Gill Eastwood – Nemesis

Nemesis

I am twenty nine years old. This is stupid. So bloody unnecessary. A total waste of time. The doctor is already half an hour late. I hate the clinic’s smell. It makes me feel sick. A lot of things have been making me queasy lately if I come to think about it. I glare at the nurse. She meets my eye and shrugs her shoulders. Typical bloody man unable to stick to a schedule, thinking his time is more precious than mine.

Eventually he walks out with a fat woman. Well perhaps not fat exactly, but she looks like she has a large watermelon shoved up her shirt. I feel even more nauseous. Pregnancy, God, how can people do that to themselves. I look down at my slim thighs. It takes a lot of work to stay looking this good, but it’s worth it. I earn more money in one night than most people do in a month. The doctor looks at the file in his hands and calls my name.

‘So Sarah thanks for coming back in. We’ve got your blood results back. You are in the clear for syphilis and gonorrhoea, but your pregnancy test was positive.’

I look at the doctor, waiting for the sound of rushing water in my ears to subside. I must have heard him incorrectly.

‘No fucking way dude. Where can I get rid of it? I’m not kidding. I want an abortion. Just tell me who can help me, you must know someone?’ The doctor looks at me sympathetically and I want to smack him. He offers me a card. I grab it out of his hands and head out the door.

I need to sit down. I spot a Seattle Coffee Company and gratefully sink into a comfy chair. ‘No fucking way.’ I watch a woman about my age clicking away on a laptop. Something about her is vaguely familiar. She’s pregnant. Is everyone in the world pregnant? Oozing out of the top she is wearing. God, actually flaunting the fact. Stupid bitch. I do recognize her. She used to live up the road from me. One of those people who just have everything. A happy family, a big garden, a beautiful house. And she used to stick it to me every chance she got. I would wait for her to get home from school. I would sit on the pavement outside my house watching for the lift club car that would bring them back. What was her name again? Oh yes. Gillian. I used to go and visit her and she always made me feel like a piece of shit. Like she was too good for me or something. I want to go and rip that laptop out of her hands and hit her with it. I want to tell her about the things my father used to do to me. But no, I don’t think about those days anymore.

I look at the card the doctor gave me, pondering dialling the number. He had given me two. One with the details of a doctor, the other a counsellor. How dare he? The fuckwit. Did I ask him for the number of a sodding counsellor? It’s not like I hadn’t seen one of those before and a fine lot of good they did me. I can’t even pronounce the stupid woman’s surname. “Freislich.” What the hell kind of a surname is that? I am a stripper for God’s sake. My fiancé is fifty eight years old. Where the hell will a baby fit into the picture? I study the card again and dial a number.

I watch Gillian as she hunts through her bag and pulls out her cellphone. In stereo I hear the words, “Hi, this is Gill speaking.”

Well, I’ll be damned.

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Gill Eastwood

Warrior princess, unafraid of the night
unprotected by the seen, closely guarded
by the unseen.  Host of angels at her heels
there for the night ride.

Inky blackness blankets her in star speckled
silence.  Temperate air cocooning in its
soothing embrace.  She runs in harmony and
is one with her God.

She is a prophetess and co-creator
she is every woman and no woman
in the morning she forgets the sanctuary
of the night’s magic

Bogged down in the mundanities she is stung
by the slights and hurts and petty jealousies
but as night falls, she once again remembers
her own destiny.

Gill Eastwood

The morning sun tastes like…

The morning sun tastes like a ripe fig plucked from the trees that formed a tunnel over our driveway as I wondered lazily through them to wait for the morning lift club.  Rolling over the waistband of my skirt to make my uniform less constraining.    Basking in the sunshine, sitting uncaring on the dew dampened grassy pavement watching for my friends to emerge from their sleeping house, preparing myself for the long day ahead.

Gill Eastwood

Under rug swept

Pitched battles and wars waged, under rug swept
of pride in country and mothers bereft
under the flag of truce once the soldiers have left
I watched you stumble and falter, watched as you wept
pitched battles and wars waged, under rug swept.

Bloodshed on hold, brothers under the skin
you look around in horror and mourn within
at the destruction and horror and wages of sin
at the phantom limb memories of places so grim.

Pitched battles and wars waged, under rug swept
forgotten, passed over, through the world you  have crept
a country moved on, no longer in your debt
other people’s secrets and lies you have kept
pitched battles and wars waged, under rug swept.

Gill Eastwood

Well deserved ramblings of an old, old woman

I am waiting for the children of my children.  How quickly time flies.  Just the other day my Amelia and Jamie were born.  Now they are the parents.  I have a chocolate cake in the oven.  The comforting chocolaty aroma permeates the house and reminds me of my mother’s legacy – a need to feed.  It is not cold enough for a fire today although the weather is turning.  I am gently rocking in the swing on the verandah, an open novel in my lap and pot of tea brewing on the table beside me.  The sea is wild today.  It is a murky green colour. Sometimes I think about retiring but then I really will be old.  My beloved husband is out walking on the mountain.  Life is peaceful and fulfilling.  I feel myself sliding into a reverie of the past.  It happens often these days …

I don’t want to go to school today.  My tummy is sore.  I want to stay at home and help Mommy bake.  I love the chocolaty smell of it baking in the oven while I lick the bowl.   School is scary.  I can’t do things like the other kids can.  Sometimes they call me stupid.  I don’t care.  Who needs silly old school anyway.  I’m going to grow up and get married and have lots of babies.  Mommy is cross with me.  She doesn’t believe me about the tummy ache.  She thinks I am making it up to get out of going to school.  The other day I put my hand up to ask permission to go to the loo.  Sister Canus wouldn’t let me go because it was close to break time.  I only made it just in time once the bell rang.  Sister Canus also says that we are only allowed to use two blocks of loo paper and sometimes I use more than that.  I also can’t always tear the computer paper neatly along the edge.  Sometimes it tears and the last time I got my spelling wrong I got hit on the knuckles with a ruler.  Now everytime Sister Canus asks me a question I get a loud noise in my head and I can’t hear what she is saying to me.  I am scared and lonely. The other day she asked us what we were going to be when we grew up.  I said ‘I want to be actress’ and she laughed, really loudly, and soon the whole class was laughing at me.

It is warm in my beautiful kitchen.  I am icing the cake.  I find it soothing to bake.  Who would have guessed?  My grandchildren are preparing to go back to school.  I am so glad that things are different from my day.  I get so angry when I think of the abuse of power and scare tactics that were used when I was a child.  I remember how much damage it caused to my essential self – to my very essence.  What right do we have to strip people of their beliefs and fantasies?  Who are we to say that people are not entitled to their dreams?  I suppose it’s no surprise that I have dedicated my life to helping people find their dreams, their voice and their vision for a wonderful life.

I survived school by the skin of my teeth.  It was torture and I hated it.  School chewed me up and spat me out – a confused, terrified, self-doubting woman who was lost, floundering.  My mother wanted me to go to secretarial school.  A secretary for God’s sake.  Never.  Never ever.  Never.  Not me.  I still had the smoldering remnants of a dream.  I yearned to be an actress.  Despite the lingering memories of being laughed at for my grandiose ideas, this was my truest hearts desire.

It was David who co-erced me into auditioning.  David who convinced my flagging self-esteem that I was worthy of living the life I had dreamed about.  He woke up a desire long dormant.  I felt like I had escaped from prison and was making one last desperate attempt at freedom.  I plucked up every ounce of courage I possessed and marched into the building.  The atmosphere was electric.  I was home.  I was in a place where people shared my dreams, where creativity was prized and where I could excel for the first time in my life.  People no longer called me stupid.  I had friends to talk to.

The kids have left. Their visit went by in a flash.  It’s interesting to see what traits and life lessons your children choose to carry forward as they raise their children.  The grandchildren are both confident and centered.  They have also been raised to care about other people and to value the environment. I am glad that we, as a society, averted the crisis we were heading towards thirty years ago.  I am glad that we re-evaluated our priorities and how we were raising our children and treating our world.  I see people now who are happier and healthier, more connected to God, more in tune with their purpose and with more joy and fulfillment in their hearts.

My husband is home.  He will be sorry he missed the kids.  I have put the Cornish pasties in the oven to heat through for dinner.  We eat early these days and go to bed early too.  Nearly 50 years of marriage.  How many people can say that these days?  I go inside to give my husband a welcome home hug.

Gill Eastwood

Cross roads

Henry felt sick.  He stared down at the kid. The boy didn’t appear to be dead but his leg was bent at a funny angle.  Sirens screeched faintly in the distance.

The crowd stood frozen in horror as Michael pushed his way through. He hitched up his cassock, knelt beside the boy and lifted his eyelids. No sign of consciousness but he felt a steady heartbeat.  As he looked around for someone to direct the ambulance he noticed a fat, balding man, sweating profusely, his colouring bad.  Damn, just what he needed.  Someone keeling over with a heart attack when this boy needed all his help. 

“What’s your name?”

“Henry.”

”Ok Henry, I want you to sit down on the pavement. Put your head between your legs.  Take long slow breaths.”

Henry collapsed onto the pavement.  He damn well wasn’t going to listen to some dress-wearing know-it-all Catholic priest, but he did need a little breather.  Try to slow his racing heartbeat.  Bloody Catholic priests – diddling little boys  He was probably diddling this one and now he comes swanning in like a superhero to save the day.  Henry undid his tie, loosened his top buttons.  Damn hot today, no wonder he couldn’t breathe properly.  He should be heading home in his air-conditioned car.  Not panting on the pavement like a rabid dog. 

Michael rested his hand on the boy’s forehead. “Please God, take care of your child.  Keep him safe, help him heal.  Amen.” 

Michael opened his eyes and saw the paramedics unfolding the stretcher.  One of them kneeled down next to the boy.  “How’s he doing father?”

“He seems stable, fairly steady pulse. I don’t think his back’s injured.” The paramedic nodded.

Michael searched the boy’s backpack looking for some kind of ID or contact telephone number “I think that witness over there may be headed for a heart attack. You might want to take a look at him once you get the boy sorted out.” 

Michael joined Henry on the pavement.  “Hell of a thing this.  Not quite how I pictured spending the afternoon.  How are you doing?”

Henry glared at him.  Michael sighed.  He wanted to reach out to this man in some way but he was just so tired.
 
“Don’t you analyse me.  You don’t know anything about me.  What the hell does a priest know about living in the real world anyway?”

“Hey, like can either of you, like, glue my heel back on my Jimmy Choo’s?” A slim blonde girl stood off-kilter, a broken shoe dangling at an awkward angle from her right hand.

“Hey, like what are you, a priest or something?”

Michael swallowed a hysterical giggle.  “Uhm, nope, I’m afraid I’m fresh out of glue – and yes – I am a priest.   This is Henry. I’m Michael.”

“I’m Cindi – with like two ii’s.  So the kid, is he going to be like, ok? Hey, kinda look’s like he’s having a heart attack.”

Henry pitched forward, clutching his chest.

“Over here!” Michael yelled to the paramedics.

 “Like on the count of five I want you to pinch nose closed and breathe into his mouth.” Cindi straddled Henry and began pounding his chest. with a regular two-handed rhythm.

“One, two, three, four, five – breathe.” 

She counted and Michael breathed into Henry’s mouth.  The paramedics came running.

“Well done ma’am, quick work.”

They wheeled Henry into an ambulance and drove off, sirens blaring.  Cindi sat on the pavement and started to cry. 

“Are you ok?”  Michael saw the vulnerability hidden under the perfectly applied make-up.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever been thanked for being me.  For doing something that comes naturally, you know.  People never believe me when I say I’m studying to be a doctor.”

Michael smiled.  Of course he knew.  God always did have a strange sense of humour and angels had a tendency to arrive in the most interesting guises.
 

Gill Eastwood

Playing with Fire

Your brother, my lover, has left for the night.  Back home to his wife.  The relationship has been limping along for too long anyway.  I take my time cashing up.  The restaurant is fuggy.  A dying fire spits the occasional ember onto the tiled patch in front of it.  I sit at the bar and watch you.  Always so comfortable.  Confident.  Sexy.  Different around me.  Less defensive.  You have always been able to make me laugh. I remember the first time I met you.  A schoolgirl crush.  I opened our front door and nearly died.  You were the sexiest thing I had ever seen.  I was fifteen.  I ran downstairs and smeared myself with makeup – trying to conceal adolescent spottiness in the hopes that you would think me older and more sophisticated.  I glued myself to your side for the rest of the day.  Subtlety has never been my forte. 

I know you suspect about your brother and I.  It only happened once.  A hideous mistake that resulted in so many tangled feelings and unresolved emotions for both of us.  Our fathers went to school together, you are both part older brother and part anything but…

You are so out of my league.  You are the only person who has never made a hint of a move on me.  I know how to pick up vibes and you are sending me mixed signals.  I watch you wash glasses.  Your forearms are bronzed from the golf course.  I notice the tiny golden hairs on your arm and long to stroke them. You are always immaculately dressed.  Long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail.  You have an easy smile that not many people get to see.  When you smile at me my stomach lurches.  Are you aware of what I’m feeling?  Am I still the crass, obvious fifteen year old? 

I can’t put off leaving any longer.  I pick up my bag and head for my car.  You follow me out.  The moon is bright – casting an eerie glow over my flame orange Mazda.  I open my door and stand staring at you, reluctant to get in.  Hoping that after seven years, you will finally make a move.  My heart is thudding.  The roar of adrenaline in my ears stops me from hearing you.  I realize that you are telling me that you have been secretly following me home for a while to make sure that my ancient wreck gets me there safely.  Either that’s taking brotherly love to the extreme or you are not as disinterested as you seem.

This is so awkward.  I can’t stand here like this forever.  I have to get into the car.  You ask me how it feels to always have guys buzzing around me like flies.  I tell you that it doesn’t matter a damn when the one man I want doesn’t seem to notice me.  You look at me and smile.  You step closer and look deeply into my eyes.  I lick my lips nervously.  You pull me out from behind my car door and kiss me.  Softly and full of tenderness. This surprises me.  You can appear so cold and aloof, it’s disconcerting to get a glimpse of the true man. You rest your hand on the back of my neck and press yourself up against me. I am lost.

We break away from each other and over your shoulder I watch your brother drive past.  Furious anger spitting from his eyes.  War has just been declared.

Gill Eastwood

Sly ways of breaking the skin
breaking the water in the womb for the words to come out
refreshing, but not very clean
miraculous – from nothing to something so powerful. 
Jaine Hannath

Birthing the words

Old emotions – long dormant – are stirring
shadowy journeys into as yet untested waters
bring to the surface ancient hurts
both perpetuated and received
sly ways of breaking the skin

I have carried my hopes and aspirations
like a baby in the womb
I am alone with this love child and burden
the containment is over and I prepare for release
breaking the water in the womb for the words to come out

Flinging itself into my mind
writing inspired energy
like a counselling session
uncovering sticky self-help
refreshing, but not clean

I choose to sink into the maelstrom of my discontent
prodding and poking
infringing on personal space
reconnecting with myself, like this poem:
miraculous – from nothing to something so powerful.

Gill Eastwood

Unhealed wounds

She walks through the fig trees of her childhood. 
Ripeness and summer goodness linger in the air. 
She tries to stretch the walk along the driveway for as long as possible. 
Is today the day? 
Will he be dead today or will he linger in this perpetual purgatory for another day, another week, another year?
She pushes the front door open.  All is quiet 
in her parent’s bedroom
He is gaunt – comatose – dying, but not dead. 
Not long now.

Not long now.
He is gaunt – comatose – dying, but not dead. 
In her parent’s bedroom
all is quiet. She pushes the front door open. 
Will he be dead today or will he linger in this perpetual purgatory for another day, another week, another year?
Is today the day? 
She tries to stretch the walk along the driveway for as long as possible. 
Ripeness and summer goodness linger in the air. 
She walks through the fig trees of her childhood.