The secret writings of Oasis Carpella
- Melissa Holden, September 2012
Stories like this are needed in the world. Not to depress us, or enlighten us for a moral high ground, but to highlight the truth in everything. The cliché of it all. How people never change. The silver lining of it all. The mundanity of our lives.
I don’t expect to change anything with this story, but only to have it known to myself that I tried.
If you know me personally, you will know why my focus is pain. If you don’t know me, I hope you never figure it out. Writing isn’t to make people understand you; it’s to help them understand themselves and the chaos around them.
I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but my father always said “Writing is for people who are clever. Not for girls like you. Just get married and have kids. It’s better that way”.
So, I married. Here I am, years later, a 20 year old with three unruly children and a husband that can’t see through his fog of intoxication, and I am finally doing it. (Well, I’m hiding with my laptop in the bathroom – but I think it still counts). I will never write a novel, it’s not my style. Instead, I shall explain how I got here.
Fiction makes people feel inspired and want to experience life in a new way, at least for a short while. When I read Before I Die, I wrote a list of what I wanted in my life:
- To write a novel that will change someone’s life
- To never be alone
- To be able to have children
- To find the truth of it all
- To do something crazy
- To feel true love
- To have my family back
As you may have noticed, I have not completed my list.
Jamie, my husband, is a brute of a man. He smells of Sterling cigarettes, always smokes weed, and necks cheap beer from the corner shop on our street. My children, are incapable of quiet, even the youngest, Clara, who’s only 1, finds time in her busy day of sleeping and soiling herself to scream with her hearts content. Non-stop.
You must think this is my fault, that I am a bad wife and a terrible mother. To be perfectly honest, so do I. He is my husband. They are my children. I chose this life.
I will, however, explain WHY I have to hide my lust for writing on a secret laptop that I hide in my topmost underwear draw, and why my children hate me.
For you see, one person’s fiction, is another person’s reality.
My twin sister, Ocean, was a strong, independent girl of 18 before she died. As far as twins go, we are very different. We may both have written our feelings down, but she expressed her deepest, darkest secrets, whilst I spoke about social ineptitudes.
I remember finding Ocean’s diary one night when we were fifteen. We had recently moved from our beautiful suburban house to a shoddy flat in a busy and unfamiliar town. Due to the move, we now, after fifteen years of blissful separation, had to share a room. I distinctly remember feeling the amusement any fifteen year old girl does when they find a diary. Somebody else’s secrets. Somebody else’s pain. Instead of tear-stained pages, I found hastily glued in photos of Ocean and her friends, at the park, shopping, at sleepovers, the normal locations of a teen. Then I found something else, a photo that rocked me to me core. Ocean, my beautiful innocent sister, strung up with black leather ropes, unconscious and alone. Her pale skin on show for the world to see. On the back of the photo were the words,
I had a great night babe, we should do that again.
And if we don’t, I WILL find you.
I was speechless, was my sister being raped? Did she love him? Had she told our parents? Why hadn’t she told me? I had no clue. My Ocean would never do anything like this; she was a careful girl, wasn’t she?
I read the page opposite the photo, and once again found myself silenced.
“This is the photo Jamie sent me from last week; he says the camera LOVES me! I can’t wait to do it again, but I don’t want to tell anyone, they will get the wrong idea. I love Jamie and he would never hurt me – I know it.” A week later, I found my sister crying on her bed, clutching that very photo. He had sent it to a magazine and all her friends had seen it.
I wish that had been the worst of it.
Now my sister was as outcast as I was. I didn’t like it one bit, so I decided to change, to prove them all wrong, and hope she followed in my path.
I published my first article in the school newspaper the same week, talking about stereotypes and the way teenagers behave around each other. The isolation of our age, our generation. We can’t confide in our parents, they won’t understand. Our siblings will only tease, and our friends will always judge us – no matter how close you think they are to your heart.
The bullying stopped for Ocean, because she did exactly what I expected – she judged, and teased and hurt me. Just as every other girl did. I didn’t mind. I was used to it and it was worth it just to see her smile again. We only had a few more months left of GCSE’s and then it was college. I wanted to study Writing and Ocean had a new found passion for beauty. She got in with a new group of people, and I thought this time things would be different for us.
Alas, even when we had started college, I noticed she was acting different, much like she had before when I found her distraught and alone. I soon discovered Jamie was in the picture again.
This time, it was drugs.
She was on something. She was addicted. I could tell by her face. She was pasty and aloof. Her eyes red-rimmed and her hair knotted. She started skipping classes and spent most of her time in our bathroom, sometimes she took Jamie in there with her, sometimes it was girls from college. She would come out with an expression like a frightened deer, caught in the headlights.
Over the next few months, she became more aggressive, yet fragile. She was never home. She missed our eighteenth birthday party because she was hospitalized after an overdose. It was never enough for her anymore.
She moved on to harder stuff, as I found out when I came home from a date with Eric Life, to find the needle still thrust into her arm as she lolled on the bedroom floor. I phoned an ambulance and our parents. Later on that week, my parents reported Ocean to the police. They discovered four kilos of cocaine powder in clear white bags. She was to be imprisoned for a twelve year stretch after a three month stay in hospital for possession with intent to sell. She was covering for Jamie, who was dealing at the time and to avoid raids, stashed the drugs with Ocean.
Whilst in hospital, she had the typical withdrawal symptoms of any drug addict; she had crashed, and then started to crave the drugs as if they were vital for her survival. When that was denied, she stopped eating, stopped living. In the end, she stopped being herself.
My mother, a frail Italian immigrant, fainted when she saw her youngest daughter (a full hour younger than myself) hooked up to breathing machines and numerous tubes. Her beautiful olive green skin covered in bruises; once bright blue eyes sunken into her skull. She was a corpse, and she would stay that way.
I spent those three months by her side, alone and ashamed. Our parents had abandoned us. They couldn’t handle a drug addict for a daughter and a failed writer, a wreck of a child, barely out of college, who had quit her job, life and boyfriend, Eric, to take care of the fragile life form that lay dying beside her.
After about six or seven weeks, she woke up. I left a voicemail for our parents, but it was never returned. Shortly after that, my father came to tell us that they had moved, and would not be telling us where. We were abandoned and alone. No parents, no home, no money.
A week after that, our mother killed herself. Father blamed us, but I think it was her own guilt that got to her in the end. She had never wanted to leave Italy, neither of our parents did. It was only for the money and the lifestyle that we ever left. My father returned to Italy the same day as the funeral.
In the end, it was the lifestyle and the money that killed Ocean.
As you may have noticed, my life sounds somewhat similar to what Ocean’s would have become if she had survived.
Then again, it technically is, for I am Mrs Ocean Brenner, wife of Jamie Brenner, mother of three children that aren’t genetically mine.
That was the thing about me and Ocean, as long as you didn’t know us very well, you could never tell us apart. I never thought Jamie Brenner never knew my sister very well, but I was wrong.
You see, as far as anyone knows, it was Oasis Carpella, aged 18, that died at the hand of a drug dealer, trying to protect her bone idol sister and save her soul, but in fact, it was Ocean that died.
Perhaps, I should explain?
Ocean convinced me to switch places with her one night in January. It was snowing outside, and she wanted to feel it brisk coldness of the air before it was too late.
As Ocean had been deemed too sick to even eat, there were no policemen guarding her hospital door. It was only ever me with her. I was the only face she saw for three months. But I wasn’t the last.
Ocean betrayed my trust. That is all I know. I don’t know how it happened, or how she did it, but she ended up with an ex-boyfriend that night. Another drug user. He hooked her up and within minutes, she went into cardiac arrest. Her body was too fragile to cope with the drugs. The boy stabbed her to death in fear. It was later discovered that he had been taking been on heroine the night she died, a very powerful drug, especially for someone as unstable as her, and had overdosed. He was imprisoned for six months, before released later for good behaviour.
“Good behaviour”. That’s what I read in the local paper. Good behaviour. Clearly my sister’s murder did not count towards his behaviour.
I was unaware of what had happened that night until a friend of Ocean’s came to see me. Still in character at this point, I greeted her with warmth, as Ocean would have. Her face told me something was wrong. Was it my father? Had something happened?
The friend then proceeded to tell me that Oasis had been stabbed to death after being attacked by a drug dealer. Everyone thought I was dead and that I was Ocean in this bed, supposedly dying from her drug abuse.
Only I knew that the dead body in the morgue six floors down, really was Ocean’s and I was still alive. A police report later informed me that Ocean had taken my jacket, with my ID cards in it. No one was the wiser and now I was trapped. Alone, a liar, and was about to be imprisoned for three years. I had no way out other than to tell the truth. Or so I thought.
Then something strange happened. Jamie came to the hospital. The drug ridden boyfriend of my now deceased sister. He knew Ocean better than I thought. He knew who was really dead. He gave me an ultimatum, which I have to admit, I saw no other way out, than to follow him. I scrambled out of Oceans hospital bed, got dressed, and escaped.
This was the action I regretted the most.
I hope you understand - I felt I had no choice. I was an innocent girl from a small town. I wasn’t ready to go to prison. Alas, karma has reached me and I am now imprisoned in a loveless marriage and a life that isn’t mine.
Now I bet you are flicking back to the first chapter, reading the age, how many children. Then flicking to the part where I confess how the children aren’t really mine. Now you are realising how old Ocean was when she died.
I am writing this book two years after her death. It is how I will grieve for her, how I shall miss her and how I shall escape.
Jamie beats me every day, to punish me for Oceans death. Some days I feel like I deserve it. Today I don’t. I’ve been hiding for over an hour. It’s almost dinner time and I can hear Jamie’s children screaming downstairs. But I don’t care. This is my sanctuary and I shall not leave it until I am dragged.
This will never be published, and I know it. I just hope that if it is, my parents shall read it. I want them to know what happened to Ocean and myself. Why we suffered as we did. Why she died instead of me. Why Ocean has never contacted them. Why I lied for her. Why I am stuck in her life. In her marriage. With him. Why I am miserable and Jamie loves it.