Going back to square one

This is a continuation of a previous post/chapter. You can read it here.
Red Roses
Then, as if the pull of gravity finally aligned itself, her eyelids glided down. Her eyes were closed, but her mind was open, wide open. She was on the outside, looking into her life. It gave her the chills. In that moment, she felt the icy sensation of the cold tiles against her body. It was a rude awakening. What was she trying to achieve with her life? What was she really chasing?
She swallowed her saliva to soothe her dry throat. It still ached from the loud cry she let out from deep within. As she tried to tell her mind to calm her body, she felt the inside of her stomach churn. Nausea. That was strange. She had been pregnant but there was no inclination of nausea. Now, it engulfed her like a post-traumatic reaction. She wanted to throw up and cleanse herself of the toxic life she had been living. More than purging her body, she needed to purge her mind.
Her two jobs – in marketing and modelling – were all about appearances. She grew accustomed to always wearing a smile and a brave face, so much so, that she had convinced herself she was happy and she could handle anything. That facade was now cracking. She didn’t need to put on a show of superhuman strength; she needed to be real.
One thing was certain: she would never get back on the ramp again. She was already walking around in shame; she didn’t need to do it in full glare of cameras.
The world measures success in material terms. She was captured in that wave too. But now it came crashing down. Like the ebb and flow of the waves on the shoreline, she felt herself drifting in and out of consciousness. She clenched her fists and tried to jolt her body back to reality. She had forgotten that the roses were still in her hand. The minute thorns embedded themselves in her flesh. There was going to be blood again. But this time, she didn’t think she would have the physical strength to nurse her wounds.
Before she could finish that thought, she heard the door being pushed open and then slammed. It was Bradley for sure, and he was panicking. “Jennifer! Jennifer! he exclaimed. Her eyes blinked and she struggled to adjust to the natural afternoon light that draped the kitchen. She could hear his burly feet marching across the lounge, past her in the kitchen and to their bedroom. Perhaps, he expected to find her slumped on the bed, in a deep sleep. He didn’t know that she had stopped taking her sleeping tablets, she realised. She had planned to tell him. But things have not being going according to plan recently. They both knew that all too well.
She heard his footsteps again. They were hard not to hear. Sitting on the kitchen floor amplified the sound. It was a different perspective. She could hear so much in his footsteps. Urgency with a streak of fear. She really had to stop doing this to him. Her attempt to call out his name fell short of syllables. Her throat was still coarse.
Then she felt his eyes fall upon hers. There were no words needed. Her eyes  let out a torrent of tears. He rushed for the first aid kit and slowly sat down beside her. The blood was minimal. The thorns did not break. He applied antiseptic and another bandage to her hand. He was gentle as always. No questions asked, no explanation demanded.
It was reassuring that he was home and in control. She could let go. Her shoulders loosened. The stress travelled down her body and drifted off into the white expanse of the tiles. That release of negative energy let out the tears too.
The tears did not stop and he didn’t try to stop them, thankfully.
She caught his eye first glance at the blood-stained roses and then stare at them. “Yes, you are seeing correctly, ” she mustered the courage to speak. “Don’t worry. I am fine. Thank you for the roses.”  He gave her that look. She had seen it many times over the decades, and it always proved how deeply he cared for her. This time, it was no different.
Her mind flashed back to the first time she saw that look. Their first high school excursion. He was early and already aboard the train. She was late as usual. It was almost time for the train to leave.
She ran, with her backpack bobbing up and down, her neatly set hair became a naturally dishevelled mess. She was out of breath when she found him sitting in the middle of the aisle. He had saved the window seat for her, it was her favourite. And then he gave her that look. It was awash with worry that she would miss this significant first excursion, and he would have this memory without her. She hopped onto the seat, backpack intact, and reached for his hand. “Chill, I’m here now,” she recalled the gaiety in her teenage voice.
Instinctively, she reached for his hand again. She could feel the pinch of the thorns but it was bearable. Here they were. They had travelled many kilometres since that train ride but she knew the journey ahead was longer. The initial steps to make it out of the kitchen to their bedroom seemed the most difficult. It was time.
Bradley held her elbow and her shoulder with equal strength and lifted her to her feet. He was careful not to touch the bandages. She was stronger than she thought she would be. So this is what people mean when they say it’s good to get rid of emotional baggage. Crying doesn’t make everything fine, but it does make it lighter and it’s what she desperately needed. They walked. Slower than she had ever walked. Step by step, tile by tile, square by square until she finally felt herself going back to square one of the kitchen. Physically, she was there. Mentally she had travelled around her life, making many notes along the way and she was back, braver and better.
Thank you to Writer’s Write for the Writing Prompt
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any character or incident is unintentional.

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