Broken China

Iris Stewart

© Copyright 2013 by  Iris Stewart


Photo of broken china and a key.

A pure love that they had for each other. Paul was her soul mate. She loved him with a passion and he had passionately returned the love...’ For Rena love was everything, valued even more than her life. When betrayal threatens to take it all away, Rena is forced to re- examine all she believed in! She will learn that Love has many shades. But will it be too late? Or can a loyalty beyond barriers save her!

The key is in her hand cold and forbidding. Small yet deadly. She might as well already be holding the gun to her head. The key represents a solution. The solution is in the gun cabinet. His gun cabinet. The gun of the betrayer.

The prospect of what was come suddenly seemed exciting. She had played the scene through her mind countless times over the past days since finding the photo hidden underneath his sock drawer. She often though regretted pulling out the drawer so far.  If it had not fallen, missing her feet, she would not have noticed the photograph stuck to the bottom. At first she felt just curiosity at the unexpected find. But as she looked at it, she was appalled and bewildered. A roller coaster of emotions fought for her attention, finally to the realization that she was a victim. Pity overwhelmed her. She sobbed deeply into her pillow. How had it come to this? To think that she had thought the drawer landing on her feet would have been the problem. To think that at that time that was her major concern. And now this, the beginning of a nightmare, the end of her life! Damn the drawer! Life could have remained how it was. Filled with love. A pure love that they had for each other. Paul was her soul mate. She loved him with a passion and he had passionately returned the love.

Paul was Rena’s fiancé of five years. Their relationship was a haven of love.  Rena’s friends and family had questioned why they had not married. Her mother in particular had strongly objected to her moving in with Paul. Rena had secretly hoped that after she moved in, Paul would propose, but to no avail. Paul seemed to have serious issues with commitment. He did not trust the world. He had a very disturbing childhood having moved from foster home to foster home as a child. A young life faced with short term solutions.

 Paul had grown up with no related family members.  He never knew his biological parents and many stories surrounded them. This had always plagued on his mind.  At just eighteen years old, being no longer eligible for foster care, Paul had to take care of himself. His past had been very instrumental in his drive to become successful. Paul needed to have control over his life. But even as he became successful, rising to become a partner in a well established law firm, he still said he felt inferior. There were too many missing pieces from his puzzled young life.

 Rena understood and shared Paul’s pain and disappointment. Having come from a loving family she felt sad that he had missed out on so much as a child. Rena had wanted to fill the gaps in his past with her love in the present. She had thought she had been successful. Obviously not. The product of the click of a lens was the proof that their relationship was just a lie. Deceit, betrayal on a photo card, powerfully destroying everything.  

Rena picked up the photo, again. It pierced her heart. Perhaps there was no need for the gun. Every time she looked at the photograph she literally felt stabbing to her heart.  Maybe she would succumb to the pain of a broken heart. The woman in the photograph is smiling tauntingly at Rena.  A percentage of justice would have been gained if she would have been ugly. But of course, she is very pretty, with long black hair, falling softly down her shoulders. Instinctively Rena reaches up to touch her own hair. Short and ugly. In the woman’s arms is a little boy. He looks happy, content.  Sadly, the photograph is beautiful. The boy has Paul’s features. The same sharp nose and slanted eyes. What is even more surprising is that ‘she’, the woman also had a hint of the same features. Perhaps that was what had attracted Paul to her in the first place, and their love was further sealed with a son. The son she Rena could not give Paul after two miscarriages.

Since finding the photograph Rena had calculated over and over again how old the child could be. He was certainly born during their relationship. Had Paul cheated on her and now found out he had a son?  With each calculation, each assumption, she would try to remember what had happened at certain times in their lives. For the hundredth time Rena reads the words at the back of the photograph. ‘Dear Paul, here he is darling Maurice. As you can see he looks just like you. Hoping to see you soon. We look forward to having you in our lives, so glad you found us. Love Dianna.’  Pain again, acute pain, shooting through her chest. Were all those out of town business trips excuses to spend time with his ‘family’. Right now he was away again on yet another ‘important’ trip.

Each time she analysed the situation she realized more and more that Paul had been acting suspicious for quite a time. All those calls he would take only in private. The new combination he had set to his briefcase. Why had she been so naive?  Like a fool she had put it down to the extended hours he was working. They must both think she was such an idiot. She was so emotionally drained, it was torture but she couldn't stop herself. The pain also served to justify her decision. Paul would pay the ultimate price for his deceit and betrayal. She would leave him before he left her. He would pay big time, and it would be with Rena’s life.

As Rena starts to get up now so intent on reaching the gun cabinet, there is a very loud crash. For a moment she cannot distinguish the sound or direction and confusingly thinks she has already fired the gun. She hears screams from the kitchen. Instinctively she races there, dropping the key in the process.

Entering the kitchen Rena is confronted by mayhem. The maid Effie is in tears, stooped, picking up fragments of China. Rena suddenly has an out of body experience.  She tries to assimilate the situation. Part of her, still trapped in darkness, wants to complete the drastic action she has decided on and is angry for this interruption. The other part of her, sensitively aware of the light from the kitchen window, wants an explanation on how and why her beautiful china sets are in pieces on the floor!  The two emotional entities have a standoff, all in her already disturbed head. Angrily and confused, she is about to address Effie when the maid between sobs starts to speak loudly in a tirade of words. Some in English with bursts of another language Rena cannot understand.

Effie knows Rena cannot understand her home language so as she speaks in English she also punctuates her sentences with prayers in her language.

Sorry madam, but it’s because of thinking, it’s my head’, Effie laments.

 Someone speaks up. Rena realizes it’s the voice in her own head.

 ‘Cant this woman just shut the hell up! I’m trying to sort out my life, okay well my death’, says the voice that has become quite familiar, an ally to Rena. The voice of the avenger.

What’s wrong Effie?’ Rena asks loudly, ‘what’s wrong with your head?’

 ‘It’s because I worry for my sister,’ Effie says sadly.

The avenger comes up again, domineering and commanding.  ‘You need to walk away now Rena. Remember how hurt you are. We got business to take care of!’

 Rena however continues to focus on Effie. ‘What’s wrong with your sister?’ Rena asks suddenly feeling in control.

Effie stands up slowly dusting her hands on her apron, and looks Rena in the eye. She starts to tell Rena about her sister and the life she has had in the township. About the many trials and tribulations she has faced. How she has always been strong and how she has now lost her home. Effie says she feels pain for her sister because despite all she is facing she still walks miles every day to take care of Effie’s sick mother. Effie says her sister is her hero. She never gives up!

 Rena listens intently. The avenger tries to speak but Rena shuts her out. She looks hard into Effie’s eyes. For some reason the eye contact is important. As they stare into each other’s eyes, Rena draws strength. She recognizes through this contact the remarkable women Effie and her sister are. Real women. Women who overcome. Women who love and cherish their lives. Rena feels ashamed of who she has become in the past days. She takes the broom from the broom cupboard and starts to sweep up the broken pieces of china. She cannot remember the last time she has held a broom. It is a humbling, yet liberating experience. Somehow Rena feels the broom raises her rank as a woman to that of Effie and her sister, a woman of substance! As she sweeps, the darkness that had clung to her over the past days recedes and an overwhelming feeling of hope envelopes her. Adversity would not destroy her! Suddenly sweeping the pieces symbolizes cleansing her life. Her precious life.

Effie watches silently, says something in her language, a prayer of thanks, then stoops down and begins to pick up pieces of china.

 In the morning, Effie had seen Rena take the keys for the gun cabinet. Paul and Rena trusted Effie after her four years of a service beyond loyalty. Effie knew where the keys for the gun cabinet were in case of an emergency should Paul not be around. Effie was disturbed when she saw Rena take the keys. This was not a good sign as she had noted how sad and depressed Rena was for the past days. Rena did not know that Effie had also seen and read the words at the back of the photograph. With a deep sense of forbidding and not knowing what to do Effie had prayed and decided on her own plan. When she had peeped into the TV lounge and had seen Rena sitting stiffly with the photograph in her hand and knowing that she had the key, Effie had decided to put the plan into action.

Effie’s plan ridiculously was to smash the china sets. A simple plan from a simple person who simply loved Rena. The china tea and dinner sets were beautiful and expensive but that did not matter. The more noise the better.  Rena needed her. Effie laid the beautiful pieces, some stacked on the tablecloth on the kitchen table. She could never fathom why people would need so many cups, saucers and plates! She was actually happy to get rid of them.  With a quick swoop of her hands she pulled at the tablecloth, lifting as she pulled to deliberately and effectively scatter and break the china as it landed. And then she screamed.

The crash and Effie’s screams had surely diverted Rena. Here she was safely in front of Effie, broom in hand. As Effie cleaned the mess, she hoped Rena would never find out that she was actually an only child.

At that moment the doorbell rings. Paul on the other side of the door stands with Dianne at his side, the little boy Maurice in his arms. He is apprehensive. Paul wonders how Rena will react when she opens the door and he tells her the news he has been hiding for months now.  He had to spend time with Dianne to be sure before he approached Rena.  He nervously looks at Dianna reassuring her with a smile that it will be okay. A feeling of love washes over Paul as he feels the warmth of little Maurice against his shoulder, his warm breath on his neck.  Paul happiness is complete. After months of research and searching he had traced and finally found his sister and her son. Paul had family after all.

Slowly the door opens.

My home is in Zimbabwe and I am an Independent Recruitment Consultant. I love Writing, English, Art and being creative. Gifts I inherited from both my late Father and Mother. I love you both and  I am grateful!

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