This week

By Vita Forest

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This week I have been

WRITING Justify

READING

  • Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard
  • Tell the truth, Shame the devil by Melina Marchetta (well the last two days anyway – don’t normally buy “just released” books but it is MM).

RESTING due to being absolutely floored by the flu.

VISITING the doctor. Twice.

LOOKING after my sick children too.

WATCHING The Bridge (Swedish/Danish version) on DVD (not with the kids).

CUDDLING up with the kitty cat gals.

SOLVING puzzles in my Codewords book.

SLEEPING a lot

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Justify

By Vita Forest

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I am right and they are wrong.  Yes her, and them, and those others too.  Wrong.  With the letters after their names.  Wrong.  With their heaving bank accounts.  Wrong. Just plain wrong.

I ignore.  I obstruct.  I cast red herrings into the air like confetti.  If I do it long enough, they will bury and obscure.  Eating up time.

I let her lead it.  The investigations.  The options.  I am at best lukewarm, at worst, indignant.

I bring out my arsenal.  The alternative so ridiculous, so offensive, it will be rejected.

I wait.

I am good at this.  I learned this as a child.  Do something so badly, so wastefully that others throw up their hands and give up on me.  They finish the irritating chores that should have been mine to complete.  I smile smugly as they exhaust themselves.  If I leave it long enough, someone else will step in, someone else will pick up the pieces, someone else will pay.

Works for me.

Bad workmanship brings its own rewards.

I’m worth it.  I deserve it.  I have my own rules.  I am important. I need more.  That is just how it is.

She needs so little.  She has got used to not having much.  It would not hurt.  It would hurt me.  I am worth it.  I deserve it.

I will use the language of a debate and the structure of an argument.  I will get my way. There are reasons and I will list them in righteous indignation.  I will puff myself up until I am red in the face, blood juddering through my temples.  I will thrust my finger back and forth.  Dotting the “i”s, punctuating my points, underlining the main ideas with a thick black texta.  I am right, that is all there is to it.  If I shout loud enough, you can’t hear anyone else.

The reasons are these…

After careful consideration…

I am being fair and reasonable…

It would be petty to suggest otherwise…

I didn’t have it and it never did me any harm.

Look at me!  How well I turned out!

I will catastrophize.  I will weave a story of my own making from out of the air.  One that serves my purpose.  I am completely within my rights…  She is completely unreasonable.  I will pontificate with my friends, discuss it over a beer or three.  Spittle flying from my mouth as my finger swings through the air.  Stabbing.  Righteous.

I am right and that is all there is to it.  It is unreasonable to expect more.  It would not be convenient for me.

If it’s so important, someone else will step in.

What could it possibly cost me?

 

N is for… Narcissist

By Vita Forest

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I will walk around and cast my gaze on you as if you were an object.  A vase.  A tacky souvenir I did not mean to buy.

I will criticize

  • Your post-baby body.
  • Your too-short hair.
  • Your tired, blotchy skin.

I can’t help it – you disgust me.

I will complain about

  • your parents,
  • your siblings,
  • your friends,
  • your colleagues.

Idiots all.

No wonder you like them.

I will call you a failure because you don’t measure up to my ideas of

  • what you should be,
  • what you should look like,
  • what you should be doing,
  • what you should like.

I will call you a failure and you will half laugh.  And not quite believe it – not think that I could be that cruel.

I can.

I will toy with you like a cat with a cockroach.  I will show my enthusiasm for your idea, then watch you chase your tail in circles, before I crush it.  You will look at me confused, but didn’t you want to?

No, I did not.

I will make you doubt your own thoughts.  I will make you think you are going crazy.  I will make you go crazy.  I will make you hear my voice in your head so you don’t even try to do anything that I would not like.  And yet sometimes you will anyway.  Do something that I do not like.  It’s just what you do.

Because you are an idiot who is going crazy.

I will make you feel worthless.  I will make you feel sad.  I will tug at your puppet strings just to feel the control, just to make you bleat, just for the heck of it.

Just because I can.

I will never be happy.  I will never be content.  No matter what you do.  No matter how you change for me.  No matter how hard you try.  It will never be enough.  Everything is your fault.  You are a failure and everything is your fault.

I will look at you from the outside.  I will judge.  I will find you wanting.  I will let you know this.  But you won’t talk to anybody about it.

You are too ashamed.

I will watch you dissolve.  I will watch you shrink.  I will make you take up less and less room, make you stand on one foot, make you hold your breath.

I will suck you dry.

C is for… Cinderella

By Vita Forest

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What was left when the charm was gone?

Anna sat in the darkness and rubbed the jewels at her throat.  She gripped each one in turn between her fingers, feeling the cold, hard stones.  The famous opera singer had taken the stage and no-one was watching her.  What a relief to be out of the spotlight for just a few minutes.  She slunk back against the velvet of her throne.  Could diamonds be worry beads? she wondered.  Or weren’t you supposed to need them if you had a whole string of jewels weighing down your neck?

But she did feel worried.  It wasn’t right.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this…

She was not even sure what had happened.  Or when.  It had been a slow creeping change, barely perceptible.  But things had altered somehow.  Ian had changed.  Or perhaps he had simply taken off the charm.  She was sure she wouldn’t have agreed to the marriage if he had been like this back then.  Back when it was all balls and bouquets, poetry and jewellery.  Perhaps it was exhausting to be so positively delightful, so thoughtful.  Perhaps it was unreasonable to expect the person you married to continue on as they had seemed.  There was no one she could talk to.  She was alone.  Alone in this far off place teeming with his people.  No-one would believe her.  What would she even say?

“There is something… not right with Ian.  He is not… normal.”

Normal?  What did that even mean?  How would she know what was normal?

And so she was beginning to say nothing.  It was easier to suppress her own voice and go along with his.  It was so hard to articulate her thoughts with his voice in her head arguing against her instincts.

She was wrong!  She knew nothing!  She was selfish for daring to criticize!  Anyone else would be grateful.  The castle, the trips abroad, the carriages, the clothes.  What kind of person wanted more?

“I want…” she whispered, “I want…”

But it was so hard to know what it was.  What with his voice in her head talking over her, muddying the waters, and listing the things, all the things that made her lucky.  So lucky!

But, surely.  Surely it shouldn’t feel like this if life was so good, so perfect.

There were no scars on her body, no bruises.  None that anyone could see.  And yet she felt injured, dimished.  She was… it was hard to think clearly.  She couldn’t trust her own thoughts.  She knew what he would say, how he would dismiss her concerns, her “frivolities”.

The jewels ground into her fingers and she squeezed and twisted and turned them in upon themselves.  Until all at once, in the dark, as the soprano hit the high note and everyone applauded and the spotlight was turned away from her, Anna wrenched at the necklace, and the chain snapped, and the jewels were flung from their orbit of her neck, strewing the table, hitting faces as the applause thundered around them.  The table erupted into action, bending down to retrieve rubies from soup bowls, catching emeralds in laps.  And Anna blinked.  Awake.