Dylan Thomas once said, “I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me.” Perhaps that was one bright epiphany for him, perhaps the observation of general human tendencies, but it couldn’t have been more true for Anouk even if it had been tailored for her, with a dozen words to spare.
Her beast, her angel and her madman were having a tea party today, each flashing its grin in turn, peeping in and out on her face like children through a curtain. Angel, please let me have angel today, Anouk had listless hope. No longer bundling energy enough to beg, all she could do was hope, knowing only too well that on usual days, she would either hurt someone or get hurt herself. Seldom was she gifted a completely happy day with a bright blue ribbon, and all she could do was hope today was one.
The inner angel spread her wings and beamed, softly silver in Anouk’s eyes as she thrust herself out of bed. Plans for today were deliberately enthusiastic, to cut into a long week of sorrowful routine. She was going to meet a friend, in exactly twenty minutes. On any other day, twenty minutes would have been too less. To bathe, dress and accessorize, a girl needs time. Today this girl had much different circumstances and twenty was enough time to slip into the skirt and blouse, the only skirt and blouse she hadn’t packed.
Good point #1- Upcoming trip to Japan. Surely she could trap her beast in with that, pacifying it that all was well.
Sighing, she picked her threadbare bag, threw in her charger and almost dried phone, some money to get back and a sheet of paper to write the apology she owed her boyfriend.
Bad point #1- She had hurt him.
The beast stirred and the madman’s ears pricked, each possibly wondering whose release this really was. The beast sensed there was probably her own pain involved, and sulked back in his seat, while the madman’s eyes danced like a disco light in a New Year’s party. Without him, she was a lost child with fear brimming in the corners of her eyes. This was the madman’s playground.
The plan, concentrate on the happy plan, Anouk chastised herself and ran down the road, hailing a rickshaw to her friend’s place in less time than she had allowed herself. She had half the day to chill with her friend, and the only real planned thing: trying a variant of lentils for lunch. Then she had her beloved gran coming over to help her pack for Japan. And in between that, she had to finish the apology to win back normal conversation with the man she loved. That was a two to one ratio, in favour of the angel. Hope seemed to be working just fine, for now.
Good thing #2- It was windy and her cheeks flushed with the gale.
The angel spread her wings, the beast cringed.
Bad thing #2- An idiot drove through water spilled on the street, and splashed her legs with a dozen mucky droplets.
The angel folded the wings back in, the madman squealed.
“Anouk!” Mira hugged her at the door, and Anouk visibly freshened. Bonus points for angel, who stretched her arms and flew a few feet above the tea party table. “Mira…” Anouk hugged her back, tight and sincere. It took them two minutes to cover for a month of absence, as each had been busy with their own brand of torture. Together they were only youth and giggles, rolled into hours and hours of effortless company. Quickly, Anouk forgot the injustice of the past week, being framed for something she didn’t do, being humiliated for doing nothing wrong. She deleted the words that ached in her mind, said by her father, said by her teacher, words that were pure hatred and tyranny, words she didn’t deserve but then we are seldom treated how we deserve to be. She purposefully kicked out feeling like a limp puppet, when she realised her parents had gone to her school to defend her but had been far too polite, as decent folk tend to be, far too polite to have gotten due attention. All this was another story, puzzling to an onlooker, possibly puzzling to Mira too. But it was Anouk’s troubled truth. And slowly, it was fading, Bad Points of the past being shot out with a bow the angel had gotten hold of. Oh she was magnificent, gliding over the beast’s scrowls.
“Anouk?” Mira asked, concern visible in her eyes.
“It’s fine. It’s ok now.”
Mira nodded with silent understanding, years of practice coming in play. And in that brief loving gesture, Anouk was suddenly empowered. She straightened her back, two inches taller, and called order to the gathering. The tea party came to an abrupt halt as those present nodded in resignation to the boss, Her. Yes, you listen to me now, she put her hand down on the table, as tea cups and sugar cubes vanished and the party was over. Listen.
The seething pain of her school incident still kindled a fire in her heart, but she had largely accepted that she needed to give it time. Next on the list was her father, a man whose day seemed to start and end with how much trouble he could brew for his unsuspecting family, and her in particular for she was the fiesty one of the lot. Standing next to Mira, for a moment she thought how worthless his attempts would be if she could only just fly away into her future, far far away from him. The angel sat up at the possibility of escape and safety, until the madman winked: What about her sister. Or her mother. So she needed to root it our, not cut the trunk. Very well, and Anouk wondered idly if the beast could help with that. Quickly she reprimanded herself, she was much better than to answer bitterness with more bitterness. She was Anouk, powerful and strong. Anouk, who had willed her life and earned a trip to Japan. A free trip, she thanked her stars. She was Anouk, loved by a man whose mere existence in her life was enough for her to take on her father and all his brutality.
Her boyfriend… those present perked to attention as the next agenda flitted into discussion. It was hard for either of them to understand whose arena this really was. Being a matter of love, the angel felt a certain possessiveness. Being interspersed with pain, the madman wanted in. The beast, frankly, was willing to attack just about anything that involved negativity, and there’s plenty negativity in wounded hearts.
It had all been a misunderstanding. She had been talking normally, conversing about his day, and hers. Then he had started getting cryptic again, laconic with his answers and shutting her out, and she became a helpless child again. She tried to pull him back in, saying he really couldn’t do this, he needed to tell her! But the words she chose were wrong, and he felt like she disrespected him. How much further from the truth could that be. Disrespect him?! Her love, her strength, her faith! But her words were wrong, and she had to pay.
And that she was willing to do. You see, perceptions of right and wrong fail when it comes to love. That’s what drives poets mad. That’s what makes men promise the moon and beyond. That’s what puzzles the angel, the beast and the madman and frankly, that’s the only thing worth hurting for.
Anouk smiled a dazzled smile.
Bad point #numberunknown- She had come to no conclusion.
Good point #numberunimportant- She was master of the three voices of her soul.
Bad point stressed- She really had no plan of action, nothing to DO, nothing decided, definite.
Good point stressed doubly- Yes, she had no solution. But she had clarity, and strength. A friend and her time, and new food to try. She had a paper to write an apology on, with a light heart and unbridled love. She had a trip to pack for, and her gran to help. She had him, her boyfriend, always and always by her side, being the very word of ecstasy and the embodiment of something deeper than love. She had no solutions! And right now, she really didn’t care for one.
A new woman with glittering eyes walked into the house, a deserted tea party fading in the back of her mind, cold.