By Maggie McCoole ’19
Golden and warm yellow hues engulf every inch of the waking world, nature’s alarm clock, a soft wakening as a mother would wake her small child. Six o’clock in the morning and the commencement of the sun’s daily journey, slicing through the crisp morning air, is underway. The sun rising every morning is something dependable, knowing that it will dry the dew meticulously placed on the sharp grass blades from the cool air of the night. The perfectly sculptured and fertilized lawn glistens with these dew drops. The blades reflecting the sun’s soft rays, as if droplets were twinkling stars in the night sky, only some mere hours prior. An exquisite house towers as it establishes itself over the yard, standing sturdy with a broad frame, soaring columns that reach the upper floors, but an ironically welcoming and inviting entrance. The contrast that lures you in, a mousetrap technique. This is the house that when someone drives by they slow down, pumping their brakes so that they can take a longer look as they portray an open mouth gasp, spellbound from inside their car. The grass almost mimicking the green burning in their eyes. As the sun blankets the earth with its golden glow, it washes over the house, rising from the crevices of the foundation and tranquilly growing taller and taller. The sunlight stretching its limbs and cascades through the window frames, its warmth overflowing onto the hardwood floors. That Sunday morning, September in New England kind of warmth. Almost picturesque, if someone were to be sitting criss-cross, at the ready holding a quality camera, and if they truly could capture this moment… it would be something unimaginably calming and beautiful. The kind of mesmerizing cover shot that would be in the next home magazine, only to be purchased to collect dust sitting on a stranger’s ottoman.
Whimsical really, how the world depends on the rise and fall of the sun and moon. Over seven billion individuals and life on earth itself, requires the warmth and replenishment that the sun graciously gifts. The Earth revolves around the sun, lured in and essentially created by what it provides and is eternally held fast by its gravitational pull. The Earth would be nothing without the sun. Being the alpha in this situation, the sun decides if the earth is even worthy of its light. The Earth needs the sun, even just to simply survive. The sun, however, does not need the earth to for it to continue existing. Imagine if that was a relationship between two individual people rather than objects. How unhealthy that would seem, how unnatural to even consider or compare. What if one person was so committed to another that they needed their light in their everyday life, that their being is what gives this person will and provides them with a reason for every breath, but the other person simply puts up with their existence. Doesn’t the hurt, the aching, of this abusive relationship show signs? The earth and the sun, their relationship works, but between two people that same mentality… one person will consequently reach a breaking point that cannot be covered by patchwork. You can not cover up broken.
Airbrush makeup usually works, it has the best coverage and allows for a consistent, even skin tone all throughout. This, as any makeup connoisseur would know, should only be done after any specific areas are concealed, areas that are darker or discolored. Harder things to cover are things raised from the skin, such as acne, scars, bruises, welts. There’s a great ordeal of things your face has to weather and endure, some individuals more than others. In this case, makeup can only provide so much coverage.
She wears hats and sunglasses, perfectly blown-out, but because her hair tends to fall further in her face on certain days, she styles it just right so that it looks like these strands were meant to fall astray into her deep green eyes. She knows that if she looks down, more strands will find their way into her face. A technique she had developed over a few years of practice, to make it look casual, or as casual as possible. She cowers from the warm morning sun that crawls further into the parlor, it claws at her, trying its best to light up her face and expose the very tones it possesses. She hides in the beautiful house most days, while her husband is a work, wearing her full face of makeup with sunglasses at the ready in case someone comes to knock on their inviting, black stained, hardwood, French doors. On this particular beautiful day, she sweeps up glass shards from the night before. A broken wine glass, that is all. He did not mean break it, it merely slipped from his hand. It is she who is at fault really, the glass was a tad wet around the base, she did not dry it completely. See, it was all her fault, she knew it too. But she felt sorry for the scratched floors, as the shards of glass chiselled through their finishing coat.
This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. The house had seen this all before. The wall’s have held these secrets one too many times for it to stand at the height it was had. You can see the foundation’s cracks in the upper corners of each room. In some rooms, the beige washed paint hangs as if it’s a sheet draping on its bias. Continuously left uncared for, the house needs recovery. It needs to be fostered, to be attended to. It can no longer bear the weight, the heaviness that its interior confines. It needs to to be freed from the enslavement from it’s past, of its established foundation. Or… it just needs to be loved.
Unclasping her diamond studded gold bracelet she unveiled bruises that danced around her wrist, and that even crawled and stretched to places where the bracelet had protected her. The gold still catching the light and shimmering, only the scratches were to be exposed in this light from its years of wear. The bracelet was more than beautiful, it was something thoughtful and romantic. Engraved were the date of day they wed, their initials, and a part of his vows in swirly cursive on the inside of the band. Only for them to know it was even there. As if it was their little secret, something so perfect, so hidden, and protected from the brutality of the outside world. A gift for their 14th wedding anniversary, gold jewelry for that year. Even he knew that. He had gotten her a lace gown to wear to dinner the year before, their 13th anniversary. It is said that lace is gifted that year because that is the thinnest and most fragile year in a relationship; an immense amount of hardships are supposedly seen that year. She wondered if that meant they would never stop. Was their anniversary the commencement of the hardships? They were coming up on their fifthteenth year together, she thought it would be a wonderful surprise if she were the one to gift him something. Something crystal for this one, maybe this will instill the tradition between the two of them. She bought crystal vases and decor for his office, she knew he would love them. Finally looking down at the bracelet, she struggled to read a part of his vows “Through thick and thin,” she barely even whispered, her lips only partially moving apart. Her top lip was swollen on the right side, so as she spoke a small shy gap would appear only on the left side of her mouth. He went that indepth in research and finding the perfect gift and the perfect jeweler to engrave this gift for his perfect wife to show, not only her, but the world, that they had a perfect life.
Gold is one of the most malleable elements. It would be too soft to wear in its pure state; its shape and all of the characteristics would become destroyed just from everyday occurrences. Gold is usually alloyed with a mixture of elements, such as silver, platinum, and zinc among others in order for it to grow stronger and become more durable. She is gold. Not gold in a way where she is strong and beautiful. Not in a way where she is compared to the the alloyed elements. She is pure gold, malleable, and fragile. She is defenseless against the outside world and she cowers and retracts when a stronger outside force is acting upon her. Yet, she is still beautiful to the naked eye. The scratches, the dents, they cannot be seen, and they can always be buffed out. She is pure gold, without anyone to come and support her, not silver, not platinum, not even zinc, pure destructible, ‘Au,’ right off the table of elements, type of gold. Look into her eyes, that is where you’ll see. Hidden behind the captivating emerald green color, there are these gold flecks, dancing around a ring of fire.
Her eyelids twitched and her eyelashes, smothered in mascara, wet from tears, fluttered as her eyeballs frantically moved underneath. Her head was almost tucked in between her legs, as she sat curled in a fetus-like ball, protected in the corner of the dimly lit room. Sitting the way you were taught to sit during a ‘shelter in place’ at school if there was a wicked storm brewing outside. Legs folded into your chest tightly, your arms thrown above and wrapped around, sheltering your head in case something comes crashing down. Does the same position protect you when your world comes crashing down? When the walls that once protected you, come caving in, engulfing you into the depths of the unknown? This was what she wondered when she was reminiscing on the better times. When there was something other than the bruises, there was once better. She reminisced on these memories everytime that she found herself in this balled up position. It had become a ritual… not one that she would confess to anyone or recommend if she were to become a life coach one day, but a ritual nonetheless. She simply could not accept that this was her, this was now who she was. She became the woman with sporadic bruises on her wrist, arms, hips and legs. Once some would fade, more would reappear, like some sick-minded magic trick. Her least favorite color schemes are purples, browns, and blues. That seems to be what she wears the most. Her pale, chinadoll skin is the perfect canvas for the weekly splashes of purple and blues. A masterpiece of color that is sometimes enhanced by a bold red pigment that drips over its backdrop, the trail of color it leaves behind changing the painting all together. Later in week the colors fades and becomes murky. Falling to the other side of the color wheel, browns and muddled yellows emerge, taking the place of the more vibrant previous shades.
She became the woman who had a constant stream of mascara fauceting from her eyes. She learned from this. She now knew, as any makeup connoisseur should, to wear waterproof mascara. He never noticed the change in her makeup routine, he never noticed things anymore. He only saw the things he did not want to see, things that, you could say, would set him off.
Knives and spoons should always be placed to the right, the blade of the knife turned inward towards the plate. The dinner and salad fork establish themselves to left of the plate, accompanied by a linen napkin. This is how any proper and great table should be set, especially in a house as beautiful and put together as theirs. He came home from work, earlier than expected, dinner was still in the oven, while she ran frantically around the kitchen in her sweatpants. He had been working all day, wearing a suit, the buttons buttoned to the top to greet the knot of the tie. The tie still as tight as it when he first tied it that morning, before the morning sun had even snuck in through the window. He even stopped on the way home to buy her beautiful red roses. The kind of flowers that he would had to have gone to a flower shop for, not ones that he could have just picked up, that were withering away, awaiting death or departure from their bucket in a grocery store. This is his mentality. To be the best, you have to buy and look the best. He had been working all day and yet, she could not even put dinner on the table. He stormed into the kitchen, amped up on pure hatred for a wife who showed no respect. He saw her gold bracelet that he had gifted her and then looked down at the flowers clenched in his hand. He had worked for that, he had spent the time, the hours in the office. He was the one on calls dealing with relentless clients who were always nagging and inconsistent in what they really wanted. The company was doing well, better than the previous years, but he was still yet to be fulfilled. It could do better, he could do better. It was her. He knew it was her. She was his ball and chain, anchoring him down and holding him back.
His favorite quote to strive for and to live by is a very peculiar choice. A book that he read in high school, Master Harold and the Boys, by Athol Fugard. Fugard writes “[a man of magnitude] would be somebody who… somebody who benefited all mankind” This is the kind of thing that has stuck with him forever. He wants to be a man of magnitude. In his own selfish ways he believes that if he betters his company and his life, he is bettering a greater area of the world. She is only holding him back, costing him time, money, and effort.
Haphazardly throwing the flowers onto the marble island in the kitchen, some rose petals broke off and hung tirelessly to the base of the flower. The petals matched the color of his face as they burned a vibrant red of revenge. In one long stride he was right behind her. She held onto the counter in fear of what she already knew. He would not tolerate a woman who did not know her place. How dare she not look him in his eyes! He grasped the backs of her shoulders as if his hands were grappling hooks themselves. Spinning her around and pushing her backwards, hard, into the countertop in one swift motion. He was on autopilot as his muscle memory preformed. She sulked under his firey glare afraid to feel the burning smolders by simply looking into his eyes. He grabbed a hold of her face and began spitting firey words. Words of hate and disgust. Her face squirmed under his hold and he grabbed onto her wrist, his thumb pressing harder, grabbing both of her wrists in one of his hands. He cocked one arm back, as if it were a loaded gun, and he swung hard and he swung fast, in one swift motion. She felt the blow on the right side of her face before she heard his hand slap against her fragile skin. Her body absorbing the shot and falling into his arms. Her body was a Raggedy Ann Doll being tossed carelessly. Relating her own body to a doll she once played with, as if getting struck was a childhood memory, that was the same feeling that came to her mind, that familiarity. How disgusting that this was something so natural that it felt familiar. He began to roar more nasty slurs directly into her face. The outside sounds becoming warped as his words melted into each other, his shriek became overpowered by the internal thumping of blood rushing to her cheek and side of her head pounding.
Without thinking she reached back, her hand blindly looking for something, anything to fight back. She had never done that before, fought back. This was something very unfamiliar in a scene that was rightfully common to her. Her hand grabbed something. It was glass, heavy. Hweavy enough to hurt. With her eyes firmly squeezed shut, she grabbed it and indiscriminately swung. The vase shattered against his head, the pieces cascading as they sprinkled the floor. Something was so beautifully breathtaking about the way these pieces fell, like the first snowfall of the season. His body collapsed to the floor in a puddle of disgust. Looking down at the shards of the broken vase in her hand she realized what it was. “Crystal… happy anniversary,” she let out in a soft cry as she ran away from the scene. Her mental shackles finally freed as she looked upon the reminisce on the floor. Grabbing her keys, she ran out of the darkened house.
The moon’s darkness was engulfing the warmth that was once there, intruding through the windows and casting its mystical shadows on the hardwood floor. Dew was beginning to materialize on the blades of grass that looked as though they could prick your finger with a touch. The house was standing on guard as the moon casted its darkness down below on the ever-pleading earth. The sun was long gone, it had been pulled from behind the mountains into an undisclosed secret location. The Earth needs the sun, this is true, but now where was it? Why was the sky struck by this darkness that blanketed over this house? He did it. He brought the darkness. He was not the sun. He was the darkness, that flooded her light. She could not drive away fast enough, pressing hard on the gas as the house stood too daunting, too out of place. Her entire existence capsized as quickly as the the day changed to night. Sterling silver and blue and black hues engulfed the road behind her, chasing her heels as she drove further away. Sterling silver is very durable on its own. It is very beautiful and commonly found. She is not pure gold, the colors of the sun, she is sterling silver, assembled from the colors of the night. He is not her sun. Her strength was found under the moon.