Monday, November 12, 2007

To Terry, With Love.


I wonder what Terry is up to these days. I hope she is well, I hope she is happy. I hope she is loved. I hope she is free from the events of her past. I hope she has won the battles against herself. I hope her world is stable, safe and secure. I hope she no longer wears a mask of joy to face the world. I hope her life is filled with joyous moments to last her a lifetime and beyond. I hope she is smiling and showing off her pretty dimples all the time. I hope she is merry.

Terry promised to teach me horse riding one day. Never happened! She invited me to the farm tonnes of times. Never made it! My fault, I didn't find the time. When I left London I promised to write snail mails, she didn’t use the internet you see, but I never got round to posting my hellos! 'Circumstances' is my only excuse. And so we lost touch, I feel guilty - it was my fault again. But I could never forget Terry. Her tale is hard to erase from the memory, her burden tough to bear, and her story rough to narrate. I hope I can do her justice as she belongs in my friends' circle like no other.

Terry was a short petit brunette with an elf-like face and a dimpled smile. She had big blue eyes that concealed vast pain deep inside. There was a scar starting on her widow’s peak all the way down to her left eyebrow. Two-inch thick makeup hid the scar well, but not well enough. I often wondered how she got the scar. I have only seen her once without the thick layer of cosmetics and that’s an occasion I wish to forget.

Terry grew up on a farm, the daughter of a pastor. Red was her favorite color. She played the piano beautifully. She could’ve majored in music and she would’ve if it weren’t for her passion for animals. She had a love for them like one I have never seen before. I shouldn’t be surprised; after all she grew up in a farm and worked in one. Yet her loyalty toward the animal kingdom never ceased to amaze me. She tended them like her own kids. She named them and talked of them, as if they were fellow humans. Many-a-times when she threw out names I had to confirm whether she was talking about a person or an animal. She loved them to bits. She had dreams of setting up her own farm that I hope materialized. She had little else in life to live for.

I first met Terry almost a decade ago. We were both working women sharing the same hostel facilities. She worked for a farm on the outskirts of London; I worked in central city. Terry was one of the very few people who left for work earlier than me. She had to get to the farm as early as seven, and she had more than an hour of commute. So Terry was up and gone by quarter to six every morning. We both got back early most days, just in time to catch dinner at six. Casual greetings turned into hour-long conversations and before long we were on the road to a great friendship. We talked of this and we talked of that, mostly Terry talking and me listening.

She told me she was adopted when she was a babe. She told me how her biological mother contacted her to find out if they could meet face to face. She told me of her reluctance to meet with her one on one. She told me how she adored the parents who raised her. She told me plenty and I thought I knew everything there was to know about her. But I didn’t, not then!

I didn’t know her vulnerability. I didn’t know her sadness. I didn’t know that she craved trust, respect and friendship. I didn’t know she was an alcoholic. I didn’t know anything about the thin line she walked on from day today, until she knocked on my door one afternoon and decided to unburden her heart and soul. There are times I wish she hadn’t and times I feel honored to have lent a listening ear. That’s all she ever asked of me.

That day her face was bare of all make-up, her scar loud and clear, I remember the moment like yesterday. Her shoulders were hunched and I knew she had been crying. She was sober for once, she told me. I didn’t know the difference and so I asked

“What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you realize Trix? I am an alcoholic!”

I was stunned. I shook my head and said “No” but my mind replayed several occasions when I had seen her acting weird. Unsteady as she climbed the steps to the second floor where her rooms were, making a mess of her dinner while we ate and me being forced to clean up for her afterward, eyes that didn’t seem to focus on mine when I thought we were having a serious conversation. All those occasions made perfect sense, oh boy, was I dumb or what? “Hold your thoughts” I told myself. Terry had thrown herself into my single armchair and was talking. It was time to concentrate.


“Trix, I just learnt that my boyfriend has a wife and kid and he never told me.”

“WHAT?” I couldn’t believe my ears.

“You remember my boyfriend whom I met on the farm almost eight months ago, don’t you?” she goes.

“Of course I remember, you hardly talk of anyone else these days, but I can’t believe he has been cheating on you from Day One, oh Terry. I am so sorry. What a ba#%^$%! Forget him, you don’t deserve him, you will find someone better, don’t waste your tears on him, Terry”

“I am not so sure, Trish, I doubt if I would ever find someone nice enough to love me as I am, esp. when they hear about my background and life. I was so happy when Ben accepted me, even after hearing all the truth about me, he didn’t turn away disgusted. Trix, he was just using me for fun…he probably thought it was ok knowing what I had left behind…”


“What background? What truth? Oh, you mean the fact that you are adopted? Come on Ter, that doesn’t permit anyone to make assumptions on your person and it certainly doesn’t mean that you are loose with your affections” I was far beyond angry with her for thinking such silly thoughts and if I could get my hands on Ben, he probably would be sporting a black eye for a long time to come.

“No no Trish, you don’t understand. Do you know how I got this scar? Do you know why I drink to death? Do you know the kind of sorrow I carry inside? Do you know how I hate myself every time I look at the mirror? Do you?” Terry went.

“Tell me! Was it an accident?” though deep inside my mind shouted “Don’t tell me” for I knew what I was about to hear might be too painful to bear.

“Trix, two years ago I was raped”

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In response to the prompt from Writer's Island
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19 comments:

Rambler said...

Its sad, I mean its really sad world

Ice said...

UL,
Friendship,
Often we don't ask for it. It just presents itself unbidden. Precious gifts of frienship are the jewels that make life rich.
Your story of friendship pulls at the heaart strings.
rel

Marja said...

UL this story touched me very deeply. It says a lot about you. I think that you didn't see some things just means that you are accepting of a friend the way she is. Another human being who you walked alongside. Thank you for sharing this.

Jo said...

This really carried me through to the end. Good one, Ul.

Steve said...

Thoughtfully put!

writerwoman said...

Very heartwrenching end to that post.

Sending you good thoughts and hoping your friends is somewhere doing well.

TC said...

The ending really made me wish it was fiction, but I have a hunch that it was written with too much depth and perception to be anything but reality.

tumblewords said...

Deeply touching. You are a great friend...

Just Jen said...

I'm crying. I can understand why this woman is still on your mind. This is heart wrenching. It seems to me, you were there for her when she needed you the most. That's extremely important. It means alot.

Lucy said...

This poor tortured woman. What heavy burdens to carry. I hope she is getting therapy Ul. You are a good friend and couldn't have known.

pepektheassassin said...

A good portrait of a troubled friend.
I agree with what's been said, especially with marja, that it says as much about you as about your friend.

keith hillman said...

What a disturbing story. You stopped me in my tracks with this one. it can't have been easy for you to write.

LittleWing said...

life...it is so unbearably real...thank you for a wonderful post...

Mary Timme said...

I hope she smiles and shows her dimples all the time . . . I knew it wasn't going to end well, I didn't know it would be so sad! I hope she smiles, now!

Lea said...

Such stories carried, times together, then apart, yet always with us, shaping us into who we are today... I wonder what Terry's story would be now and if peace and heart have found a home with her...

...deb said...

This caught me up and left me staggered.

aka Danny Wise said...

wow! You're a really good friend.

jillypoet said...

Yes. This says just as much about you as a friend as it does about your friend. You were a chapter in her life that she probably returns to again and again.

Thinking aloud said...

i so wish this is fiction...i do hope she's found her happiness...and you were there for her...and i'm sure it meant something to her...take care..suma