'Cause no one around you understands,
Or has the slightest idea what it is that makes you be,
Have you ever felt like there was more,
Like someone else was keeping score,
And what could make you whole was simply out of reach?"
-The Offspring "Have You Ever?"
I hated flying and Roy knew it. He knew I didn't like it, but he made me do it anyway. I had suggested that we take a ship from New York to Liverpool and then a train from Liverpool to London. It would have been romantic and old fashioned, but he complained that it would take too long and that he wanted to get home as soon as possible. He even made me leave my home two days early so that he could get back and beat the jet lag. I lived in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio called Independence and Roy made me leave my friends and family two days earlier than I had to. But he did have to get back to work and he did have to deal with jet lag, and he really didn't get along well with my family, so I suppose that he made the best choice. I still don't like the idea of flying, but it is the quickest way to get to London, and I could shave off the hours, and the fear, by sleeping which I would have done if it weren't for Roy's snoring. It was so loud that other passengers on the plane were starting to complain to the flight attendants.
I sighed and lightly shoved Roy in the arm. "Roy, wake up dear," I whispered in his ear. He didn't budge so I shoved him a bit harder, but he didn't even stir. I hopped up on my seat, kneeling and shook him lightly. "Roy, dear you really need to get up." Roy just groaned and turned away from me and pulled the blanket he was using up over his head. I got an idea. I silently leaned over him and yelled (not too loudly) "WAKE UP!" Roy shot up in his seat and hit his head against my head which was hovering over him. I started laughing and rubbing my head, but Roy didn't think it was very funny and began to yell at me.
"Damn it Leigh! What the hell were you doing?! I wasn't bothering you . . ."
"But you were bothering everybody else with your obnoxious snoring!" I butted in. Roy shot me one of his looks that said "you better watch yourself" and proped his pillow up agaisnt the window.
"I'm going back to sleep, wake me when we get there." With that he pulled the blanket up over his head and went back to sleep.
Why was I here? Why him? Roy was so insensitive and ignorant and self-centered, why of all the men in the world did I pick him? How did I get myself into this situation, I asked myself as I sat back down properly in my seat. Roy was going to ignore me the rest of the flight so I didn't bother to say anything to him or try to talk him into keeping me company. He knew I didn't like to fly, shouldn't he be up making sure I was all right? It wasn't even a late flight, it was about two o' clock in the afternoon! I buckled my silver seat belt and gingerly leaned my seat back so I wouldn't hit the person behind me. I figured my best bet was to sleep off the rest of the flight like Roy, so I pulled my pillow out from under my seat and closed my eyes and prayed that I'd wake up anywhere but in Roy's arms.
My wish didn't come true and I awoke next to Roy. He was shaking me violently and yelling at me,
"We've landed Leigh! Wake up luv, we're home! We're in London!" I sighed and sat up, yawning. Roy was all too excited to be home and rushed me off the plane and out of the airport. He called for a taxi and made me carry our luggage. He hadn't packed too much since he was only visiting my parents in Ohio for a few days, but I had packed all of my belonings to move to London with him. Roy and I were engaged and he had somehow convinced me to move to London with him. The wedding wasn't untill May, but we both figured it would just be easier if I moved out earlier with him, to "get used to London" as Roy put it.
The ride from the airport to our house, which was really an apartment, or flat as Roy called it, wasn't too long and I got to see a good portion on the city. The flat wasn't very big, but that was fine by me. Roy owned very little and I owned even less, so things worked out well. Roy worked from six in the morning untill five o' clock at night so I was alone in the house all day, and most evenings since Roy would go out drinking with his buddies from work. I thought about getting a job to fill my lonely time during the day, but when Roy found out he promptly put an end to it. I managed to make a few friends who would keep me company throughout the day. Keateah Pennington who lived down the street and Jenny Morgan who lived across town but was best friends with Keateah, so she would come over often. Keateah (pronounced Katie) was engaged as well to a man named Nick Kurbark. Nick was a sweet man, always a gentleman and wouldn never hurt Keateah. Jenny was single, but was always on the look out. Right now she was seeing a guy named Brian, she never bothered to get his last name. The three of us would usually meet at my house, but lately they'd managed to sneek me out of the house without Roy knowing, and steal me away to a coffe house or some club or lounge. Life wasn't great, but I couldn't complain.
One evening Roy phoned home to tell me that he wouldn't be coming home that night and that he was having an all-night poker game with his 'mates.' I didn't really know what to say to him, so I hung up. I was furious. I knew that poker wasn't the only thing that was going to go on, and I knew that this wouldn't be the first time. I didn't know what to do with myself so I boiled a pot of tea and I took a long steaming shower. When I was done I still didn't know what to do, so I rang up Keateah at her flat.
"Hello?" She answered.
"Keateah? Hi, it's Leigh," I breathed into the phone.
"Leigh! Hi, what're you doing up so late? Is Roy letting you use the phone now?" she asked
"No, uh, Roy's spending the evening with his mates and I'm home alone."
"Oh, say, Jenn's over, what do you say the three of us go out to that coffe house? Come on, my treat!" She pleaded. I wanted to say no, I knew that Roy would not want me out so late with my friends and I knew that if he found out, I'd be dead meat. But I was so mad at him, and if he can stay out all night, then why can't I? I accepted and got changed and quickly threw on some make-up to go out. Keateah and Jenny picked me up twenty minuets later and we were off.
The whole evening I was worried about Roy finding out about me leaving. My mind kept wandering to thoughts of what he would do to me if he found out. He'd hit me before for small things and I didn't want to imagine what he would do if he . . . I didn't want to think about it, but I couldn't help it. I was scared to death and Keateah and Jenny knew it.
"Leigh, did you have any hobbies when you were back home? You know, anything you liked to do?" Jenny asked about halfway through the evening. I didn't really hear her and responded ,
"Huh? Sorry, I didn't hear you what did you say?" Both Jenny and Keateah rolled their eyes and sighed.
"Leigh, where are you? This whole evening you've been . . . distant. What's on your mind luv?" Keateah asked. I didn't want either of them to know how much I feared Roy so I made up some lame excuse.
"Oh, nothing really. It's just getting closer to the wedding and I've got a lot of work to do that I've been putting off. You know, invitations, flowers, dance halls . . . the like," I rambled off. Jenny and Keateah exchanged looks of doubt, but shook it off.
"So answer my question already! Did you have any hobbies back home?" Jenny impatiently asked. I laughed and started to blush.
"Well, one. I kinda like to . . . you're going to laugh when I say this, but . . . I've always loved to sing." I said shyly. Instead of lauging or telling me that that was a dumb hobby like Roy had, they smiled and told me to sing something. "Right now? Here?" I asked surprised.
"Sure, why not? The house band here will let you sing with them if you ask! Go, sing,do it!" Keateah urged me.
"Anything! Just ask them to play a song and they'll tell you if they know it! Just go!" Jenny said, practically pushing me out of my seat.
"All right, all right, I'll go!" I laughed while Keateah dragged me to the stage. The band was taking a five minuet break and the piano player was sipping a drink at the bar. I slowly walked up to him and took a seat next to his. "Umm, excuse me sir but are you going up to do another set soon?" He swallowed his drink in his mouth and turned to me.
"In another minuet or so, why? Are you enjoying the band?" He said finsihing off his drink.
"Yes, very much so. I was wondering . . . could I maybe, uhh, do a number with you guys? You know, just sing one song?" I asked shyly. The man,who was a heavy set black gentleman in his early fifties, laughed and turned to me and smiled.
"Only if you can sing!"
Ten minuets later I was up on stage about to perform a jazzy/blues number that I had written a while back. I gave the band the key it was in, time signature, all that good stuff and got up to the mike. Barry, as he introduced himself, gave my introduction.
"Well tonight, ladies and gentleman, we have a special treat for you. Miss Leigh Whitmore here, has written a number and has convinced us to let her sing it tonight!" The few people in the audience laughed and clapped as I stepped up to the microphone.
"Well, as Barry said, my name's Leigh Whitmore origanlly from Cleveland, Ohio in the States. I've written a little number called "I Pray," so I hope you enjoy!" The crowed cheered and I counted the band in and, after the introduction, sang:
I pray you'll go,
I pray you'll die,
And never know,
What you missed out on all these years,
I pray you'll stop,
I pray you'll learn,
I pray someday,
Our tables will turn,
And you'll be the one left behind with your life
I pray you'll see,
I pray you'll hear,
I pray you'll keep,
Every word dear,
That I tell you now for the last time,
I pray for you,
And all your sins,
I pray for me, too."
The crowd cheered as I finsihed the song and Barry invited me to do another number, and I readily agreed. We flew through a couple of other songs, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Singing in the Rain," before I sat down. As I stepped down off the stage and the crowd went wild, what crowd there was. I blushed and laughed all the way to my seat near the door.
"Leigh, that was great! I never knew you could sing like that!" Keateah smiled.
"Yeah, Leigh, that was excellent! You should sing more often!" Jenny added. I laughed with them and took a sip of water that the waitress had brought to me. I was flusterd and hot, and I had enjoyed every second of it. I felt so free, so right up on stage, just singing. Just sharing a part of myself with the people around me and just having fun and enjoying myself. It had been ages since I'd had fun, just pure, good, harmless fun. I wanted the feeling again and again and again, but I was brought back down to reality with a sharp blow when I realized that I'd never be able to have that feeling, that experience again. Roy would never allow for that. If I wasn't allowed to have a job as a day care marm, then he'd never let me sing at clubs.
While I was soaking up the sting of the truth a man in a grey suit had approached our table. He looked like a buisness man and like a sweet guy. He had soft hair that kind of went all over the place while still looking nice. He was of average height and built and had a soft face with gentle features.
"Excuse me miss Whitmore, but I'd like to introduce myself. My name's Brian Epstien and I caught your little show." He said while shaking my hand.
"Hello Mr. Epstien, please, call me Leigh. What can I do for you?" I asked.
"Well miss Whit . . . Leigh, I think you have a real talent and I'd like to offer you a chance to record a single, and if things work out, maybe a record deal. You'd have to meet some other people and pass their auditions and all, but I really think that you've got a rare talent and I'd love to see you in the studios. I could be you manager, I manage several other successful bands, and if you like, I could manage you as well. Well, what do you say, Leigh?" He asked. I was stunned. A record deal, a single, studio time. My dream was coming true. I could live out my fantasy, I could sing for a living, I could be successful! I was so surprised and amazed that I couldn't answer. I sat staring blankly at Mr. Epstien, unable to say or do anything. I wanted to say yes, my heart told me to say yes, but I just couldn't get the words out. If I agreed, Roy would kill me, but Roy wouldn't have to know. He was gone all day and most nights. If I scheduled studio times around his work schedule, I might be able to get away with it. I smiled at Mr. Epstien and laughed,
"I'd love to! When, where, uh, how?!" I blurted out. I couldn't believe it! I was going to do it!"
"How's tomorrow around ten in the morning? At Abbey Road Studios? Do you know where that is?" he asked. I nodded frantically and he smiled. "All right, I'll see you there, ask for Brian Epstien or George Martin, all right luv?" I smiled.
"Yes, I'll see you tomorrow at ten!" Mr. Epstien smiled and gathered his belongings and left.
I got home that evening extremly late only to find Roy asleep on the couch. I panicked and tried to get by him without waking him up. But as I made my way throught the dark I bumped into a table and a lamp came crashing down, waking Roy up.
"Leigh? Where the hell were you?! Out flirting with other men like a god-damn thirteen year old? Act your age, you're twenty-fucking-four and engaged to me!" He yelled getting up off the couch and making his way toward me.
"I'm not twenty-four, I'm twenty-three and I know I'm engaged to you! I was over Keateah's house, not cheating on you Roy. Roy! No, please! Don't do that! I . . ." I pleaded with him, but to no avail. He hit me again, and again, and again before he passed out on the floor. I dragged him to bed and cleaned myself up in the bathroom. I was going to have a nice black eye tomorrow and a few good bruises on my arm. I shut the light off in the bathroom and grabbed a bag of ice from the kitchen for my eye. I sat at the kitchen table for a while before I realized that I needed to get some sleep. I had to get Roy up in time for work and I needed to be at Abbey Road by ten. I silently crept into bed and cried myself to sleep.
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