Charlie on the Hunt: Stella

Charlie on the Hunt: Stella

Finally, I was able to leave the UK for an imperative island-hopping adventure, with social distancing as much as possible. Solitude, by a starving solitude seeker, turns into an obligation. Amidst all the seeking, I am still diligently creating my third novel. CHARLIE ON THE HUNT”. Each chapter is about a unique character. Only at the end does it all tie in…

 

An extract from

STELLA

 

While trying to settle back into her previous life, she felt she had changed so drastically she didn’t know how to carry on being herself. Who was she? Who was she before Dean? Who was she while with Dean? And who was she now, without Dean? She felt a sense of detachment from everything, especially herself, and didn’t realise then how desperately she required help. She didn’t have anyone to turn to; rather, she couldn’t bring herself to turn to anyone. It was easier to survive on her own. She knew nothing different.

Five weeks later, she experienced a wretched sickness so deeply visceral. Fuck! Her period was never late. Perhaps freedom was never hers to have after all; the wrong choices she made had come to be a permanent shackle. Like she imagined marriage was: Entrapment. Maybe this was her dues for feeling relief instead of sadness since discovering her boyfriend’s life terminated abruptly.

She bought a pregnancy test from the pharmacy at a local shopping mall and headed into the nearest toilets. She locked the cubicle door behind her and sat down on the closed toilet seat. With trembling hands, she removed the test from its box. While reading the instructions her whole life, as she had known it, and all her freedom flashed before her eyes. 

She followed the instructions.

Standing with her back against the cubicle door, holding thumbs, four fingers curled over each thumb, she stared at the tube covered in her urine resting on the lid. Her feelings were closer to terror than to fear. As she stood there, through the endless five minutes, the instructions informed her the reaction would take. She had, it felt, all the unwanted time in the world to reflect upon what it would mean if a blue circle were to form.

It did not seem to her possible that she could give birth to a child at her age, never mind give life to a baby as a victim of an assault. And then imagine telling the child its daddy was a murderer. “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” Oh, little one. How would she love a child that was created with such hatred and anger? But Dean told her he loved her. Was being loved abusively, the only way someone was capable of, still love? Not to her, it wasn’t. Would it also turn into a monster? No, it was innocent. It couldn’t even meet its father, even if it wanted to. But it could read all about its dearest daddy in archived news articles. What a bad, Daddy!

What would her parents do to her? She’d bring shame to her family. Repulsion clawed its way all over her skin, making her scratch herself; she’d have to kill it. No! She’s not a murderer. Wasn’t everyone a murderer when they needed to be? Cut flowers on the dining table, eating animal flesh, betrayal, hijack and burglaries gone wrong (only in South Africa? No! Third world countries, America too), drug lords… An endless list of death. Now birth; a miracle. She contemplated how death would not exist without birth.

She returned to the plastic tube, stared at it. She took in another gulp of air, pushing her hair off her face, her brow damp, and then holding her hands together over her stomach, as though she was already expecting to feel a kick. She stared down at a perfect blue circle.

The test was positive. I, Stella Kane, was pregnant by a rapist. She stared and stared at the blue, blurring, no longer a circle. A mess.

Her heart briefly stopped beating. No. It could not be. She could not be pregnant. Not now; please, no! She’s barely an adult herself. She checked the result again, and then again, turning the tube upside down, shaking it. She was pregnant. Perhaps she needed to double-check with Dr Young. No, not her family GP. It couldn’t be happening.

The questions pummelled her brain: What if I really am pregnant? What if this is my reality? Who do I talk to? Who do I get help from? How do I ever follow my lifelong dream to travel the world and explore every corner of Earth? Why was I being punished? She took the contraceptive pill every day, something that’s ninety-nine per cent effective. Shit happens! And it poured when it did.

She had to have it aborted. That’s her only choice. No, there had to be another…

Mandy! She had to speak to her best friend, living on the opposite side of the world. The only one she could ever intimately talk to. She would know what to do. She’s going to be a doctor, after all.

As soon as her parents were both out together, she used the home phone and telephoned Mandy. Her friend sensed something was wrong. Stella blurted out what happened.

‘No way! I don’t believe that bastard! I knew he’d never let you be. Never. And he found a fucking way. After he’s dead and buried. I’m sorry, Stella… I didn’t mean to… How are you feeling? What do you want to do?’

Stella agreed with her friend and added, ‘I’ve thought long and hard and for me, my only two options are having the baby in secret somehow and then giving it up for adoption or aborting it.’

‘In secret? How’s that even possible? Actually, you could come and stay with me as soon as you show.’

‘That could work. What about abortion?’ 

‘I’m pro-life. If that’s your decision, then how would you even go about getting one? Your doctor?’

‘Would have to be a backstreet clinic.’

‘In deepest-darkest-Africa? How safe could that ever be?’

She couldn’t answer her friend. It made her more fearful thinking of it.

‘Give me a few days, and I’ll call. We’ll get through this together. I’m so sorry I’m not there with you right now. Fuck, Stella! I’m sorry you have to go through this. And on your own. What you’ve gone through these past ten months with the Devil, I can’t even imagine…’ 

A few days later, Mandy called Stella.

‘I have a plan!’ Mandy bubbled with excitement.

‘Tell me!’ Stella matched her friend’s bubbling.

‘Friends of my parents are so desperate for a baby, they can’t have one together and are on a waiting list for adoption. Been waiting for a year, going out of their minds. Also, the youngest child they’d get would be five years. Lisa would do anything for a newborn.’

‘Really? Have you spoken to them?’

‘That’s why I needed a few days. I popped over to see them and didn’t let on it’s you. I planted the seed.’ She chuckled. ‘The seed fruited instantly. They said yes. I asked them to think about things for a few days. They still said yes. A few days later, a yes. So, it’s a yes. Yes. Yes. And yes! What do you think? It’s a yes from me. Ha! A yes from you too?’

Stella didn’t know how to respond for a few seconds while gathering her detonating thoughts. She sensed her friend’s excitement and appreciated all of her efforts. ‘I’m intrigued. How would it work, though?’

‘Okay… Yes! Intrigue’s a good start. They’d pay for your return travel expenses, accommodation, food and twenty-thousand rand. Ten thousand upfront. You’d live with them, on their property; they have a lovely two-bedroom pool house and Lisa will help you every step of the way. She works from home. She’s a psychoanalyst. A bonus; get all the therapy you need thrown into the mix. If you need it, of course.’ She laughed.

Twenty-thousand rand? Wow! She had a few thousand rand stashed she took from Dean’s safe after he died. This would enable her to leave South Africa, escape and be free to explore the world. She wouldn’t need to work to earn it or ask Dad, who had already said if she wanted to leave, she needed to earn it herself.

‘It sounds as though they desperately want my baby.’

‘I told them how gorgeous you are. Your child is going to be sooo hot.’

‘What do I tell my parents?’

‘The truth.’

‘Are you off your head?’

‘Most definitely!’ She chuckled. ‘Tell them you’re coming to me for my nineteenth. I’ll have a party especially for you and then you stay on. And I sent you a ticket so you don’t have to worry about costs. Or you run away, leave a note to say you’re safe and will return in a few months. Please don’t look for me…’

‘Okay, I’m in. Can I speak to Lisa?’

‘I’ll pass on your number and you can complete the arrangements with her. I can’t believe I’ll be seeing my best friend again. Three years and two hundred days and seventeen hours and…. twenty-nine, no, thirty seconds. I’m so sorry though it’s under such fucking sad circumstances.’

 

…To Be Continued…

 

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