Read and feedback as I write a novel: Imperception – Chapter 28

Chapter 28: Isla

Given the chance, Isla would not change her history.  Without it she would not have her life’s most precious gift, Milly; but on the worst days she did find herself wondering how she had found the confidence and naivety to bring a child into the world.  

The world was a terrifying and unpredictable place and her realm was a magnified extension of this.  She never knew where anger and hatred lay and every day was spent walking on egg shells and second guessing who she needed to be today in order to appease her husband.  It hadn’t always been this way; of that she reminded herself often, but it had been like it for too long.  Far too long, and she certainly had sat uneasily with the knowledge of just what kind of life she would be inflicting on her unborn child as both her belly and her bruises had bloomed alongside each other.  

Up until the pregnancy the abuse had tended to be more emotional and psychological.  She was wounded with Simon’s tongue long before he used his fists or his boots or the golf club propped behind his wardrobe door.  The wounds of his words ran deeper of course.  Those were the wounds she would continue to nurse in her imagined future away from this terror.  She imagined her far older self in a care home, alone at last, and safe from a physical beating; healed and whole apart from those gaping wounds left with words. 

Sometimes she would sit and recall Simon’s words and she would wince with pain as the echoes of their telling lashed her wounds open again.  How could those wounds ever be healed she wondered?

She had fallen pregnant by accident, or at least that was what she had told Simon. She had not broached the subject of children with him.  By this time, she had been living in his home for nearly five years.  His disgust at her old café job and insistence on a perfectly ordered home and dinner cooked just to his liking ready for his unpredictably timed return home from work, had prohibited her from pursuing a career of her own.  

Simon actively encouraged Isla to stay home, preferring her not to go out at all.  In the early days she had occasionally gone to coffee mornings or out to the library or to walk in the park, but Simon had flown into a rage when he had come home mid-morning one day with a bunch of bright chrysanthemums and come to bed eyes to surprise his wife, only to find she was not home. 

Returning home from a trip to the library where she had curled up in a favourite nook and lost herself in the world created by her favourite author, Isla had walked unsuspecting into the house to find the chrysanthemums torn to pieces, littering the hall and forcibly trodden into the plush cream carpet.  The house looked like it had been ransacked; broken ornaments and picture frames lined the hall, stairs and landing.  The living room had been turned upside down and a full carafe of water had been tipped into the middle of Isla and Simon’s bed.  

Simon was nowhere to be seen, presumably having left in a rage, so Isla set about tidying the house.  It took hours of toil to rectify his work of minutes.  Simon never acknowledged what had happened, failing either to apologise for the mess he had made or to thank his wife for clearing it up.  

Isla stopped leaving the house during the daytime for a long time after that, aware that her husband expected her to be home if he happened to return.  She was too scared to ask him what had caused him such anger that day.  She thought perhaps he had suspected she were with another man, but he had never confronted her about it and she did not want to induce his rage and so the topic was left untouched leaving only a legacy of house arrest and fear for Isla who arranged for her shopping to be delivered and quietly withdrew from the various week-morning engagements of which she had grown mildly fond.  

And so she found herself home alone, day in and day out with little to do.  The house was easy to maintain, with no pets as Simon would not abide them, and no children to make a mess, there was only herself and Simon to tidy up behind and so Isla grew bored and increasingly lonely.  Her husband, once a great companion, the life and soul of the party, a maker of jokes and puller of pranks had become morose and spent most of his time split between his study, to which she was not allowed entry, and the living room couch where he would curl up each evening with a bottle of whisky becoming slowly less and less decipherable.  

Simon was so far from his old self that Isla did not know what to do about it and had wondered briefly about seeking help for him but had been quickly turned off the idea when she received a torrent of both verbal and physical abuse for daring to criticise him by raising the subject. 

So Isla had no companions and found herself wondering about a pet or a baby to keep herself from feeling so lonely.  There was no way that Simon would sign off on a cat or a dog, but a baby – something which carried parts of him and would help him to leave a legacy in this world might perhaps appeal a little more?  Perhaps it would help to change him.  Maybe as a father he would be attentive and kind and rediscover the old ways she had so loved about him when they first met all those years ago.  

Isla sat with the idea for weeks, letting it grow and imagining how the rhythm or her days would change with a baby in tow.  She imagined feeling more whole, having someone to accompany her and break the monotony of her hours.  She welcomed the idea of discontent and noise in her house as her baby cried to be fed or changed or rocked.  She loved the idea of someone who was solely dependent on her and who would learn to love her.  Who would smile at her and relieve the burden of her quiet days.  The baby would not know the weight of her load; of that Isla would make sure.  But in its carefree and happy ways, the baby would make things feel lighter; of that Isla had no doubt.  

And so the idea of a baby grew like a tiny seed inside her.  Each day she became more sure that the idea was a good one, that she could keep the baby safe and that the baby would bring her purpose and joy.  Each day she thought about how to broach the topic with Simon.  Not easy as these days she and he barely spoke other than when he decided that he needed to relieve some pent up sexual tension then he would oscillate between romance and dominance.  

She had grown used to him suddenly dominating her, taking what he felt to be rightfully his roughly and without ceremony.  Forcing himself inside her wherever he happened to be; the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom.  

On other days, he would woo her.  These days she would remember what it had felt like to feel loved in their early days. He would arrive at the house unexpectedly with flowers and chocolates which he would daintily feed to her whilst he told her all the reasons he loved her.  He would paint pictures of a beautiful woman with his words and at these times, Isla would feel the ropes with which he had been mentally binding her for the preceding weeks falling away.  

The pain, frustration and anger which lined her stomach would melt to nothing and the warm feeling of love and being loved would fill her from the inside out.  On these days he would be astute to both her physical and emotional needs, whispering the words of love and lust she so desperately needed to boost her ailing self-esteem whilst gently touching her in ways that only he had ever known.  

He would tease her, stroking her into a frenzy whilst he remained fully clothed, then, just as she could bear it no more he would take her to the bedroom where he would slowly undress her as she lay in the middle of their palatial bed.  He would touch her everywhere then, and she would feel like her body was on fire from head to toe.  Then, finally he would begin to undress himself and she would be reminded about what a beautiful man she had married.  

Despite the heavy drinking every night, Simon still found the energy to start each morning with a weights session in the gym he had built into the garage and on these days, Isla benefited from the impact of his daily workouts and she found herself goggle-eyed at the beauty of his perfectly crafted body and desperate to feel the touch of his skin against her skin as he entered her.  But still, he would tease her, making the moment last – and whilst she wanted him, needed him, she needed these moments to last too.  She would lose herself in intense passion during Simon’s romantic, sexual days, but she would never lose herself so thoroughly that she lost sight of the fact that once this was over and Simon’s physical and emotional appetites had been sated that she would be cast aside, forgotten once more, and so she would let the moment grow basking in the attention of this beautiful man for just a few extra minutes.  

Afterwards, Isla would lie snuggled in his arms whilst he dozed.  She loved these moments most of all.  These moments were everything she had imagined married life to be, the sheets tangled around their feet, their skin glistening with sweat, their breathing and heart beats in time with one another’s whilst the late morning sun filtered into the bedroom.  This felt like luxury whilst the rest of the world was working.  

For these brief moments Isla felt content and happy.  Once Simon awoke, he would dress and leave, giving Isla a quick peck on the cheek as he left, reminding her he loved her.  She knew from experience not to expect the magic to last, that the beautiful man would walk out of the door and the brute she had grown to fear would cross the threshold a few hours later, ready to inflict pain with his words from the moment he walked through the door.

Much of the time, Isla and Simon exchanged so few words with one another that each might almost have been living alone, and so as Isla’s ideas about a baby grew irrevocably inside her, she simply could not imagine how to have the conversation with Simon.  In retrospect, she also did not know how she would have managed if he had said no.  

For weeks she had imagined how it would feel to have a life growing inside her, she had wondered too about the kind of mum she would be to her baby and how nurturing a new life would make her feel.   By this time there was no question for Isla, she must have a baby.   She needed this, but what if she found a way to broach the topic with Simon and he said no?  What would she do then?  She could not go against his word and with a sickening feeling she acknowledged to herself that she could not keep her unborn baby safe from his madman’s hands.  If Simon decided that no baby should be born then he would make it so even if her belly were blooming with life.  

And so, she determined, she could not ask him.  Instead, she must accidentally fall pregnant and then enable him to fall in love with the idea of fatherhood.  It would take careful planning, but she had a lot of time on her hands.  

[View all chapters shared so far here]

Thank you for feeding back each day. I’m building in your edits and suggestions to the version held on my local machine so the initial raw version will remain here. When I’ve got questions, I’m going to ask them each day – don’t feel obliged to answer them, but if you’re happy to they’ll help me as I try to craft the story. If you have questions or observations I’d be keen to hear them too.

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4 Responses to Read and feedback as I write a novel: Imperception – Chapter 28

  1. Some punctuation might make come to bed eyes more readable. Eg come-to-bed-eyes. Is ‘astute’ the correct word? I can’t think of an alternative unless ‘alert’ might fit.


  2. Sharon says:

    First of all, I was riveted by this chapter as part of me had been long awaiting for more about Simon and his relationship with Isla. It was all presented in a believable and understandable way, even though Simon is clearly a very complex man. One might wonder why Isla would even consider having a child with such a person, but I was able to feel the need she might have after her forced isolation. I am also struck by the fact that I realize I also am coming to care for Simon and feel sad that persons have such difficult emotions.

    There is one part, I felt was a bit ambiguous at first and that you might try to clarify. You write “Returning home from a trip to the library where she had curled up in a favourite nook and lost herself in the world created by her favourite author, Isla had walked unsuspecting into the house to find the chrysanthemums torn to pieces, littering the hall and forcibly trodden into the plush cream carpet.”. Instead of saying where she “had cured up in a —–“, perhaps you can say something like “Returning home from the library dreaming about curling up—-“.

    I did wonder if you might consider making two chapters of this since this chapter is longer than some, but somehow it felt OK even though it was a little long because so much was covere..


    • PookyH says:

      Thank yoh Sharon! I reworked the transition home from the library. I also felt it was a bit long but I like alternating between Dee and Isla and didn’t really want to cut to the other character…

      Simon is a very complicated character. Trying to resolve him was what got me stuck when I first started writing this a few years ago, but I think that I”m beginning to understand him a little better this time around.

      Liked by 1 person

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