Chapter 2

An excerpt from the book I’ll never write

Advertisements

Someone told me last week, that anxiety is just a fancy word clinicians use for fear. I find comfort in knowing that anxiety is not a term that I have to associate myself with for the rest of my life, but rather it is something I can overcome. 

“Penny! Penny! Where are you?!” I woke up startled to the shrieks of my mother coming from down stairs. I can hear her loud foot steps approaching, her slippers thudding on the floor with every step because they are slightly too big. She comes to a halt at the front of my door before banging on it with her hand. “Penny! Are you awake? For goodness sake it’s 11am! Get up!”. “Yes Mum…” I reply wearily. I drag myself out of bed, shuddering as I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror, my long brown hair is a tangled mess and my eye brows could definitely use a wax… I’ve always loathed the girls who have flawless skin and perfectly shaped eyebrows, their lives just seem so effortless… 

I stand under the shower, letting the water run over all the curves of my body. I remember that tonight I am going to a party with my boyfriend Jason, I contemplate what I am going to wear. It’s going to be cold, but does Brisbane ever really get cold? Jason and I have been together for two years, he is perfect. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Jason also has brown hair, and bluey green eyes. My best friend Clare thinks it’s funny to suggest that I have a ‘type’, being that I always go for guys who fit that description. Clare is going to the party too, so I am looking forward to meeting up with her there. Clare has a bit of a wild side, she is the friend I can always rely on to take a quite night of wine, cheese and Netflix to tequila shots in a gay bar at 3:30am.

As the sunsets, I drive to the bottle shop to pick up a few bottles of Gossips Pink Moscato, at $3 a bottle, they easily fit into my uni student budget. As usual the cashier asks me for I.D even though I am a regular customer and consistently buy the same thing. I like to think he finds satisfaction in the small things, there’s nothing quite like being thorough. I continue on my way to Jason’s house, I have an overnight bag packed as tonight I will be staying at his house, much to my mothers dismay. I pull into the drive way and he comes out to greet me, “Hey babe! Ready for tonight?” He says grinning as he kisses me on the forehead.

“Yeah, I bought 2 bottles of wine… What are you drinking?” 

“I have a couple of beers, do you want to go out after? The boys are all going…” 

I take this as a hint that he wants to go out with his friends. I don’t really like his friends, but as his girlfriend, I have to tolerate them. I go inside and dump my duffle bag on Jason’s bedroom floor. His room is larger than mine, more spacious. I decide to apply my makeup, carefully applying concealer to ensure coverage of all my freckles. I hate my freckles, it astounds me how people get them tattooed on these days. I choose to wear red lipstick, the outfit I picked is a little black dress that defines my bum. Clare always tells me that in our friendship she has the boobs and I have the booty and if you put us together we would be the perfect woman.

I hear Jason call out from the kitchen, “Hey Penny! I’m gonna call the uber! Make sure you’re ready!” I take one last look at myself in the mirror, before doing a final spray with my MAC prep and prime to hold my layers of makeup in place. “Yeah I’m ready! I’ll be out in a sec!” I put on my boots, I figure the party is going to be outside and I don’t want my feet to get dirty.

The uber ride to the party isn’t long, I don’t even know who’s party it is! I’m just merely attending as Jason’s girlfriend… I know Clare is going, but I hope there is someone else that I know in case Clare decides she wants to bail and take a mysterious male with her. We pull up out the front of the house, it’s a narrow townhouse, fairy lights are draped across the balcony indicating that there is an event here tonight. Jason and I walk up the gravel pathway to the front door and he knocks in a weird rhythm, as if he was trying to be secretive and make a drug deal. A large beaming man opens the door, “Jason! You’re here! And this is…?”

“Oh hey Mr Smith, this is my girlfriend Penny, I hope it’s okay she’s here, I did tell Josh she would be coming.” Jason replies smiling at the man, who is now taking up the entire doorway.

“Of course my boy! Josh is out the back, I think they’re playing a game of beer pinga… no that’s not right… beer ping?”

I sheepishly correct him, “…beer pong?”

“Ah yes! That’s it! Beer pong! I think Andrew has already emptied his stomach contents onto my brand new tomato plant… so if you also feel the need to do so there is a toilet!” Shaking his head, Mr Smith moves aside to let us into his home.

Upon entering the backyard, I notice a circle of girls, who are cheering on the boys playing beer pong, I’m assuming they are their girlfriends. I am shy, but I approach the group and pull up a chair next to them. They all introduce themselves to me, but I don’t take the time to remember their names as it is unlikely I will see them again. Jason and I hardly talk at the party, it makes me a bit uncomfortable considering I don’t know anyone because Clare hasn’t arrived yet. I can see Jason is becoming increasingly intoxicated, he is becoming loud and overbearing. 

“Hey, maybe you should slow down a bit… you won’t end up making it out to the clubs!” The tone in my voice makes my statement seem more like a suggestion. Jason spins around and glares at me, “Penny! I can handle my booze, I’m not a little kid so don’t treat me like one!” I touch his arm, he angrily shakes me off. I skulk away and leave him be. Jason is short tempered, especially after consuming alcohol, I prefer when he drives, he intimidates me when he is angry.

Clare still hasn’t arrived, it would be nice to see a familiar face… I really just want to go home. I contemplate calling an uber, because Jason is going to head out with his friends after anyway. In the corner of my eye, I spot a guy sitting by himself, he is staring pitifully at a girl who is very drunk, she has her head buried in Mr Smith’s tomato plant… The poor tomato plant, can’t catch a break! I proceed towards the lonely guy, I say hello as I sit down beside him.

“Hi I’m Alex” he says looking rather glum. 

“I’m Penny, your night looks like it’s going as great as mine…” I reply to him sadly. Alex looks up at me, then over at the girl who is still face down in the garden bed, he shakes his head, “I told Lucy not to drink tonight… she’s been taking antibiotics for a chest infection… but she doesn’t listen to me…” 

“Is Lucy your girlfriend?”

“Yeah… 3 years and counting! She’s great, but I hate nights like this…”

“I know, Jason is my boyfriend, he’s over there… losing at beer pong…” I say in agreement.

“Are you disappointed because he’s intoxicated and your not? Or because he’s losing at beer pong?” Alex says smiling.

I giggle, it’s nice to chat to someone else who is sober. “I was going to drink,” I said, “but then I just wasn’t feeling it… especially when I don’t know anyone.”

Alex and I continue to chat and I laugh as he tells me some horrendous jokes. Jason hears me giggling and directs his gaze towards me. His brow is furrowed, I look at him and instantly know he is angry. He storms over, “Penny, can I talk to you please!”

I look at him slightly confused, “yeah…?”

“In private!” He scowls.

Jason drags me by the arm into what appears the host’s bedroom. “What do you think this is Penny! I am nothing but good to you and this is how you repay me!” His voice is increasing in volume. I begin to slowly back away from him, but he is still clutching my wrist tightly. “I just can’t believe you!” He bellows, “you’re flirting with old mate outside! He’s a loner Penny! Nobody likes him! A weirdo!” 

“Jason I-” he cuts me off before I can defend myself. 

“Batting your delicate little eyelids at him and laughing at his shitty jokes!” I tear my wrist away from his grasp, but he reclaims his grip. I begin to panic. My heart is racing and my breathing becomes shallow. I’m so frightened, of Jason, the man I love. 

“Jason you’re scaring me!” I whimper as his angry eyes stare deep into my soul. 

“Good Penny! You should be f***ing scared! You have no right to be like that around other guys!” I let a tear fall down my face. He sees it and cackles with laughter. 

“Oh no, little Penny, crying because Jason is the big bad wolf! Well guess what Penny, you will never get better than this! So you better f***ing learn to appreciate it!”

And with that, he raises his hand and slaps it across my right cheek. He let’s go of my wrist and marches out of the room. I collapse to the floor clutching my cheek, it stings. I am in disbelief at tonight’s occurrences. How could Jason do this to me… He loves me… Tears stream down my face, soothing the stinging sensation. I just sit there, on the floor, for an indefinite amount of time and cry. A million things running through my mind. 

I forgave Jason, he apologised endlessly and swore such behaviour would never occur again. Safe to say, he lied.

My fear for life has been a direct result of my experiences. Burying these painful memories does nothing but allow them to resurface when I least expect it. I’ve never been great at confrontation, but it’s time to jump over the hurdle that now presents itself, and stop shying away.

Still sober. Still swimming. Still hoping for a glimpse of the shore, and praying it’s not as far away as it looks. Still waking up to fight the demons I left so tired the night before.

Until next time x