The Chambers


I stand before a huge ominous chamber. I don’t want to open what I have purposefully locked inside me. But I feel I must. I take out a ring of keys. I unlock the chamber.

Immediately I am surprised … I expected it to be dark. But it is full of bright, intense light. It is searing, and it makes everything appear more vivid and real. I expected there to be lots of crap in there – let’s not delude ourselves! But I did not expect it to be so full that the moment the door opened it would all come spilling out onto the floor. The chamber vomits up its burden of contents, as a singular glaring bulb swings from the ceiling.

At first it is just an indefinable mess of shapes and colours – too many items to pick any one particular thing. The toys and clothes come spilling out first. Hundreds of items that classify me as a mother; they all spin and roll across the wooden floorboards. I shift these items off the pile. Underneath is a scattering of remnants from my past. My high-school journals, with their dark and hyper-aware musings of spiritual self-discovery, little bejewelled boxes made by my best friend, my green doc-martins, glitter eyeshadow, letters from Ross, a Bosnian flag, my parent’s divorce papers, old CD’s – Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Portishead, essays and assignments from human biology and English literature, a dog-eared copy of ‘Cloudstreet’ …

I gently push these things aside with a wash of purple-dappled nostalgia. When I do I find another chamber behind them, lying inside the first. The next chamber is waiting to be unearthed. I unlock it. I find my jeans with the crazy print on the left thigh, a CD of Lamb, drunken videos of me and Saran dancing and singing, university textbooks, plays, a pair of Adidas shell-toes, a pouch of crystals, concert tickets and a DVD of Moulin Rouge. These too I shift to the side, and feel myself smile within.

As I move them, a metal object is released from its captivity. It makes a small ping as it hits the floor and rolls away. It is my old engagement ring – the one Ross gave me when we were 21. I feel my heart clench slightly. I pick it up and roll it in my fingers. I place it loosely on my pinky, and I stare at the new layer that has been revealed in the mess. There is an array of souvenirs from Bali, settlement papers for a house that I would never set foot in, a pint glass from the Moon and Sixpence, a trivia answer sheet with over-excited sprawled writing, scripts from musicals, a golfing hat. These things I look upon fondly, until I see the giant wad of bull-clipped papers … the phone bills … the evidence of Ross’ betrayal. I stare at them and feel my heart shrivel. I don’t want them there. I don’t want to look at them again. I pick them up with shaky hands and toss them against the wall.

I know before I have even seen it that there is another chamber. It is smaller and more fortified. I open it with trepidation and make myself gaze upon the small mass of contents. I see something glinting underneath some underwear. I remove the pants and see an array of blades, all marked with red. They rest atop a bottle of bad wine and a smaller one of cheap vodka. Around these central items is an array of mementos from meaningless dalliances – a pair of drum-sticks, a number on a napkin, chalk, and a golden spoon. Ahhh … I know that spoon. That is the spoon of another love.

I start reflecting on that relationship, and then get distracted by a faint hint of purple I see underneath the blades. I know what that is … I scramble through superfluous items to grasp the purple bag. Yesssss … I know what is in here, for I still have it with me to this day. This purple bag holds the evidence of my time with Patrick – a man I loved with every fibre of my being. I close my eyes and gently undo the button. With tears brimming, I look down and my soul is flooded with exquisitely painful emotions. I look at the photos, letters, journal entries, tickets, and brochures, and remember the strange circumstances of our meeting. Who could have foreseen just how madly we would fall in-love? Though I knew he had to exit my life, he took my soul with him …

I hold onto the purple bag for a long time. Then I gently place it on the floor next to me and take a deep breath. Time to let it go. I refocus on the next chamber. My past is catching up with me now. I gently unlock it. I find ultrasound pictures. Ross’ brown shirt with the buggy on it. My red dress. Baby toys and tiny clothes. The list of funerary instructions for my mother. The thankyou card I made for all those who attended her funeral. I hold these things with jittery hands, removing them from the chamber. Then I see an item that turns my blood cold … a hospital bracelet. I reach out and clasp it with shaking fingers as a sinking feeling of deep regret plummets into my stomach. That is the bracelet the nurses put on my wrist when I overdosed … nine months before my mum died, and only three before I fell pregnant, I knowingly overdosed, filleted my arm with a razor blade, and wound up in hospital. I survived. But the pain it caused my mother was unimaginable. It was written on her face. She told me that I had aged her ten years. I look at the bracelet and I know what it means … I killed her … my selfish actions weakened her heart until it eventually gave out without warning.

I almost cannot bear to go on. But as I open my watering eyes, I realise that there is one last chamber – rusty and tiny, and heavily fortified. I so do NOT want to open it. I had hidden it this deeply for a reason. What was the reason again? I take out the last ancient key and turn it in the lock until I hear it click. My heart beats furiously. I can feel my blood recoil in my veins even before I open the tiny door. But as soon as the lock is released, the little door flies open.

A bright light lunges into the room, causing me to reel back and shield my eyes. It seems to expand and consume the space, before it slowly begins to dissipate. I tentatively draw my hands away from my eyes with a tinge of relief, only to feel a flutter of fresh debilitating foreboding surround me. I realise that the light is not just fading – it is turning into a grey swirling mist which is rapidly transforming into a black cloud. I scuttle backwards until I am backed up against the far wall, with my knees tight to my chest. No, I don’t like this. I want it to go away. I want to lock it away again …

But I can see the smoke morphing into tangible shapes even as I utter this silent prayer. My eyes widen in terror as I begin to make sense of the forming shape. And then my heart shrieks. I see my son inside my belly. I see his tiny growing body crying in pain as grief and alcohol are poured into him. I see him gurgle and splutter and choke on the black liquid. Stop … please STOP! I see an image of myself behind him, with a huge belly, smashing glass and uttering primal yelps of agony as a bonfire destroys everything I hold dear. I want to look away but I know I cannot. I have opened the chamber and now I must face what is inside. It is my most hideous and disgusting truth … I robbed my son of his potential before he even came into this world … All because I went mad from the grief. My actions affected him. I cannot change it. I cannot fix it. There is no redemption for what I did during those six weeks after my mum died.

Just when I think I might die from the pain of facing my truth, the image begins to morph once more. Please … what else can there be? …

At first I am confused and dare to look more boldly as the shapes swirl before me. But then I begin to slowly realise … this is the future that is being shown to me now …

I see my husband appear before me, vital and healthy and full of love. He looks real enough to reach out and touch. But something is wrong. His skin is turning white and growing cold. The life from his eyes begins to fade and I see them turn grey and take on a look of utter betrayal and heartache. I’m sorry … I’m so sorry … The look of horror diminishes, and is replaced by a vacant, cold, grey stare. Lines appear on his skin and his frame begins to shake. Under the pressure he starts to look distressed and falls to his knees. He clutches his chest. I am momentarily confused, until I see the trail of red pouring out of him. He lets out a vulgar, horrid, primal moan and collapses on his side. His hands drop lifelessly to his sides. He twitches, his grey eyes fixed on nothing, as the blood continues to pour out of his heart and pool underneath him. It seeps out of him with eager lust and slurps across the floorboards to leech onto my toes. I scream, and recoil back in terror. But it just keeps coming. It reaches my feet and climbs insidiously up every surface of my body. The room is being flooded with blood. I can see it coming out of every orifice of my husband now… he is choking on his own gelatinous blood … he is turning into a ghost before my eyes … and I am letting it happen … STOP! I CANT TAKE ANYMORE! PLEASE PLEASE I BEG OF YOU JUST STOP! I’LL DO ANYTHING… PLEASE!!! But it won’t stop. I must endure it. And I deserve to endure it. Because that is what I have locked away in my innermost chamber … I have broken my husband and I am terrified that he will not survive. I could kill him … just like I killed my mother … It is ALL … MY … FAULT …

This post was inspired by the daily word prompt LOCKED at The Daily Post

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