To read the hand written letter click here.
It would be so easy to just give in to my anger and hurl nasty words and accusations in return. But I know anger and guilt eat you alive until nothing remains of you that is good or honourable.
It’s taken me two days and nights to read all the way through your letter. I picked up a gastro bug about a week ago that I can’t seem to shake and the cold and damp have played havoc with my back and hand. The doctors warned there was the possibility of arthritis because of the extent of the injuries. I don’t tell you this so you’ll feel sorry for me, but so you understand why this letter will be slow going – even though you will sit and read it in one go.
Who am I?
In the court documents I’m referred to as “The Chameleon” which for all intents and purposes is fucking pretentious… but I didn’t choose it. Who am I now? Who was I five, ten years ago? Who was I back at high school?
I never maliciously withheld details. I never purposely chose not to tell you stuff – especially the things from the last ten years. I just didn’t want to involve you in something that could potentially harm you. I kept it to myself so I knew, no matter what, you would be safe if they ever caught up with me. If they ever managed to trace me right back to the start.
But that’s not answering your question. When I arrived in Piper’s Reach as a teenager, it was the newest upheaval wrought by my mother, who, looking back now, used me to punish her parents for what they’d done to her. The four years before we came, I’d been pulled and pushed and taken and returned. At 11 I ran away from Carol’s and went from one side of Sydney to the other alone to get home. I still have nightmares about child rapists. That’s what I used to dream about when you’d shake me out of sleep and hug me while I cried. I didn’t want you to know.
I just wanted to be normal – with a mum and a dad and a sister in a nice house like you. I wanted to worry about acne, my confusing body, about when the next Dolly magazine came out. I didn’t want to worry about money – to be able to make rent and bills because Mum had no idea how to manage money and couldn’t seem to hold down a job. I didn’t want to worry about coming home and not knowing if my Mum would be passed out with a needle in her arm or dead or what blokes would be hanging around. I didn’t want to worry about being hit or assaulted… of never feeling safe in my own home. Of having no home.
What would you have done if I told you what was in the darkness? To look in the mirror and only ever see a terrified ten-year-old with big, hollow eyes who has just had her world torn apart.
I wanted to be normal. I wanted you to see me as normal. To want you to be with me because I meant something to you. Because I was important and special. To know I was loved and safe. I was only ever the shameful product of my parent’s teenage lust. I didn’t ask to be born and I didn’t ask to be lied to or dragged through drug house after drug house. What would you have done Jude, if it were you? Would you have opened the door and invited me into the damaged bits? If I told you Mike had thumped me (and it wasn’t a text book falling off a shelf) what would you have done?
I didn’t want your fucking permission to stay in Piper’s… I wanted your commitment… I wanted a promise from you: you would love and support me… keep me safe. You were always enough for me, why can’t you see that? It sounds like too much but all it would have taken was a kiss and for you to tell me you loved me and everything would work out in the end… that I would be safe… and I would have believed you. When you held me in your arms, when your folks fed and gave me a bed for the night… I felt safe. And lying on the floor, with you in the aftermath of the blaze of our lust… I felt safe. The life I lived is exhausting… to find peace with you… to wish and hope…
You feel guilt and anger. I feel confused. I don’t deny Saturday night was an indulgence… of seeing what if. And I know I should have stopped you when you unbuttoned my jeans. I could feel the fire in you. The heat waiting to devour me, but I didn’t. I didn’t come to Pipers to seduce you. With your face pressed into my stomach, kissing me, as you struggled out of your jeans, I should have pushed you away. You’d proven the point that you wanted me. I knew now. I could’ve stopped. And when you pulled us back onto the couch, pulled me into your lap and I sunk down on you, I had what I always wanted from you. And I stopped thinking. I stopped fighting, stopped worrying, stopped caring and just let it be.
The way we moved together, the feel of your body sliding against mine, the feel of you inside me, there was nothing else. I wanted nothing else. But I could see you wanted more… kissing my collarbone, my neck and shoulders when we’d both come… asking me to go down on you, make you hard because you weren’t finished and I gave in… I wouldn’t have denied you anything… it was like I finally got to see inside you. All the bits you kept hidden and it intoxicated me.
And I got to see you above me… and no, it wasn’t how I hoped it would be. Your eyes were glazed over, it was like you didn’t even see me… I guess you were seeing me of twenty years ago. I went to the toilet knowing you’d go. Knowing we’d done what we needed to… filled in all the spaces of teenage fantasies.
So why, why Jude…. Why did you come back Sunday?
I’ve had a sleep, another vomit, but I’m back out in the kitchen again. Zeke stopped in and lit the fire in here, brought in some wood and badgered me about going to the doctor’s again. He doesn’t understand I can’t go to the doctor and I can’t explain to him why so he can understand. So I’m hiding behind a concocted story about a doctor phobia… bad past experiences.
I lied to you about Coranderk Bend. I didn’t come here to start anew. I came here instead of submitting to the witness protection program. I didn’t trust they could do a better job of keeping me safe than I could. Ava, Matt, Ellie and Zeke and everyone else knows me as someone else… but at the end of the day it’s only a name. In my heart I am Ella-Louise and I always have been. I took the Ella-Louise you saw, that you cared about, who was all the good I had in me and locked her deep inside. Used her as the core on whom to build every other person I’ve been.
Almost six years ago I agreed to go into deep cover… indefinitely, to… I’ll be back. Someone is at the door…
It was Ava. Worried. I’m not doing a very good job at convincing anyone I’m just a bit ill and I’ll be better soon. I agreed to go down to the beach for a walk. The sun on my arms and face felt good after being stuck inside in the dark and dampness. She tried to get out of me what happened at the reunion (again) but I told her nothing. As far as she knows we saw each other, had a dance and a drink, caught up for a BBQ on Sunday and that’s it. I’m usually a consummate liar but I’m sure she sees through me. She can’t understand why I’m freezing Zeke out. She’s never said, but I’m certain, he told her about the night we spent together.
Why would it concern you if I did or didn’t sleep with Zeke or if I do it again? I hadn’t been with a man, of my own volition in years. Under cover work doesn’t really lend itself to personal indulgences. You were my first since uni… the first I chose to be with. I used Zeke to try and feel something again, after you… to do something to take the edge off the pain. I’m not proud… and you know what… I’m not even going to try and justify myself to you. I’m not answerable to you because we slept together. It would be like me holding it against you that you go to bed with your wife every night and ask what does it feel like to be with her now? To suggest your sex life is dead in the water.
Just so we are clear… while we’re airing dirty laundry, I did not betray our friendship by losing my virginity to Damian. If we’d been in a relationship… yes. But we were just friends and you’d made that clear. I may have betrayed your feelings for me, but they were feelings you horded and I’ve no idea why you want to fling my sexual history at me. Surprised you’re not dragging up the night I had with Paul Halligan as well.
Fuck… I don’t even understand why you’re angry with me for all this stuff… Zeke, Damian. It’s like you want to drive the hurt in further. Make me feel dirty and cheap and fucking worthless. Well that was done years ago, Jude.
Shit! I said I wasn’t going to get angry but I don’t understand why I should be conciliatory. Why shouldn’t I say you’ve fucking hurt me – hurt me again. Why shouldn’t I scream your ‘I love yous’ back at you so you fucking choke on them along with your guilt and your anger?
I trusted you Jude. I gave you a girl who adored you, I gave you a woman who offered to stand her distance and honour your marriage vows… I gave all of me to you that Sunday and you took it.
Why can’t you just let me go Jude? Why can’t you just say good-bye? Why do you contradict yourself, your feelings? What do you even feel? What is so difficult about good-bye? Closure? Why did you write again and drag us back through this all again? Why do you want and not want me at the same time? And why do I let you?
Because now I’m alone… my family is gone and you are the closest thing remaining. I let you do this to me because you are the only evidence I ever existed before I took my stupidly noble ideas into the underworld and let it tear me to pieces.
You were the only one who never treated me as expendable. You didn’t use me as a pawn. Now I don’t know.
I’m going back into the darkness soon. What do I want from you? I want someone on the other side. Someone who will hold me in the darkness so it doesn’t consume me. But now, I don’t know. Maybe I should just let it.
PS: The kite. You never really let me fly. You’ve held that string, that kite to your chest all these years. You just thought you’d let me go by watching me leave. You’re stuck in the past Jude, you’ve held me there with you all the time. Do you even really know what you want?
You have to understand one thing about me. Everything I ever had has been taken from me. I can’t go back to undercover work because of the scars. I don’t want a desk job. I don’t want to train or teach.
I fell through the window when the police raided. Our house was one of a dozen raided. I’d been promised the raid wouldn’t take place while I was home. The shot took me in the shoulder. I’m certain it was intended as a headshot. No one on the team knew they had an officer in there. They kept me under arrest in the hospital. I couldn’t say anything. The officers who guarded me were rude and vile. They threatened all kinds of things out of earshot of the hospital staff.
It took three months to leave hospital. I caught a taxi and had no idea where to go. I checked into a hotel and tried to put a call through to my unit. No one would take my call. A week later someone I’d never met before came and told me I was being transferred out of the drugs unit and putting me on a desk job investigating people smugglers. I told him to get fucked, I’d renounce any evidence I’d provided against the Francos. The next day someone else came and offered me protection. One of the other deep cover officers had been shot dead. I told him to get fucked too.
When I arrived in Coranderk I had only just stopped walking with assistance. I don’t need anyone to fix me Jude. I’ve been putting myself back together all year. Trying to make sense of a life that seems wasted. Trying to decide if I’ll go and testify.
This is who I am. This is who Ella-Louise became.