Night To Remember

Entry by: Olivia

13th November 2015
Night to remember
She sat quietly. Amidst the turmoil of the room, she sat quietly.
She had always wondered how she would be if this had happened. The chances were high, the life of a racing driver was not risk free. It seems that this had been one race too many, one corner too tight, one risk too dangerous.
In the early years she had dreaded this call. She often rehearsed how she would respond. She went through hysterical crying and garment shredding, to stunned indifference. She settled on dignified tears, sliding quietly down her cheeks.
Now she felt only relief. The broken body, wholly dependent on machines for life, marked the end of her unspoken misery. How does one tell the world that their superhero is in fact a coward and a bully? How do you form the words that can tell anyone that you don’t mind if he dies?
She sat there remembering; knowing that she wanted the memories buried with him she gave them free reign, not attempting to hide them, not afraid of what they would show. This was the night when she was going to remember. She looked at his face, bruised and swollen and remembered how it had looked when she first met him. The boyish good looks, the fresh face, unscarred and unruffled by alcohol and drugs. She thought of his manner then, his unassuming friendliness, his delight in the small things of life. She had watched as he had mastered his craft. She saw the praise heaped on him and she watched him puff up as the world noticed him. At first she had been proud but with fame had come distance. There were too many nights apart, too many parties. She couldn’t keep up.
They had regrouped and tried. They had thought that the children would bind them, like so many before them. She felt more trapped, he sped off ever faster. She smelt the other women on him, mingled with the wine and the cigarettes. She never questioned him, preferring pretence to reality. The wine grew in cost and volume and what time he had at home was spent recovering. He told her he was so pressured; trying to bring in money to buy everything they wanted and that he had to find ways of relieving the stress. And the drugs, she was told, were nothing and not to fuss. She was often told what to do and what not to do.
She knew how to obey; she had watched her mother do it for years. Her father ‘had some funny ways’ but they seemed to be tolerated. Just as she had tolerated her own husband’s ways.
The first time he hit her she wasn’t surprised. She had watched his temper rise, it had started when he didn’t win the race that day. He hadn’t actually marked her before, but she knew it was only a matter of time.
The bruise was large and colourful, the story of the door that she had walked into didn’t sound credible no matter how many times she had told it. He was sorry, of course he was sorry. He bought flowers and he promised never to do it again. He blamed the stress of the job, the weather, the children, the performance of the stock market and his father. But he did it again and again.
He was out more and more, she was alone more. She built up her own routines and found her own friends, lived her own life. He swung between self-pity and regret and drunken absences. She noticed texts arriving and furtive glances, she knew that he strayed. She grew indifferent, she had to. She became tough. Their brief times spent together were tense and terse. The continual threat of alcohol soaked violence threatened any sense of peace. Race days were worse when the tension was palpable. She allowed an icy calm to rock her body and no longer responded to his fluctuating emotions.
Every reckless race had taken him one step closer to this day and one step further away from her. Elevated from car fanatic to king of the track, he grew to believe in his own invincibility. She watched the façade block him from his roots until neither he nor she knew where they were going.
The nurse checked him again, diligently noting the machines and the flashing numbers.
She sat beside his bed all through the night. She searched for the memories of the early days. She remembered the closeness and the love. She tried to pinpoint when it slid away from her, but she knew it had drifted, drifted as love turned to bitter anger and regret.
In the cold in the middle of the night she dozed, soothed by the regular noise of the machines.
Morning brought bustle and light. She was stiff and dry, aching and disorientated. The day shift came on noisily. ‘Well Mrs Smith, all seems to be going just fine here; we should be able to wake your husband up in a few days. Its early still, but it looks like he will make a good recovery’. ‘He’s not going to die?’ she stuttered. ‘We think he will be OK once his body gets over the shock of the accident and the surgery. We replaced the blood loss and his bones will repair. Many people manage very well with false limbs – you’ll be taking him home soon’.
She put her head in her hands and wept.