Water. Natures' cleanser. The most pure and beautiful thing in the entire world. And it is endless. Continuous. It stretches out between countries. Falls from the sky in heavenly drops of clear, pearl-shaped drops. It falls heavily down our cheeks as we cry. It rushes through our body as it moisturises and refreshes our skin. We drink water. We live water. And yet it goes on forever... trickles down the drain quite happily, as, with the turn of a tap it eagerly gets going again. We all take this for granted as we wash, drink, flush the toilet. But all this water that we drink, wash ourselves with and flush the toilet with. It's not real. It's not really a cleanser. It's full of harmful chemicals, bi-products of the science world. It's wrong. I don't feel clean, even after having washed... I still see the redness where the blood splashed across my face, as it dripped of my chin onto my chest as I was mightily drenched in sweat. The blood is on my hands. But I can handle it. A few more showers with our chemicals and it will be gone. I will be clean. I can forgive myself. I can forget.
I know you think that, as I sit here calmly, towel-drying my hair after pulling on some clothes, that I am some sort of psychopath, that I had no good reason to get rid of Klint the way that I did. I know I sound like some mental person that needs to be locked away in some special unit. But you don't know the whole story yet. You are right to judge, nothing I can say or do will make what I have done seem right. I just hope that once I have told you everything. And I will stop lying now. That you will understand my need. My desire to be free, to be forgiven for my actions... I know I should be punished, but it's not like anyone is going to find out.
I sit here, holding my grandfathers pen, in giving me this writing set he lit my path, my way in life. He knew I was going to write about great things, and here I am, writing about my life. The sun illuminates the room and I see my shadow on the page in front of me, a shadow I recognise but a shadow I fear. I focus back on my pen, it's golden nib glistening in the early morning sunlight as it edges over the tops of the high, green trees. The ink suddenly blobs as I write. I sit back in frustration, looking at the dark smudge it has left behind. I know what it is trying to tell me. I close my eyes and sit forward again, letting out a deep breath I hadn't even noticed I was holding. I open my eyes again and I focus, immediately and automatically on my shadow again. I know what it is saying. It is trying to tell me that this isn't the first time I have done something I shouldn't. Something I should have been scolded for and wasn't.
The late afternoon sun burned down onto the grime covered car, bathing me in a sweltering heat as the windows didn't unwind and just magnified the heat. I was on my way to my new appartment, I was moving in with Ashley as had been arranged months ago. I looked out of the smudged windscreen, driving at ten miles per hour, trying to make out street names and road signs, when a loud thump against the bonnet and a crumpling sound was heard as something heavy hit the road in front of me. I stamped on the brake violently and automatically. My hands still on the wheel shaking. The car had stopped, I switched off the engine and the low rumble stopped too. I sat there, how long I do not know. I was slowly inching my hand to the door handle, to step outside and take a look at the damage I had done, when a hand reached above the bonnet and waved. I looked up startled and both my hands gripped the wheel once more, as if I was sat watching a drive-thru movie. A scary one. Silently, as if in slow-motion a body stood up straight and limped over to the sidewalk.
I did the only thing I could think of. I stepped quickly out of the car, feeling a refreshing summer breeze on my face I walked over to where the person was sitting. We didn't say anything to each other for a while, we just sat there in silence. I looked at him a few times, but couldn't think of anything to say. Sorry would have been a start, but I had just hit him with my car, sorry seems much too light-hearted, much too weak. It didn't say what I wanted to say.
"Would you like a cigarette?" I didn't really register what he had said, I just looked at him, apology was etched in my face, in my eyes, in my very soul. He knew I felt guilty, but he just smiled and offered me the cigarette.
"Oh. No thankyou." I waved the packet away. "I don't smoke. Listen are you Ok? Would you like me to take you to the nearest hospital, or even to your home?" Finally, I was managing to speak sense. With a level of maturity.
"No. I think it might be best if I just sit here for a while. Hospitals don't agree with me." He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. I saw his hands shake as he took the glowing stick away from his lips. "You know what. Neither do cigarettes." He stubbed the cigarette out and threw it into the road and discarded the packet into the nearby hedgerows. "That was probably the bravest and smartest decision I have ever made." He held out his hand. "I'm Charlie by the way." I took his hand.
"I'm Ellen." I looked into his face and saw with a sudden realisation that he was extremely good-looking, with dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. I was attracted to him immediately, the way his eyebrows created the perfect harmony with his eyes, the way his facial hair only accentuated his features.
"Strange way to make new acquaintances. Do you do this often?"
"No! No I..." Charlie burst into laughter and I blushed. He was teasing me. I helped him back onto his feet and asked him again whether he would like a lift back to his home."Oh, no thankyou. I only live around the corner. Have you heard of the Montrose appartments?" I opened my eyes wide in pleasant surprise.
"Yes I have, I am just moving in today! Why do you live there too?"
"Yes, top floor for me. Moved in last month... you have a flat mate?""Yes I do. My sister Ashley..."
"Ashley! I know Ashley, we made friends as soon as I moved in, she made me a welcoming cake! It wasn't very nice, but don't tell her I said so." He smiled and showed of a set of sparkling white teeth. I returned the smile eagerly, as I melted like butter in a hot pan. I blushed quickly as I realised what I was doing and straightened my face."So since we live in the same building I might as well give you a lift home... I'm going that way anyway."
"I think that's a good idea. You do need to repay me for hitting me with your car." I laughed for the first time in ages and Klint was immediately wiped from my mind as I continued to look into Charlie's dark eyes.
We walked to the car amidst the darkening sky as the streetlamps flickered on. The hot tarmac beneath my feet felt flatter than usual and much easier to walk across, almost as if it didn't exist and I was walking on clouds. I could feel the goosebumbs powering up my arms and the raising of the hairs as I accidentally brushed myself against him.
The car ride provided a completely different atmosphere, however, me and Charlie sat there the awkward silence just stretching out in front of us like the endless sea. I wanted to be myself. I felt like I could be myself. And yet, something held me back. A something that I don't know. It just stopped me from being able to chat and laugh the way I had been a few minutes ago on the side of the road. Instead, I contented myself with casting him the odd glance taking in every feature in his face. Our eyes met occasionally, quite a lot actually, and I was constantly blushing as I quickly averted my eyes again. The faint flicker of a smile evident on his face made me grin. A grin that wasn't going to go away no matter how much I wished it would, I was kind of enjoying the fact that he was enjoying my company because I was enjoying his.
"I'm glad that you hit me with your car today Ellen." Charlies crisp voice reverberated against my ear drums as he suddenly broke the silence. "Only because I wasn't seriously hurt and I managed to meet you in quite pleasant circumstances." I could feel his eyes on me as I indicated and turned at a fork in the road. I glanced sideways.
"Yes I'm glad too. I just hope that us living in the same apartment block will prove to be something good rather than bad. I hope to see a lot more of you is what I mean." I blushed again. Indicated again for the last time that night and pulled into the Montrose apartments as the tense atmosphere and awkward silence smothered us once more. I switched off the engine and heard it do its final whirs and rumbles, before turning back to Charlie.
"Thanks for the lift back, Ellen." Charlie smiled and stepped out of the car while I was left sitting dumbfounded, I quickly followed and caught up with him at the door.
"Charlie, would you mind walking me to my door? Only this is my first time here and I don't want to - you know... get lost." I gave him a sly wink to which he returned a dazzling smile.
"Of course, but I can't help you find your way for too long."
A few floors later and I was at the door to mine and Ashley's apartment.
"So at least we found it." Charlie panted. "I'm just the next floor up, so I guess this is goodnight." He turned to climb the next flight of stairs already breathing heavily at the daunting prospect."Charlie. Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee? Just a quick one to catch your breath?" He spun round with an eager, wild look in his eyes.
"I really would love to Ellen. But my partner wouldn't like it - goodnight." I received a quick peck on the cheek before he disappeared onto the next landing. His girlfriend? He had a girlfriend? I didn't remember him mentioning her at all before. I pushed the reluctant key into the lock and stepped into the brightly lit apartment. Strangely, when I was outside with Charlie I hadn't noticed the pounding of the music that ashley had playing. But standing there in the living room with my ears being pummelled from all sides I realised that Ashley had invited all of her friends over for a party. I forced my wya throught the swarming crowd and pushed my way into my empty bedroom, slamming the door behind me.
I slumped onto my bed, the sound of the music a lot quieter than before and muffled by the door. I felt a lone tear drop fall from my chin onto the pillow. I watched it spread like water does, as another one joined it. I continued like that all night until I dropped off to sleep, amid the shouts and screams of party guests, the clinking of bottles, the smashing of glasses and the thudding of music.
I should have realised then and there that nothing could happen between me and Charlie; that I should give up, move on and find someone else. I had only known him for a day! I kept telling myself to forget it but I was selfish. I knew what I wanted and I felt I deserved it and therefore, I should have it. But nothing is ever as simple as wanting something and getting it. Nothing is free and someone has to pay a price.
I woke up the next morning, my head pounding with exhaustion, the sun burning brightly through the open window. The sound of clinking china made me suddenly very aware of my surroundings. The fact that I wasn't being looked after anymore. The fact that now I would be paying to keep a roof over my head. The fact that now I could finally be considered a responsible adult. Being an adult meant everything to me; I had been given wings. Strong, white wings to fly into the clouds of freedom and the endless sky. A loud smash from the kitchen highlighted just how far freedom was and I was brought along with the broken china crashing back down to earth and into reality. The door swung open violently as Ashley burst through like a raging tornado, wearing a bright pink, fluffy dressing gown pulled tighlty against her light frame.
"Sorry! I hope I didn't wake you by smashing that bowl. Ah, I'm so glad you're here. I've been here all by myself." I gave her a sceptical look and she rolled her eyes. "Well obviously I have had friends over! I would have been lonely without you. What did you think of the party last night? It was for you. A welcome party." I sighed heavily as I looked into her glowing face.
"I'm sure it was... you probably forgot I was even moving in yesterday! Anyway I porbably would have enjoyed it, but I wasn't really in the mood last night..." Ashley slumped down onto the end of my bed, rearranging her dressing gown into a more comfortable position as she did so.
"What do you mean? You don't have to be "in the mood" to enjoy a party! It's just a lot of drinking and a lot of dancing." When she smiled her eyes smiled and I could tell she was ecstatic that I had arrived and that the party was indeed for me.
"Yes but I was tired... and... well, I was let down last night... you see I met this guy on the way here and he was totally gorgeous and so easy to get along with. We got chatting and I gave him a ride home. Here. He seemed so into me, I honestly thought that I had a chance..." I looked at my feet. At the boards under my feet. At the rug laying on the boards a few feet away. I looked anywhere I could without looking at her or into her eyes. My eyes were watering with embarrassment.
"And... what happened?" Her impatience and eagerness for gossip angered me and I felt the need to smash something, but I refrained from doing so, and as quickly as it came over me I calmed down. I felt no anger. I felt no violent urges. The only thing I felt was bitterness, but that was towards Charlie.
"He has a girlfriend. He flirted with me and then we got home I invited him in for coffee... and he has a girlfriend! I've never felt so stupid in all my life." I held my head in my hands in frustration, clutching at my unbrushed and unruly hair. I furrowed my eyebrows as I felt the anger pulse to the ends of my fingers. "I will have him Ashley." I stated through gritted teeth. "He will soon forget about the little girlfriend that he has, I am going to make him want me more than he has ever wanted anyone before. And then I'll have a little fun... tease him, and then throw him into the gutter!" Ashley looked at me her eyes widened in shock, fright and confusion.
"Ellen I know you have always been a bit strange - but isn't this going a bit too far? Who is this guy anyway? He has to be something special for you to react like this?"
"It's Charlie upstairs. The pathetic womanizer." Ashley's face softened, and she smiled lazily, as if she was dreaming.
"He is a cutie isn't he; his dark hair, his dark eyes, the defined chin... But Ellen, I don't think he has a girlfriend - at least I have never seen him with a woman. Perhaps he was trying to make you jealous, see how much you would care, hmm? Think about it. Maybe he wants you to chase him." Ashley got off of the end of my bed, pulled her dressing gown tighter around her and headed for the door. Her hand had just grabbed the knob when she turned around. "I'll make us some scrambled egg. Sound good?"
A few minutes later and I was sat at the table, still dressed in my pyjama's but now wrapped warmly in a chunky, towel-textured dressing gown, with a plate full of piping hot scrambled eggs. I felt my stomach growl in anticipation and I subconciously patted it as I inhaled the smell of the steaming eggs, took a mouthful and indulged from the taste explosion it exuded on my tongue.
"So what do you think?" Ashley beamed at me with an expectant look on her face as she leaned closer and took a mouthful of the egg.
"Yeah, they taste really good, where did you learn to make them like this?" Ashley burst out laughing sending the mouthful of egg onto the opposite wall with a loud squawk.
"I wasn't talking about the eggs silly. I was talking about the apartment. Do you like it?" I looked at the egg on the wall behind me with a repulsed look on my face and turned to her with my eyebrows raised. "Obviously I am going to clean that up in a minute." She got to her feet and picked a cloth from the sink, and began to wipe the egg from the wall."Yes it is lovely, very modern, girlish... I suppose you picked out the furniture yourself?"
"What?" Ashley spun around with the cloth and dumped it back in the sink and wiped her hands on a towel. "Oh no, all the furniture was already here. Talk about a great landlord huh?"
"Are you serious. You mean you didn't pay for any of this?" I shook my head in disbelief."Yes I'm being serious and no, I didn't pay for any of it." Ashley beamed at the look of awe on my face. "Right, I am going to have a shower, someone threw up on me last night. Ugh. So have a good time I'll be a while." Ashley left the room while I continued to munch on my eggs.
I looked around chewing needlessly on my egg; the pale blue walls, the sparklingly clean kitchen, the perfect cosy living space. How on earth did Ashley manage to get this place? And more importantly how did she keep it clean? She was never a domesticated girl, more the exact opposite. Another forkful and the taste was not as good as it was before. Another forkful and the taste became rather dull. Another forkful and the taste was absolutely awful. I put my fork on the plate, stood up and carried them over to the bin and, with the aid of the fork scraped the remains of the egg into the bin. I had just dumped the plate into the frothy sink and had pulled up the sleeves on my dressing gown to begin washing when there was a loud knock at the door. I hurried over to the door pulling my dressing gown tighter around me and pulled open the door to find Charlie standing there.
"Hi Ellen. I was wondering... do you want to come out with me for a while, we could do a little shopping, have some lunch a bit later on seeing as you have already eaten..."
"Wait, how do you know I have already eaten - it doesn't matter, I don't think your girlfriend would like it very much if we went out together do you?" I stood there my arms folded, my eyebrows furrowed and looked at him rather menacingly (just to make sure he got the hint that I wasn't happy with him.)
"No I don't suppose she would, but she isn't exactly going to find out is she? Besides I am going shopping for her, it's her birthday tomorrow. I was hoping you could help me find something for her - that is if you don't mind. I can wait a while since you aren't ready, but I really do need the help." I looked into his pleading, puppy-dog eyes and found I couldn't say no. Even if it was for his girlfriend I would still be spending the day with Charlie. I said goodbye for now and quickly closed the door. I looked around, the blue on the walls was brighter, the surfaces were cleaner and... and Ashley was leaning against the doorframe, smirking at me.
"Yeah and so what. What's the problem with me going out for a day with him. We're not doing anything wrong. I am just helping him find a birthday present for his girlfriend." Ashley raised an eyebrow. She had just now questioned my decision to spend the day with Charlie."I'm sure you believe exactly what you are telling me." She stated sceptically. "You know what you are trying to do, you told me your plans earlier in your bedroom! I don't think you should be doing this - You don't even know his girlfriend! Imagine how she would feel if she knew what you were up to!" I clenched my fists in anger, and my face flushed as I felt the vein throb in my temple, the flash of red as I welled up and let the light-headed feeling as I let it go.
"I KNOW NOTHING IS GOING ON ASHLEY! I WILL DO WHAT I LIKE AND YOU WON'T STOP ME! I'M GOING FOR A SHOWER NOW, YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT AS LONG AS YOU DON'T TELL CHARLIE THAT I AM NOT GOING. BESIDES YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T EVEN THINK HE HAD A GIRLFRIEND!" I walked in the direction of the bathroom, my shoulders hinched and my fists still clenched. I could feel my fingernails pushing deeper and deeper into the flesh of my palms but I didn't care.
"YES BUT NOW HE'S BUYING PRESENTS FOR HER BIRTHDAY! THAT SCREAMS GIRLFRIEND IN MY FACE, I DON'T KNOW WHY IT DOESN'T IN YOURS..." I slammed the bathroom door behind me which immediately silenced her continuous yelling. I peeled my clothes off and threw them into the laundry basket. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and stepped into the shower and began to scrub myself furiously.
Water. Natures' cleanser. We all use it. We all have times of need. Times of thirst. The times when you just need to be alone. Water fulfills those needs. It calms us down, tells us that we are safe no matter what our decisions may be. It provides that little bit of extra support, like a bra. Only water speaks to us in ways which bras and people can't. It bubbles and churns - providing the ultimate lullaby. It splashes and crashes - providing the ultimate atmosphere to reflect a bad mood. It washes and laps gently onto shore - providing the ultimate stress relief. Water has that special smell, the smell of clean and fresh. The smell of loneliness. One can only appreciate the value, the humanity of water when one is on their own. I am alone now. Unfortunately the sea is a long way from here, and because of this, I am unable to get the comfort fromt he water, sure I get the smell, and can feel the water splash on and off my skin as I wash, but it isn't pure. It's not the right cleanser. I mean, like an anti-dandruff shampoo - only a certain type will work for you right? This is how water is as a cleanser, I need the right cleanser.