Cherry blossoms in my heart

TRIGGER warning  – violent assault, threats, child sexual abuse, manipulation.

This is out of context unless the blog has been read in a chronological order.

Bianca, 6 years old:

A soft wind caresses my face and cherry petals carried by it swirl everywhere. I skip to catch the petals, as I walk down the street with my mother. We’re heading to a park close to The Butterflies. It’s spring! We’re going to a festival! I’m so excited! She’s letting me wear my favorite dress. The fabric shimmers a beautiful pearl white, toning into pink. It has a skirt which flares out if I twirl – that’s perfect for dancing! I want to dance with Elijah. Mother says he probably won’t be there, but I’m hoping he will. Married people dance together and I’ve married him! He said we’d gotten married before, many times, but I don’t remember doing so. 

”It were the other girls in you, Guinevere and Princess,” he explained. I’m mulling over it right now and I still don’t get it. Other girls? How can I have other girls in me, I have only one body!

We arrive at the park, but my view is blocked by all the tall grown-ups milling about. Over us, strung from tree to tree, I see flower garlands, balloons and colored lanterns. I catch glimpses of children here and there, but none I know.

”Mom, can you see Elijah? Look again please?” I tug her hand. She sighs.

”No Bianca, I don’t think they’ll come. Surely his parents would have told me, since you’re such good friends.”

”We’re married,” I correct. She laughs and says I’m lucky to have found my twin flame at such a young age. I can’t help but agree. A twin flame, I’ve learned, is a special person who loves you and understands you more than anyone else in the universe. It’s the other half of your soul. I imagine Elijah to be the other half of me and it makes me smile. Suddenly I feel someone pinch my left arm. I’m flooded with dread, my foot catches on something and I free fall. I catch a glimpse of Timothy’s face just before I hit the hard packed soil.

Princess:

”Ouch”. 

”Let me help you”. Oh no, not him! Timothy lifts me to my feet and brushes off my clothes, before I can get away. I’ve scraped my hands and arms somewhat, they’re bleeding. He calls his wife and she hands him her water bottle. I don’t want him to touch me, but he insists on cleaning my wounds. I see my mother talking to his wife and daughter. I don’t think Claire is a witch anymore. I’ve woken up at home a few times now, without telling anyone. There were pictures of her and me, entire photo albums. Claire is my mother. Now she’s adamant I say hello to Timothy’s daughter. We greet each other but when his daughter thinks we’re out of earshot, she hisses: 

”He’s my father!”

”I know”, I tell her. 

Timothy begs Mother and I to accompany them at their table. Mother hesitates, she asks Timothy’s wife if she’s sure we’re not intruding. 

”Of course not”, the wife replies, somewhat testily. I can’t remember what we ate, if we ate anything. But I do remember needing to use the bathroom. There were portable toilets, but Timothy said he’d gone to one and it was filthy, no toilet paper, excrement everywhere…

”I’ll take her to The Butterflies instead”, he offers. ”It’s just around the corner and I have the keys”.

”I’ll go with you.” Mother stands up from her chair.

”It’s not necessary”, Timothy answers. While leaving his seat, he bumps into his wife.

”Actually”, the wife begins, leaning across the table towards my mother, ”there was something I thought to ask you…” 

I wish I wasn’t Princess. Guinevere would run away. Where is she now? Timothy is leading me away, onto a narrow path surrounded by a thick forest. I could call on her, secretly, in my head. Guinevere, Guinevere…

”I’m here!”

”Help me escape!” Guinevere leans forward and bites Timothy’s arm, he lets go and I run off. But before I can get back to Claire, he scoops me up, screaming:

”I just saw a demon behind that tree, so be still!” I freeze. Only one thing frightens me more than him. Demons. He puts me back down on the path but holds my hand in a stone grip.

”You don’t have to be afraid”, he consoles. ”We’re home soon”. As the gates swing shut behind us, he flings out his arms and exclaims:

”Tadaaa! No demons can touch you here!” I feel relieved.

He hurries to unlock the door so I can go to the toilet. I’m grateful he doesn’t follow me into the bathroom. When I come out, the sky is darkening and the holiday atmosphere is gone. Minuscule drops of water hover in the air. It smells like rain, like bad weather, like bad news. I stand still on the porch. 

Timothy beckons me over to him. I walk up to him reluctantly. He’s drawn a huge circle in the sandbox. Perfectly even.

”Don’t be afraid Princess”, he smiles. ”This is necessary.” 

I stop right outside the circle.

”You need to step inside”, he commands. 

Things happen when you step into circles. Never step inside a circle unless I tell you so. I see an old man’s face. He said those words to me. But I don’t know who he is. 

I step into the circle.

Timothy shoves me, I fall forward. 

”You’re in my circle now!” He growls. ”I decide here! You’ll do as I say!” 

Then he lifts me up and slams me around so I’m lying on my back. One split second later he’s straddled me and I’m pinned down by his legs.

”You’ll never leave the Butterflies again!” He shouts. Will he kill me? I see his pocketknife in front of my face. I thought I’d peed all I needed to but now I wet myself again. I start sobbing. I can’t dance with Elijah in a dirty dress. Or if I’m dead.

”Don’t kill me”, I snivel. ”You said you would protect me!”

Timothy’s face softens for an instance and he kisses me. I’m disgusted.

”I’m doing this for you.” He imparts. ”Give me your hand”. I’m too confused to move my hands so he snatches my right hand and drags me up on my knees. The pocketknife is too close! I try to free myself from his grip but it’s too strong. As he cuts my palm with the knife, I scream. It’s not a big cut, no wider than two of my fingers. But it’s blood – he drew blood! There’s no time to contemplate it, he’s pushing my palm into the sand.

I bind you to this earth. I bind you to this soil. I bind you to this land. You are one with The Butterflies now. Your blood is mixed with the earth here – you cannot leave these grounds. Do you hear me?” I nod. 

”Say yes or I’ll cut your other hand too!” I try to speak but can’t, I’m breathing too fast. He cuts my left hand. I see his big hands covering mine, pressing them into the sand. 

”You belong here. You are a part of The Butterflies and you can never leave. It is impossible for you to walk out the gates now. Do you hear me?” 

He keeps shouting ”Do you hear me” until I manage to whisper ”yes”. 

”So it is done”, he sighs. ”It is done, it is done, it is done. Princess Bianca will never leave this place. She is now one with the land. So mote it be, so mote it be, so mote it be.” He heaves another huge sigh. Then he walks around the circle, erasing it with his feet. 

I try to stand. My dress. I loved this dress. Elijah. Won’t see me wearing it. Timothy lifts me up and carries me to the toilets. The preschool has a shower so he cleans me and puts on spare clothes that were lying in a box on my shelf. He did things to me in the shower. I told him no but he didn’t listen. He never does. He’s dangling a heart shaped pendant before my eyes. First time I saw it, I thought it was so pretty. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Now I don’t want to to see the heart – I don’t want anything belonging to him. He orders me to look at the pendant and not let it out of my sight. I comply, but it takes a long time for me to fall asleep.

Bianca:

”Careful there, you nearly fell!” Timothy is holding me steady. I feel dizzy. We’re in the hallway at The Butterflies but it’s so dark and empty. 

”Let’s get back to your mother”. Timothy opens the door leading out. I rush past him and on my way to the gates I stop and stare at the sandbox. My knees are shaking.

”What are you thinking about?” Oh no, he caught up to me. 

”I want to go to my mother.”

”Are you thinking anything else?”

”Is Elijah here?” Timothy sighs.

”Forget about Elijah. He is a bad boy, Bianca. A really bad boy.”

”He’s my best friend!”

”No he’s not. You know what he said to me? He thinks you’re ugly.” Then he tells me Elijah cannot see my beauty but he, Timothy, fully appreciates it. 

No one but me can see how beautiful you are”, he vows. I’m aghast. I have the worst luck! My dress is gone, too. Didn’t I wear it when we left the house? I look down on my clothes and see my most worn t’shirt and shorts. A shimmering dress and cherry blossom petals – was it all a dream?

Timothy tells Mother we didn’t reach the toilets in time. He hands her a plastic bag and I see the dress in it. It’s real! It’s destroyed. I start bawling and Mother tries to console me. 

”Bianca, Elijah is here”, she smiles. ”He’s over there”. I run up to him, he’s standing next to his family.

”Wait a sec”, Elijah asks. Then he dashes to a cherry tree and upon returning his hands are filled with flowers. He tries to weave them into my hair, they keep falling out and he puts them back again. On the biggest lawn, lots of people are dancing. The songs are upbeat, I can’t keep my feet still. I ask Elijah if he wants to dance, he says yes! We clasp hands. Over his shoulder, I see Timothy glaring daggers. He’ll hurt us.

”We should go”, I whisper. ”Timothy said you think I’m ugly.”

”That’s a lie! Come, we’ll tell dad.” Luke looks furious when he hears what Timothy said. Elijah wants revenge. 

”Listen carefully”, Luke instructs us. ”This is what you’ll do…”

Back among the dancers, we turn and wave at Timothy. The moment he waves back, Elijah kisses me on the mouth. The look on Timothy’s face! Ha! Oh no, he’s coming this way. He looks like he’d like to break us apart but before he can do so, Luke steps in. Elijah and I dart over to the cherry tree, under which our mothers and Langdon are sitting. Once out of Timothy’s sight we throw ourselves on the grass, shaking with laughter.

A stroke of thunder interrupts the celebrations and people hurry to leave. On our way home, Mother tells me Timothy’s wife needed someone to vent to about her daughter’s eating disorder. 

”Promise me you’ll never become like that”, she asks. ”You eat so little.”

”My mouth hurts.”

”There’s nothing wrong with your mouth! Richard’s father has looked at it, you’re perfectly healthy! He’s a pediatrician, he knows his stuff!”

But it hurts!

”Of all excuses…don’t lie to me. Tell the truth. You worry about your weight, don’t you?”

”No I do not!” She can’t see I’m crying, it’s raining too much.

When I calm down I find I’m happy.

Elijah said ’I love you’. I said ’I love you’. 

I carry the sweetest cherry blossoms in my wounded palms.

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