Chained, p.1Jaimie Roberts
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is purely coincidental.
Gone were the days when my life was simple, easy, and carefree. I now lived my life on the run. Why? Well, I’ll get to that part later on. For now, I just wanted you to see how it all started. See when my quiet life went from zero to well over a hundred within the blink of an eye.
It was funny how you looked back and remembered seeing things differently. I was twenty when it all started. I moved from Cambridge to London because I wanted to live life in the city... Well, that is kind of a lie, but I’ll also get to that part later.
To be honest, I wanted to be free after losing both my parents. My father killed himself and, soon after, my mother found out she had cancer. She lived only two more years before she succumbed to the disease, then I was on my own.
I was angry at my father because I thought he was selfish for leaving us behind to pick up the pieces. We were always moving, never settling down. As a child, it used to frustrate me because I would just be making friends when we had to move again.
So what did I do? I never made friends. I became a recluse, feeling depressed and lonely at the age of fifteen. I hated my life. I hated my parents for making me that way, and I hated that my only comfort after their deaths was I would never have to worry about money again.
Yes, I had money. I had lots of money. But how could I celebrate that knowing where this money came from? How could I live in the knowledge that I would never have to worry about paying my bills again when I was the loneliest woman in the world? I know. That was a slight exaggeration, but it was how I felt. After my mother died, I spiralled down quickly. I was getting deeper and deeper into a dark abyss that was threatening to swallow me whole. I stayed in my house, hardly ate, hardly spoke to anyone.
I just existed.
This brings me to the next part of my story. You see, I might have just existed and I might have been depressed, but I held onto something. It was a spark of something within me that was just itching to get out. I had lots of time to think, so I planned. Eventually, I accepted Uncle’s help and he planned with me. He wasn’t actually my uncle. I was just told to call him that from a very young age. He helped me through my tough times and, believe me, I’d been through a few. He was my necessary evil. I say evil because there was definitely something dark about him. Something mysteriously dark and most definitely dangerous. I knew he was a very powerful man because of the hold I could see he had over my father.
My father was always scared. I would go as far as saying he was even a little paranoid. Before he went to bed each night, he would check the house five times. I would sometimes watch him as he frantically searched in every corner. He never knew I did, though. As far as he was concerned, I never existed. He was too busy making money, influencing people, and trying his hardest not to get himself killed…which was funny considering he killed himself in the end.
Anyway, I should get back to the here and now. I didn’t want to wallow anymore. I wanted to do something for myself…and for other people.
So what did I do? With the help of Uncle, I moved to London, rented a two-bedroom house, got myself a part-time job in a pub, and used the rest of my time to feed the homeless at the soup kitchen.
I also loved to paint. If I ever felt myself digging that hole I usually crawled into, I would get my brush out and start creating. That was what my second bedroom was used for. It was my studio. My sanctuary. It held a multitude of paintings, each one giving me purpose. It made me want to live, want to see the world from a fresh perspective. It was my home within my home.
Which brings me to the most important part of my story—again. I’ll elaborate later but, for now, you just need to know the essential details.
In my quest to find myself and help others, I met a homeless man. A very dark, mysterious homeless man. Unfortunately, I’d met lots of homeless people, but this one stood out, and do you know why? He never spoke to me. He never uttered a word, never acknowledged my presence. And, quite frankly, it annoyed the hell out of me. Everyone else was so friendly and caring. Despite their own misfortune, they would go out of their way to help, but this man? Nothing. It made me want to know more. Actually, if I was being totally honest, it made me frustrated as hell.
Of course, it didn’t end there. I think you know where this is going but, for now, I will tell you this. The man I was so mystified with, the man who both annoyed me and bewildered me? His name was Kit Chain…
And this was our story.
The Hilton Hotel, London, 2004
“Olivia, it’s time to get ready. Uncle’s taking you to the park, remember?”
I smiled. Uncle always took care of me and made sure I was happy. “Okay, Mum. Where’s my coat? I can’t find it.”
I was in the hallway of our penthouse, searching. The rooms were so big, it was more like an apartment than a hotel room.
“I think it’s in my room, Olivia. Hurry and get ready.”
I skipped into my parents’ room and picked the coat up off the bed. The room was quite dark but, in the faint light, I could see a shadow.
Tilting my head, I tried to squint to see what the shadow was. I took a couple steps towards it when I heard my mother shouting, “Olivia, hurry up!”
I turned my head around to shout back, “Okay, Mum. I’m coming!”
I looked back one last time, but the shadow was gone. For a moment, I thought maybe my mum and dad had a ghost in their room, so I was glad I wasn’t sleeping in there.
I smiled, thinking about my walk with Uncle, and wrapped the coat around me. Turning towards the door, I stopped.
A man with short black hair was in the doorway, staring at me. It was a man I had never seen before. I should have screamed but, for some reason, my voice was taken. I just stared, wondering what I should do next.
While I was thinking all this, he suddenly lifted his finger to his lips. “Shh,” he uttered, then disappeared from sight.
My eyes must have been huge. I was still standing there, not able to move, when my mother entered the room and saw my expression.
“Olivia, whatever is the matter, child? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
It was now March, so spring was upon us. I loved this time of year because the days were longer, the skies were sometimes clearer, and the birds would come around in droves. I had a tree outside my studio window, and I sometimes found myself staring out at the birds flying in and out of the branches. I would close my eyes and listen to their sweet melody for a few moments before I would start painting. Those times were my time. Those times, I let myself be free from any expectations and any responsibilities. I could just be me.
But the next few days weren’t carefree. In the morning on day one, I was on my usual route to the coffeehouse to place my order for my homeless friends.
I liked these mornings. It gave me purpose. It gave me meaning. I enjoyed their company and banter every day. The only person who didn’t look up when I arrived was this mysterious man. A man I found myself thinking about all the time. I didn’t know why because he never said a word to me…which was probably the reason, but it frustrated me nonetheless. There was something about him I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It made me want to know more, and I had wanted to know more for a very long time now.
After grabbing the coffees for the day, I said goodbye to the owner, Tim, and walked out. As I strolled, I smiled because being able to walk down the street by myself was unusual. Growing up, I always had people watchin
I need more time.
I sighed, taking my usual route down Barclay Lane, stopping at the stairs leading up to the soup kitchen.
“Olivia!” Wayne shouted.
I briefly looked in the mysterious man’s direction and, like usual, he completely ignored me.
Trying not to let that get to me, I turned to Wayne and smiled. Today, he had a woman sitting next to him. She looked to be in her fifties with dirty blonde, frizzy hair, brown eyes, and a black mole on her cheek. Not a huge mole, but noticeable. She smiled, and that’s when I noticed she had a tooth missing.
“Come and meet my girlfriend, Rachel.”
Leaning over, Wayne took his coffee, the others gathering around to take theirs. “I didn’t know you had a girlfriend, Wayne.” I raised my eyebrow. “Are you holding out on me?”
Wayne flashed me a grin, showing his gold tooth. He used to be a drug dealer, then started using himself. That started his downward spiral. He tried to stay away from it now. I think being homeless forced him, but every now and then, he would disappear for a few days and no one would know where he went. Those days frightened me because I knew that was when he was using, and I didn’t know if I would ever see him again.
“I was too tired of waiting for you, so I started looking elsewhere. I hope you don’t mind.” He winked at me and I started laughing. Rachel just rolled her eyes.
I placed one hand on my chest. “Well, my heart is a little sore, but I’m sure I’ll get over it.” I turned to Rachel and put my hand out to her. “It’s nice to meet you, Rachel.”
She flashed me a smile. “Nice to meet you, too.”
All of a sudden, I felt a little bad. “I’m so sorry. If I had known, I would have gotten you a coffee, too.”
Wayne pulled her close and smiled. “Don’t worry, Olivia. She can share mine.”
I smiled, asking Rachel what she would like to drink tomorrow. At first, she told me not to fuss, but she eventually caved, telling me how much she liked her tea.
I nodded. “Noted. I was actually thinking of making some Danish pastries on Wednesday. I can’t tomorrow because I’m working. Lord knows how they’ll turn out, but I’ll bring some with me if they’re good.”
“Bring them anyway!” Thomas shouted. “I wouldn’t turn it down, no matter what they looked like.”
I started laughing. “Okay.” I stopped for a moment, turning my attention back to the mysterious guy. He was huddled, trying to keep warm. It might have been spring, but this was only the first day of March, so it was still pretty cold. He had on a long, thick grey coat, a blue woolly hat on top of his head. He wore it often, but it never hid the hair he had underneath. It was down to the back of his neck, and it looked dark blonde to light brown. His face was also covered in hair. Lots of hair. So much hair, you could hardly see the face that was underneath, but I managed.
When I started here almost three months ago, he came into the soup kitchen to get something to eat. He handed me a plate and I put some food on it for him. He didn’t look at me, he never did, but I saw his eyes. They were a contrast of blue and grey, and were so captivating, my obsession with him started at that moment. He never said thank you. He never said a word. All he did was take the plate and found a seat as far away from anyone as possible.
Right then, I knew two things. One, I wanted to know his story, and two, he was a loner. He reminded me of myself and, for that reason alone, I wanted to know more. It became a craving after a while. I even found myself painting him a few times because I couldn’t get the image of his eyes out of my head. It frustrated me that he wouldn’t look me in the eye so, time and time again, I painted him staring at me. I must have a half-dozen different ones like that.
“He won’t talk to you. No matter how much you look at him.”
I glanced over at Marcus and watched as he sipped his tea. He was staring at me with a smirk that said I know why you keep looking at him.
“He doesn’t talk to any of us. Just turns up here every morning, eats his breakfast, then disappears.”
I looked at Thomas, who was now sipping his drink, and sighed. “Yeah, I know. It would just be nice to be able to say hi to him, even know his name.”
“No one knows his name.” Marcus scratched his dark hair and looked across at him. “No one knows anything about him.”
I didn’t say anything back. Instead, I started walking up the steps.
Shadowman, a voice whispered in my head.
Closing my eyes, I shuddered. When I opened them again, I looked back at the mystery man one last time. He was always trying to look old, but I knew he wasn’t. He actually only looked to be in his late thirties. It was the beard that made him look older. His eyes never lied, though. It was his eyes that made me question everything I stood for and, in turn, made me want to know more…
So much more.
It was on day two that things started getting a little interesting, but only because something out of the ordinary happened. I had been talking a little more than usual and, because of that, it was getting late. In my haste, I ran up the stairs, but tripped. I knew I was falling, I knew it was going to hurt, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
Suddenly, my fall was stopped as an arm pulled me to safety. When I looked up, I discovered who my rescuer was. You guessed it. The mysterious man.
It was the first time he really looked at me. In fact, I was so busy staring back at him and thinking how much it looked as though I was staring at one of my paintings, I barely noticed the scowl that had crossed his face.
“Watch where you’re going.”
He walked off, leaving me breathless, shocked, and completely weak in the knees. Yes, I know he was rude but, for the first time, I had actually managed to get a word out of him. Four, in fact. Despite the fact I never saw him the rest of the day, it didn’t dampen my mood. I just couldn’t stop smiling.
Day three was normal but, this time, I brought the pastries with me. I made them with strawberries, which was probably the wrong thing to do. Uncle always gave me a strawberry supplement when he saw me and it hit me straight between the legs every time.
Like now, the smell of strawberries hit my nostrils, making my stomach growl and my knees a little weak. Just the scent of them made me want Uncle, but I couldn’t think about him. Not now.
It was strange to know I had two obsessions in my life that were both playing havoc with my body. I couldn’t understand the fierce pull towards Uncle. It felt unnatural somehow. With the mystery man, though, it all seemed like a breath of fresh air. It was almost as if I was completely in control. It was a weird feeling, considering I didn’t know any better, but one I wanted more of.
I handed all the pastries out, noticing I still had one left. I took it out, put it on a piece of tissue, and placed it beside him. He never said a thing, never acknowledged my presence.
Knowing I wasn’t going to get anything out of him, I hurried up the stairs. I stopped and turned to find him walking away. I smiled, but not because I was happy he was leaving. I smiled because, despite the fact he was trying to hide himself, I could still see it.
He was eating my pastry.
Day four, I had a spring in my step. I had just handed out the hot drinks when Thomas shouted from a few stairs up, “Someone got some last night.”
I snapped my head up to see him wink at me. Thomas was about the same age as the rest of them. All see
My smile faded a little at his comment. “What do you mean?”
Thomas smiled. “You’re grinning from ear to ear, dear girl. That can only mean one of two things. You’re in love, or you got laid last night.”
Feeling embarrassed, I looked away for a moment, and that’s when I saw it. Mystery man was looking directly at me. I barely had any time to celebrate this fact because the minute I turned my head, he snapped his head away and just stared straight ahead again. His body was rigid, though. I mean, his body always seemed rigid, but if was even more so today. It made me frown a little.
“So, which one is it?”
Feeling confused, I looked back at Thomas. “What?”
Thomas rolled his eyes. “Which one is it? Love or laid?”
I briefly looked at mystery man before shaking my head. “None of them. I’m just feeling good this morning, that’s all.”
Thomas sighed and shook his head. “I’m calling bullshit, but whatever.”
“Thomas, leave the girl alone.” Rachel scowled in his direction.
I looked down at her and mouthed, Thank you.
“Don’t mention it, sweetheart. Just ignore him. He’s only saying that because the last time he got laid, Hitler was invading Poland.”
I started laughing, but Thomas shook his head. “I’m not even going to grace that with an answer. Anyway, you can’t say anything because I know what happens at night with you two.” He pointed to both Rachel and Wayne. “I’ve heard you.”
Rachel looked over her shoulder. When she looked back, she rolled her eyes and smiled at me. “He’s just jealous,” she whispered.
“I heard that!” Thomas had a scowl on his face, but he didn’t look fierce enough to pull it off.
It was then that I looked at the time. “Shit!” I was late again. I knew my work here was voluntary, but I still didn’t like arriving late. It was just in my DNA. “I’ve got to run.” I started up the stairs.
Chained by Jaimie Roberts / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes