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Come Live With Me

Chapter 9

My mother, father and I ran through the dense woodland as an unknown entity tailed us, loud noises coming from all around us as it moved. I looked to my right, but my father was gone. I looked to my left. A thick black mist encased my mother as I reached out to her, the blackness obscuring her features and turning her into something I couldn’t recognise anymore. I reached a clearing, calling for someone, anyone to help me. I was alone, and the feeling of loneliness was overwhelming...

“Jen?” Benedict whispered to me, as I woke up at the sound of his voice pulling me out of my recurring dream. I looked around me at Benedict’s living room, the feeling of falling asleep on the sofa making me dazed and confused, along with the hangover I was slowly developing.

“My head... what time is it? What happened?” I mumbled, rubbing my eyes as I sat up. Ben’s arm was over my shoulder as I snuggled into him.

“It’s about 2am. You were tossing and turning a lot; I think you had a nightmare. I was trying to wake you up, but you were well and truly out for the count. Do you want some water?” He asked kindly. I nodded, feeling groggy with a headache.

“Can I put a movie on, babe?” I called out to the kitchen, eyeing the Valley of the Dolls DVD I fancied watching. I hadn’t watched it with Ben yet, and I wasn’t feeling like going back to sleep after that dream; that particular one always shook me, and I liked to distract myself for a little while before sleeping again.

“Yeah sure, go ahead.” He replied, as I grabbed the folded up throw at the end of the sofa and wrapped it around myself. I was wearing the silky nightdress I had brought with me, though I didn’t remember when I’d put it on.

I popped the DVD into the player, as Ben’s modest TV came to life, the screen illuminated by the image of Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate on the menu screen. Benedict came back with a glass of water and settled on the sofa as I pressed play and shuffled back to sit with him.
Since watching it again when Ben gifted me a copy, I’d started to remember all of the words, which much to Ben’s annoyance I said along with the film. I lay my head on his legs as he stroked my hair tenderly. I realised how ironic it was that this was my Mum’s favourite childhood movie; the three main characters’ struggles with prescription drugs mirrored her real life now and she probably didn’t even realise it. I also realised how depressingly sad that was to me; she was there at home, on a time scale constantly of when certain pills would work or stop working. She was a human clock, constantly on a downward spiral, ageing before her time and deteriorating mentally.

My favourite scene in the movie began; the duet of ‘Come Live with Me’ between Neely and Tony in the Sanitarium. I couldn’t help but sing along; it was such a beautiful song.

“Come live with me, and be my love, if only for a day. Come live with me and see, my love, how fast it fades away... Love is a flower that lives for an hour, then withers and dies, where is the prize? Forgive me if I deride love, but darling I’ve tried love...” I sang croakily, my head pounding as I sipped on the water Ben had kindly retrieved for me.

I looked up at Benedict, just watching him watch the film for a few seconds.
“Ben,” I started, looking at the ceiling as I furrowed my eyebrows in thought all of a sudden.

“What if my mother’s condition is hereditary?” I asked, on the other end of a brief pause.

“Well, she wasn’t ill before your dad left, so you know that it was just a traumatic event that triggered it – I’m no doctor, but that’s all I can imagine caused it...” He contemplated.

“What if I become my mother?” I said all of a sudden, my eyes widening as I worried myself.

“You won’t, I’ll make sure of it. I’m sure she’s really a lovely person, besides.” Benedict smiled down at me as I clenched my jaw.

“Promise you’ll never leave me like daddy did; I don’t think I could cope with becoming my mother. It’s hard enough seeing her in that state...” I mumbled, imagining myself dying alone in some lunatic asylum, strung out on uppers and downers, a temperamental kook just like mum. I knew this was quite a deep thing to say to somebody I had only been with for a few months, but I was feeling myself becoming dependent on Benedict to make me happy – and I needed to prepare myself for whatever could happen. A silent tear rolled down my cheek as Benedict pulled me up into a tight cuddle.

“I promise. Nothing is going to get you so long as I have anything to do with it.” He said, putting my mind at rest. I was glad that he understood my confused head in regard to our relationship; I was discovering myself as quite a sensitive person about it all deep down, which I had never expected since I’d never been in a proper relationship. I didn’t mind, so long as I felt loved.
“You could always run away with me, you know?” He said sweetly, stroking my hair and offering me a whole new life with him in a little house of our own. Security, stability, having Ben constantly by my side... He kept on saying it, sometimes in a jokey manner, sometimes a little more serious. I didn’t think I was ready to commit to that just yet; it had only been a few months, and besides, I had mother to look after. I always giggled it off or left the question open ended.