I have just finished my story about Busan and I will release it tomorrow since I though it would be weird to have two posts on one day. In the meantime enjoy the continuing saga of Accountability.
I drank a healthy amount from the bottle of gin on the drive back to the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I didn’t even bother to pour it over ice, but drank it straight from the crystal bottle. Dr. Blur tried to console me as we traveled along the lonely highway. She was not able to achieve her desired purpose. The bitter liquid did help me to feel a little bit better. It didn’t really help me solve my problem, but created a blanket of numbness I was able to wrap myself in. By the time we made it back to the Capital Limited Re-education Center, I was good and drunk.
It was late at night when we arrived and I was escorted to my room. I bet they thought I would stumble my way over to the bed and pass out. They probably thought they would have to wake me up in the morning to a raging hangover and I would spend the day in classes nursing it, not really paying attention to the lessons. After my mind would clear up, then I would be able to let the healing process begin. I’m sure they even thought by the end of the week I would be wearing that ugly orange dress haunting me during my stay at the Capital Limited Re-education Center. They probably hoped I would start to comply with the rules and ideals laid out by the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. What I did instead was something I don’t think anybody would have guessed.
I did stumble into my room. The dress had been turned around to greet me as soon as I entered the room. The poster of Evelyn Bronson mocked me from behind my bed.
I tried to avert my eyes away from them as I shuffled my way over to the bed. The pillow laid upon it was curled up like a little child in the fetal position. The blanket was crumpled up in the posture of an older sibling looking over the younger one on the bed. The image reminded me of my children, Lindsey and Zach. I sniffed hard to repress the meltdown I could feel invading my heart. It still swept over me so bitterly I needed to bite my lower lip to help gain control. The pain helped and I could taste the metallic flavor of blood on the tip of my tongue. It left a hollow void in my soul, so I gathered up my composure and did the only logical thing I could think of; I leaned down and kissed the pillow where the head of the little child should have been. I stroked the top of the pillow as if I were patting down the hair falling out of place as if it was really a child sleeping through the night. My motions must have had an effect on the blanket because it uncrumpled itself to show me it too yearned for some of my affection. I went over to where it laid, gave it a kiss on the forehead, and gently petted its hair.
“You’re a good boy, Zach,” I told the blanket. “You’re doing a good job of looking over your sister.”
I then looked over at the pillow, and said, “You’re a wonderful girl too, Lindsey.”
I patted her head again. “You be good for your brother and your father. They’ll both appreciate that when they get older.”
It was comforting to look at the blanket and the pillow. It was as if I were able to say goodbye to my children. In my heart, I knew I needed to make sure these last words of wisdom I gave them reflected how much I really loved them. They needed to be able to carry that feeling in their hearts for the rest of their lives. Instead of these words of wisdom I so desperately believed in, all that came to me was a bedtime story I thought would help them understand everything happening in their lives.
I nestled in between the blanket and the pillow, my brain still swimming in a pool of gin, before starting.
“Once upon a time there was a mother who loved her children very much, and they loved her as well. She would do anything for them. She wanted her son to grow up and be a strong man whose strength would one day save the world. For her daughter, she wanted her to grow up to be a beautiful woman whose huge heart would show the world the meaning of kindness. The woman believed her love would guide the two to grow up to be the best they could be. It wasn’t always an easy task for the mother because when her children were naughty, she had to punish them. They needed to know the difference between right and wrong, and the mother believed this was the best way to make sure they understood. It would hurt her very much to have to do this, but in the long run she believed it was what was best for her children. Even though these bad times would come, it was rare. It was all because when the children were being good, they would have so much fun with their mother they were rarely tempted to do naughty things.”
The children were so attentive. They lay on the bed and looked up at me as I told the story. I rubbed a tear away from my eye.
“Now, other mothers did not believe the same way as this mother did. They believed teaching their children about right and wrong interfered with the child’s happiness. The child would not always get what he or she wanted and because of this the children would respond by throwing ugly temper tantrums, holding their breath, and tossing their toys across the room until they got what they wanted. The mothers would give in to the children and give them what they wanted instead of taking the time to explain to them why their behavior was wrong. The mothers believed this was an easier way of dealing with the problem. What the mothers didn’t realize was their children’s temper tantrums would get louder and more violent the older they got.”
This philosophy of mothering was reminiscent of the conversation I had earlier in the evening and it gave me the strength to continue with the story.
“Now, one day, in the town where the mother with the two lovely children lived, everybody got together to decide which was the best way to raise a child. They all decided creating resistance in a child’s life was a cruel and unusual way to raise them. They believed the path of least resistance was what was best and the children would grow up just fine. All they needed to do was give them everything they wanted. The mother of the two lovely children was the only one who disagreed with the townspeople and even though she believed her argument was logical and powerful, it did not sway any of the other people to believe the same as she did. She was a lone wolf and was forced to raise her children the way the rest of the people had decided was best.”
I could feel the courage from the mother in the story fill my heart. I hoped the courage I was feeling would be imparted to my children as they listened to the story, even if they were only a pillow and a blanket.
“Now, the mother of the two children still did not accept the rules the rest of the townspeople agreed to. She refused to raise her children the way the town forced her to, but she also knew she could not outwardly show this because if she did the town would come and take her children away from her. This would have destroyed the mother. She loved her children so much she could not live without them. She also couldn’t let them grow up without the skills they needed in order to survive in the cruel and harsh world. This would be worse than having the children taken away from her, so she did the only thing left. In the middle of the night while the rest of the town slept, she gathered up the warmest clothes of her children and packed them into backpacks. She also grabbed a couple of the children’s favorite books and each of their favorite toys. In a backpack for herself, she packed enough food for three people for a week, and some warm clothes of her own. She snuck into her children’s room and woke them up. She told them to be quiet as they snuck down the hallway and out the front door. While the full moon rose in the sky, a person could see three figures enter the woods on the edge of town, never to be seen again.”
The power of the legend I had just told hung in the night air before me just out of my reach. I leaned down and kissed the blanket one more time and then hugged the pillow gently. I stood up next to the bed and looked down at the children I had put to sleep.
“I wish I could say that mother was me.”
I turned around and walked away from the bed. I took off the t-shirt they had given me to wear that evening and threw it on the floor next to the door to the bathroom. The jeans ended up on the floor of the bathroom. I turned on the shower and let the room fill up with the steam from the hot water. When the water was hot enough, I climbed in and let the water pour over my body. A bar of soap sitting on a small tray on the side of the shower stared up at me. It was still scummy from the last time I had used it a couple of weeks earlier. I picked it up and started to rub the foam all over my body. The smell of lilacs and strawberries mixed in with steam floated through the air.
The smell reminded me of a time when life was more innocent and the hot water took the grime and pain from the last couple of weeks out of my pores. I wished it wasn’t so, but it felt wonderful. A layer of skin peeled away from me and ran down the drain. I could feel the resistance wash away and a new layer of skin grew over it. All the tension built up in my muscle slowly faded away and I felt a new sense of self I had never felt before in my life.
As I was soaping up my legs, I felt harsh stubble had grown on them during the last couple of weeks. I took some shaving cream from the side and lathered some on my legs. I took a fresh disposable razor and started to scrape away the stubble. Little auburn hairs collected in a whirlpool before being sucked down the drain. Afterwards, my legs felt silky. It felt as if I had pulled a new layer of skin over my legs and it refreshed my spirit and consoled my heart.
I got out of the shower and dried my hair with one of the freshly folded towels in my bathroom. I wrapped another towel around me to feel more human. It made me feel as if I was back at home. Even though nobody was there to see me, I showed some modesty behind the large white fluffy towel as I prepared myself in the mirror. When I was a child, my mother taught me how to apply make-up so it made me look beautiful but didn’t make me look like I was wearing a lot. Those lessons were not lost on me as I went over to the stack of cosmetics for the first time since I arrived in my room. I looked at the instructions taped to the mirror and started to follow them to the letter. First, a layer of foundation was needed. A little bit of rouge to the cheeks to allow the color to highlight them. A ruby red lipstick to highlight poutiness for my lips while creating a come-hither look. Mascara to make the eyes pop and to extend the eyelashes so they were bashful and battable. Finally, blue eyeliner on the eyelids, enough to point to the eyebrows which revealed my natural hair color, but not too much to distract the viewer from the beautiful green eyes hidden underneath them.
When I was done, I looked in the mirror. I no longer recognized myself. A new person stared back at me in the mirror. I took off the towel wrapped around my hair. The platinum blonde horrifying me earlier was now something I was becoming accustomed to. It hung limply to my scalp, so I took the brush and started to work out the knots collected in it due to my lack of attention over the last weeks. After I was done, it laid flat due to the natural weightlessness always associated with it. When I would make myself up in the past, I would buoy it up a little bit with some hairspray and a once over with the hair dryer, but I knew with the length it was now, it would only create a hairstyle similar to the one Palin wore. I needed something the members of the faculty at the Capital Limited Re-education Center would appreciate more. I took the curling iron and plugged it into one of the electrical outlets next to the wall.
While the curler was warming up, I smiled into the mirror. The usual bright whiteness of my teeth had dulled in the last couple of weeks due to my lack of dental hygiene. I looked around and saw the Capital Limited Re-education Center was kind enough to supply me with a brand new toothbrush, still in the packaging; toothpaste, the whitening kind; some floss, and some white strips. I went to work on my teeth for the first time in a long time. The dull flavor of gin slowly vanished and by the time I had finished applying one of the white strips, the curling iron was heated up.
I took time being meticulous making sure my hair looked presentable. My bangs hung above my brow defying gravity. The rest of my hair framed my gentle ears and alabaster neck. It made my face look like the Mona Lisa ready for display at Louvre in Paris, France. The picture was almost complete. There was only one last thing I needed to attend to, one last final touch.
I let the towel covering my body drop needlessly to the ground. I walked over it into the other room. The light from the bathroom poured out of the doorway and into the center of my quarters giving the atmosphere a lonely feeling. The light stretched out to the dressmaker’s dummy. It highlighted the dress in a golden bath of light. I walked over to it, feeling the cold linoleum under my feet. When I had reached the dummy, I turned it, so the back of the dress was facing me. I untied the knot holding the apron to the dress. I took the apron over to the bed and folded it nicely. I placed it gently next to the blanket and the pillow.
I walked back over to the dress. I slowly unzipped the back of the dress to make it easier to take off of the dummy. I slipped it off. The dress rustled in the dark room as if to thank me for finally taking it off the dummy. I put my hand up the skirt and slithered my body through until my hands were able to find the entrance to the sleeves. I pulled my arms to my side and the dress fell around my body and into place. I arched my back, so my fingers could find the zipper. I tugged the zipper and hopped around the room in a bizarre dance, sometimes placing my hands on the lower portion of my back and other times reaching them over my shoulder, but in the end I had zipped the dress completely up.
I walked over to the bed and picked up the apron. I sucked my stomach in just a little bit before I tied it around my waist. When I released my belly, the apron held tight to the pressure. I could feel my figure already improving in ways I hadn’t experienced since the birth of my first child.
I walked back to the dummy, and with my toes, I worked the shoes around until I was able to slide them on. When they were on, I created a clacking sound as I made my way back to the bed. I gently sat down so I would not rumple the dress. My hand smoothed the skirt and the apron in front of me. I crossed my legs and folded my hands in my lap. I looked towards the door, waiting for morning to arrive.