Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 21 (MOMYS III)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 18 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index.
“And what, pray tell, were you doing at a meeting like that?” Matthew asked Heather sternfully.
Matthew was an imposing character, of Scottish heritage, ruddy face and ruddier nose, both brought on buy an enormous amount of drinking over the bulk of his 62 years, but also by facing the merciless winds of January as he worked his farm. He weighed about 280 pounds, most of it at his centre, but a good chunk with his arms as well, given the volume of lifting and heaving that he had to do on the farm. He was in surprisingly good shape, particularly given the abuse that he hurled at himself, and he was proud of the fact that he could out-lift a man half his age.
He returned to Heresford years ago at the calling of his pastor, who was a friend from high school. He was promised a lot and had yet to see any of it materialize. It was this frustration that was starting to appear on the surface, like annoying acne on a teen before the dance.
Heather, Matthew’s wife of 14 years, responded as carefully and calmly as she could. “Matthew, please. It was an opportunity for me to go and describe our blessed children. I wanted to tell my friends about the accomplishments that we’ve made together in preparation for Jesus’ return to earth.”
While she describes her actions, she slowly shrinks back from her husband. her frame is worn and haggard and there are obvious bruises and cuts on her skin. The wounds that lie beneath from the mental abuse are even more ugly. As she retreats from Matthew, she passes into the light of a window and for a moment, looks angelic and fresh, as a wisp of hair tumbles across her cheek and she momentarily looks like she used to before meeting Matthew. Pure and simple. Alabaster skin. Long, curly blonde hair. Shimmering, opalescent green eyes.
Then she continues to move back and she is in the shade again. All that shows now is her fear. She is once again a larger, flabbier, weaker version of the once energetic and kind woman.
Matthew pauses and turns his back to her. He does not want to reveal the intensity of his emotion, even though she knows it’s there.
His head sags and his says quietly and calmly “You know that you have bruises and cuts showing. What will other people think? What have you told them?”
“Matthew … they know. They know what happens in this house when you come in from your chores. They know but they don’t do anything. They keep to themselves.” She said this last statement like it was a regret or a longing. A desire to have someone stronger and bolder intervene in order to save her from this misery.
Unfortunately, her last comment provoked Matthew into a new level of rage, like a tremor brings a quake.
“Listen!” He shouted, as he lunged forward to grab her by the arms. His next words were enunciated with exclamation points: “DON’T SPEAK BACK TO ME! I didn’t bring you here to give me lip. I didn’t save you from your drugs … and your ERA feminist-dyke bullshit in Bismarck just to have you giving me a hard time. You’re going to continue to do your job and your job is to be my wife and you’re going to make us proud by helping me breed God’s Great Army!”
“Matthew, I know this. I’m doing my best. I just thought it would be a good idea …”
“You are not here to think!” he bellowed.
At that moment, he reared up, seeming much larger and more monstrous than she could have ever imagined. It seemed like the sun was eclipsed for a few moments as he exclaimed “Don’t tell me what I’m supposed to do. Don’t tell me how to run my life! You’re not the maker of me!”
Then, his next actions startled her. He dropped her arms, turned abruptly and left her in the kitchen, alone and quiet.
A sense of doom fell on her like a musty, dank blanket. In her fear, she had convinced herself that he had gone off to do something awful and she waited to see how it would affect her.
Matthew left the house and went to his barn where he kept his tools. He fished around for a few moments, swearing under his breath. Finally, he found what he was looking for and calmly closed the door as he made his way back to the house.
While Matthew was gone from the room, Heather decided to tidy up the kitchen. Having 10 children around the house meant that she was always cleaning, always organizing, always putting things away.
She did her best to discipline her, but children, especially this many, had their way of ruling you within a short time. Once they get to be about 5 or 6, their energy and disdain for all parental commands – at least, from their mother – translate to a continuous state of exhaustion.
She dips her weathered and cracked hands into a bin of hot water beside the sink and begins to wash off a few of the plates that she has bought from the Salvation Army. All of them are different, either in colour, shape or diameter, but they serve their purpose well: feeding 12 people requires an enormous amount of dishware, all usually replaced within a few months of getting replacements.
As she rubs a plate clean, she thinks of better days, the sunny and light afternoons that she and her family had enjoyed when she was a young girl. She drifts back to one afternoon in particular. She and her parents, along with her sister are all reclining on their sides around a red and white checkered towel that they’ve laid on the ground.
Laughter. A belly full of good food. The sun dancing on the lake, making everyone squint from time to time. Clean clothes and some music playing in the background. She remembers that it was the Waterboys singing “Whole of the Moon”.
Heather’s image of the blanket was radically altered as she was brought back to reality of Matthew’s large red and white sleeve coming around her neck.
In a fierce and quick move, he held her tight against him and then proceeded to cut her arms and back with an old drywall saw, the teeth dull and rusty from being out in the shop for years.
Heather knew pain from having had 8 children naturally, 6 of which were without any medication; and two Caesareans. All of them were in less than ideal hospital standards.
This pain was unique. It came on slow and hot, and as the teeth tore her skin, the acidic jolt that came from the rust made her shriek.
Matthew kept the number of cuts to eight, a number that seemed to be important to him, but they were long and covered most of her back.
With the shock of the pain and the level of exhaustion that she was feeling, Heather fell into his arm, unconscious.
“Lousy bitch,” Matthew says under his breath.
He picks up her body and carries her up to the bathroom. Without undressing her, he puts her in the cold, cast iron bath tub. She revives slightly from the shock, but not enough to struggle, so she lies there in a semi-aware state, not sure how she got to the tub.
Matthew then turns on the water, removes the water hose from its cradle and then proceeds to wash her off, softly and gingerly wiping at the wounds that he’s left on her back and upper arms. His attentions might be mistaken for being loving.
Heather starts to come back to her senses and recoils slightly as he’s washing her.
“Please, sweetie. Stay still. I’ve cleaned you up. Let’s get out of the tub and cover those cuts. You’ve got a busy day tomorrow and I want to make sure you’re able to get about.
(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca.