Authors: Marion Studer
Catch my fallen tears
By Marion Studer
To my family, thanks so much for your love and for just being you!
Thanks to my husband for letting me root through all the libraries and book bins.
Thanks to Kindle, Amazon and all libraries to allow me read and get ideas for my books. My mind got swamped with fantasies I try to get on paper and out into the same places I got the boost in the first place.
I would rather have eyes that cannot see;
ears that cannot hear,
lips that cannot speak,
than a heart that cannot love.
I can hear him inside the house, his heavy boots pounding the wooden floor, his angry outbursts echoing through the quiet of my surroundings and every slam of a door inside leaves my trembling body shake even more.
I push my body further into the corner underneath the outside stairs, my feet drag into the cold dirt, and my fingers clasp the old boards piercing little splinters painfully into my skin. My cheek wet and hot from fear, I listen to his harsh cold voice, angry shouting my name.
“Chloe! Fucking answer me! I swear I will break your little neck if you not show your face right now!”
His stomping throws closer, something hits the floor with such force, the sound sending me into a panic attack. I feel my breath rushing out and I can’t bring myself to draw a breath back in. My hands claw the front of my dress, frantically grabbing for relive of the growing pain in my chest, letting my already dirty, light faded cloth wrinkle.
Something crawls across my neck and in shock my lungs expand, sucking in enough air to let me breathe, and out of my open mouth slips a cry.
The stomping above stops for just a second, before hurrying towards the door above my head and threatening howls down the stairs, one step after the other. Eleven in all, I don’t have to count, every single one tattooed deep into my soul.
Then the little wooden door, once attached to the gaping opening to serve as a dog kennel, gets pulled open with such force, one hinge breaks and his head appears. I don’t see his face against the blinding background, but after all the abuse I went through in the last year, I perfectly know his every expression of rage, know the taste of his rancid breath.
Then his arm reaches in, his big rough hand clump around my ankle and I get pulled out, merciless.
The hard grip around my ankle will just leave another bruise, one of many and I know in my eleven year old shuttered heart, it won’t be the worst to endure until this day will end.
Like a rag-doll he drags my lifeless body out, my arms tangling above my head.
He let’s go of me to straighten up, when I see my only chance for an escape.
I crawl on my hands and knees for a short distance, then bolt upright and race to the little hidden deer trail behind our barn. My little feet stop only once to listen, and then carry on, my breath in short rugged intervals, until I arrive at the window of the house the closest to ours.
My fist knocks three times, and after a short pause once more. I listen, but hear no sound coming from the inside, I turn around and my eyes search quickly the close surrounding. Then my short little legs sprint around the house to the backyard, where my feet hurry over the uncut grass, to hike up the few wooden blanks nailed into the big oak tree.
I don’t bother to knock and push into the little rugged tree house.
And there he’s sitting cross-legged on the ground, reading one of his beloved comic magazines. His cloths dirty as mine, barefoot and his dark brown hair in his usually disarray, and with deep chocolate eyes, snapping up as I fly into his sanctuary and into his arms.
He holds my body pressed close to his as always, and I cry my misery into his shirt as so many times before.
Tucker always made me feel safe, always was the one to give me the feeling of self-worth. Even at the tender age of eleven I know he was a rare friend with being two years my senior and being of the male population I came to fear the most.
He holds me for a long moment, his hands slowly sliding over my little round burns - cigarette burns - tracing the ugly scars, grinding his teeth before he reaches over and pushes something cold into my trembling hands.
When I look at it I see a stone, the size of my palm in a shape of a heart, the white divided with a grey vein, lying between my dirty fingers. I slowly wrap them around his small present and send him my tear stricken smile, knowing his attempt to lessen my agony and suffering. Any coherent thought was gone and the only thing left in the universe was this stone, his eyes and his close proximity.
Little did I know that will be one of the last times I can find my sanctuary in his hold.
Very unexpected a few days later my step dad falls down the stairs and breaks his neck. Eleven steps he tumbles in a drunken stupor, leaving me with only my mom and her alcohol problem.
A couple of weeks later I watch with tears as the car following the big moving truck loaded with all their belongings drives away. His sad brown eyes following mine in the back seat of his dad’s car until the distance erases my sight of them, leaving me and my broken little heart behind.
Every time now when I have to endure heartache, I’m not shading tears for the pain; it’s for the pain of losing a friend - my only friend.
Later, much later, when I hold the little stone I see the meaning of it, as it symbols a broken heart.
Did he think the same? Did he feel the same? Did he know back then what was happening? I will never find out because he is gone, gone from my life.
Sweat trickles down my back, collecting at the spine, to run down into the lower back.
There are only a few boards left to carry back into my backyard, but with the scorching sun soaking my shirt it seems like such an agonizing task at this late summer evening.
I contemplate if I should either suffer through it or doing it the next day. But then I look at the remaining pile, take a deep breath and carry on.
Half an hour later I slump onto the ground right beside my back door. Right here I will build me a deck with a table, so I can enjoy the silence in my backyard even when it rains or watch the sunsets.
At first, Rufus my coarse haired dog got up every time I went around the corner to get more boards, but then he just stayed, keeping his head on his paws, only his eyes following me. I can’t blame him; it is one of the hottest days of the summer.
My eyes dart to the little lakes shore, then I whistle Rufus and we both walk towards the inviting water. With the dog already soaking in the cool lake, I slip out of my cloth and wade into the cold dark.
After a short swim and cooling down my body I walk towards my back door, sweaty cloth in hand to discard of them and get fresh ones.
The light of the day fades slowly and I take my dinner outside, placing myself on the stack of boards, the dog right beside me, showing little interest in me – much more towards my steak.
After finishing my dinner, I place my empty plate in the sink, go back outside to sit on the boards and relax with my back to the house wall, the wood still warm to the touch from the sun.
The evening always pulls a light melancholy around me, leaving me with my thoughts in a state of loneliness, leaving me the outcast I am in this little town.
I rest my head back onto the wood and look up at the now dark sky, knowing I could move and start again somewhere else. I only came back to my hometown five months ago, but most people wishing I never moved back at all.
I myself don’t know why I had to come back. It was just something I had to do, like an ache in my heart, something I can’t explain.
Deep in thoughts I hear Rufus’ deep long growl, his hair standing up straight at his neck. My back stiffens too; my eyes peek at a slight movement and rustle at the porch of the only house beside mine.
What the hell?
I strain my eyes, but with only the stars and no moon, all I can make out is the outskirt of the little cottage and the small porch.
Then a quick small noise followed by stillness.
Rufus’ head turns towards me and with only a quick snap with my fingers, he leaps the short distance over the grass to listen for any noise, but except for a very quick growl there is nothing more and the dog appears after some moment with his tail whacking happily from side to side.
I chuckle and make a mental note to set a few mouse traps.
The cottage belonged to a woman who died half a year ago, so I was told and since then the house stayed empty. There would be a few things to mend to, a few minor repairs to make, but I don’t mind if the small house is not on the market yet. I enjoy the stillness, the quietness of having no neighbour, not having to anticipate in neighbourly friendliness and to have all the privacy to myself.
I’m just annoyed to have mice and rats moving in and then wandering over in search for food, so I will have to set a few traps.
I watch Rufus taking his last run, then whistle for him to walk with me back to the house, laughing when I see him sending a last glance at the dark house and give him a little shove on his back.
Tonight I leave a few windows open to get a little drift and hope for a bit of cooling down. I turn and toss for quite a while, when I hear a distant noise again.
Oh well, I guess I will get me some big rat traps as well.
My fingers glide slowly over the old furniture while noticing the old wood needs some polishing, the curtains a good warm washing and so does everything else in this house. I will bring the carpets to the outside and beat it with a broom or something else to get rid of the dust and then wash the old floorboards.
I take a turn around in the living room not sure where to begin, when my stomach grovels loud and leads me into the kitchen. My groceries are still sitting on the table in the middle of the room and I sigh heavily.
I know I have to start in here first, so I pull my sleeves back and start to run warm water into the sink while I sink my teeth into a blood red apple. For just a few seconds there’s only a light brown liquid rushing out of the faucet, then it clears to what I would call water and I start to clean out the refrigerator.
After washing down all of the closets and surface of the working space, I put all the cleaned flatware and plates back onto its place and push annoyed a strand of hair that fell over my face back behind my ear.
Satisfied with my work I finely put all my groceries away.
I worked all day and it is now late in the early evening. I take a glass of water and just decide to sit back out onto the porch to relax a little, when I see a man turning the corner of the neighbour’s house, carrying a few boards balanced over his shoulder, and a big grey dog obediently following him.
Startled I stop at the kitchen window and watch, the glass in my hand forgotten.
They make the trip so many times, I have to chuckle at the sight of the dog.
Every time the man turns back around, it seems the dog got more annoyed with hurrying behind, so finely he just plops down in the shadow and watches with attentive eyes.
I turn my interest towards the tall guy holding the boards, his muscles strained under the heavy load and his dark brown hair glued onto his neck and forehead, due to the great heat of this summer day.
I watch him staking the boards in his backyard and finely straightening up, his face turned away. How I wish to see his face clearly, to see if his face holds up to his hot body.
Then he turns and walks towards the lake, the dog instantly at his side. A few bushes disturb a clear view, but I think he takes off his clothes and just wades into the cool water. Naked. I swallow embarrassed when I catch myself ogling a stranger taking a private bath, and blushing I turn around, discarding my idea of earlier to sit back outside.
I decide to take a quick cooling shower myself, thinking about the stranger next door, wondering if he’s got a wife and maybe children, but then I figure I would have seen or heard them in the span of the afternoon.
Finely I make myself a sandwich and quietly slip out the backdoor, careful not to let go of the door to quickly. Taking a seat at the old swing bench, I leave one leg down to push slowly into a slight swing enjoying the tranquility of the evening and hoping the warms of the evening air will dry my freshly washed hair a little faster.
With annoyance I can hear a slight noise from the swing chains and not wanting to disturb the placidity I come to an abrupt stop and listening I hear a fast approaching strange noise.
With an unexpected startle the dog I have seen earlier from my window shoots up the porch and plants himself in front of me, giving a surprised short growl, and my last bite of sandwich slides out of my fingers to plop onto the boarded floor. The dog snaps it and swallows the bread in one swift move, takes another gaze at me and then he is gone again.
After my initial shock, I pull my legs up and bury my feet under my body and just sit there listening to the night. For a while I hear noises coming from the other house, then all falls quiet and suddenly I feel all alone and empty. Pulling my arms tightly around my stomach I desperately push the upcoming dark memories from my brain and my heart clenches.
No, not tonight!
With a swift move I get up and quietly slip back into the house, and without turning on a light I get to my bedroom, slip under the covers and bring myself to think about the stranger next door rather than gloomy memories until I sink into sleep.