In my world, I am everything and anything.
I am the maiden in distress who marries the prince. I am the superhero in the red cape who defeats the evil villain. I am the undisputed fighter who drowns in the praise of adoring fans. I am the rarest mountain lily, the soaring eagle, the fastest cheetah, the mighty lion of the jungle. I am the ruler of empires, the bounty hunter, the daredevil, the captain of ships, the sorcerer, the time traveller. I am whoever I want to be.
This world that I call mine is distant. Although firm in my heart, the world is nothing more than a figment of my imagination, an endless river of hopes and dreams. This world is not mine but a possession of my deepest thoughts who have inherited my longest desire; freedom.
My life is not a fairytale or a Hollywood film. It is not three granted wishes nor is it heaven on earth. My world is reality.
I am the daughter of an abusive man. I am marked as his slave. I am not given his name, but I am bestowed a label of disapproval, signed and sealed by his hand. I wash his clothes, I make his bed, I cook his meals, I iron his shirts, I pay the consequences; I reap the wrath. I belong to my father’s cruelty so I am more his than I am mine.
My mother fell in love with a violent drunk and I was born from this violent love, it drove her to her death soon after I was born. She was finally free, she abandoned me in his care and I suffered the consequences of her absence.
I remember that she used to sing to me as I would fall asleep in the warmth of her bosom. Her voice still softly echoes in my ears through so many sleepless nights. She was an artist, her paints are dry, her canvases dusty in the attic where he disowned them to oblivion. Her life’s story is spoken through every single stroke of her paint brushes across the four walls of my bedroom, a labour of love in the last moments of her life. Whenever I trace the paint tracks I feel her beneath my fingers in the many layers of colour.
Since the day she died, I could always feel his brokenness in his alcohol addiction and I could smell his emptiness lingering in every part of the house even on his clothes that she used to wash with her bare hands.
He never showed his face at her funeral. In fact he never showed his face at all. He never noticed my presence in the house nor in his life. I was like a ghost roaming through what was left of her and every moment of his existence without her was like . . . hell.
I was his next victim when he finally saw me, not with his eyes but with an evil hunger that was prepared to devour all of her that was in me. He sheltered me with an empire of crime, he violated my freedom and made sure that I would not speak of it. When he feared that my prison was too big he confined me further into an even darker desolation. I was deprived of an education, I had no social life, no speech. Not once did he look at me and see himself, all he saw was her and it tore his conscience apart, so he pushed me further and further away.
Every drunk night meant a beating. When I learned that he earned a large profit from his drug manufacturing business, I would try my hardest to hide all the weapons in fear of my life. I always failed. It seemed he had too many in the house.
Covering me with his marks with his oppressive hands made him forget. It raised an adrenaline that filled his naked heart. Hearing my screams and helpless cries was like a symphony to his senses. In the morning he tends to my wounds not to heal me or make me better, not even to show me he was sorry, but he did it to bury his shame. He sees it so deep in every scar and bruise made by his hands; he sees her.
On the day his crime was finally discovered I remember cops, sirens screaming and then gunshots ringing into the thick drug-poisoned air. He taught me how to hide his living and when I hurriedly made my way out of the bedroom to do so, more cops came into the house and raided every inch of it. He was held down by three men in black and handcuffed on the lawn. His factory that was the garage was turned inside out by more cops, all his colleagues and employees were being herded out hands on heads and onto the ground.
Neighbours in sleeping robes with faces drenched in shock and disgust looked over the fence that separated this criminal’s lair and their perfectly normal lives. An old lady wearing a light blue, silky robe with fluffy slippers kept her squinting frail eyes on me as a large cop walked me into a police car. I saw nothing but pity in her eyes.
Following the raid, he was convicted of multiple drug and abuse charges, trialled and then sentenced for a long number of years. Since the raid and our separation, he was only allowed five minutes with me before he was transported to a remote prison and I to a distant world from his. In the beginning of those five minutes, in the visiting area of the state jail, we sat across from each other which was the closest we had ever been in the 16 years I had existed under his roof. He did not once look me in the eye. He did not say a single word to me, not even a grumbled farewell.
My heart was suddenly consumed with so much hate and anger towards him. For taking her away from me, for hurting me, for not seeing me, for not loving me. As hate overwhelmed my inner being, I heard her voice. I have not heard it in a very long time, so long that I barely recognise it. But its fondness and warmth calms me just as it always did when she would to me as a baby. Her words were clear and all the hate, anger and hurt subsided almost all at once.
I slowly reached for his hands; the hands that held me as an infant, the hands that wrung her collarbone, the hands that covered my body with inerasable marks, the hands that manufactured illegal drugs so he could pay the expenses, the hands that never felt for me, they were weak. His head shot up as if electrified by my touch, I looked into the blue eyes that I shared and spoke words that for the first time in my life set me free, ”I forgive you daddy.”
This is my new world.
My entire world has changed. I do admit that all the pain and anger still remains, there are times that it all just rushes over me like a tidal wave so unexpectedly. It haunts me at night sometimes. But these negative feelings are not like they used to be. I can overcome them now. I can just drown them in the ocean of joy that my life now sits upon. I have also conquered my fears; the closeness of the others, the fear of screaming and loud noises, the fear of trusting. But day by day, moment by moment, these fears are slowly disappearing.
A few months after the last encounter with him, a wonderful couple took me into their lives as their own.
It was all so fast and so different for me that it took a long time to adjust to my new life. The greatest adjustment was being loved for the first time. Love; that is being loved produces a multitude of indescribable feelings that my previous thoughts and dreams have failed entirely to have conveyed to me. They love me and have preciously signed and sealed me with a name, their name; Isabella Grace Martin.
I am an artist, just like her I believe that it is a part of her that I will always carry with me even as I depart that world and move into a new one. In my art work, my past invades the canvases in a million shades of black and grey. I had no idea that so many people were fascinated or even could relate to my art
,I did not know that others could see my story hidden in the dark strokes made by her paint brushes with my shaking hands. My present and future is painted in brighter colours and in larger canvases, even though my darker art works are more successful, these paintings and drawings are my heart’s treasured masterpieces.
I am happy. I met that prince and yes I was the damsel in distress. It is no longer my world but it is our world. He fills my life with new air, air that bursts in my lungs with the most unfathomable, splendiferous feelings my words can never verbalise. He is my superhero in the red cape, he fights for me, together we are anything and everything.
He holds me like no man has ever done so. He loves me for my lack of happinesss and unlimited fears, my indifference to others, but most of all, he loves the dark brokenness engraved in my eyes. He sees it all and yet still dares to look again into them like they are more wondrous than gold.
In our world, I am his; heart and soul and all. I am his best friend, his closest companion. I am his endless thoughts at night and his swift actions at day. I am the love he whispers in my ear as I lay down to sleep and when I awake. He has won me over not with winks and words like other men but with the performance of the outpour of his heart towards me. He paints me in the outstretched starry sky, he shows me off to the world in the sunsets and sunrises. When he looks at me he does not see a broken , battered and bruised, dark hearted little girl, scarred with abuse and covered in filthy wounds, but instead he sees loved, treasured, wanted, precious, a beautifully and wonderfully created masterpiece that no one can ever contradict. He completes me in every way.
He is my life.
My first and last. He is the lover of my soul, the muse of my heart. He is the light in my nightmares and the sweetness of my dreams. He is the art that I create with every colour and paintbrush I hold in my spirit. He is the skip of my heartbeat, the laughter that I have suddenly composed in my shattered heart, the beauty in the scars and bruises of my past that covered me.
His arms are strong and are constantly open no matter how many times I fret and leave. His love for me is so powerful and immeasurably wide and deep that my heart is totally unable to hold and my mind, comprehend.
He carries my cares and steals my pain; he has not stolen my heart but has earned it endless fold.
In him, I have found my fairytale, my reason to live, my life’s greatest adventure. In him I have found my freedom.