It was a cold and crisp morning for the first time in what had been a long and very wet winter. The sky was clear, at last, as the fierce sun, low upon the horizon, leant the day its spirit-lifting energy. Folk around the small town of Nowhere were going about their morning routines, many, whose cars still sat in shade of the long shadows, battled heroically with the lingering frost that so inconveniently smothered the windows.
Over at the posh end of town, beyond the streets of large, detached upper middle class houses there was a grove, an area designed similar to a village green. Here four even larger homes stood surrounding their private shared drive. This coveted place to live greeted visitors with a rather expensive looking sign upon which the name ‘Made it’ was written, announcing to everybody, just how important the residents were. At number 3, the L shaped building with a garish looking extension, boasting the largest windows and the fanciest gym. The boot of a very shiny new Landrover was open wide as a middle-aged, strangely coloured woman rummaged through some boxes.
Nobody would dream of calling this lady middle-aged to her face of course but the simple truth is that she was, if anything, leaning towards the later end of middle aged. Despite this she had done, in her own eyes at least, a very respectable and thorough job at ensuring she had a healthy ratio of plastic to organic material in her face. Some, when she wasn’t listening back of course, commented on how difficult this made it to determine her moods, which as we will find out can be rather unpredictable. You see, her expression was set, as if by some programing, to one of a ‘just about’ smile, the only issue being that it was set so firmly that there was no room left for any other expression. People often looked on wide eyes if they happened to be in her company when she laughed, for it was only the sound that gave anything away.
Sally was married with several children, each of which she believed adored her, after all she was a successful woman with a home on ‘made it’ grove. A husband, always at the office, who had once looked on with concern as she paid enough to save a starving village for one botox after another. These days he was long beaten, whatever personality and spirit he once possessed had long been crushed, John was content at the office, a place where the paperwork never spoke with that cruel lashing tongue. At her own place of work, Sally was the queen, surrounded by her minions she was worshiped and respected, or so Loko had always told her anyway.
Who is Loko? Loko is her story teller, we all have one of course but sometimes they get a bit mischievous, they whisper lies and we believe them. Loko was a very powerful story teller, unfortunately power had corrupted him now, as power so often does to the detriment of the rest of us. When Sally was a young girl, Loko was innocent, like her, they played princess and the alien and would save their family over and again from the her evil alien brother. Nights had been spent in land of dreams riding horses and ruling over various lands and lords. As she grew into a teenager she realised as we all do, that world was not always a warm and welcoming place, she experienced, pain, humiliation, heart ache and worst of all jealousy.
It was during these early child to adult years that she had become dependent on Loki, when the rest of her day had been so awful, it had been him that had comforted her. He assured her they were all cruel, mean and out to get her, but she was a beautiful, wonderful girl, a victim of a world only Loko could protect from. Unfortunately, story tellers very rarely, if ever, genuine or nice, its not in their nature. They tend to tell us these stories so that we become a character they have created, burying our real selves away, this hero is in a world that the story teller designs, once caught in that world, it can be almost impossible to remember who you are. Sally had long since, given herself up to the Sally of her story, Loko was the puppet master and she the puppet, though of course she had no idea of the deception.
So as the boot of her Landrover come crashing down and we return to the our middle-aged successful woman, perhaps there is room for sympathy, after all it was originally fear of being hurt that drove Sally and so many others into the world of their story teller.
“It isn’t here Sally” Loko said sternly from beside her, she had been looking for new perfume, contained in one of the many boxes she had returned from town with the previous day. “Sarah said she had brought all of the boxes in, if she had brought all of the boxes in, why the fuck is the one with the perfume neither in the house or the car”
“Maybe I left it back in the shop,” the real Sally thought, before Loko rushed, like a phantom, to appear before her, angry eyes boring into hers.
“She is either a thieving little rat or a lier!” Loko screamed, enticing a similiar reaction from Sally, the real version vanishing as quickly as it had arrived.
“What was I thinking, of course I didn’t leave it, that would be ridiculous” she said irritated now at the vicious attack she had unleashed upon herself for no good reason.
“That cow has you here, self-hating” Loko said in his teacher voice, always informative and listened to intently. “You poor, poor thing, to think you almost blamed yourself, get her down here now, she must explain herself before you go beating yourself up anymore”.
“SARAH!!” Sally roared as she flung open the front door, the house was big but no amount of space could muffle the familiar demonic sounds they had all becomes so used to. In her room listening to music, the teenage Sarah had been lost in different world, a safe one where she never had to please or displease anyone. That world was ripped away, her instincts set alight and like prey caught in the headlights she froze, she had not heard her name, it was the sound that told her enough, she was in trouble.
She was scared as she always was but survival was in control, as much as she wanted to stay hidden away in her room, the consequences of doing so didn’t bare thinking about. She crossed her room, perfectly immaculate, just as Loko wanted it, other than the imprint on her bed where she had been laying moments before. Opening the door She looked out into the hall, her two younger brothers stayed silenced, their doors firmly shut, they knew well enough not to enter the firing line.
“Mum” she called back tentively, softening her approach.
“For goodness sake” Loko said as they waited in the hall bellow. “She doesn’t even come straight here after you called her, by name as well Sally, you called her by name, still she dithers in her room, its a disgrace and disrespectful to you.”
“Stop dithering and next time I shout I don’t need you answering back just get here okay?” Sally regurgitated as Sarah came running down the stairs and with a timid smile.
“Okay mum, sorry,” she said with an air of inquisitiveness, a tactic that often helped move the situation on, less it linger. Sometimes Loko would spot these tactics and ensure Sally knew about it so she could draw it out and teach her a lesson but this time Loko was too busy reminding Sally about the missing perfume.
“Where is my perfume,” Sally said through pursed lips, to those who did not know her, the tone seemed almost normal, but Sarah new what hid beneath, something she needed to keep hidden.
“I borrowe…” Sarah began before her now irate mother cut straight across her.
“I KNEW IT” she shouted
“Louder Sally, this needs to be a lesson to the boys and any of the neighbours“, Loko whispered in her ear.
“YOU THIEVING COW!”
“I’m sorry, I just wanted to be like you” Sarah replied quickly, she had grown up with Loko and her own story teller had become quick to use re-direction, usually the best defence. “You always smell so nice and everyone looks up to you mum, I’m really sorry I won’t do it again I promise, I just wanted to be loved like people love you.”
The charm had worked, it seemed her temper was not to tempest today and Loko found himself on the back foot. Though any threat to his control was superficial for the complement only acted as food, reinforcing the character he had her playing.
“You are so admirable Sally” Loko said in an proud sort of way. Sally agreed instantly, in her mind she saw a picture of herself Loko so often described to her, tall beautiful, powerful and admired, how could she expect anything else from a daughter who had to live in such a monumental shadow.
“Well return it to my room Sarah,” she said seriously while relenting, the anger of the irrational monster fading before it ever had chance to explode. “You can borrow it in the future, just make sure not to steal it, people think badly enough of this family because of the things you children do, don’t let them add stealing to their lists.”
Sarah was safe for now but she sure as hell didn’t want to be like her mother, not at all, in fact it scared her, seeing those traits inside herself, like invasive parasites. Sarah wanted nothing more than to be free but she had no escape but time and survival, luckily this small issue had been resolved as it often was, by feeding Sally’s story about herself. Sarah was no fool, her techniques helped but they were no cure to the madness and the food she fed Loko to survive, the praise, the admiration, the bullshit, was only making it worse in the long run, what chocie did she have?
Meanwhile Sally had left the house once more and was lighting a cigarette as she got into the driving seat of the might Landrover. Pulling the visor down to block out the winter sun she pondered how well she had handled the situation.
“I always knew I would make a good counciller if the world didn’t need me in so many other ways,” she explained to Loko who happily drank it all in. “My daughter adores me, how many mothers can say that about their teenager,”.
“If only they could learn from you Sally, you always face things head on and even after you have had to get a little bit cross, they all still love you. Not ten minutes ago you were beating yourself up, you were at your whits end selflessly taking the blame as you did, for something you would never be so stupid to do. Your love for your children is astonishing and everybody can see it Sally, that must be why you are such an loved boos at work, its just who you are.”
Smiling on the inside, (you couldn’t tell from the outside), Sally started the engine and set off to the place she called work, to make the world a better place as she always did. At the same time, Sarah had curled back onto the bed and was listening to loud, angry music, escaping into her own story a million miles away.
There is much more to this story and maybe more will come out but this is the first strange tale of Sally, a woman we all know.