Deliver Me – Part 1 of 3
Friday 31 December 2010 – Monday 3 January 2011
This piece was born out of one of my favourite songs of the same name, by Sarah Brightman.
Deliver me, out of my sadness
Deliver me, from all of the madness
Deliver me, courage to guide me
Deliver me, strength from inside me
All of my life I’ve been in hiding
Wishing there was someone just like you
Now that you’re here, now that I’ve found you
I know that you’re the one to pull me through
(‘Deliver Me’ by Sarah Brightman, from the album ‘Eden’. Songwriters: Jon Marsh; Helena Marsh)
The room quietly hummed around Ava. She watched as people ebbed and flowed from one room to the next, each with a different agenda. The day had been long enough for Ava, and she had chosen a relatively quiet seat out of the flow of traffic to position herself. From here, she could see everyone and everything.
She was tired, and fed up. Her feet ached: how she regretted wearing eight inch heels, but they looked divine with the streamlined, onyx Dolce and Gabbana cocktail dress. It was, of course, an inappropriate choice for the day, and she immediately wished she’d worn her favourite D&G pantsuit when she first stepped from the limousine. By then, it was too late to get back into the car, go home to change, and then return. Everyone had turned to look when the limousine pulled up.
Smiling gracefully as she walked along the path, Ava focussed on the manicured lawns instead of the people, only some of whom she recognised, until she reached her mother. Neither woman had seen the other in close to a decade, and they had parted on less than amicable terms. When Ava arrived at her mother’s side, the older woman held out a hand. Ava had taken it, uncomfortably, and smiled a greeting at her mother. That had been three hours ago. The women had not made contact since.
‘Another glass of wine?’ The deep voice caught her off caught. She had not expected anyone to speak to her. Within moments, the question was repeated. ‘Would you like another glass of wine?’
She faltered for a second. ‘Um, no, I’d better not. Had four glasses already. And it’s not very nice anyway.’
She turned her attention away from the room to the man standing off to her right, as she spoke. She smiled when she recognised his face, relaxing just a little at his presence.
‘Robbie Bartell. It’s been a long time.’
Although in proportion to his other features, his smile appeared almost as broad as his shoulders. He looked around the immediate area, found a chair nearby, and dragged it in front of Ava. Sitting down casually in front of her, he cut of Ava’s view of the room and the people. Leaning closer to her, he took her hands in his own. Startled by his gesture, she quickly pulled her arms back, and placed her hands under her legs.
‘James, sorry to see you in these circumstances.’
She sneered at his words, ‘You never could quite grasp the concept of calling me by my Christian name, could you? You’re like some twenty-first century Neanderthal: all brawn and no brains or manners. I can’t believe I ever dated you. You’re a brute.’
He laughed. ‘Funny, I recall that you liked the fact that I was a brute. Especially that night at Giordano’s.’
Her reaction was quick and unexpected, and Bartell had not anticipated that she would slap him so hard. He reeled back in the chair, the sound of her hand on his cheek reverberating around the room, drawing stares from many people. He continued to laugh. It was all he could do to save his pride.
‘I don’t know what I ever saw in you,’ she spat out the words as she rose from the chair and walked towards the stairs. Dozens of pairs of eyes followed her every step, Robbie Bartell’s included.
She opened the first door on her right, and entered the room. It was as she had left it. Her bed, her books, her stuff, everything was still in its place, exactly where she had put it. To Ava, it seemed as though her mother had turned the room into a shrine. Ava felt uncomfortable being in her old room, stuck in the past. And given that she and her mother had parted on less than amiable terms, the current state of the room was a total mystery. Why would her mother leave the room as Ava had left it that last time?
Sitting on the bed, Ava kicked off her shoes. The relief was immediate, and she began to feel human again.
‘Oh mom, what happened to us?’ She whispered, picked up the old teddy bear from her pillow, and hugged it tightly. It felt good to be home, even if it was on such a sad occasion.
She smiled wearily. The one person who kept a line of communication open between Ava and her mother had passed. Benjamin, Ava’s younger brother, had died two weeks to the day of his funeral. The cause of his death still remained a mystery, in spite of an extensive autopsy, which had been hurried along because of Ava’s perceived importance in the town. The Mayor had felt that it would not reflect well upon the town, if its most famous resident, Ava James, had to wait for the results of the autopsy on her little brother. The Hollywood tabloids and paparazzi would be all over the town in a flash, and Mayor Stephens wanted to project the best image possible, of a caring, resourceful, efficient community.
When Ava had returned home, Mayor Stephens had insisted upon a community reception to welcome her back. It was the last thing Ava wanted, but because of her public standing, she agreed to attend. The reception was long and boring, but Ava put on a brave face. How anyone could think that a woman returning home for the funeral of her little brother was an event that required a public reception was beside Ava. She knew that had she not been a Hollywood starlet, the next big thing, she would have slipped quietly back into town, attended Ben’s funeral, and left again, relatively unnoticed. But Mayor Stephens had other ideas that were all about getting publicity for the small town.
. . . To be continued . . .