Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Entangled, A Novel: Chapter 1 & 2

Chapter 1

I gently caress Angel’s fur as the medicine kicks in. Tears prick my eyes but I hold them back. I have to be strong. I've done this before, many times. I should be used to it by now. Working at the animal clinic has always been my dream, to be a Vet. And this is great experience for me. But there are days like this one that make me question my career choices. No matter how many times I see animals come and go, it still brings tears to my eyes when they don’t come back. Angel is a beautiful Australian Shepard who’s been sick for a while now, but her heart is finally giving up. Mrs. Wheeler, a regular patient brought her in to end her dog’s suffering.

Dr. Shultz, a Vet of over twelve years softly speaks to her, telling her it’s okay to go and she’ll be happy and pain-free. She tries to keep her emotions contained but I can see she’s struggling like me. “You’re free of pain now, Angel. Go gallivant with the other animals in the meadow. We’ll miss you.” I turn away, wanting to bolt out of the room. It’s hard to see the faces of the owners when there’s no more hope. Mrs. Wheeler is crying as she says goodbye to her best friend. She lives alone and only had the company of Angel. Now she has no one. I know what that’s like. I want to hug her. Death seems to follow me everywhere and though I’m immune to it, some affect me more than others. Angel has been with our clinic for four years. We've groomed her and given her shots for that amount of time. I grew to love that dog. She was always gentle and so patient. She had the kindest spirit. She was a good dog.

Finally, I place my hand over her heart and note that it hasn't moved. Her heart has stopped. She’s gone. But she’s in peace now. I look up and meet the doctor’s gaze and nod. She knows what I mean. I stroke her black and white fur one last time and say goodbye. We’re all lost in our own thoughts. “Okay, well she’s gone.” Amanda, the Vet says. She kisses her head.

“I love you Angel. Rest in peace sweet baby. May Jack take care of you, wherever you are.” Mrs. Wheeler chokes out. I want to reach out and hug her. I assume Jack is her husband? Maybe even her old dog, who knows. All I know is, she’s lost them all and now lost Angel too. I can attest to the fact that life sucks sometimes. It’s never easy losing a companion. And even though I've never owned an animal of any kind in my life, but I know what it’s like to lose those you love.

“She’s in a better place now.” I can’t tell how many times that line has been said to me. And saying it to someone else feels insensitive. Still, I hope to ease her mind a little.

“I know. And she had a great life. I gave her the best life I could. I’d like to think she died happy.” I smile, reassuring her she did. Angel was found, abused and neglected, in a field close to Mrs. Wheeler’s house. When she first brought her in, her fur was mangled, like she hadn't had a bath in weeks, maybe months even. She was skinny, malnourished and possibly beaten. It was heartbreaking to say the least.

“Thank you ladies for all you've done. You saved her.” I hug her and we walk begin to walk out of the room. I look back at the table one more time where Angel lies, stiffly. “You’re going to be a terrific Vet, Maddy.” Mrs. Wheeler states behind me. Why do I feel like crap?

“Thank you. It’s times like these I wonder if I can really do it.” I started working here when I was seventeen, when the clinic first opened up. Amanda has been my boss; she hired me to work the office, just taking calls and making appointments. I told her I wanted to be a Veterinarian, so she gave me a job. Plus I needed to prepare myself for being on my own. I had to work, make a life of my own.

My mother died in a car accident when I was seven and my father forgot he had a daughter to take care of. I was left alone. But I lived with my best friend Andi and her family. Our parents were best friends in high school so Andi and I grew up together. Her parents took me in when my father shut the whole world out. They told me to give him time and he would come around. He just needed time to grieve my mother’s death. But he only got worse. My mother’s death wrecked him, which in turn wrecked me. He missed out on a lot. Every day I’d try to talk to him but I couldn't get through. I’d tell him I loved him anyway and missed him, hoping he would say it back. It was so hard to deal with this on my own. I guess we all grieve in our own ways. Eventually I stopped trying. I did write him letters though. It just hurt that he wasn't there for me. My mother died, and I was seven. Shouldn't families grieve together? Especially when there are children suffering.

Andi’s family grieved with me, but also gave me a home. I’ll never forget the kindness they showed when they opened up their home to me. Of course I wanted my own family back. It wasn't the same, but I was happy to have someone who cared. Jim, Andi’s father practically replaced my own. He treated me like a daughter and I loved him. Melanie, her mother always told me stories of my parents when they were in high school. I felt closer to her somehow and I loved her so damn much, even at just seven years old. No one can replace your real mother, and she didn't. But it helped to remember her. She’d show me pictures of them all too. My mother was beautiful when she was young, before she had me. And she was happy. She was happy when she had me…right up until the accident. I’d like to think she died happy, just like Angel. Maybe they are up in Heaven together playing in the field or something. I don’t really know where we go when we die, but I’d like to think we go somewhere amazing. 

I dream often of my mother. I don’t remember them except for when I wake up crying or screaming for her not to leave me again. I usually have the same dream; my mother comes into my room and wakes me up, telling me to fix things with my father. She sometimes tells me to talk to him and convince him the accident wasn't his fault. She says she’s sorry and she loves us. She says we need each other. I know they are dreams but they always feel so real.

“Maddy.” I’m standing in the doorway of the room we just left Angel on the table, except I never left. I’m still here. I look up and see Amanda’s concerned face. I realize I was daydreaming, which happens sporadically. Maybe this time because I just had to put a dog to sleep and it made my mind wander to my mother. “Are you okay?” I nod once and walk to the office. Amanda follows me. She knows what was going on. She’s always so understanding and patient. I sit in the black leather office chair and lean my head back, trying to ward off a migraine. “You should take the rest of the day off. I know days like these are hard on you.” I shake my head, closing my eyes to shut out the brightness of the light. I’ll be fine after I get back to work. Distraction is good.

“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry. I just…my brain got muddled for a second. It won’t happen again.” That’s not a promise but she knows it’ll happen again.

She sits down next to me, pursing her lips together. Her brown eyes show sincerity. “You don’t have to apologize. And if you want to go home, it’s okay. Really.” I didn't need excuses. Death is everywhere. I can’t escape it. I can’t let it run my life either. 

“Bye Maddy, Dr. Shultz.” We look up to see Mrs. Wheeler in the hall as she’s leaving. Her dog just died and here I am, sitting here feeling sorry for myself. It’s insensitive of me. I stand up and approach her, looking into her tear-filled eyes and hug her. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Wheeler. I pray you find peace.” I feel breaking down.

“Thank you.” She pulls back to look at me. “You’re going to be a great Vet one day.” If only I could stop crying when we lose an animal. I force a smile.

Mrs. Wheeler leaves the clinic. I glance at Amanda, take a deep breath and say, “Let me do some paperwork in here for a while and I’ll be okay. Then I’ll go back to the lobby and take the appointments.” She nods in agreement after contemplating it for a minute, pats my hand and leaves me alone. I can do this. I always do.

Chapter 2

“ We've been here for over thirty minutes, Noah. Are we ever getting out of the car or would you prefer saying your goodbyes from here?” Spencer asks, impatiently. I hate cemeteries, always have. I can get a little closer each time but I can’t seem to get my feet or legs to work enough to get me out of the car.

“I need to visit them. But I can’t face them. Not yet.” My stomach turns every time I’m here. The cemetery we buried my best friend, Alexa five years ago. It’s one of the biggest cemeteries in New York City and it’s haunting.

“Noah, it’s been five years. I don’t think they still blame you.” Maybe not, but I’ll always blame myself. I was there when their daughter died. It was my fault their daughter was taken from them so young. My stupidity and carelessness cost them a fucking lifetime of pain.

I beat on the steering wheel for the hundredth time since we've been here. Images of that night plague my mind, making me crazy. I want to scream, curse and pound the shit out of something. Maybe I’ll just get really drunk tonight.

“I’m getting out. I’ll leave the flowers on her headstone. Give me a second.” Spencer gets out of my jeep and walks across the street to our friends’ grave-site. I watch with gratitude. He’s always the one leaving flowers we buy for her. Thank God he’s willing to do it, for both of us. I suppose if he was carrying around so much guilt and pain, he’d be having a difficult time with it as well. That’s why I’ll miss Spencer when I move, not because he does everything for me but because he’s always stood by me when I was going through so much shit. He knew my life story. He knew all that I had to endure in life and even though at one time I was a destructive fuck up, he was always there to bail me out or talk me into getting help. But I have to move. I need to get away from New York City. This place has sucked me in, leaving me angry and bitter.

Living in New York with a life of regrets sucks ass and I’m hoping for a change, including scenery and lessons. Not to mention I will be away from my controlling, poor excuse of a father who’s responsible for my screwed up life. He’d rather worry about his status as one of New York’s finest than be a father. My parents divorced when I was ten. He broke my mother’s heart and left me fatherless.

I watch Spencer place the 2 dozen flowers we bought her on the way here, on her tombstone. It reads:

Alexa Michelle Brooks
Born September 12, 1980
Died: June 2, 1997
Beloved daughter, sister & Best friend
You’ll Forever Be Missed. Never Lose Hope.

I finger my tattoo on my wrist, one that we were supposed to get together. It’s just a small Chinese symbol of hope. We promised to always look at it and remember what it stood for. She always told me to never lose hope, that my life will work out and things won’t always be so shitty for me. But she’s gone and I can’t help but wonder how life can possibly be okay again. She always kept a positive outlook on life. During my darkest days I tried to think about her words. But when you fall deep into a dark hole, you lose the sense to care about anything. I've lost too many people in my life and now without her, I became bitter, angry and destructive. I turned to drugs, alcohol and used women to help numb my pain. I guess that makes me no better than my mother. Lex and I were supposed to get a place together after graduation. She’s the reason I didn't end up insane. Well, she and Spencer. They were the only friends I held onto after high school because of their positive influence. Now it’s only Spencer and me.

My right leg bounces up and down as I wait for Spencer to come back. I need to get away from here before I lose my shit. It’s too quiet and creepy.

“Sorry dude, I don’t know when I’ll be back here. I wanted to tell Lex some stuff before I abandoned her for too long. I told her you loved her and missed her.”

“Thanks Spence. I was hoping to come by before I left. I’m just not sure I can do it. Maybe another ten years I’ll finally be man enough to face this shit.” I’m moving to Colorado in two days. My aunt and cousin whom I haven’t seen in years live in a small town called Waldrip. It may be a good place to start over. My mother and I don’t get along either. I wish we did. But she also abandoned me for booze and men. She couldn't deal with the divorce like an adult. Our relationship has been estranged for years. I can’t say I’ll miss this place. I’m just hoping I’ll like Colorado.

My dead grandparents left me money…a lot. So I’m moving, using the money they left for my future. I’ll stay with my aunt for a while until I can find a place of my own. Then at some point, I’ll get a job or go to school. I haven’t figured all that out yet. One step at a time. I’m pretty much leaving everything except clothes and movies and minor things. I don’t want my furniture or anything my father paid for. He paid for my apartment, thinking he could buy my love or something. Uh, no. You can’t buy a child’s love and whoever thinks you can is fucking stupid.

“I’ll come by later tonight. I've got some stuff to take care of. Maybe we’ll go out for drinks or something.” I say to Spencer as we drive to his place.

“Let me guess, you’re going to Kasey’s to…?” He motions with his hands that I’m going to do the nasty. I laugh and shake my head but don’t confirm. “Have you even told her you’re leaving yet?”

“Nope, telling her tonight.” I can see how that convo will go. She seems to want more than I can give her. I don’t do relationships, not now. Not ever.

“After you do it. One last rendezvous, eh?” He laughs, I’m not amused. He doesn't understand what I’m giving up. I've never been in a serious relationship, but not for the lack of trying. Actually I could have had many monogamous relationships if I wanted. Every girl I was involved with wanted me to commit. I’d just laugh at them. I wasn't the type. I didn't mix emotions with sex. The last thing I needed was to be tied down and deal with anyone’s emotional crap. I didn't care. They would want sex, which was great but then the moment they wanted more, out the door they went. Noah didn't play that game. I couldn't allow myself to get attached or for them to get attached to me. So I remained ice cold and careless. I know, it’s cruel and I was an asshole, I’ll admit. It’s not like I had the proper role models to teach me different.

But moving will hopefully fix me or leave me damaged. I’m willing to find out. Of course I’m not looking to meet anyone. I don’t want to. I can barely take care of myself, let alone worry about someone else’s shit.

“I’m going home right now. But will go see her in a little bit.”

“Okay, well good luck. Text me later or whatever.” He’s out of the car but before he closes the door I call out, “Hey, Spence?” He catches the door before it shuts and leans down to look at me. “Thank you for going with me today, even though I didn't actually get out of the car.” He’ll never know how much I appreciate his friendship all these years. I hate that I’m leaving him but I hope he’ll understand that I have to do this, for myself. He bumps his fist with mine in response.

“You’re my best friend, Noah. No matter what. You got my back, I got yours.” I smile as he shuts the door.

I drive home with the windows down and the music cranked up. My smile falters when I pull into my driveway. I’m on the bottom floor with a garage. The apartments are pretty nice. Mine is a one-bedroom with a living room, dining room, bedroom and bathroom. Nothing special. It’s in a nice side of town, thanks to my father. He pays for it, but I am done taking shit from him. I drive up and close the door with the remote, getting out of my jeep. I walk through the door, hearing voices, confirming my suspicions.

“Noah, so nice to see you.” My father. His voice sends shivers down my spine.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, gritting my teeth.

“What a nice way to greet someone. Is that how you treat people who pay for your shit?”

“Believe me; I don’t need your money.” I spat. He’s in black slacks and dress shirt and tie. He’s always all business with me. Fuck him; I can’t wait to get away from him.

“When were you going to tell me you were moving?”

“When I decided it was your business.” I haven’t told him about the money I got, which I don’t ever plan on sharing with him. I head for my bedroom just as my mother comes out of hiding.

“I’m sorry, Noah. I couldn't get him to leave. He thinks you moving is a stupid idea.” Her crinkles in her concerned eyes make my heart break. This is one of those times I see the good side of her, not the absent alcoholic mother she usually is. But the one that was once there for me, caring for me and loving me when my father was gone all the time at work. I miss that woman.

“Who died and left him in charge? He has no say in my life. Not like he ever really cared before.” I sit on my bed and run my hand through my hair. “I’m getting the hell out of here, where he can’t control me anymore.” I wish my mother would get out of here too. She still lets him control her and they've been divorced for years. The problem is she thinks he will magically come back to her. I wish she’d wake up and realize it’s never going to happen. 


Stormy said...

Loving Noah! Ah! You write male POVs really well, Annie. :D

goddess793 said...

Yay, glad you enjoyed hun! :) I do love writing from Noah's POV better.

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