Power

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In their tumultuous third year, 17-year-old Passive Peter handed her a bag. It was brown and square, made of paper, non-descript. “I made this for you.”

Adalyn unearthed a corsage.

“I want you to wear it to my formal.”

 

I'll be the first to admit - I'm not sure anyone reads short stories online anymore. Maybe I'm swimming in the wrong pool *cough*my own pool*cough*.

As I am kind of needy for love and affirmation, and am not an auto-bot (as much as I've tried to re-programme my brain with NLP) - would you care to click the Like-love-heart button if you enjoy the story? This way, I will know whether I should keep creating worlds for my characters!

Alas, I think you'll like Adalyn. She's tough, assertive and a little bit bad-ass, but completely powerless before certain people...

GENRE: YOUNG ADULT, SCI-FI  

LENGTH: 10 MINUTE READ. 

Adalyn struggles with aggression. She struggles with it so much she evaporates at the peak of her rage.

When Adalyn felt anger, it rose in her chest, and slithered like a decisive serpent to her throat. It was then that she would heave frustrated sobs like she was throwing up bile, violent. She could never control her emotions.

 

 

At 13 she coined the term parental envy in her private journals – her made-up constitution for losing out on getting emotionally normal caregivers. As if God’s familial lottery was a prime time TV entertainment segment in Heaven’s lounge room, while He rested with a pina colada and reclined His feet on an ottoman.

 

Yes, she had listened to J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech. Now 21 years of age, Rowling’s words cut her: “there is an expiry date on which you can blame your parents for steering you in the wrong direction,” and it sent Adalyn into paralysis. It was like she had published orange flow charts in her mind that were laminated and blu-tacked and thus, un-editable. Her inability to self-regulate came from watching her Father hit her Mother in the face when she was in primary school. “When you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you,” more wisdom from J.K. Rowling. But how?

 

Adalyn’s Father had passed away when she was 15. Her mother, in deciding to stay with him leading up to his death, evoked film-reels of constant undercuts and insults. She had ubiquitous memories of seeing her mother nursing her black eye when she returned from school at 3pm in the afternoon.

“Ada, men like your Father never say sorry. Why don’t you go change out of your uniform?”

She grew up thinking that watching a husband strip the dignity of his wife through physical beatings, insults and public humiliation was normal. If a quarrelsome wife was the situation of a man, his frustration sufficed for the aforementioned. Adalyn would move into her adolescence ensuring this would never happen to her.

 

So when Adalyn started dating at 14, she did so out of the need to control. Somebody was fated to be under her teen dominion, so she chose a waif-like boy, sweet natured and unskilled in defending himself. His name was Peter, his demeanour passive. Passive Peter frequented “sorry”, regardless of whether or not it was warranted. He took one look at her and began worshipping the asphalt she walked on.

 

“Stay with me on the phone until I fall asleep.”

Peter was using the landline to call her mobile. The calls were 70c a minute, but he was so enamoured by her that consequence did not register.

“Ok,” he complied.

They did things and talked about things neither would repeat later down the track. Long after Peter’s father grounded him for the $2,149 phone bill.

 

 

In their tumultuous third year, 17-year-old Passive Peter handed her a bag. It was brown and square, made of paper, non-descript. “I made this for you.”

Adalyn unearthed a corsage.

“I want you to wear it to my formal.”

 

And then it happened.

 

The night of Peter’s senior formal: their on-again, off-again relationship was at Adalyn’s whim. Peter frothed at the thought of kissing Adalyn’s bare chest, and she promised this would happen only if she considered it a successful evening.

 

They found themselves in the outside courtyard of the function room, water reflecting fairy-light dots.

Peter sucked semi-loudly on her bottom lip. His skinny hand sidled around the lower back of her dress. Adalyn trusted Peter, but she did not want to go through with this.

“I change my mind.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to do this anymore. I thought I did.”

“Peter read on a site on the Internet that touching a girl on the side of the neck was an ‘erogenous zone’. He followed this advice. Adalyn repelled him.

“Peter, stop.”

Peter read on a site on the Internet that touching a girl on the side of the neck was an ‘erogenous zone’. He followed this advice. Adalyn repelled him.

“Peter, stop.”

His finger snaked around her décolletage.

“Peter, I mean it. Stop.” She pushed both his shoulders off her body, the corsage he made for her ricocheting left toward his eyes.

 

She grabbed two fistfuls of gown and freed her legs, running from him. She pelted towards the back of the building, fearful of seeing any of his friends. Four breaths, ragged. Half survival mode and half annoyed. She cared about Peter, and knew Peter loved her, but she also understood that he was a male. His expectation was to make love to her for the first time tonight. He was so excited about it, referencing the formal in their conversations. She allowed it. She wondered if she should feel guilty for building up that expectation.

 

Adalyn licked a bit of blood from her wrist. There were thorns from the rose Peter missed, I pruned them myself, he told her before, proudlyA simple wear of the corsage would not have met with the thorns, but when she attacked boyfriend with it, it pricked her skin. Adalyn loosened the corsage.Shit.

Her entire left wrist was blue. She touched it. More than just a prick. It was completely sensitive, raw, bruised.

 

Stumbling home, she hailed a taxi cab, paid for by her mother. For you and that boy. Adalyn thanked her Mum, pocketing the $50 inside her bra, but she didn’t think she needed it.

“You look too young to be drinking alcohol.” The taxi driver reprimanded her.

“I haven’t had any.”

“Formal dress. Friday night. My two kids are your age. Believe us, we know.”

Adalyn rolled her eyes. But when she got inside her house, and the taxi driver finished his Dad-like lecture-style well-wishes, Adalyn tore inside the bathroom as quietly as possible, conscious of everyone sleeping.

Woah. I do look wasted.

She upheld her left wrist to the lamp light beside the mirror. Rainbow veins. The blue seeped deep inside the sinews of her skin, and the superficial layers provided landscape to multi-coloured inner-vein traffic.

She prodded it. It didn’t feel raw anymore. As if the default status of her strength had been restored. But it was now spreading – all over her arms, the palms of her hands, little ant-lights in technicolour. Sydney traffic from highest view, late at night, lodged deep inside her veins, setting up colonies all over her tired body.

 

Dazed and confused, she resigned to her bedroom that night. Maybe I’m hallucinating, she thought.

 

“Your shirt isn’t ironed.” Her mother fault-founded, pointing at Adalyn’s chest.

“You know when you tell me that, you don’t have to point at my bosom.”

“I’m your Mother. I’ll point at you where I want.”

Adalyn and her serpentine throat-burn again. She felt her wrist was starting to burn up from last night. She awoke from last night’s extraordinary events in a tunnel of remembrance – she had her first day of work, starting that afternoon.

“In her mother’s presence Adalyn felt unskilled at verbally justifying any rights that made so much sense in her mind.

 

When her mother said things like that, the suggestion was a refusal of agency. As if her mother owned her body, her being. It grossed her out. In her mother’s presence Adalyn felt unskilled at verbally justifying any rights that made so much sense in her mind.

 

“So what happened last night? You better have not given your body to Peter. I keep telling you, that boy isn’t good enough for you. Don’t know why you’ve stayed with him these last 3 years. Your Father thought he was weak.”

 

Adalyn and her turpentine, clandestine coping mechanisms.

 

She felt her hands lose mobility; her throat tighten. She despised it when her mother poked accusations at her, and criticised Peter. She felt as if her character was being attacked.

 

Adalyn looked down at her left wrist. It was bright blue.

 

“That’s not nice, Ma.” Her voice wavered.

Adalyn felt her lack in defending herself materialise.

“It’s so hurtful when you say those things. As if you think I’m some loose girl that sleeps around with everybody. Peter and I have been dating for three years, and whether or not we sleep together is up to me!”

 

As her words got louder, Adalyn felt her wrist burn to the nth degree, the emotion blinding. Her vanishing was instantaneous, not even in increments manageable. Her mother choked, clutching her throat, eyebrows raised in shock.

 

“It disgusts me when you mention those things Ma. You can’t control me, and you don’t own me.”

“Adalyn?” her Mother was gasping, now producing more choking sounds, “Adalyn, where did you----“

 

Verbal tumble, words she knew not. Adalyn felt like she had exploded. She heard her words, but not anything else. Adalyn felt her head dizzy, a severe loss of ground, loss of gravity.

 

But like the vaporous night sky she levitated, her aggression dissipating into tiny, infinitesimal pieces. The scent was as potent as a straight martini, sharp shooting both nostrils. Her mother inhaled her fury. Adalyn was absorbed into the air.

 

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