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Janey feels smothered by the man in her life. Will He ever relinquish His hold on her?
Paula M Shackleford
I am 21 years old and have just graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with an honours degree in Marketing and Communication. What I really want to do though is write, that has been my lifelong dream. I am the kind of person who could happily spend my entire life sitting at a computer, writing story after story - of course, that doesn't mean they'll be any good, but practice makes perfect. . .supposedly. I would appreciate any feedback and criticism regarding this story, its not as if I'm going to see any of you face to face!
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (12)
Almost There (Short Stories) An engaged girl runs into an old crush who once humiliated her, and is horrified to find herself still in lust with him. [2,520 words]
Crushed (Short Stories) The story of how a fulfilled crush doesn't necessarily make you happier. [2,005 words]
Cybertalk (Short Stories) Cassie, 20 years old and desperate for love, meets a guy on a chatroom who almost instantly claims to love her. Is he insane??? [4,606 words]
Cyn (Short Stories) Is Cynthia really cheating on Jerry? And, if she is, what is he going to do about it? [2,479 words]
Don't Bank On It (Short Stories) This is the story of how a petty argument can develop into a full-scale war, when it comes to couples living together! And then this silly squabble is put into perspective when the couple involved fin... [3,766 words]
His And Hers (Short Stories) The story of a girl and guy on the same course at university. They think that they hate each other - but is hate really the emotion they feel? [2,765 words]
Image Obsessed (Short Stories) A brief "Bridget Jones" moment. [816 words] [Humor]
Letting Go (Short Stories) A guy who has broke up with his girlfriend is writing her a letter to explain his actions. [1,264 words]
Night Of Living Hell (Short Stories) This is a story I wrote a couple of years ago about a girl who is waiting outside the cinema for her date, and wondering if he is ever going to turn up. [1,227 words]
Please Sir (Short Stories) This is the first three chapters of a story I am trying to write, a sort of bonkbuster-cum-comedy about a gilr who seduces her English teacher. Note: As I am British, my spelling, grammar and dress ... [12,851 words]
Smothered (Short Stories) The story of a girl who drives away men without meaning to. Will she ever find true love? [3,970 words] [Romance]
Splitting (Short Stories) When Anna's boyfriend decides to break up with her, Anna is the one who ends up laughing. [1,001 words]
Paula M Shackleford
I lift my head from the toilet, my need to be sick finally satisfied. Now I feel empty, purged of my sins.
If only I knew what those sins were.
This is the problem, I contemplate, staring with disgust at my reflection - the ghost white angular face, the massive dark circles underlining my narrowed eyes, the decidedly pinched look around my mouth that has been in permanent residence since He began his accusations.
I've been called some dreadful, offensive things in my time (I'm a teacher at the local secondary school, you eventually gain immunity from the abuse that is thrown at you) but He surpasses them all. Takes all my innermost insecurities and anxieties and brings them to the surface, flings them in my face like a bucketful of acid. Leaving me a quivering wreck, an empty shell.
I'm not allowed to do anything anymore. He flares up with jealousy if he witnesses me in conversation with someone else. He asks me what I'm playing at. Am I not ashamed of myself, He asks. I should be. After all, according to Him, I'm acting like a common slut. Since when is talking to someone a crime, is my common reply. He will retaliate to this by analysing every facet of my non-verbal communication during the conversation. Apparently, my eye contact was flirtatious and coy, I constantly touched my hair, I had my legs crossed in the direction of the man I was conversing with, and I was smiling far too much. And that's just for starters.
He accuses me of infidelity on a daily basis. If I make the slightest effort with my appearance, He becomes even more suspicious. If He had it His way, I would walk about with a scrubbed face, shaved head and rags for clothes, purely so men would find me unattractive. He hates the idea of other men looking at me. If He spots me putting on the tiniest dollop of make-up, He glares like a madman. Fires question after question at me, relentlessly, like a barage of machine gun fire. His suspicions hurt me intensely and drive greater wedge between us. How can I cope with someone so clingy, so possessive? I no longer have a life to speak of, my entire world is supposed to revolve around Him. I am the Earth to His Sun. If He's shining, I'm happy. If He's hiding behind a stormcloud, I feel like cowering under my bedclothes and only emerging as He emerges from His black mood. It's not safe to be around Him when He's under the stormcloud. He strikes suddenly, viciously, with no distinct warning. And I'm the only tree, tall and proud in the centre of a wide open space, quivering as the bolt of lightning He is crashes into me, making me ache and scarring me for life.
I feel consistently under pressure and constantly tense, and I'm sick of it. Now, as I wipe my mouth and reach for a cup of water, I shake my head determinedly. There's no way I can take this anymore. And there's no reason why I have to. I am in control of my own life, He has no right to keep me imprisoned. For He may not have me locked up, but I AM a prisoner. And, for once, I'm going to do something about it, I'm going to rebel against His force. No matter what the consequences.
I go into my bedroom and search through my jacket pocket. Dumping the mass of shop receipts, tissues and loose change on the floor, I finally locate the tiny slip of paper that has been in there for the last week. Just waiting there until I have the nerve to use it.
Now is the time. Determinedly, before I lose my nerve, I punch the number into the phone's keypad and wait as it rings on the other end. "Hi," I say when it is picked up finally. "It's Janey. Is it too late to take you up on your offer of dinner?" It's not. We arrange a time and place and I sit down in front of my dressing table to put on my face. I must be on edge because when the phone rings I jump out of my skin, my hand slips and a streak of mascara spreads across my nose. Cursing, I nervously pick up the phone.
Sure enough, it's Him. "I'm going to be late tonight," He tells me. "The boss has asked me to do some overtime." Good, so I can go out and come back before He comes home. He'll be none the wiser, he'll think I've been sitting curled up in front of the telly all night, waiting for him to come home. Just the way he likes it.
I meet Michael at the most upmarket restaurant in town, "his treat". Michael is a co-worker of mine, we've been friends for years but recently I could feel him looking at me in a new way. Still I'd never expected him to ask me out and, when he did, I said no as if on autopilot. What would He say if he found out? But Michael just laughed, unhurt by my rebuff, told me to think about it, handed me his number and told me to get in touch if I changed my mind. And the fact was, I hadn't needed to change my mind, because I'd wanted to go out with him all along. I just had to work up the nerve to go against His wishes, to do something for Me for a change, rather than constantly thinking of what He wanted or needed.
I want to be with Michael, I know that already. I don't even have to be on this date to know that. He makes me laugh like no other man ever has (not even my ex-husband, who was accountant by day and moonlighted as a stand-up comedian at night, could crack me up the way Michael can), he is generous and unassuming, and he would make a great father. Add that to the fact that he is dreamboat gorgeous and you have an utterly irresistible package. I no longer care what He thinks, He no longer has control over me.
At least, this is what I think. Michael and I leave the restaurant and walk towards Michael's car. He's offered me a lift home. Obviously, I won't be inviting him in for coffee, the real kind or the euphemism. That would push Him a bit too far over the edge. I'm definitely going to have to sit Him down and have a discussion with Him. He needs to know the truth, it's only fair. Although the very thought terrifies me.
Michael opens the passenger door for me but, as I move towards it to climb inside, he stops me with a gentle hand and gently presses his lips against mine. That is all the invitation I need, I respond passionately, my skin tingling in a way I haven't experienced for years.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing? Get your hands off her!" Someone yanks us apart painfully, and I look around in terror. Oh God!
It's Him. He is standing threateningly over Michael, glaring at the pair of us. "What the hell is going on?" He yells at me. "What are you doing with this idiot? And why didn't you tell me?"
"What was the point?" I ask wearily. "I knew you'd only get angry. The way you are right now." But He's not listening, he's glaring at only Michael now.
"I should punch your lights out," He snaps. "Trying to break her up from . . ."
"Paul," I say quietly, and firmly. For the first time in four years, I am being courageous. For once, He's going to listen to me, and let me get on with my own life. "It's over," I say calmly into the sudden stillness. "You know it's over. So please - just go back to your own affairs and let me deal with mine."
"Affairs," He sneers, staring pale-faced at me. "What an appropriate term to use." And He storms away.
Shaken, I glance at Michael. His face is tense, but he smiles reassuringly at me. And I know everything's going to be alright. "I hope you don't mind my saying so," he says quietly. "But the divorce seems to have seriously affected him."
I sigh, and turn to get into the car. "Yeah," I agree. "The thing is, it's been four years. You'd think by now my son would have come to terms with the fact that his father and I are not getting back together."
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