Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Morning Sun

A short story inspired by the beautiful "Morning Sun" by Edward Hopper.

Morning Sun by Edward Hopper

The early beginning of the day always felt special to Diane. There was something reassuring in the gentle quiet of a slowly waking world. She loved staring at the flawless blue sky: it would probably be overcast by lunchtime, as usual, yet every morning it dared again to smile, innocent and clear, unaware or uncaring of the existence of clouds.

For the last two years, Diane's very first thought as soon as she opened her eyes had been of her so-desperately-wanted son, David, whose heart had stopped beating after only four months. An ultrasound photo, the only proof of his short life, was one of the very few things from the past that she allowed herself to keep.

“You won't be away for longer than one month,” Mark sneered while she was calmly selecting what she needed to take with her. Until then she had never realised how her memories were glued to places, clothes, photos, gifts. By deciding what to leave behind, she felt light, like the suitcase she brought with her. Unlike all her previous, unsuccessful attempts to walk out his door, this time she had no regrets. The word 'divorce' no longer aroused in her a suffocating anxiety; on the contrary, it gave her a reason to look forward to the future.

When Diane first met Mark, at a friend's party, she had been immediately charmed by his self-confident appearance. He was wearing a pink shirt and the most perfect of smiles. He came ask her to dance without waiting to be introduced. Yet, with hindsight, she could see now how cold and distant he had been from the very beginning, but she was hopelessly blind. All the signs had been there, yet she unreasonably persuaded herself that she would be the exception. The one who would conquer his heart.

They had been together, on and off, for about five years, and when he proposed it never even crossed her mind that she was making one of the biggest mistakes of her life. She thought that was the only thing to do. Mark was a successful barrister, a fairly handsome man, and he was loved by her parents. What could possibly go wrong?

For years Diane repeated to herself that she should be grateful for everything she had: a husband many women envied, a beautiful house, no need to work full time. But since they had been married, she noticed that Mark had started working harder and harder. He usually came home very late, and soon asked her not to wait for him. He was away on many weekends as well. Most of the time, she was sure that he was drunk when he got home late. However, he got easily upset at her questions and she soon learnt that it was much better to be asleep than insulted or, even worse, beaten. In spite of this, she really wanted to become a mother: she believed that this was the only thing that was missing from her existence. A new life to fill the big gap she felt in her own.

Diane lazily turned her head to look at the clock on the wall. The time seemed just a curious convention when she had nothing particular to do. It felt so good! She had to make the most of that day, because tomorrow she would start her new full-time job, after more than a year of part-time work as a receptionist and six months of therapy.

The mobile phone started ringing, disturbing the blissful silence. Was it worth getting up to reach the table? Her parents usually called at lunchtime, and she didn't expect anyone else's call. If it was Mark, that was one more reason not to answer. Even if it were her parents, it would be too early to listen to their advice. She loved her mum and dad, but she was thirty-six and trying to learn from her own mistakes.

It would take Diane some more time to destroy the ultrasound photo. Maybe she would never be able to do it, but eventually she would stop looking at it every day. She had already made big progress. She was no longer angry at the little life who hadn't wanted to begin. Somehow, her never-born baby showed her what she refused to admit: that he couldn't have saved her.

Eventually, the mobile phone got tired of ringing. Now she could get up, just because she wanted to, not because someone had ordered her to. She walked past the table, ignoring the phone, and headed for the kitchen. Fresh strawberries and muesli, she couldn't think of a better way to start the day!