Two lives hanging in the balance, like the metal balls suspended from a frame in a Newton’s Cradle.
Click. The sound as one ball swings and collides into the others.
Silence. Stillness. The energy flows through and suddenly the ball at the end lifts and swings, and collides back on itself.
Click. And the energy flows backwards again.
A soul will always remain at rest until it is acted upon by another force.
12:45am August 22nd
Good morning gorgeous!
So I promised you a little something and here it is:
I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine the following…
White desert beach sand. A moonless night sky sprinkled with stars that glimmer in a crescendo of dark to white light. The sound of waves crashing against the shoreline and the silence as the tide pulls them back in again.
Your feet are bare and sunken into the cool, soft sand. The warm summer night air tickles your skin and you feel your dress brush against your thighs.
You smile to yourself and turn around to make your way to our room. You watch the flickering of the candles dance in unison with the rhythm of your soul.
You find a beautifully lit, sensual, pulsating jacuzzi. You slowly remove your dress and slip into the warm water. You feel the jets pound against your soft skin. You close your eyes and tilt your head backwards, taking in the warmth and peace that surrounds you.
You open your eyes sleepily as you sense my presence in the room. I hold out an open towel to you, and as you rise I wrap it around your soft, sweet smelling skin and slip you into a soft, silky gown that flows over your body.
I place my arm around your waist and lead you through to the master bedroom where soft, relaxing music plays in the background. As you lay down on the bed, I rub a combination of sweet-smelling oils into my hands and begin to massage your body, starting with your back and neck, then your legs and arms and finally your feet and hands.
I can feel you drift in and out of a tranquil sleep as my hands caress your body.
I gently touch those parts of your body that I have craved to touch for so long. I can sense that you are aching for me and my body tingles as you reach out and open the wrap that covers my waist.
Our bodies press against each other, lips and tongues collide, and as you look up into my eyes I feel our souls connect. We move in unison, our hearts racing, our souls entwined, our bodies as one. The suppressed yearning and hunger that each of us has carried for all these years melts into a frenzy of passion that neither has experienced before and we both gasp for air as the fever consumes us and sends us soaring over the edge of reason into unbridled ecstasy.
Lying in each other’s arms and gazing into one another’s eyes, the morning light teases her way through the curtains and plays with the dark locks of hair that have fallen across your face. We smile at each other knowing that, at last, the missing puzzle pieces in our lives have found their way home.
Desperation. Disillusionment. Longing. Escape.
Reading Alex’s message sent shockwaves through Claudia’s body. She felt as if she was about to pass through a thin veil into an alternate universe.
Everything felt completely and utterly surreal.
7:25am August 22nd
Alex, you amaze me more and more every day, just when you’ve blown me away with one thing you have me panting over another!
I pictured everything so clearly, I could actually see us there together. I could feel your body close to mine, the heat between us as you wrapped that towel around me. I could feel the stifled breathing. I could feel your hands rubbing up and down my body, and I could feel my body arching as the delicious sensations rippled through my very being. You have NO idea how you’re making me feel.
If I was a man I would be wearing a really baggy pair of pants right now.
I hardly slept last night, and yes, I was very tempted to come down to the office and see what you’d written. But there is something exciting about waking up with the sun peeking over the horizon, knowing that my real sunshine has written something beautiful for me, so I let the suspense drag out a bit.
Right now it feels as if without us, nothing else would be happening.
I feel as if I have this amazing power, that nothing can touch me right now.
All I want to do is be with you, and I am starting to wonder how much more of this I can take before I crack.
Claudia clicked the send button and sat back in her chair, running her fingers through her hair. At that moment she felt as if she was balancing on a sword’s edge, about to be torn in two between loyalty and love.
The pain was so great and so unbearable and she felt like screaming out in agony.
Gareth stormed into her office waving a piece of paper about.
“I’ve asked you a hundred times already,” he yelled, “when are you going to call the municipality and sort this mess out?”
Claudia felt her soul and her body collide as she was sucked back into reality with the sound of Gareth’s voice.
“Gareth, I’m running my own business, I’m not your secretary,” she protested, “Can’t you just sort your own stuff out? This is your account, not mine.”
“I’m so sick of you Claudia,” he continued “always passing the buck when it comes to anything that has something to do with me. I do so much for you. Honestly, I don’t know why I am even married to you.”
Claudia balked. She had heard those lines so many times before and had always responded in the same kind, gentle way, never wanting to disappoint her children, her family, his family, and most importantly herself by having to label herself and the lives of her children with the dreaded “D” word.
But this time was different. It was as if she had been chained to a pole her whole life, and each time Gareth had threatened her with divorce she had pulled away from the pole but she’d never been strong enough to set herself free. This time however, it felt as if a weak link in the chain had been exposed, that she just had to tug on it one more time, just one more time, and it would snap and she would fall and stumble and lift herself up off the ground and run away, run away from everything as fast as she could.
Run away into the arms of the man she’d loved all her life.
“Are you asking me for a divorce, Gareth?” she asked as she sighed, feeling a sense of emptiness clouding her voice, “Because if that’s what you want, you can have it. It’s all yours. Take your ticket to freedom and run, because I’m tired of you and I’m tired of this marriage and I want out.”
She felt her eyes well up with tears, shocked that she had summoned the power within her soul to utter those words, but at the same time relieved that she had.
Gareth stormed out of the office, furious, confused. Sad.
“Fuck you Claudia,” he yelled back at her, “Fuck you!”
He went upstairs and pulled a suitcase from the top shelf and stood motionless as he lost his grip on the handle and it fell heavily to the floor. His hands were shaking. He stared blankly at the shelves of clothes in front of him. Could this really be happening? Was Claudia really being serious? Was it really over?
He zipped open the suitcase and swept his clothes off the shelves into it. He could feel his jaw aching as he clenched his teeth. No, it couldn’t be over. He didn’t really mean it. Surely she knew that he was just trying to scare her?
A feeling of panic overcame him and he stopped what he was doing and ran back down the stairs and into the office. Claudia looked up at him, not sure what to say or think. The look on his face scared her.
“Can we talk about this, in the house,” he said quietly, not wanting Claudia’s staff to hear what was going on, “Now please”.
Claudia nodded and followed Gareth back to the house, her heart pounding uncontrollably in her chest. Her mind was in a whirl. She had a way out but suddenly it felt as if she had driven her car off a bridge into a lake and the car was slowly filling up with water. She was suffocating and although she could see the sun and the sky outside, she wasn’t sure if she had the strength to pry the door open and swim to the surface.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked as they stood facing each other. Claudia swallowed hard and nodded. “Gareth, it’s time. You know as well as I do that this isn’t working. I’m never going to be the wife you want me to be, you keep telling me that. Every time we fight you ask for a divorce. Why is it different this time?”
“I don’t want to lose you Claudia,” pleaded Gareth, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I didn’t mean what I said. I love you. Please can we just try to work this out?”
Claudia felt the darkness closing in on her and fought against it with every fibre of her being. She wasn’t going to drown. Not this time.
In her mind she pictured Alex and the future that they might now be able to have together. She had lost him once. She wasn’t going to let him slip through her fingers again.
“Are you leaving me for Denise?,” she heard him ask, the feeling of suffocation closing in on her like a thick mist, it’s icy fingers running up her back and tightening around her throat.
“No Gareth,” Claudia said, sighing as she caught her reflection in the mirror behind him, “It’s not Denise, it’s not anyone. I just can’t do this anymore. Can’t you just accept that things are over between us?”
Claudia watched as Gareth’s face darkened. She was acutely aware of the pain that was tearing through his heart but she knew that if she backed out now she would have surrendered her one and only opportunity to release herself from his grip.
He walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. She heard him pick up his car keys and she shivered as he yelled back at her, “I’m fetching the children from school. And you’re going to tell them that you’re about to ruin their lives!”
Her ears were ringing and her heart was pounding. She paced the room while she waited for him to return home with their children. She thought of Alex. She thought about Denise. She desperately tried not to picture her children’s faces when she broke the news to them. She was reeling with the heaviness of the responsibility of being the one to shatter their innocent lives.
Alex. She desperately needed to tell him what was going on. Claudia quickly typed a message to him explaining what had just happened. She felt as if she was slipping on a knife’s edge.
When Gareth returned home, he told the children to go downstairs with Claudia and wait for him. Claudia’s skin prickled as she heard his footsteps coming down the spiral staircase. Every step that he took symbolised a step closer to one world ending and another beginning.
Ross and Kyle sat quietly, unsure of the reason for this strange family gathering. Gareth sat down and looked directly into Claudia’s eyes. “Go on then,” he said, “Tell them what you’ve done.”
Claudia frowned and she felt the tears welling up in her eyes. “My boys,” she whispered in between stilted sobs, “Your dad and I are getting divorced.” She gulped as she watched their eyes widen. “I’m so sorry, but please know that we’re both going to still be in your lives and we’re going to make sure that this is not too difficult for you. I promise that with all my heart and soul.”
Kyle, in absolute shock and disbelief, had tears streaming down his little face. Ross whimpered, unable to comprehend what was being discussed. As a six year old, the word “divorce” was foreign to his vocabulary.
Claudia heard the ruffling of a plastic bag and she moved her focus away from the boys towards Gareth. He was standing now and walked towards the boys carrying two heavy wads of elastic-bound cash notes in his hands. Bewildered, Claudia watched in slow motion as he handed each child one of these bundles and said, “My boys, take this cash and go and buy yourselves something special with it. I hope it’s enough. I’m so sorry. I love you guys.”
He turned and placed one of his hands on the railing of the staircase. “This is the last time that you will ever see me,” he said, his eyes darting between Claudia and the boys, “And you,” he said in what sounded like a growl from a person possessed by a demon, “You Claudia, have blood on your hands, and you’re not welcome at my funeral.”
He turned and walked up the staircase. Claudia drew her children close, staring in blank disbelief at the empty space in which he had stood so resolute just a few minutes before, and she felt a strange feeling of anger welling up in her belly. “How dare he?” she thought to herself, fighting back the tears, “he’s fucking crazy!”
She had heard him make idle threats, although not as dramatic as this one, during their tumultuous marriage, and she wondered what on earth to make of this one. In that moment, it felt as if the world had stopped spinning and an eerie silence crept into the room, enveloping Claudia and the children. “What did he mean Mommy,” asked Kyle, “What did he mean when he said you’ve got blood on your hands?”
Claudia breathed in deeply and sighed, wiping the tears from Kyle’s face, “I don’t know my darling, I don’t know. But don’t be scared. I will protect both of you, I won’t let anything happen to you. Daddy’s just angry. Everything will be okay.”