Anthony Self’s New Short Story – Loving Rapunzel

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LOVING RAPUNZEL

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Thursday 13th February 8.30pm

Rapunzel came into my life about seven years ago. I was doing mandatory voluntary work at the shelter – (ha-ha) I just read that back to myself. Mandatory voluntary work. Bit of an oxymoron if ever I’d heard one. Anyhow, one night I’d decided to have a few beers with some work colleagues and thought it would be okay to drive home. When the police pulled me over as soon as I rolled down the driver’s side window the cop had to step back from the door otherwise I would have puked all over his shoes. So it was either thirty days in jail or three hundred hours community service. I picked the latter. That and the prospect of getting shivved in the back at Wormwood Scrubs didn’t really appeal. She was serene, and stoic. She had these big brown eyes that just hypnotised me straight away. She had been put in the shelter because of domestic abuse; some hard-nosed bastard had kicked the living shit out of her and left her in a street to die. But when we met, and I looked into those eyes something just clicked. We both had our own demons, mine was drinking – hers was falling in love with the wrong people. After I finished the programme I kept finding excuses to go back to the shelter just to see her. I looked after her during my stint at the shelter…no one else gave a rats’ ass. Broken goods, they said. She wasn’t particularly attractive – most people would describe her as plain, I guess. She would also lash out at people. If someone looked at her the wrong way she would fight them tooth and nail. But there was something about her…something I could see that no one else could…There was an incident at the shelter, I can’t quite remember now but someone got verbal with her and she lashed out. Three strikes, they said. She was out. Done for. So I said I’d take care of her. We were soon living together. So for about seven years now we’ve been sleeping together every night (and some lazy afternoons). It’s been a good seven years. But something’s not right now, I know that. You can tell, with these things. I thought I’d write down my thoughts – it’s either that or I start drinking again. Damn, My hand is starting to cramp, so I’ll get back to this later.

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Friday 14th February 07.40am

Rapunzel is on some kind of hunger strike. I haven’t seen her eat anything in the last couple of days. I knew something was wrong. She’s become listless – when I ask her what’s the matter she doesn’t respond to me. She’s never been cold with me. Never. She’s gaunt too. I think I can see her ribs starting to poke through her body. I told her to eat something, but she doesn’t listen. She just seems to sleep a lot. I don’t know what to do.

11.00pm

As we laid in bed tonight night I started massaging her tiny frame – and I nearly started crying when I heard her raggedy breath. I think something is very wrong. But I have to go to work tomorrow. I just thought I’d write this as I went for a piss.

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Sunday 16th February 09.00am

I’ve been given meds to treat her but she doesn’t want them. It’s like she’s giving up. I had to literally spoon-feed her yesterday because when I asked her ‘when was the last time you ate?’ she just looked at me like I was some kind of alien.

04.30pm

She’s started whining in her sleep. I’m not sure she’s aware she’s even doing it. Bottle of Whiskey hidden away in the kitchen cabinet three years ago seems tempting right about now.

10.00

Fucking people dont want to kmow – jest fuking looking nodding and smilling hesds like those car bobble head things. Can’t rememmber what you call them. Haha – car bobbity bob. Bop bop. Rapunzel has shalow breathing. Nearly time.

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Monday 17th February 10.30am

Not going into work today. I held Rapunzel and kissed her and whispered into her ear the sweetest things I could think of. I thanked her for saving me all those years ago and that I was a lucky sonofabitch for meeting her. I said I was sorry I couldn’t do anything to help her. I said I was sorry I drank last night. She looked wiped out but it was almost like she smiled at me. I knew it was time to let her go.

1.20pm

The Vet has just left. When he administered the overdose of sleeping medication I just simply stroked Rapunzel and held onto her until I felt her body go limp. And then it was all over. Seven years. My darling Rapunzel.  My sweet, sweet loving Rapunzel with the big brown eyes. My constant companion.

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