there’. Bringing down the tone, they push me away. Protocol is out the window. They don’t wait for help. They just want rid.
The next act up is the bare back horse rider. Flounced in tall feathers, her small rotund belly clad in sequins, she barely sees me. Eyes only for her own act, her own moment on this stage. She really doesn’t give a fuck about me. This is serious, excruciating pain. I’ve been there before. For real. I know. But she seems hell bent on adding to my pain. Every single action bursts my skin and beyond with a searing agony. And she is so… detached. So cheerful. Why is this? Why is she acting like her very own selfish ray of warm sunshine in my deepest and darkest black clouds. Who wrote her stage directions? Why can’t she fuck off and let me have some control over when my own wisps of warm breath can enter back into my life. I have no control. I have lost it all.
And so the struggle is over. I can’t do this alone. It is not a solo performance. The walls of the cupboard fall away and I am centre stage. The actors are there ready and waiting for me. I am the main character in the next scene.
They look excited.
How can they?
This is the end. The very end. This is a dark tragedy. A horror story. And then I realise. They aren’t looking at me. They’re looking at her.
‘How’s it going?’ they ask excitedly.
’15 weeks’ she shouts, rubbing her belly.
My lights go out and the curtain falls.