Story Competition 2008, winner's story - Rosalind McConville
Fallen from Grace
by Rosalind McConville
With the darkness setting in around me, and it becoming harder and harder to see all I want to do is run straight back home, but I can't. I can't weaken and go back to her. Not after everything she's done I can look after myself. So now I have no choice but to keep running in the pitch dark and hope for the best. The only thing ringing in my ears is the thump of my feet banging off the country road and my own panting for breath with the cold air catching in my throat and the mist from my mouth steaming up my glasses. I can barely see now but there's no way I'm stopping.
Where am I? I thought where I was before was dark, but that's doesn't compare to where I am now. The bottom of my legs pounding because of my fall and the dampness of where ever I am soaking through my jeans making the new atmosphere all that much worse. The only thing that comes to mind is to pull myself up, but as I cling to the wall to try to get up or out or whatever it is I'm trying to do, the wall around me begins to crumble and it is far to high for me to get out by myself any other way. At this point the true realisation of my fate dawns upon me, obvious I'd fallen down a hole. A hole there was no chance I was going to be able to get myself out of. I need help. Damn! I've no signal! Why does that always happen at the most inconvenient times?
"John! John! Get up here! Siobhan's not in her room!" with that screech of my wife's voice I knew I would never get to watch the end of the match. I had no choice but to rip myself up from the chair and go see what our Ruby had got herself in a fluster about today. "JOHN!" With a quick glance over my shoulder I scurry up the stairs, and there was Ruby holding on to Siobhan's old ragged teddy bear for dear life...
It still smells like her. Why did I have to go and open my big mouth and say all those harsh uncalled for things? She's my daughter, my family. I'm meant to be there for her no matter what and now goodness only knows where she is! The only thing I know is that my 15 year old daughter climbed out of her window and left, and there is no way I can tell John what made her run away.
"Ruby she's not answering her mobile I've been calling for two hours now. We need to take more serious action." The first time in over 25 years of marriage my husband's voice made me feel physically sick. But unfortunately I knew he was right, but I didn't want to ring the police just yet.
My mother's same old dinners day in, day out and as I try and come up with a reason not to eat my cabbage I am saved by the bell, my mobile begins to ring, and my display shows it's Siobhan's home. Things mustn't have gone too bad with telling her parents, if she's allowed to use the phone. I didn't even have the patience to say hello so with all guns blazing I said "How'd it go? How'd your parents take it? What happened?" Barely gasping for breath in between each question, there was no chance Siobhan could have answered any of them. "Excuse me?" a strong deep voice replied from the other end. That's not Siobhan's voice, what's going on? "Alison? This is Mr Rodgers, Siobhan's father I was wondering if Siobhan happens to be at your house at the moment?" I was in absolute shock. Where'd she go? She couldn't have chickened out and not told her parents everything. So I had to stutter some sort of reply, and get her father to tell me what's happening, which won't be an easy task as the man has never liked me and will probably blame it all on me when he finds out everything. "No, she's not with me. Is there something wrong? If you tell me what happening I could maybe ring around everyone and see if that would help?" I think that went smoothly enough, I NEED to know what's happening Siobhan is my best friend after all and she's under so much pressure. I just hope that she hasn't done anything stupid. "Oh no, Alison if she's not there it doesn't matter."
Why did he hang up so abruptly? What is going on? She must have run away from home. But Siobhan wouldn't, it's so out of character for her, she's always there for everyone, too kind for her own good. Well until this latest event happened anyway.
"It's time to ring the police Ruby there's nothing else we can do until they know. I've driven around, rung her friend, everything! I just don't understand why you don't want the authorities knowing?" I can't tell the world I don't know where my own daughter is, everyone will think I don't even care about my own beloved daughter. I'm not a neglectful mother. I did realise that she was being different but how was I suppose to guess it was anything as serious as this. Siobhan would never get into a situation like this. We brought her up to be better than that, I taught her to respect herself better than this. I'm the only person that knows. I have to tell John what has happened before he rings the police, but I can't, I can't tell him what his little girl has done, he'd never forgive her, he'd never even be able to look at her again.
I bet no one has even noticed I'm gone yet. They'll all be much happier without me. The cold of the autumn evening beginning to nip at my fingers and toes more than I ever imagined it could. All I want now is for my mother to come back and tell me she'll be there to support me that she'll do what she can. I didn't need her to tell me she couldn't look at me ever again. That in her eyes I was no longer her daughter. Why would she care now that I'm not at home? No one cares about me or what I'm going through.
I knew I should have kept Rover on the lead. He always goes haywire "Rover?" The night is so silent my voice rings through the country field that I'm forced to walk my dog in because I'm never out of the office in time to bring him to the park. I really shouldn't keep him, he's a lot of work, but ever since Dylan, my husband died a year and a half ago of a brain tumour, leaving without blessing me with the joy of children, it's just been so lonely that it's nice to have Rover to come home to. Not another sound to be heard in the distance, not even the stream of traffic on the main road, the field is tranquil and soothing. I continue to walk the lane with grass growing up the middle of it, flashlight in hand trying to find where Rover has gone. Until the gentle sound of weeping catches my ear. At first I thought it was Rover, until I realised that there was another person out here too. Using my torch to help me scan the soundings I can see nothing except fields and hedges. Am I imagining things? But if I'm not where is this person? They obviously need help if they are in a deserted country field in the dark, crying. "Hello? Is there someone out there?"
Is someone calling? Has my mum come to find me? I knew she cared. "Help! Help!" my voice sounding so raw because of all the crying. "Hello? Were are you?" That's definitely not my mother calling back, I don't know if I want to be saved by someone I don't know, I want my mother to realise what she's done and to come save me. But I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon.
"I'm down the hole!"
"Will I keep yelling and you follow my voice?"
"Ever played ‘Marco, Polo?"
After several minutes of Siobhan yelling Marco and the new rescuer yelling Polo they find each other, and a set of legs with grey jeans on, and white Nike walking shoes hang down over the side of the hole.
"Are you okay? Are you injured?"
"No, no I'm fine well as far as I'm aware anyway."
"I've phoned for help. Can I ask why on earth you are down a hole on such a cold night?"
"I was running away from a family that will never accept me back. Not after all that I've done!"
"Had a disagreement with your parents? We've all done it, I used to threaten to run away from home once a month."
"I think this is a little different. I've no choice but to run, my mum practically disowned me. Why did I have to be so stupid and tell her what I'd done? I should have just sorted it myself and told no-one. And then I could have gone back to simple old Siobhan Rodgers. The girl with no personality"
"Hey, hey. We all say things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. I'm sure she didn't mean it! I'm sure she's sitting at home now regretting everything she's said trying to get in touch with you at this very minute. "
"There's no way she is, not after everything I've done and destroyed so many lives in the process of doing it."
"I'm very confused Siobhan, what have you done?"
"I'm pregnant. I don't believe I'm in this situation; I'm only fifteen for goodness sake."
"I assume you told your mother and she freaked out? And that's why you ran, because at fifteen running seems like the best answer?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"And the father? Did he run?"
"He doesn't know, and he's not going to. I can't tell him and destroy his life as well."
"I'm sure he'd want to know, you can't make his life desiccations for him. Have you been going out long? "
"No, we were never going out. We were at a party and my self-esteem was a little low and one thing lead to another, and now I'm in a dilemma like this. I don't believe I'm telling you all this. I don't even know your name."
"Martha, Martha Jackson, but that's not important right now. We have to get you out of there now! If you fell down the hole we need you out, we need to make sure that your unborn child is safe."
To get Siobhan out of that hole was a struggle, but we finally managed it, she looked nothing like I had imagined. She was a simple and innocent looking girl. Her stands of mousy brown hair hung around her face, big green eyes lifted off her pale face, with a few freckles dashed across it. Then I realised that Siobhan was just girl who had lost her way in the world. And now the world had left her a permanent reminder of her mistake. Just with that we saw a line of torch lights in the distance and people calling her name. "Oh" she said "That's my Mum's voice and I'm sure I can hear my Dad. Do you think they care about me after all?" "Yes" I answered "That's one thing you will learn soon enough. You can never turn your back on your children".