“Can you hear me?”
“Baby please wake up.”
I can hear the voices. I can feel the love. I can feel my body, at rest. I need to open my eyes and answer them. Tell my mother that I’ll be okay. Tell my husband that I love him. Tell my father I’m sorry for being so weak.
But I’m just not ready I guess.
My mind is trying with all its might, to force my body to make some sort of movement. But the connection just isn’t there. The brain-to-impulse-to-nerve-to-muscle movement just isn’t complete yet. I know it will be, eventually.
For now I will just resume the peaceful dreams. The calm and quiet. The gentle self-reflection.
How did I end up here?
I can barely remember my last moments. The argument with Darwin. The empty house after Jayden and Riley stormed out. I think I was in the kitchen when everything finally went away.
“How many times do I need to tell you to leave?”
“I’m not leaving my wife here.”
“You’re the reason she’s here in the first place!”
“Me? You’re blaming me for this? This is a heart attack, Harold – I had nothing to do with this.”
“The hell you didn’t! You and them goddamn kids and that despicable woman. You ruined my daughter! All of you! Look at her. Look at her! You and your family did this to her. And you know it, you son of a bitch. She kept trying to tell us – but we kept giving you the benefit of the doubt. What kind of a man are you, that you can’t keep your old life separate and under control from destroying your new life? If she wakes up, we are taking her home and she is divorcing you and I never want to see you anywhere near her again, do you understand me?”
“Both of you have said enough. I don’t want to hear another word. We need to be here for her if she wakes up.”
“We don’t know that she’s going to wake up! What in the hell was going on in that circus of a house that caused this to happen, anyway!? You don’t know you have it good until it’s all gone, do you? Just like with your last one. Let everyone and their dog walk all over you and get between you, and wonder why everything finally came to an end right? Well this time it might be her life that’s come to an end, because of your bullshit!”
I can feel shock coursing through me as I listen to my father demanding answers from Darwin. I thought they didn’t believe me when I told them about what was happening at home. I thought I was making a big deal out of nothing. Had I really suffered a heart attack?
“You’re not taking her away from me. I didn’t do this to her.”
I feel desperate to understand what exactly happened. It frustrates me that I don’t remember the details of what put me where I am now. Was this really because of Darwin?
I visualize the last thing I saw when I was still awake. I was turned away from my husband, looking down at my white hands as I gripped the edge of the kitchen sink like my life depended on it. I can remember the tear drops on the backs of my hands. They were falling from my face – from my eyes. What was it again that had me so upset? I want to remember why we were arguing, but I can’t seem to recall.
Everything begins to fade from me despite my protests, wanting to hear more of the discussion between my mother and father and my husband.
I’m resting, but not completely. I’m back into one of the many dreams I’ve been having over the course of my time in an unconscious state.
We’re out in the field, my father and I – stacking square bales on the trailer behind the pickup while my mother inches the unit forward slowly. I’m a seventeen year old, confused teenager again, farming with my folks and schooling myself from home.
“Put some muscle into it!” my dad hollers at me. “Jesus, Anna. Come on. You’re not a little kid anymore.”
I do my best not to show any reaction, but give all my energy to heave the bale up onto the trailer faster than the last one. I’ve loaded over a hundred bales, each of them weighing seventy pounds at the least. He should be happy that I am keeping up with him.
Then suddenly I find myself seated on the deck with him, my mom, and the neighbor’s son, staring into the darkening summer sky.
I can feel the heat in my face. I’m waiting to hear my father praise me.
“Got it done today.” I hear him say.
Brian looks at him in curiosity.
“Got the bales all hauled up to the house. Took a lot out of me.” he adds.
“How many you get?” he asks in his familiar low voice. A voice I’ve not heard in over ten years.
“Six hundred or so.”
“Ah, yeah. Takes a lot out of a guy, heavin’ them things up on the trailer, then unloading and stacking ‘em when you decide where you want ‘em.” Brian replies, casting a small glance at me.
“I helped.” I pipe up.
Brian grins at me now. He is aware of my frustrations with my father.
My dad casts a glance at me now too, before returning his attention to Brian.
They continue to chat pointlessly into the night while I lean back in my chair and stare out into the sky, wondering when my dad will ever give me praise.
It doesn’t take me long to realize that I’m dreaming, and soon the scene changes again.
Brian is seated on my bed, beside me. Sunlight is filtering through my window, shining right onto the side of his face as he looks my bare self up and down.
I can feel the blood drain from my face as I remember exactly what it is that he’s about to say after he just took my virginity and I wait for him to tell me this means he loves me.
“I kind of lied,” he says to me with a small, guilty smirk on his face. “Janna and I didn’t actually… break up.”
I remember the sadness. I remember the surprise, when I first learnt he had lied to me.
“I know all this already.” I mutter.
Brian looks up at me in shock.
“I don’t know why I have to remember this. I don’t know why I have to feel this, all over again. I know, Brian, you didn’t break up with Janna. You’re about to pull out the engagement ring you bought for her, flash it in my face, and suggest that I keep my mouth shut. I’m going to cry, and ask you why you did this to me, and you’re going to tell me because you took the liberty of taking my first time for my sake because you’re experienced.” I continue.
Brian becomes blurry before me, as I can feel myself exiting yet another dream.
A gasp escapes me as I sit up quickly in our bed. Darwin is beside me, with his arms around me instantly.
We’re at home now.
“Anna. Baby what’s wrong?” Darwin asks quietly. “You’re dripping in sweat. Bad dream?”
“Bad dream?” I echo faintly. “I survived? I survived the… heart attack?”
“What heart attack? You haven’t had a heart attack – you’re much too young.” Darwin almost laughs as he holds me against him. “Silly girl.”
I turn my head sharply to look him in the eyes.
“Don’t talk to me like that.” I hiss.
“Like I’m dumb. You put me down.” I answer immediately.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” He releases his grip and leans back, regarding me with a passive dismissive look. “Do you want some breakfast?”
I grunt and glare at him. He puts me down constantly and then makes me feel like a nut case every time I try to stand up for myself.
“You’re getting mad over nothing. I called you silly. I meant it in a totally loving way.” he murmurs to me as he twists his body to get out of bed. “Now, do you want some breakfast or not?”
First he puts me down, then disregards my upset and makes me feel like a hot mess of psychopathy when I tell him I am upset, and then immediately changes the subject to derail the conversation altogether. Or he turns it around on me.
“No I don’t want any damn breakfast – I want you to stop putting me down.” I snap at him again.
I see anger flicker briefly across his gaze as he attempts to maintain his nonchalant front with me.
“I guess I’ll have breakfast by myself then.” he murmurs before turning away from me.
“Fuck you, Darwin – say something about what I just said to you!” I yell.
“What?” he demands. “What do you want? You woke up from a bad dream, I grabbed you right away, I held you, I looked after you, and you just start yelling at me.”
We fall silent, staring one another down.
Is he right? Did I just over react? Have I been looking for something to react to since I feel so beat down from every other time that he’s made me feel dumb? I suddenly feel a pang of guilt as I think of how ungrateful it must appear – he simply tries to comfort me from a bad dream, and I just start losing my shit on him for no apparent reason. Wait a minute.
No. No! This is the abuse. This is it. He’s abusing me right now. And he’s doing it successfully, yet again. I should be angry. I have the right to be angry. It’s very possible for me to have a heart attack despite my youth – because I did have one – and he is making me out to be melodramatic and unaware of what is possible with my body. This is another of these dreams.
“You’re not treating me right.” I whisper to him as I watch the environment blur around us.
Darwin makes to say something, but immediately fades from view as well, and everything finally just goes black.