See links to previous posts in this series at the bottom of the page.
Estelle is in rare form on this early July morning. In fact, any long-time neighbor who might happen to see her standing defiantly on her front porch with hands on her hips as she glares at the Hernandez home next door would be shocked. She is always mindful of who is out-and-about and did everything she could to not be seen for more than a second. Estelle is definitely beside herself as she prepares for an unwanted confrontation. Caravana fretfully, tries to distract and comfort her by rubbing her legs and meowing but Estelle is in vigilant mode; unaware of herself and his presence. She’s had enough! That unattended child next door, that little Alisha, had spied on her for the last time! When Mrs. Hernandez came home this afternoon she was going to get a piece of her mind! Estelle mumbles to herself, “How ridiculous for an eleven or twelve year old child to be home alone all day! It just proves that religious people have no common sense no matter how perfect they think they are!” It riles Estelle to see that little family pile into their car every Sunday morning, rain or shine, to go to church but during the week, leave that little girl home alone with nothing to do but bother her! She was definitely going to let them know about it!
With a set plan of action in mind, Estelle and Caravana go back inside the house and Estelle tries to focus on her work. However, instances of catching Alisha spying on her over the last couple of weeks keep bubbling up in her mind. Anger is meant to block all other thoughts and prepare the threatened one for battle with super-focus on the enemy. Estelle is very angry and simply can’t think about anything else but the events that have violated the safety of her privacy and her pending confrontation set for this afternoon. She gives up on work after several failed attempts to accomplish anything cohesive and begins pacing in her office. Her pacing turns to wandering from one room of her house to the other. This tear Alisha made into the fabric of Estelle’s cloistered world is fostering greater tearing and in each room she enters, unwanted, long denied memories assault her. Images of daily life with her mother overwhelm her and exhausted she enters her bedroom, closes the door, and collapses on her bed. Estelle’s room doesn’t look like a magazine. Everything here is a scattered eclectic mess. A room cluttered with objects from childhood mixed with her adult things and nothing ordered into any cohesive purpose. Undeveloped would probably be the best word to describe the décor of this room in this perfectly decorated house.
Estelle curls into a fetal position with Caravana spooning himself into her stomach. She mindlessly caresses him while in a transfixed trance, overwhelmed by images and feelings of the past. Those memories are so intense that if she tries to move she won’t be able to because her body is shut down, giving all its energy to her overloaded, flooded brain. Flash after flash of instances when Estelle so desperately needed her mom to be there for her. A mom who was always present, who she could see and touch, but was emotionally absent. Emma had been so overwhelmed with herself that she seldom even saw her little girl. Estelle wonders if her mother had ever really known what she looked like. In this moment of sensory overload and the emotional flash-backs accompanying it, Estelle feels the full weight of abandonment and suddenly, understands why. She’d spent her entire childhood in a state of emotional abandonment! She acknowledges herself as an invisible child whose emotional needs went unmet. In fact, all of her childish needs were secondary to the gaping need of her mother. This paralysis she experiences is the frozen terror of a child left all alone in the world.
With a vehement surge, the chocolate eyes of Alisha Hernandez fill Estelle’s visual field. A child left all alone; a child whose eyes hold the same cold hunger as the eyes of Emma. Those eyes that see others as interesting or uninteresting objects to be moved this way and that for pleasure or to fill needs. Objects that when failing to produce pleasure or serve a useful purpose are then discarded without a thought. “The eyes of a cold-hearted queen” Estelle thinks out loud and in an instant, understands that ‘Queen and her personal servant’ was the description that best fit the relationship she once had with her mother. Another flood of memories come; memories of a desperate little girl trying so hard to please her mother, make her happy, and make her notice her existence. She feels that deep sadness that often overwhelmed her as a little girl and that deep, insistent desire that someone, anyone, especially her mother would notice she was hurting and ask her why. No one ever asked that question and Estelle longs for it now with the same intensity of pain she carries with her every day, in silence.
“Caravana! You are the only living creature who has ever cared about me!” The old, white tom cat responds by stretching, gently patting Estelle’s face with his paws, and then lifts himself up to lick her tears. Estelle’s tears are rolling now. A deep fount of long-stored-salt-water bursts open and the normal mute-hush, of this ghostly house, shatters in the crying shrieks of an abandoned child.
Estelle falls into a debilitated sleep that lasts until ended by the sharp slam of a car door.
To be continued.