by Mark Ulyseas
From The Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives – book available HERE
She could smell the blood in her nostrils as Helen leans against the cool wall. The dog keeps on barking till the man leaves her on the street and drives away. Helen bends down and gently pats the dog…it is panting…but in its eyes there is life…effervescent.
“Thank you”, she says, “Thank for chasing that man away before he hit me again. You see he wanted to have sex with me but I can’t, not this time of the month…”
Then she gets up and walks slowly down the street, the dog doesn’t move…but keeps watching her as she fades into the crowd coming out a cinema hall.
Helen goes to the nearest park and sits down on a bench. Her stomach cramps return. Is it hunger or am I bleeding, she thinks to herself…the rising wetness between her thighs answers her question.
How am I to go home? He took my bag and all the money I had? I can’t walk down the street in these soiled clothes? Oh, the curse of being a woman.
As the sun drops below the towering buildings another life begins to awake…a life she had grown up to despise for it is a reminder of how her mother had lived and died… feeding off the iniquity of man. I promised her I wouldn’t go there and I haven’t she says to herself. I haven’t. I am happily married but without child…and I love my husband who beats me…then she weeps…mumbling…oh mother…mother where are you…
She lies down on the bench and looks up at the night sky…the stars are blurred by the bright lights of the city…faint glimmers. How I wish I could stop feeling pain…the pain of living…the pain of being a woman.
A while later she hears a voice…
“Darling Helen, what are you doing here?”
She gets up with a start and gazes up at the woman in front of her.
The woman sits down next to her and cradles Helen in her arms, gently stroking her head.
“I asked you a question”, says her mother more firmly…
“He beat me and left me on the street, he took my bag, I don’t know how to get home.”
Silence. Then the sound of nails tapping on the wooden bench.
“You see that blue light on the second floor of that building”, says her mother.
“Go there right now. My old friend’s daughter lives there. Her name is Nina. Tell her you need shelter. She will help you.”
“The second floor”, replies Helen pointing to the building…and then looks towards her mother. But no one is there…just that same street dog…looking up at her.
And as if on cue the dog walks slowly towards the building, looking back, stopping and waiting for Helen to follow him.
She reaches the building, climbs the stairs and knocks on the door. Mantovani’s On my Own seeps through the door…the dog remains on the street…
“Yes, who is it”
“Helen, this is, my mother Dorothy told me to come here. I need your help”.
The door opens and a wisp of a young woman stands before her.
“Hi I’m Nina. Come in,”
She entered the small flat…
“My God…look at you…come on…take this towel…get into the shower…I will get some fresh clothes for you…have you eaten?”,
“No, not since this morning”
“Okay, you get cleaned up and I will fix something for you to eat”
Helen stands shivering under the shower…then the warm water races across her body washing away the blood…the water turns pink as it runs between her toes and disappears down the drain with a gurgle…
Refreshed and in clean clothes she walks out of the bathroom to be greeted by Nina lounging on the bed with coffee and a large sandwich on a small tray…
“Helen, come on eat something and after this I want you to sleep…you can take one of my pills…you need to sleep…sleep cures everything…but you shouldn’t forget to wake up…hahahahahaha.”
She hugs Helen who begins to cry…
“No…no…we don’t do this here…what we do is make everyone who come here… happy…look at me…I don’t know what your story is…I don’t want to know…eat and sleep”, says Nina as she kisses her on the cheek.
And when she had eaten, drunk the coffee and taken a pill Helen lies down on the bed which smells strangely of her mother…the stale aroma of the receptacle of excess. As the blanket of sleep slowly envelopes her, she whispers, “I am home…I am home…and when I awake I shall go to work just like mummy did”.© Mark Ulyseas, August 03, 2013