This Woman’s Work

This Woman’s WorkVictims of domestic abuse

Piano chords strummed at his open wounds all the while a melody whispered his name. The timbre of her sweet voice haunted him as he glided onto the empty stage. Lighting beamed down and blazed bright enough for his naked eyes to wince but did nothing to stop his body from searching for the right moments as it slipped in and out of silent spaces, hiding from sound.

Pray God you can cope…

I stand outside…

The humidity inescapable, upon entering the stage it stuck to his body, seeping through warm flesh and burrowing itself inside. Tremors caused his heart to race as they consumed him from within; still he continued. Fighting the urge to look into the audience he focused his vision on the darkness beyond the edge of the stage, passed the crowd and outside of the walls that imprisoned him.

This woman’s work                                                                                                                                                       This woman’s world…

“Don’t look at her,” he thought “…don’t.”

                                                                                      Oooh, it’s hard on the man…

“Focus!” He warned himself.

Lyrics rolled on, slinking with him as he floated across the stage. The subdued sullenness of the words draped over his shoulders before enveloping his limber limbs, interlacing around his outspread fingers, slipping between his thighs and finally locking around his conscience. The mood had somehow become a mist, clouding his senses. His chest stiffened and his body spun with a graceful elegance.

Thousands of unspoken words towered over him and hung in mid air the way a tidal taunts before crashing down. Still he couldn’t stop his feet from leading the rest of his lithe body. He was no longer able to resist himself, his vision focused on the crowd, skimming the stew of people for a hint of familiarity among the rows of strangers and acquaintances. And there she was.

She sat solitary in the aisle, arresting more attention than anyone else seated in the audience. The luster of the metal wrapped around her wheels reminded him of the gleam that at one time illuminated from her now depleted chestnut eyes. Eyes they both shared. The same way they shared the pout of their pink lips, the bridge of their noses, the crooked arch of their eyebrows and their pain-soaked, mysterious smiles.

I know you have a little life in you yet

I know you have a lot of strength left

“Don’t look at her,” echoed in his mind.

He tried to swallow but he couldn’t. His throat was dry and started to ache but he pushed on. He recollected how the song didn’t seem this long during rehearsals. How this high school stage didn’t feel like it was the center of the world yesterday afternoon. How it hadn’t hurt this much when it was just him, the teacher and the music.

He leapt through the air before making a poised landing and that’s when it happened. Their eyes locked and he could see her forcing the corners of her mouth to curl upward.

 Wild laughter poured out of them as he ran faster and faster.

I’m gonna get’cha!” She teased.

He beamed with joy, ducking behind his playpen and covering his eyes.

No! You can’t seeee meee!”

Ha-ha. Oh, yes I can!”

Give me these moments back                                                                                                                              Give them back to me…

 She kissed him warmly on his lips and suddenly the tears in his eyes vanished, the ache in his scraped leg dissipating. Patting his head, she promised it would be okay before lifting his tiny frame and carrying him away from the jungle gym.

Give me that little kiss

Give me your hand…

 The daunting air hung heavy between the three and sliced through his dwindling spirit with its ridicule. He looked at his father sitting in the driver’s seat, twisting the steering wheel with a blazing fervor. He observed his face of stone; the face that terrorized him as he slept. He looked to his mother who sat, rigid, in the passenger’s seat. He felt her warmth disappearing as she held the left side of her bright red face, staring out of the window. The bottled rage in her eyes brought tears to his. Why did he always have to do that to her?

What’re you crying about back there, huh!?”

Leave him alone, Marco!”

You just don’t learn do you?” His father asked, beginning to pull the car over.

No!” He pleaded.

A sting that stirred inside of him blended into the music creating a cloud of euphony which hung over him. Euphony only he could hear. His nervous eyes darted into the audience. An older man was focused on every move he made, a look of enthrallment plastered on his aged face. Two seats behind him sat a little girl with the most beautiful shade of brown skin he had ever seen, her eyes stalking his body as it crept across the stage. To her right sat a young teenager, around his age, wearing a tattered New York Yankees baseball cap, his focus on a hand held video game he clutched like it would sprout legs and run away if he let go.

These distractions only lasted a moment because seconds later he was again gazing at her; the beautifully broken woman in the wheel chair.

 She hid under the cloak of night and he peeked at her from behind the door left half open. She looked like a disfigured lump underneath her comforter as she lay there, motionless. He could hear her tears crashing onto her pillow case. He held his breath and wanted so desperately to go to her…to make everything better…

                 I should be crying but I just can’t let it show…

The silent battle continued as he flitted about the floorboards, moving every which way in attempts to escape the music. It was everywhere he swayed. With every allégro, turn of foutte; with every ballon, the music was there, waiting for him.

“You must give in to the music. Allow it to control your body, your instrument…” He could hear his instructor tell him.

“No!” He thought, closing his eyes, trying to stop the burn.

He couldn’t bring himself to give in…not now. The music brought the memories. The memories brought the past.

You think this is a game!?”

The thunderous voice of his father cracked the safety of his dream world wide open.

“Stop it! Marco, stop!”

Hurried footsteps could be heard slamming into the floor. He slowly lifted himself off of his bed and ran to his bedroom door. Opening it slightly, he tilted his head and listened to the commotion coming from behind the door across the hall. The noises of hell were roaring again.

“Stop it! Benoni is in his room, you—“

The sound of his hand meeting her flesh penetrated him and he immediately jerked his door open. He left his safety and ran towards the chaos, into the flames, tremors causing his heart to race as they consumed him from the inside; still he continued. Gripping onto the doorknob he twisted, but the attempt was futile. It was locked. He could hear her gasping for air, her hands slapping against his father. He tried to swallow but he couldn’t. His throat was dry and started to ache, but he pushed on. Again he twisted at the knob and again nothing happened.

“Ah, you little piece of—“

“M, m, mom!” He forced out.

The sound of her bellowing was all he got in response.

He fought the music as its power grew into something he couldn’t defy. The intensity of the piano yanked his delicate body in every which way and the hurting thrashed and resounded within him.

                                           I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking…Of

Using all of the power he could gather from his lanky but slight body Benoni pounded on the door, slamming his fists, one after the other.

Aah!” A warbling voice snuck through the corners of the closed door.

 Pounding harder, faster, harder, faster.

Mom! Mommy!”

He didn’t have to see her to know that she wasn’t giving up. But he didn’t have to see him to know that he wasn’t going to stop.

“Dad, stop!” He cried out, his voice cracking.

His stinging knuckles were now paintbrush tips, gradually dabbing the cream colored door with his red. And still he pounded.

In an instant the door swung open and before he could make out what he had seen, his mother’s arms wrapped around his waist and scooped him up. Without a moment’s uncertainty they were headed towards the stairwell leading to the front entrance of their home. A feeling of absolute panic engulfed his prepubescent body and he knew that after tonight things would never be the same. Everything in that moment meshed into itself. His mother’s swollen face, the bruises she wore on her arms and chest like the badges of a retired soldier, the imprint of his father’s hand around her elongated beige neck.

“Mom, put me down, I’m too heavy!”

She didn’t listen. If only she had listened…

“Mother fucker!” The fuming voice pierced him.

He caught a sudden glimpse of the man. The blood stained scratch marks that decorated his demonic face, his thin pursed lips and his bushy eyebrows; the glaring eyes that resembled green slits on opposite sides of his head. He didn’t recognize this man. He didn’t know him.

           Of all the things I should’ve said that I never said

His emotions had fallen victim to the unwanted nostalgia. He could feel the aching build in the corners of his eyes and still he chasséd and chaînésed across the stage like a frantic animal being hunted. The music crept closer and closer and his sweat riddled body began to tremble. He spun around, his arms whipping about wildly, gasping for air. He couldn’t remember when but his body had succumbed to the spellbinding sounds of the music and was now its marionette, moving in sync with every measure.

                           Of all the things we should’ve done that we never did

The audience blurred into shadows and colors but somehow she remained clear and visible. She sat there, patiently, watching him with the most loving eyes. She hadn’t moved the entire time but had been smiling like she’d never have the chance again.

                                                                           Of all the things that you needed from me

“M, Mommy!”

She was at the top of the marble staircase that seemed to span the universe and without a thought she was bolting down the first few. It grew fuzzy and as his father’s fist thrust forward, his eyes bulged from his skull. All he could do was watch this man’s hand collide with the back of his mother’s head.

                                   Of all the things that you wanted from me

 A screech forced itself from her lungs causing his heart to stop beating forever and as her body twisted she gripped her son’s frail frame as tightly as she could. Her arms were his fortress and as she slammed neck first against the edge of one of the steps, the fortress suddenly crumbled into nothing. His body slipped away from hers and as he tumbled down the stairs he looked at his father hovering above them, breathing heavily, no expression on his face. He looked like a stranger. He was a stranger.

Of all the things I should’ve given but I didn’t, oh darling, 

                                                                                     make it go away

Languid arms hung by his sides and his legs trembled as he stood center stage. He felt his salty weakness trail down his cheeks, stinging scars that went unseen by the prying spectators; by everyone but her. And as most of the audience rose to their feet and the abrupt sound of applause echoed throughout the dim auditorium he looked at her… just sitting there. She didn’t stand on her feet like the enthusiastic old man immediately had. Her arms weren’t raised like the little girl with the gorgeous complexion. She wasn’t clapping like the young man who hadn’t paid much attention until the very end. Her body did not move…she was just sitting there, her smile luminous amongst the darkness that surrounded him.

                             Just make it go away…now

The Kate Bush This Woman’s Work lyrics are copyright by its rightful owner and I in no way take copyright or claim the lyrics belong to me.


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