Hush, Hush: Chapter 14 – “Because I thought I was in love. And when you think you’re in love, you’re willing to stick it out and make it work until it is love.” Inspired by zelda_queen’s wonderful recap of Hush, Hush on LJ… particularly the wasted moment where main character Nora Gray could’ve told her mother about Patch’s terrifying behavior, and the creepy abuse undertones of the relationship between Nora’s mother and (recently deceased) father.
“Mom, have you ever been afraid of Dad?”
Mrs. Gray stopped cold at the question. She knew she wasn’t imagining how lost and frightened her little girl’s voice sounded. She turned to gaze at Nora. “Baby, where’s this coming from?”
“I just…” Nora was flushed, as if guilty of something. “I just wanna know,” the teen finished weakly.
“Not at first,” Mom replied, her voice soft. “At first, he seemed a little… intense, but sweet. He was always saying nice things and giving me little gifts. Calling me all the time.” Mrs. Gray frowned at the memory. “I was young. Insecure. Lonely. So I fell for the attention he gave me, how he made me feel like the only girl in the world. I thought… given time, I’d love him as much as he seemed to love me.”
Nora swallowed hard. “But then…?”
“He convinced me to have sex without a condom. I didn’t want to, but he wheedled me into it and I got pregnant. I told him that my parents wouldn’t approve of their only daughter being pregnant and unwed, so he proposed. We had a quickie wedding before I started to show, and then you were born.” Mrs. Gray tucked a strand of Nora’s hair behind the girl’s ear. “No matter what, baby, you were never a mistake to me.
“But… a short time after that’s when the beatings started. I was a young mother, alone and scared, who hadn’t known the man she’d married. From the time you were born, I had grown from wary to terrified of him, and learned to avoid him whenever he drank heavily. It was a relief when he died last year.”
Mrs. Gray then steeled Nora with a look. “Why do you ask?” When Nora opened her mouth to speak, her mother added, “And don’t tell me you ‘just wanna know’, again. There’s… someone who’s scaring you, isn’t there?”
Nora stared into her mother’s open, honest face, saw the lines that aged her prematurely. Her gaze dropped to the bruise on her mother’s neck; from an incident years before where Nora’s father had attempted to strangle her mother, and the damage had not completely healed.
Nora’s face crumpled and she broke down into a sob. Her mother pulled her gently into a comforting embrace.
When the tears began to subside, Nora told her mother everything. About Patch. About her mysterious stalker. Her suspicions that it was Patch doing the stalking. Her fear. How her teachers and friends had laughed at and dismissed her terror as an idle teenage brain hopped up on adolescent hormones.
Mrs. Gray’s eyes were dark as a thundercloud. “I’ve had experience with the police here. They won’t help you. But I’ll do what I can as your mother.” She gently brushed away her daughter’s tears. “We’ll move to a nice new place in two weeks, sweetheart. Far away from Patch, and we’ll start a new life there.” Mrs. Gray’s glance around the house was cold. “I never liked this place, anyway.”
“What do I do for the next two weeks?” Nora asked, sniffling. “I have to got to school and… and… P-patch will be there.”
“Go to school, like normal, for next week. Don’t go out at night. Stay in busy areas. If you’re approached by this Patch kid, or anyone else who seems threatening or is attempting to isolate you, scream ‘fire!’ and make a scene.” Mrs. Gray replied. “Just for one week, you need to hang in there for me. After next week, I’ll take you out of school, and you and I will be joined at the hip to finish packing up. Ok?”
Nora nodded. “Mom… I… this is a lot of trouble for me. For you to go through, I mean.”
Mrs. Gray smiled sadly at her daughter. “Oh, baby, you are not the problem here. No matter what anyone tells you, you don’t deserve this and you’re not overreacting. And I’m getting you out of here, because I’d be a bad mom if I didn’t do something about it.”
Nora’s tears came afresh at her mother’s words. “Oh, mom… I-I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be, baby. I love you. Always.”