Sunday 5 January 2014

Blood on the Keys

A story I wrote for The Writer's Plot.

In a decent short story, god, even a mediocre one, you’d join me at a critical moment. A moment of crisis that would throw you, and me, into the action. Instead, you’ve just got me. Me, sitting here wasted and wounded at this old piano. And not the good kind of wasted either, there’s no bottle of vodka still lodged in my head and I’m not dreaming of movies they won’t make of me when I’m dead. Dead. Hahaha. Nah, it’s just me, in the office that has seen me from 9 - 5 for the last twelve years.
Although, technically there is a piano. Yeah, in my office, a real-life piano. Stop thinking “oh cool, that sounds like a hipster office”, it’s not. This piano is a noose, it’s killing me. I’m paid to write cutesy jingles and catchy tunes to help sell a plethora of mass produced child-labour Chinese crap. I tried to get to get out of here. But alas, here I am. And here you are. Stuck with me. What else can I say? I’m Rose. The others who work here call me Iron Rose but I prefer Rose. It brings a splash of much needed beauty to my life.
But I digress - Rambling Rose - as my father used to say as he’d shake his head and close his study door. You’re still hung up on the wounded part… I’m kinda hung up on that part too. It really hurts. I think I’m actually bleeding out over these black and whites.
I’ve always been musical, born singing as my mum would tell anyone who’d listen. But my talent has always been marred by my “Boyle-ishness” as Simon puts it. Oh yeah, I roll with the big-wigs. Ha!
It hurts to laugh.
Hurts a lot actually. But most things in life do… especially recently.
Oh, yeah. Simon. Effing Simon. I know him. I went through the meatworks that is Effigy for all the good it did me. He’s always there in the background pushing me to “fulfill my destiny”. Always has been. I’ve obviously never told anyone that I’ve known Simon since forever o’clock. But I have. I got through to the Top 10 of Effigy without his help. He didn’t save me from his characteristic caustic comments nor his weight and beauty diatribes. I got out before it got to the serious business of selling my soul to the music moguls. I released an 8 track album on iTunes and have been back at my desk writing saccharine crap for the last nine months. I’ve made a little money from it, not enough to make the tabloid coverage and the constant pressure worthwhile, but enough to keep me in diet coke and kisses. I met some great people. And some psychos. Sometimes they’re the same thing though. Simon warned me. He told me to stay out of that side of the Effigy chaos but it’s harder to do than he made out. I tried. But Oliver happened. A top 5 contestant. An amazing tenor. Oliver Heathcote.
You know how sometimes you meet someone and it’s like you’ve been needing to meet them your entire life? That one person who understands you and challenges you? And loves you regardless of how broken and fucked up you think you are? That’s Oliver. Throw into that mix a wicked sense of humour, a genuine love of animals and words and I had no chance. He was exactly who I needed to be with. I have never felt more unlike myself and more authentically me. He has been part of my life for the last two years. A good part of my life. But most good things come to an end.
I tried to end it well. You know I did, I’d never hurt anyone on purpose. But things happened. Things I couldn’t understand. Things that shouldn’t be understood. Oliver became controlling. Clothing. CDs. Transport. Food. Sex. He controlled it all. He controlled my music. I couldn’t play at home. I could only play at work.  Although Oliver had made it further than I did, his album has been less successful than mine. He started to hurt me. Not obviously but he left marks. He became my father. I had to leave. Oliver would not be the reason I died, starved of music, like Mum. I made plans. Good ones.
You’ve seen my house. It’s always a mess, like this office. A bloody mess. Hahaha. Ow. I tidied it up. Gave Oliver one less thing to complain about. I stowed a bag at Simon’s. I withdrew my safety money and left it at Simon’s. I went through the “Getting Out Alive” guidelines for abused women. I followed all the rules. You know what it’s like though. It’s hard. It hurts and you continuously question yourself. And you act. It’s like you’re constantly on stage. Ironically not the stage I wanted. But as tiring as the real deal. Waiting for the curtain to fall so that you can breathe again. Be yourself. Oliver was always there. Waiting for me to mess up. My paparazzi of one. He would check on me constantly. He’d bug Lola, my colleague with calls checking that I was actually there. She tried to help but there’s only so much you can do in that situation. She mopped my tears, called Simon and lied to Oliver.
I planned it perfectly. This morning I kissed Oliver goodbye and came to work. I put in my time, smiling and writing a jingle for “Zombie Squirts” a sugar-coated brain-shaped candy. I got my Starbucks. I emailed Oliver to say I was working late. I texted Simon to fetch me at 7pm. Oliver would have been and gone by then. I’d have an hour’s window to get to Simon’s - behind the security fence. Simon had said I should just let him deal with it. But he’d been looking out for me for so long. I had to do it alone. Oliver called and I spoke to him - brightly making plans for the trip to The Hamptons in three weeks time. I could have won an Oscar.
At half past six, Lola knocked on my door to say she was leaving. I’m not often the last here any more. Sweet of her to let me know. I hadn’t let her in on the plan.
The main door shut behind her. I meant to get up and lock it from inside but the word I needed for the jingle came to me. I sat down to write it out. I didn’t hear him.
His voice cut through me, like the knife.
“I swore I’d never let you go.” He whispered in my ear as he cut me. Again. And again. He laughed as he left me here. Alone again.
I can’t move. The blood is seeping through my fingers. Over the keys. My music is smeared red. My cell phone is there. Can you reach it? I can’t. I need Simon. Simon will make it not hurt.
I hear footsteps. Oh god, not Oliver again. Please. I try to turn. I’m stuck here. I can’t. I’m crying now. I need to stop. I can do this. I can move.  Simon. Please.
“Sorry Sis, I hid in the stairwell, Oliver was running late, I see. Wanted to save you the drama!” Simon’s voice washes over me, strengthening me. I can finally turn. You’ll stop me from falling over won’t you? I’d hate to scare my big brother by fainting at his feet. He’s going to feel bad enough about Oliver as it is.

The End

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