The View from Behind Invisible Eyes

July 26, 2008
By Kaitlyn Gartner BRONZE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kaitlyn Gartner BRONZE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

If any of the neighbors had happened to be looking out of their first floor windows into the adjacent yard, they wouldn’t have given it a second thought. To them, it would be nothing more or less than a slightly unkempt lawn with a tiny weed-infested flower bed and two small lilac bushes. But if any of the occupants of the house to which the lawn belonged had favored a glance beyond their window-panes, they might have noticed something amongst the crabgrass and dandelions that did not belong. For directly below the window and slightly beyond the flower bed lay a girl, still with open eyes. She was placed away from the house, yet not far away enough so that the house’s shadow wouldn’t engulf her delicate figure. Her fingers were laced together behind her head of golden hair, her face showed a look of longing for an unknown setting and her eyes were distant and unfocused. It was as if she was in a trance or an overly detailed daydream where no one but herself could reach her. She appeared peaceful, relaxed even. Her legs were arched ever so subtly and bent at the knees, her hair fanned out behind her in an elegant yet messy sort of way. To the innocent eye she was just a teenage girl lounging about in the late-spring sun, and yet there seemed more to her than that. But no one was observing this girl who had escaped the walls of the house behind her and into the light of the sun, and this was exactly how she wanted it to remain.

There was once a time when the little town of Fergus had been just that, little. With a small population and a cluttered yet comfortable feel it had often been a must-see stop for tourists and townies alike. It had always been there for as long as anyone around could remember. Providing a stop for gasoline and all the adjoining necessities like a bar and a barber along with scattered attractions such as “World famous French fries”. But as the years and decades progressed, so did the town. With the progression came people and with people there came a new moniker on the sign just outside the town‘s border; Fergus City. No longer just a speck of a town, Fergus housed a large local population and had earned the status of dot on the map. In fact, it was in Fergus City just twenty five years ago that Kendra Aldrich met a one Tristan Howard. Maybe it was the fact that Tristan had two first names or perhaps it was the idea of finally having someone to come home to at night. But there was one thing for sure, Kendra Aldrich was infatuated, if only for the time being. Without any thoughts towards their actions, Tristan and Kendra began to plan a somewhat shaky and unbalanced future together. You see Kendra worked and attended school, she was in her mid to late thirties and had entered that stage of life where nothing and everything seems to fit in place. Attempting to move up in the field of marketing and finance while still keeping a steady income in insurance, Kendra had little time to make a husband of her newly found and unemployed lover. It wasn’t as though Tristan minded her constant schedule and often unexpected absences, he was older and had long ago given up on the idea of taking a wife. He was much more enthusiastic about the physical aspects of a relationship and gave thought to little else. It was bliss, however short-lived, but bliss nonetheless.

Sir Isaac Newton once said, “What goes up must come down”, and though he wasn’t referring to a couple’s appeal to one another, it is in this sense that we will use it. Notice that the word love is not used. This is because “love” never existed between Kendra and Tristan, and in the end it was more of a convenience than a relationship that permitted the two to continue living together. It is also this convenience that allotted them a child, a daughter. The girl was conceived in the natural way, probably a product of the quickies that were common in between Kendra’s classes and her real job. It wasn’t so much that Kendra enjoyed the sex, more that it had become routine to listen to Tristan and what Tristan wanted. This in turn, amassed into a habit that she would never break.

Once the baby girl was born it was decided that Tristan, being the stay it home man that he was, would take on the role of dad and babysitter. Kendra would drop all of her classes at the community college and focus solely on her job with her insurance company to ensure the baby’s and their own financial future. Although the couple wasn’t seen as old, they were by the standards of the new age, slightly too old to be bearing their first child. With Kendra keeping steady at 39, Tristan was clear into mid-forties territory. Tristan had never wanted a child to say the least. He has “plans” per say. He claimed that when he had had enough of Fergus City he would take off to the West coast and live the life he so rightfully deserved, the gospel according to Tristan Howard. Tristan was a drunk, an alcoholic even. Being unemployed, most of that “convenience” that fueled his and Kendra’s nonexistent relationship, was her willingness to support his bad habits. Drinking forever remained number one with smoking in dead second and illicit drugs in third. By no means was Tristan’s third bad habit legal, but he rarely dabbled in drug forms that could cause extensively serious damage. Or at least more so than he had already achieved. So once Kendra’s maternity leave was over and done with, the new-born was left in the care of a man who more-than-likely would’ve done better with a little babysitting himself.

The baby girl was born on July 3rd, this particular July 3rd happened to set records temperature-wise. The air was thick and humidity levels soared. Tristan was in no mood to leave the house when Kendra called on him to chauffer her and his soon-to-be child to the nearest hospital. That being said, poor Kendra was left to drive herself and her daughter to the hospital alone. Kendra’s parents had died long ago leaving her and three siblings to fend for themselves. Kendra’s two brothers and sister lived over six counties and roughly 100 miles away, give or take a few. The baby was early so they were not in attendance at her birth. Kendra named the baby Angeline, meaning good news, hoping that her new child would bring nothing but. She used Susan as the middle name, in memory of Tristan’s recently deceased mother. By this she meant to get on Tristan’s good graces, after all, the baby needed a father. She allowed Angeline to have Tristan’s last name, Howard, out of tradition, not want. Therefore, Kendra’s two year convenience with Tristan resulted in Angeline Susan Howard, and by Kendra’s regards, the best thing that Tristan Howard had done in nearly forty years.

Tristan Howard may have been an alcoholic, immature, and a mean person throughout, but he was no coward. From the very start he made a vow that until that child no longer needed him, he would stay with her and Kendra. This could have been the best thing, or the worst thing, he ever did for Kendra and his daughter. It all depends on the perspective that you take. Tristan and Kendra decided not to get married as that would only end in a divorce, they merely chose to remain together and be partners, remain lovers at most. Kendra paid for Tristan to have a vasectomy and Tristan attempted to kick bad habits two and three to no prevail. Kendra gave up smoking and got a raise at the insurance company. For a few months things were looking up. Angeline, know as Angie to family and distant relatives, was a happy and fairly healthy child. She was prone to fevers that often resulted in midnight trips to the emergency room on Kendra’s part. But besides that all was well as far as health goes. Kendra made up for Tristan’s lack of father skills by being a superb mother at first. She did motherly things like rock her to sleep and teach her how to crawl and laugh and clap. Things began to run like they had before Angie had been born, except instead of classes consuming her time it was Angie. Tristan now had a job to do and the only pay he got was his daughter’s love and affection. He would watch her while Kendra was at work, but love would not support him and his habits, so he mainly gave her toys to play with and allowed her to make messes which he left for Kendra to clean. He wasn’t a good father, but he tried, sometimes. And for the first sixteen years of her life, Angeline Susan Howard was strong and put up with her parents and their fighting. She sure put up with a lot of it too, because as time progressed Kendra and Tristan realized how very incompatible they were. For a while they ignored it, and in fact, if only temporarily, it seemed like things were good, life was good. That just maybe, Angie would have a nice childhood and a happy family. Maybe Kendra and Tristan could work things out for the time being and support their daughter unconditionally. But along the lines of Sir Isaac Newton’s famous proverb, a wise person once said, “All good things must come to an end”.

The shouting was coming from inside. She could hear it moving around while the owner’s of the voices advanced through the house. Each harsh word cut through the screen of chirping birds and airplanes soaring overhead like a knife cuts through butter. Angie couldn’t begin to fathom what the neighbors were thinking. Not that it mattered, she had learned not to care what others thought early on in life. Especially what people thought of her parents. After all, she didn’t really think much of her parents so why should anyone else. Mrs. Harris’s back door opened and Patrick the golden retriever launched out of the opening like a rocket. Angie watched as he claimed a nice patch of grass within the walls of the fence Mr. Harris had installed and marked it. He then continued to romp around in search of toys, bugs, and the occasional squirrel. Patrick had actually cornered a squirrel once. Angie remembered it vividly because his barking in attempts to do God knows what to that poor squirrel was the only thing loud and annoying enough to draw her parents out of their battle. Mrs. Harris’s back door slammed shut leaving Patrick locked outside just as Angie’s dad dropped a massive F bomb with colorful decorations to boot.

Angie was growing sore so she shifted her position on the overgrown grass which was still slightly damp from last nights rain. She lay prostrate for a moment then lifted her head and rested it in her hands. She was now facing the alley behind their small and ugly house with the horrible landscaping. The house only had two bedrooms, which wouldn’t be a problem if her parents actually slept in the same bed. Instead, her mom slept in the living room on a futon and her dad claimed the biggest bedroom all to his own. Angie was left with the smaller room on the corner of the house. It was shabby and the walls were plaster with a touch of yellow smoke color, but it was her own. In honor of her sixteenth birthday just weeks earlier, she had redecorated. She had removed all of her Justin Timberlake posters and replaced them with new ones. Then she had rearranged her smattering of second-hand furniture which consisted of a bed, a large shelf for her TV and some books, a dresser, a desk, and a nightstand. Angie liked changes, and in a household where nothing had changed in twenty five years, it was hard to come by. Moving furniture was her hobby per say. It kept her slightly calm and allowed her to focus on making things different, making changes, having control. Something she wasn’t capable of doing when it came to her parents.

The sky was growing darker, the air was cooling down. The shouting match from hell had apparently ended, finally. Angie naturally assumed that whatever it was over this time, her father had won. He always won. She heard a door slam somewhere behind her, within the walls, and fidgeted a little. So long as they didn’t aim their verbal machine guns at her she was fine. But she always had to be on the alert. In a way she felt sorry for her mother. Ever since forever it seemed to Angie, Kendra Aldrich had allowed herself to be a doormat for Tristan’s dirty feet so to speak. Angie hated the way he treated her mother, but there was little she could do. She had tried many times to convince her mom to leave him and start over, but she had given up years ago. Her mother did not like change, she liked convenience and patterns. She liked being able to come home after work and lie on the couch and watch sitcoms till dinnertime and then start drinking. Once both parents were good and drunk a fight would ensue. Of course the pattern was different on the weekends. Or depending on the weather. For example, when it snowed her dad would yell about the snow and how he wanted to live somewhere warm. When it rained they would fight about the house’s roof that was caving in and whose fault it was, when it was hot they would argue over when to turn the air conditioner on. There was no escaping the war they waged on each other, and on Angie. But by now Angie had thought she was used to it. She had suffered through sixteen years of it, which even by America’s standards was a long war. Finally growing concerned of her only daughter’s whereabouts, Kendra yelled once more, this time for Angie. After so many aching hours lying on the ground she swayed a little while standing up, but straightened herself in the end. She ran her fingers through her long golden hair and marched towards the back door, her eyes on the ground.

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