Greetings blog land! Well, it’s been well over a year since I blogged and I really wasn’t in a good place the last time I wrote something. I’d like to get back into doing it but right now I’m focusing on the release of my new book, Blackbird, which will be available as of June 15th. The cover reveal is tomorrow and I’ll post the cover here as well, but for now here is the first chapter of what is going to be a new series.
The memory of the pain was always raw and not something she liked to relive. It was only when something forced it to the surface that it would replay, involuntarily, in her unconscious mind. Once it began, it simply could not be turned off. The blood, the screaming, the cold when she was discarded out into the night scared and disowned. Fifteen is too young to be all alone, especially with such a burden.
Chelle stirred in her sleep, the concrete floor cold underneath her as the events played themselves out once more. She felt it all. The searing and ripping as her back released its secret for the first time, like rusty, jagged blades slicing her open, spilling her blood and dignity all over the floor of her parent’s tiny rundown living room.
Her father, who thought of himself as merciful, had brought out the belt…again, and there was no one to save her. There was never anyone to save her. No siblings. Just she and her useless mother, standing watch as leather met skin over and over.
Crack, crack, crack…
When the beatings first began she had pleaded for sanity, for understanding. It had only taken one or two of them to understand that any plea for clemency was falling on deaf ears, and so, she had taught herself to endure it, biting down on her lip so hard that she drew blood each and every time. Her teeth had left a small but permanent scar on the bottom one which she now always covered with lipstick. Not because she was afraid others would notice, but because having to see it staring back at her when she looked in the mirror was unbearable. Chelle was loath to see her reflection as it was.
There was no memory of what she had done to deserve the beating on that night. It was something so insignificant that she hadn’t bothered to file it away. What she did file away – which her subconscious mind liked to drudge up at unexpected times – was the anger. Raw, biting anger that had overcome her like no other time before. An anger so powerful and unforeseen had risen from the core of her very being at the sheer exhaustion she felt for having to endure his sick little ritual for so long. It was rage she lived with now as a constant companion, having to keep it just below the surface lest anyone find out what she was.
On that night the anger had nowhere to go, and with nothing to stop it she had felt the stabbing pain and the blood running down her back as her shirt was left in shreds, hanging on by bare threads as they emerged, one from each shoulder blade.
Wings. Giant black wings that sprouted from her back. So heavy and awkward that they had leveled her to the floor. Something else happened too. As she stood and reached for her mother, a scared and whimpering child in pain, she had grabbed her father’s old and cigarette burned easy chair to steady herself. Although worn and ready to be discarded it was a sturdy piece of furniture, one she had jumped on and bounced in for many years, and yet under the slight touch of her hand it broke into pieces. Stumbling into the kitchen she had fallen against the table, shattering that as well sending splinters of wood scattering all over the kitchen floor.
Horrified and frightened her father had grabbed his .22 gage shot gun, aimed it at his only daughter, and with unsteady frightened hands screamed obscenities at her. “What the fuck are you?” he had yelled as he pointed the gun as best he could while trembling violently. “Get the fuck out of here! Fuck off and don’t come back.”
Don’t come back? But where was there to go? Now everything blurred as she sought out her mother and she heard her own voice, small and frightened, beg, “Mommy…please!” Her mother had taken one look at her and stood behind her husband, now pale and trembling as well, frightened of her own flesh and blood. All of her mother’s life was now fear. Fear of her brutish husband, and fear of Chelle, who was now confirmed as a monstrosity.
“Dear god, Chelle. Please just go. Do what he says. Go and don’t come back.”
Don’t come back. Those three words cut her worse than the razor sharp wings that had torn their way out of her very bones. She stood for one moment longer, hoping against hope that they would change their minds. Praying that they would put down the gun and help their bleeding, frightened little girl. Her father had simply steadied his finger on the trigger to show that he was serious.
Fine. If that was the way they wanted it she wouldn’t come back, not ever, not even if they begged. Chelle threw the door open, breaking it from its hinges as she did and ran out into the night confused, scared…alone. All her life she had been alone in one way or another, and now at twenty-five she was still alone, waking up on the cement floor of an empty house, a stranger’s laundry room.
Sitting up she hugged her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth still reeling from the dream. Why couldn’t it just leave her be? Wasn’t it bad enough she had to keep herself separate and apart from the world? There was no peace, not even in sleep.
Checking her watch she was even more aggravated to see that it read 5:30 a.m. She had only been asleep for an hour and now she wouldn’t get back to sleep at all. Of all the luck, especially on a day when she had volunteered to work a double. Work, today would start at 11:00 a.m. and not be over until 3:00 a.m.
Working at the bar was draining and over the last three months she had seen a lot of young waitresses come and go, mostly because of ‘Billie the Bitch’. Billie had flawless straight teeth, a fancy upbringing, a fake tan and hair so blonde that it was practically a shade of white. Over the last little while she had been taking more liberties to be the bitch that she was, seeing as how she was now engaged to the owner and about to marry into one of the most well-known families in Halifax. Her real boss, Robert Cole, was the owner of many successful bars downtown and Chelle worked at the main haunt, ‘Cole’s Bar and Grill’.
It was a mid-priced establishment where families would eat in the dining section during the day, but turned into more of a party place after ten o’clock. The tips were good and the pay was decent. There weren’t too many assholes compared to other bars in town and it was certainly better than stealing to survive, although she wasn’t sure what she was doing right now by squatting in this house was any better, but it sure beat the March cold. Thank god for snowbirds. If it weren’t for seniors who vacationed in Florida she would be in a shelter, or freezing to death on the street.
This particular house had kept her warm for two winters now. The thought of getting a place of her own had crossed her mind. She had enough money saved but putting down roots just seemed scary. She’d called a place home once, and as awful as it had been she had felt like she belonged there, but what was the point of getting used to something and getting attached only to be told to leave and never come back. Fear kept her running, but it also kept her safe. Nothing in her life was permanent. The only normal thing she had was a bank account and that was only because most places in this day and time wouldn’t pay you without one. She hated it.
Grabbing her backpack and never turning on a single light she felt her way to the bathroom. The layout was familiar to her from having done this hundreds of times. Once in the windowless bathroom with the door safely closed she turned the light on and proceeded to wash her face with the supplies and towel in her bag. She never used any of their things, except for water. She washed her clothes by hand in the sink or tub and dried them on the drying rack in the laundry room. Just because she slept here didn’t mean she had to intrude any more than she already was. The less space she took up in the world the better. A connection to anyone or anything only left you hurt. This job was starting to come with connections and if it hadn’t been for the great money she would have moved on already. Three months was usually the limit.
Turning the light off again she made her way back down into the basement and crawled into her sleeping bag once more, this time to stare at the ceiling and think of something, anything else. There were books upstairs on shelves that looked enticing and would be a great distraction, but she couldn’t bring herself to touch them, and so she simply lay on her old sleeping bag on the concrete floor. When the sun rose and she could see without having to feel her way around she rolled up the sleeping bag and placed it behind a stack of boxes. She needed to get out before any of the neighbours were up. She knew their schedules because she had watched them for two years now and so quickly grabbed her backpack, headed up the basement stairs and out into the street, locking the door behind her and then placing the key above the doorframe in the hiding place where she’d found it.
All of these neighbours were retired and so they rarely made a move before 9 a.m. Now it was time for her to find some place to be. A coffee shop would do, or perhaps the library, the big new one downtown. Maybe she could find a little space there and doze off for a bit before having to report to Cole’s.