Monday, 6 May 2013

Dogs Delight 10 Just like Clarissa

A lorry rattles by and Rachael looks up, interrupting my reverie by insisting that I start to change my life.  She has stopped playing with her tapestry, which is of a bearded satyr in an antique garden, perhaps a garden in Pompeii, and props it against the sofa for me to admire.  The satyr looks like Peter Hopkirk, who sometimes stands by his hedge surveying his cabbages and vans with the same lascivious expression.  I make an effort to return to the present, to the perfect room with the pastel Indian carpet, the satyr with his horns newly stitched, Rachael still lecturing me:
‘You really cannot go on feeling trapped and dissatisfied all the time.  You’re going to have to begin to find your own way out of it all.’
I imagine Rachael takes her opinions and conversation straight out of the glossy magazines she has arranged in three neat and equal piles on the glass shelf of the display table.  But still, she is right.  I do have to find my way out.  Out of the house, out of the marriage, up and over the high garden walls and right out of the village.  But the village is a prison, a large dark open prison with people watching everywhere.  Like Karen Bride, the tree warden, who strides up Blackthorn Lane counting the chestnuts and noting down diseased branches in her green notebook with what looks like satisfaction.  She probably writes things down about me too. And Rachael doesn’t understand the real difficulty.

I am sure Richard knows what I hope to do.  He watches me when I am looking at people who are different to us: people laughing together, for instance, content with their partners and their children.  One evening I drank too much wine and I told him very firmly that I want to leave.  Leave him, leave the house, leave our children.  And I saw his face change: the usual sardonic expression give way to a sudden fierce outrage and as his eyes held mine I saw something cold stirring in their blue-grey depths. He made a movement with his arm, as if he was holding a sword, and I heard a voice saying, ‘I will have you killed if you leave me.’  

I was cold and trembling.  Richard has some burly frightening men working for him, security men I suppose.  They wear leather jackets or very smart suits and one of them appeared in court once, though the charge didn’t seem to stick.  I am afraid, because although my husband cannot need me he wants to possess me.  I am the mother of his children, and though I have no sophistication and very few social skills I suppose I have an academic quality, something I must pass on to his sons.

Do I really believe that of him?  Well I think I must, because everything my husband wants seems to come to him.  And lately he is distant and angry with me.  I am the only one who can see that he hypnotises everyone and I am trapped inside the high garden walls with the palm trees by the cold pool and the gaudy roses with their long thorns and the phormium.  Trapped with a man I heard arguing with Martin Bent; and Martin Bent has disappeared, or at least I haven’t seen him since the day of the party.  I am imprisoned like poor Clarissa until I can find a secret way out, perhaps with a vista of a green-and-pastel garden and different, dark-haired children playing hide-and-seek among the trees.
Dogs Delight is now available on Kindle at