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See what you think. :ph34r:

Time it was and what a time it was it was

I can remember it as though it was yesterday, but at the same time it feels like a thousand years ago, perhaps as though it happened to a different person. The day that they came and took him away. We thought we had escaped, that they would never find us. I suppose we were young and naïve to believe that it would ever work, that we would be able to gain more than a few more months together.

I remember that day. It was an ordinary day, although in my mind every moment before is tinged with bittersweet, because it was the last. The last morning that I woke up in bed next to him; the last time that he kissed me goodbye before he left for work; the last time he smiled.

A time of innocence a time of confidences

The day that our son was born and I held him in my arms of the first time, I felt so happy I could hardly breathe. Inwardly I had been afraid that something would go wrong, especially after losing the baby last time, although I would never voice my fears. To say them would be to make them more real somehow. But then there he was, in my arms and he had these beautiful blue eyes just staring up at me. Everything was perfect, and I just knew when I saw Kane with him that he would be the best Dad in the world.

We had rented a little place – it wasn’t much, nothing to shout about but it was our new start, away where we thought no-one would care about us, where we could bring up our son in peace. Time to stop running and start living again. We had new names, new jobs, new lives totally separate from who we were before. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, always hiding, but it was worth it. Worth it so that we could be together.

Long ago it must be, I have a photograph

When they took him away, they must have taken a part of me too because all I feel is empty. I wake up in the morning and lie in bed staring at the ceiling, and then I put on my happy face and get ready to face the day. I have to be happy for our son; he needs that from me. And I love him, I really do. Sometimes I feel he is all that keeps me going, from one day to the next. The part of me that was taken away has left a black gaping hole, it hurts so much and sometimes I’m afraid it will swallow me and I’ll be lost.

The pictures of my son and I together seem to be missing something, someone who should be next to us. In a happier world you could imagine that the one that was missing was holding the camera, so wasn’t really absent at all. But there’s no place for such daydreams here.

Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you

You’re probably thinking it sounds like he’s died or something, but he hasn’t. When they first locked him away, I went to visit him, all the time. It hurt so much, seeing him in there, but I could see the pain in his face and so I told myself to be strong for him. But I could see over time, how the place destroyed him. How it made him even more empty than I feel. He wouldn’t talk to me anymore; he put up walls against the pain of not being able to walk out the door with us, of not being able to see his son grow up.

He doesn’t want to see me anymore. I think this way he thinks it hurts less. But it hurts me. After everything he turns his back on us – it was supposed to be just us two forever. I guess forever is too long inside.

When it’s really late at night I lie in bed and close my eyes tight and pretend that he is next to me. That if I just moved my hand I could touch him. Not how he is now but how he was then, when we were free and our lives were just beginning. The sweetest memories that are the most painful.

(Lyrics from Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel)

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:) Here we are, by popular demand:

The door slams behind me, and suddenly I am outside, blinking uncertainly in the harsh midday sun, eyes smarting after so many years in the darkness. The world seems suddenly so large and uncontrollable, beyond the constricting walls and suffocating concrete. Freedom is a funny thing – if you don’t have it, it’s all you dream of, but once you have it there are almost too many options open to cope with. Where to start? How to make the most of every single second, as you told yourself you would?

I glance around, almost involuntarily looking for her. She won’t be there, of course, because I told her to go. I told her I didn’t care; I didn’t want to see her anymore. Of course it wasn’t really true then, but I thought that it would be easier to cope inside if I wasn’t constantly reminded of what I was missing. I couldn’t bear to think of us sitting opposite each other across a table for so many years, the long pauses lengthening, becoming strangers as we watched each other. Best to pretend she didn’t exist, our son didn’t exist. Build up the walls high so that no-one can ever breach them again. Letting people get close only leads to pain in the end. They hurt you or leave you – that’s what always happens. It’s like that song, how does it go?

I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died

If I never loved I never would have cried

I am a rock, I am an island

So this is me, the rock. Hard and cold like granite. I guess that’s what prison does to you. Teaches you that this isn't a world for dreams, or happy-ever-after. That’s just for kids, in fairy tales. Welcome to the harsh reality of life, where you don’t get anything for being soft, for letting your emotions show. For letting people in.

I’m walking down the street now, but aimlessly with no destination. I have no job, no friends, no home. I think I hear a voice calling my name, but I don’t turn round. I must be mistaken, because who would call? It’s just me, the rock, that’s all. A hand touches my shoulder, and it makes me jump. Turning round, I stare into her warm brown eyes for the first time in so many years. I’m surprised, and maybe pleased really deep down, but I twist it round inside, so when it comes out it’s anger that she came, that perhaps the world isn’t really as heartless as I told myself. I told myself she wouldn’t come, she wouldn’t care, so why is she here? Perhaps just to mock, to see what she escaped from in time. Look and see, see the wreck of the man you married. Aren’t you glad you escaped from all that?

“What are you doing here?” I ask. My face is hard, and my eyes cold and glittering like ice.

She takes a step back, and there is shock and hurt in her expression. Perhaps she was expecting tears and fond embraces, well welcome to the real world. Lucky her, getting a mother and father who shielded her from all that.

“I’ve come to take you home,” she says, but a little uncertainly. Bet she’s regretting it now. I don’t need her help or her pity. I’m doing just fine.

“I don’t have a home,” I say coldly and pull my arm out of her grip.

Her eyes brim with tears, and I feel an unexpected spasm of guilt about hurting her. A little part of me deep inside wants to take her in my arms, and kiss away her tears, but I stamp on it immediately. I won’t listen to such traitorous thoughts.

“Kane…” she whimpers, and inside I build up as much scorn as I can, and let it out in my face. That’s all weak people deserve. Guess my Dad was right all along, but it took more than even he could do to toughen me up. I turn away, to continue my walk into my new life, such as it is. I can feel her eyes watching as I walk away.

Suddenly she’s caught up with me again. “So you’re not coming then? You’ve got somewhere else to be?” I’m sure that’s relief I can hear in her voice. Yeah, that’s probably why she came, to say she tried and so absolve herself from any guilt. So she could say, I tried but he didn’t want to know. And her friends could say, I don’t know why you even tried, you’re better off without that loser anyway.

“OK then, you lead the way.” Ha ha! Now she’s stuck, trapped by her own words. Bet she’s wondering how to get rid of me now. Of course I won’t stay long, just a meal and a shower and then I’ll be on my way, to my new life.

We walk along streets, filled with ordinary people doing ordinary things, but I watch them with jealousy, thinking they don’t realise how lucky they are. That they could get in a car and drive away at any time. They think their lives are so restricted, but they have no idea what that word means. If they don’t appreciate their freedom, it’s just because they are too cowardly to take advantage of it. Oh no I couldn’t, they think, what would people think? How cares what people think? Whose life is it anyway? If you don’t live it, no-one else will.

Kirsty has been talking at me for a while, short nervous sentences, with pauses to allow me to respond, but I’ve not been listening, and now she is quiet. I don’t care for idle chit-chat. When we reach the front door of the house, I’m suddenly afraid and I don’t know why. A cold spasm of fear travels down my spine, and I don’t like it, so I push in past her, loll on the sofa like I’m completely at ease. She follows me into the room, and her eyes dart around, trying to decide where to sit. How close would be too awkward? Or should we sit opposite like strangers? I get a twisted sort of pleasure at seeing her look more uncomfortable than me in her own home.

She choses to sit opposite, and her knees are pressed together, shoulders tense, and hands in her lap. I just sit and wait for her to say something. I can see she doesn’t like the silence, but I don’t care.

“Can I get you a drink of something?” she asks nervously.

“You can get me a beer,” I say, not because I want one, but because I know that’s not what she meant.

“Oh… I don’t have any. I sort of meant a cup of tea, really,” she mutters and goes red.

She goes into the kitchen, and while she is gone I gaze around the room. Pictures of her on the cabinet, her and a little boy. My son, I suddenly realise, and I feel a bit sick inside, that I didn’t recognise him. To think that we ran away because I couldn’t bear to be separated from them and miss out on seeing him grow up. A sudden feeling of sadness mixed with alarm spreads over me. How did it get all get messed up like this? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. A really honest part of me admits that the whole I-am-a-rock thing is perhaps not as easy as I thought it would be, out in the real world.

She comes back in and hands me the steaming cup. She sees my gaze on the pictures, and starts to explain when they were taken, and why they are special. Her faces lights up with happiness, and my mask cracks just a little as I watch her. For a moment I can feel my face show a little pain on what I’ve missed out on. It’s only for a moment, but she sees it, and she trails off, embarrassed. I’m ashamed, ashamed and angry with myself. I don’t want her pity. I don’t need anybody’s pity.

I put my mug down with a crash, and it makes her jump. I think about leaving right then, not putting myself through any more of this, when she starts mumbling about having to go and get something, that she won’t be a moment, and then she’s gone before I can object. So I sit and relax on the sofa, the best that I can. With my eyes closed, because it’s easier that way, where I don’t have to see the fond memories of somebody else’s life.

My mind is off elsewhere, and I don’t hear her come back, until she calls my name softly. I open my eyes, and she’s standing her with a little boy. The little boy in the pictures. She’s gently propelling him towards me, but he’s shy, and a bit frightened of this strange man sitting on their sofa. I’m completely flummoxed, I’ve no idea of what to do or what to say. I don’t know why, but I somehow didn’t expect to see him. Or I thought he would still be a baby, as he was when I last saw him.

“This is your Daddy,” Kirsty says to him, but he doesn’t want to know, he clings to his Mum. It’s like a dagger in the heart to see, and I can’t bear it any more. I almost run out of the house, and away from that place. I don’t know where I’m going, just that I have to get away. I can hear her calling me, but she doesn’t follow.

It’s several hours later, when she finds me. I’m sitting on this bench next to this children’s playground, but it’s dark and deserted, and the swings sway in the wind as though they are ridden by ghosts. Ghosts of the past, maybe. This time she’s more confident, and she sits down next to me.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and it’s the last thing I expect to her from her. She must see the surprise on my face, because she carries on. “I should have thought – it was too much all at once, wasn’t it?”

I don’t like hearing her analyse me, especially because she’s right, and I stare out past the playground, to the darkened houses beyond, where normal fathers come home to their children, who don’t flinch at the sight of them.

“Please talk to me, Kane,” she pleads. “I know you said that you didn’t want to see me again, but I know why you did that. But now you’re not in prison anymore… You still love me, don’t you?”

Such hope I can hear in her voice, and it’s so tempting to wreck it all. It would be so easy. But I guess I’m not as hard as I thought I was, or the shell is cracking. Maybe she’s still under my skin, no matter how hard I tried for her not to be.

“It’s not that easy,” I say. “I’m not who I used to be. It doesn’t hurt if you don’t have anything to lose, do you understand?”

And I almost think she does understand. She gently takes my hand where it is clenched up tight, and unwraps the fingers, spreading them out. She holds it gently on her lap, and I try and remember when someone last treated me tenderness. Too long ago. I can feel all the hurt and the pain and the isolation, and somehow now it’s not so bad. But then something twists inside me again, and I pull my hand away, and we sit next to each other like strangers again.

Back at her house, I feel suddenly exhausted, the emotional toll of the day suddenly becoming apparent. I take off my shoes and curl up on the sofa, and despite all the thoughts whirling in my brain, within seconds sleep takes me.

In the dream, I’m back in the prison again, and as before, they show me out the door, but before it closes, someone calls out for them to stop me. They grab my arms and pull me back, and I can just glimpse Kirsty and my son waiting for me before the door closes again, before the darkness descends on me again. And in my dreams my mask is gone, and I’m screaming for her, and there are tears on my face as I lose her again.

“Kane!” I hear a voice whispering urgently in the dark. A hand shakes my shoulder, and I open my eyes with difficulty. Kirsty is crouching next to the sofa, clad in her pyjamas, an expression of concern on her face.

“Are you all right? You were screaming,” she says quietly.

I sit up and run a hand over my face, feeling the sweat sticky against my skin. I’m about to brush it off, say it was nothing, when she unexpectedly puts her arms around my neck and hugs me. The feeling brings back all the memories of what we had, and how much I loved – no, love – her. It’s too much, and I can’t stop the tears running in glistening tracks down my face.

“I can’t lose you again,” I say, and to my great embarrassment I’m sobbing. But she just rocks me like a child, and it’s all a great relief, to let out all the emotion that was all twisted up inside of me. I could never have imagined this morning that I would ever feel again, like a normal person. I thought that I was cold and hard and empty forever.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she says, and for the rest of the night I sleep holding her tight in my arms. As though if I hold her tight enough no-one could take her from me.

In the morning when I wake, she is gone and I am suddenly afraid, afraid of being alone again. That maybe she has changed her mind and wants nothing to do with someone as hard and damaged as me. I don’t want to go back to that cold empty place. I find her standing in the kitchen, making breakfast, and she looks carefully at me. I guess she’s doesn’t want to expect too much, despite last night, not and be disappointed.

I take a deep breath, and glance out of the window, waiting for the right words. The sky outside is a glorious deep blue, making everything seem so fresh and new.

“Look,” I say. “Look outside. How bright it is, how clear. A new day, and new beginning, don’t you think?”

A smile spreads across my face, and she smiles back at me. And as I take her and hold her in my arms, I know that it may take some time, but everything is going to be all right.

Lyrics from I am a rock by Simon and Garfunkel

Apologies to you, I love music, for the continually depressing fics, but at least this one had a happy ending!



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