Help

This little story was originally accepted by Copper Staple and was initially inspired by an item from the internet that my son showed me where a black pen dot on the palm of a hand is a cry for help from someone who is the recipient of abuse, whether emotional or physical, when shown to someone in authority. I don’t know how much truth there was in this article – please don’t ignore any cry for help.

Help

She wanted it, she needed it, she didn’t know how to ask for it.

When she took her children to school in the mornings and stood chatting with the other mothers, in tight jeans and ponytails, every word of conversation was imbued with a silent plea for help. The mothers sensed the sticky desperation and slowly slid away, blinkered to the cry in her eyes.

The cold nervousness of a trip to the supermarket, greetings exchanged with the staff who’d known her for years. The begging in her touch as she handed over her money, searching in their eyes for some recognition, some sign that they saw her call.

Her husband, kind enough, older than her, unthinking, had no idea of the snakes her head contained. He saw her in the morning, before he went to work and again in the evening when he came home; leaving desperate hours in between to try and silence the screaming snakes in her head.

Even the cat sensed her clammy, tenuous grip, and slipped uneasy from her hands as she tried to suck comfort from his warm fur.

Her mother, her father, happily married for thirty years, saw no further than the blank mask of happiness she assumed on their weekly visits. They did not want to see what lay beneath the carefully made up face and designer clothes holding inside shattered fragments. She’d get over it and settle down, perhaps a nice little job when the children were older. They comforted each other.

One day her husband came home early. She should have been expecting him, the suitcases packed and standing in the hall, ready for their holiday.

He found her upstairs. He thought she’d bought new sheets. The crimson glowed dully in the light of early afternoon. She lay, peaceful and pale. What will he tell the children?

She had found the help she wanted at last.

Words Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch

All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe

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