Here is a bit from a newer story I have been writing, working title, The Elixir. I will tag any new segments under The Elixir as I post them.
Isadore loved Henry. Not a moment passed that this ever made her happy. Even at the height of his most ardent attentions she would imagine the freedom that would come if she could switch her feelings off like a light, or engineer a sudden course adjustment sending her heart careening down tracks to a more fruitful destination. The blissful glaze had turned into a fervent wish that she wouldn’t care enough to blink should karma cause his head roll to a bloody stop at her feet.
She had stumbled so willingly into the trap as he professed his uncontrollable obsessions, his unworthiness, his vice. The confessions of his unsuitable nature were the gleam of truth in Henry’s lies. It was true, he did not deserve her affections. It was true, he was not a good person. Isadore had crumpled his declaration and discarded it, jumping headlong into his arms because she wanted to believe that everyone deserves to be loved. She wanted to believe he couldn’t hurt her. Now she knew better.
No, the man who had yanked her chain for two shameful years had never deserved or appreciated her. Henry was a bad man wrapped up like a good one; a package of deceit, wrapped up in plain brown paper, then tied with a sincere bow. After a great deal of time and effort, the layers of wrapping were still thick enough to obscure the contents but one started to suspect, that the package contained no gift, as the distinct smell of rotting fish wafted up from the folds. By then it was too late because Isadore’s gullible little heart had convinced her that to love someone, one accepts them as they are. It never even occurred to her that you can love someone as they are and yet walk away.
Love can be foolish like that. You can kick it, gore it and throttle it. Still, it will wag its tail then roll over to show you it’s bleeding belly. When the steel jaws have snapped on its tender foot it will calmly wait for the hunter to set it free. If there is a cliff, love will step off of it every single time, because someone will be there to catch the falling imbecile just often enough to convince it that impulsively stepping off cliffs is a reasonably safe, even sensible plan. Isadore’s foolish heart, perhaps the victim of too many shock treatments, stared blankly past the likely future, oblivious to the creeping gangrene that wound it’s way up her leg like a stocking, the noxious lingerie held in place by a delusion that love would conquer all. That delusion carried her deep into trouble and it kept her there. For Isadore it had started as a mission and ended as a sentence that could not be commuted. She loved Henry. Done. Finite.
And now she found herself sitting in the dark, silently seething, Isadore willed her foolish heart to stop, just STOP! She had walked away. She had cut him out of her life cleanly. When that didn’t work, she had been messy and brutal. She reclaimed her heart in words but her chest felt hollow. If she couldn’t stop dreaming, thinking and breathing Henry perhaps she needed to stop dreaming, thinking and breathing. But she knew he wasn’t worth it and she knew she couldn’t go through with something so final. She still hoped her heart could heal and find it’s way to someone more deserving, someone who would actually love her back.
The months went on unnoticed, Isadore pushed her pen over paper, spilled her voice into the phone, sat in traffic, punched the clock and met social obligations in a fugue state. Her friend Tina took on the role of fearless motivational coach, making sure that Isadore vented and didn’t spend too many of her days retreating to her cave. Tina also dragged her to their ritual theater group for which Isadora was grateful. They were in full swing, preparing for the annual DramaCon and there was much to plan for. Isadore was more than a little thrilled that she wouldn’t risk running into her ex. Henry had been to DramaCon once, dragged there by some girl he fancied and he had made it pretty clear he had no interest in returning. They weren’t his kind of people, they were hers. Isadore found herself perking up. Sometimes her chest felt less hollow, as if a bird was building a nest, filling in the space with expectation. It was good to be clear headed, to feel like she was finally making decisions without being manipulated!
Henry was a masterful manipulator with a pout that would put the high school prom queen to shame and a smile that could oil the most stubborn gear into motion. There were moments of cruelty no one had witnessed or lived to tell about. However, when the right people were looking he could be exceedingly charitable and generous with his time. Image was important to Henry. It was imperative that he be perceived as a good man with a good heart. He must be a good friend. A good boyfriend. A good employee. All good.
Yet despite needing to maintain and even believe in that good image, he would confess his ills to certain people, usually women, as a sort of disclaimer before seducing and mistreating them. When he felt the first pangs of what he perceived must be guilt, generally after he had milked all the validation and sex he needed from them, he would declare himself the victim and work that angle so deftly he would convince his friends to dismiss the injured party and comfort him. He often bamboozled the woman into questioning and scapegoating herself in the process. He was such a good guy, how could he be an abusive one?
But that didn’t work with Isadore. He was under her skin, but she knew he was evil. She called him on it. And people liked Isadore as much as they liked Henry, even more in some cases. It was a complicated break up, but in the end Henry managed to escape with most of his secrets intact while Isadore nursed a hole in her chest and wished she could be angrier. He wallowed in paranoia while she prepped meaningful dialogue for workshops and skits, painted props and filled her suitcase with costume bits. Henry made grand declarations to his friends that he would be single and celibate for a year. This meant he would be keeping up appearances while cruising online for someone with low enough self esteem that he would be guaranteed his debauchery without the risk of discovery.Meanwhile, Isadore happened upon Winston who was handsome, funny and genuinely delighted to have her on his arm in public. Every time Winston made her laugh, she longed to regain custody of her heart long enough to give it to him. After a few months she let Winston slip away, a kindness she told herself, but it felt like she had dropped a ruby down an elevator shaft and she hated herself for letting a truly good man get away, for pushing him away.