Season 2: Week 4
The Ink Well Writing Challenge | Season 2 Week 4
Prompt: Being right is a lonely place
The flashing light and voice announced the twentieth message being recorded that needed my attention. I couldn't bring myself to confront the persons that represented the numbers scrolling across the answering machine.
I lie across the bed sideways, an old trick learned from my mother to ease a headache. It's supposed to allow the blood to rush back to your brain and fill the void.
I then twist my neck towards the nightstand as the last voice was Daraj. I lie still to listen.
"Hey. You nailed it with the killer proposal to upgrade our facilities. And you're right in your assessment of the resorts' long-term strategy. So proud of you. Bringing jelly donuts."
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
The smell of strong coffee greeted Daraj fifteen minutes later. As he poured, I blurted, "this time I've gone beyond repair. This may be the end to my career."
He laughed heartily but with concern in his voice. "I gather the heated conversation at the board meeting yesterday I caught a glimpse of with Captain Amos wasn't an exchange of pleasantries."
"Deadly, you could say." I grinned widely as I re-created the motion from side to side under my throat, then shook off that scenario. "That's too good for him, so I stabbed him repeated in his side and eye with the letter opener. The bastard was quite dead when I finished with him."
"Neutra, STOP!. Not funny at all, and so not true. I was a bit shaken by what I witnessed after the confrontation about whatever your admonishment of him, but he was alive."
"How do you know I didn't double back and put an end to his miserable life?"
"Because I talked to him this morning. He's coming for an inspection later. I'm not going down that dark cellar with you again."
To change the conversation, we ate the dozen donuts until our stomachs ached and talked about our planned upgrades; mine for Pecahomi Bay Resorts; and his for his property.
He noticed I stopped eating and held my head in my hands, squeezing my temples. "I know I'm right on this issue. Enemies on all fronts plotting against me are closing in. Did you know I wasn't supposed to make it in life with my background? I feel like giving up and walking into the deep."
"Don't say that Neutra. You're smarter than all of those pompous fools in charge."
"You don't know how it feels. Being right is a lonely place standing on the outside fighting against the wind."
"It doesn't have to be, Neutra. I'm here, but not for long. I hate to leave you in that frame of mind. Sorry to say, I've got to meet Captain Amos."
Saying goodbye to her was the last thing I wanted to do. She didn't offer any response. Instead, she started from head to toe with a look at me that raised the hair on my arms. It was the look of someone being accused a traitor.
On the way to meet Captain Amos, thoughts of Neutra fill my mind. It hurt she thinks I'm not on her side. She's been part of my life and world since high school and college. But I feel lodged in the middle of the situation with her and Captain Amos and completely helpless.
I never took advantage of the fact I was the only friend she had. Numerous times throughout the years, I was a regular at her grandparents' home. Her fierce love for them showed and was happy in their presence. I often stressed how lucky she was to have them. She was an amazing woman to have had her mother and grandparents in her life. From her mother, she learned her love for the sea and environment. From her grandparents; survival skills and love of the outdoors and nature.
At the same time, I couldn't understand the ongoing despair, loneliness, and bitterness...that is, until I read her words.
Now I'm worried for her. This is the first time she was specific about the manner of Captain Amos' death. The tension between the two was longstanding, and only I knew why.
It was a Saturday three years ago when I read her diary and manuscript. I'd come for a short visit to her apartment. I found her crying profusely while looking at photographs of her mother. I kept urging her to tell me what was wrong. Instead, she jumped from the chair, unlocked her curio, and threw the items at me. It was the anniversary of her mother's death.
Diary of Loving Parents: "To Lose a Child"
Book 1: "The Treaty Of the Graveyard Abyss"
She'd stopped crying at some point long enough to cook us dinner. Well into the evening, I finished the materials. The story mirrored a mystery movie. I tried not to show any emotion as I finally understood the impact of the words in the diary written by her grandparents:
According to Mr. and Mrs. Harbinger, George Amos was not yet a captain when he ensnared the affections of their daughter, Azeliara. They were heartbroken when, at the age of 17, she ran away and married her handsome young seaman.
Promising her a life-long sea adventure traveling, he ended her idyllic world abruptly when she announced her pregnancy. Reality sank in as Azeliara quickly grew to adulthood with a newborn daughter. She rarely saw her husband while he earned a living at sea. She understood; but a lonely existence set in after five years.
At the end of the fifth year, he wrote to her professing a life at sea was his lifelong desire. He wanted to pursue a naval career. Devastated but proud as her parents taught her, Azeliara wrote back, told him she understood, and asked for one last outing together so he could see their daughter.
What happened next left George Amos a widow and his daughter without a mother. Apparently, a bizarre accident occurred. Azeliara and Neutra fell into the water. They were supposed to have their life jackets. George followed them, able only to save his daughter.
Image by dimitrisvetsikas1969 from PIxabay
The ensuing investigation cleared George Amos, as the authorities ruled her death an accident.
Relations with their son-in-law were strained as he wouldn't relieve their doubts. He did, however, ask if they would agree to become Neutra's legal guardian while he pursued his naval career. He promised he'd return for his only daughter. Her grandparents happily agreed.
The years passed. They hoped he'd return for Neutra's sake. But they couldn't let the accident go. For him to just walk away from his only daughter who was growing smarter and beautiful every year furthered their suspicions.
From the newspaper reports and the authorities, the Harbingers learned what sketchy details they could and compiled their own case, documenting every detail in a diary.
Notes along the edges of the notebook and on it's final pages were scribbled in yellow marker as though indicating importance. Names and dates were listed, together with unknown female names.
Image by Devanath from Pixabay
They died waiting for him to keep his promise.
Everything in their possession they left to their granddaughter, including the diary.
Each year Neutra's heart hardened. She erased him from her life and never looked back. At least outward appearances seemed so. But she vowed one day she'd make sure he suffered for what he did to both of them, especially her mother. She'd survive. Her mother and grandparents taught her well.
She felt he wanted to be free to pursue his life. That's why he so easily gave her up. She went even further thinking he probably was hoping she hadn't lived either.
Her hated of Captain Amos was evident. I didn't want or have to pry. After my initial read, she'd leave the new chapters on her desk in plain sight.
Her latest note left me in agony for her: "You don't know what it's like to relive your mother's murder each time you read that diary. Then, after all these years, for him to appear acting as if nothing ever happened."
But now, I feel a relentless drive is overtaking her. It's gone beyond normal. I wish she'd drop this path of revenge. I have to try to save her.
I finally admit to myself what I wouldn't say out loud to her. Yes, I'm in love with you, Neutra, and have been since college. Let's stop this all now and start fresh elsewhere.
Finished with the resort business with Captain Amos, I sit in the car thinking what I'd say if I returned with plans to confront her with my feelings. My hands shake as I make the call.
"Hey you. Feeling better?" I said in a soft tone. "I'm finished for the afternoon. How about going out to our favorite seafood restaurant for dinner?"
"Yes, and yes. You've got a date."
During drinks, I carefully brought up the subject. "Two years' ago, you enrolled in a therapy group for individuals who've lost a loved one due to tragic circumstances. After a few weeks, you felt you were able to deal with your loss and move forward. I thought so too." Neutra looked away. With my hand, I brought her fact back towards me.
Image by Rene Ranisch from Unsplash
"That's why I write."
"It's not good for you. You've changed since you started writing this damn book."
*It's my release. And besides, when I become a famous writer, you'll have to apologize for not believing in me."
"It's not what you included in these pages. It's what you didn't. "I don't know what I'd do if you decided to..." His voice trailed off.
"It's just fiction, Daraj." Don't worry.
But I am worried about you. You have your whole life to look forward to. I'd like to be a part of it forever.
"Don't know why you're so nice to me and my absolute defender. I'm not a particularly nice friend to you. But you're the best I got."
"I'm your only friend. And seriously, I think you should return to that therapy group."
"I hate to admit it, but my dreams lately have bothered me. There's a lot of work I need to do to fix myself. I'll consider it, but I won't stop writing. It's fun to devise the different ways to kill him. I get to relive his death each time."
"Stop it, Neutra. It's not healthy."
"Just kidding, Daraj."
"You don't know what it means to me to hear that. And you'll never get rid of me because I love you. You're so beautiful. I wish I could go on this journey with you and hope you decide to proceed. But I can't. All you have to do is walk though the door. Help is on the inside."
"And when you finish, I'll be waiting on you, Ms. Natalie Harbinger.
Happy rest of the week everyone with whatever your endeavors.
a) JustClickindiva's Footer created in Canva utilizing its free background and images used with permission from discord admins.
b) Unless otherwise noted, all photos taken by me with my (i) Samsung Galaxy 10" Tablet, (ii) Samsung Phone, & (iii) FUJI FinePix S3380 - 14 Mega Pixels Digital Camera
c) Purple Butterfly part of purchased set of Spiritual Clip Art for my Personal Use
d) All Community logos, banners, page dividers used with permission of Discord Channel admins.
e) Ladies of Hive banner used with permission of and in accordance with the admin's guidelines.