Voyage in the Dark (Revised)

The part of the novel Voyage in the Dark that I chose to work with begins on page 141 and continues until the end of the book. For this particular project, I chose to recreate the ending of the book to make it what I envisioned it to be. I took on the role of Jean Rhys and explored a different path to the story. The book impressed me because at the start I never thought I would be able to get into it. I’m happy I ended up reading it all because it’s truly an amazing novel and I haven’t read anything like it. The ending was great but for some reason it was the scene I felt like I would be most inspired to pick a part and re-create. I kept the same context, which means that Anna still gets an abortion, but instead of her confronting Vincent about it, she comes face to face with Walter. I felt like it was important for Walter to come back for this major decision in Anna’s life because he has played a big role in the book and one last interaction between Anna and Walter was needed. I made sure to keep the whole piece dark and melancholic just like the rest of the novel. Since it was a very emotional and heartbreaking part of the book it was not hard to do.

Anna in my recreation remained the same person who she was earlier on. She’s still a very innocent looking yet messed up 18-year-old girl who hates everything about her life. Walter on the other hand changes. I’ve explicitly shown the way he feels about Anna mentioning that for him, she was nothing but a girl he used for physical relief. Walter shows his true colors in other words and he commands Anna to have an abortion.

When I sat down to write this it took me about half an hour to come up with my first sentence. I kept re-reading parts of the book trying to get inspired by Jean Rhys’ writing techniques and her way of putting things together. I tried my hardest to capture the essence and tone of the book to make it tie in with the rest of the story. Obviously while recreating a scene it’s difficult to follow the same connotation and flow of the original version because you’re now picking it apart and adding your own style to it. I’m confident with my end result because I spent a lot of my time on it, erasing paragraphs at a time and re-writing until I was satisfied with it. I discovered that being an author is difficult and takes a lot of discipline determination and creativity. It’s rare that I get to use my creativity as much as I did for this project so I obviously had a hard time letting myself explore that side of me. I also had a hard time keeping my work short. I felt like I couldn’t express what I wanted to in any less words than I did, in fact I could’ve continued.

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While I lay there shivering in my bed, Laurie knocked on my door three times and entered. What is the point of knocking if you’ll come in either way?

She handed me a letter and said “Ethel wrote to me. She says you owe her money for rent and damages to her flat. I didn’t pay much attention to it to be quite honest I just though you would want to take a look at it before I toss it in the fire.”

The idea of wood crisping under the fire caused chills down my back. I decided to read the letter, and find out what obnoxious lie Ethel has come up with this time.

***

Laurie walks in once again knocking and entering my room with no time for me to answer and this time I cannot contain myself.

“Why do you do that?” I said.

“Do what?”

“Knocking is useless if you don’t wait for the person to answer you.”

“I knew you were in bed, it’s just a habit I guess.”

As she walks over to the bed I hand her the note in hopes that she will take it and leave me alone. I’m quite tired lately. I feel sick to my stomach especially in the morning and these weird dreams won’t stop haunting my thoughts. There must be something terribly wrong with me and I don’t want to admit it.

My train of thought is interrupted by Laurie’s voice.

“What did you think of the letter, did you read it all?”

“That woman got no class writing to you about me like that. She don’t even know me. That cow. I was her only friend and now look how she’s treating me. Aren’t I glad I got outta there.”

A few hours later I woke up to the sound of a Laurie’s voice again, but this time she wasn’t alone. The voice was barely audible but it was certainly a man’s voice. I felt sick again. My insides felt like they we’re going through the rollercoaster of death, so I got up and directed myself towards the toilet, taking pauses to steady my step and clear the nausea.

Just as I climbed back into my bed, Laurie calls out my name.

“Anna, tidy up and come downstairs, I’ve got someone who wants to meet you.”

Meeting another one of Laurie’s “friends” is not how I wanted my night to play out but I swallow my pride and drag myself to find something somewhat appealing to wear for this stranger who I couldn’t give a damn about.

I chose my long green dress that I bought using Walter’s money he left me and headed down the stairs.

“What a delight it is to meet you, Anna is it?” he said

He was tall with broad shoulders, and he had a blinding smile that I most certainly did not appreciate.

“Tom is a doctor. He lives in America but visits London quite often.”

“London is a beautiful city.”

Beautiful he says? Not quite.

“Anna has been complaining about always feeling nauseous, exhausted and she’s quite the bitch if you ask me. I can’t say something without her getting mad.” said Laurie.

“Is that right? Do you mind if I check on you? It may just be a common flu that’s making you feel this way but just to be sure.”

His cold hands against my chest made me shiver in discomfort, and he noticed. I made sure to keep my eyes away from him after that.

***

“What am I gonna do now?” I tell Laurie in my most defeated voice. I can’t believe I’ve let this happen. I blame him. It’s his fault. Damn Walter.

“My dear, I know this is hard on you right now but what else did you expect? You had it coming with him.”

“I need to be alone.” And with that, I shut my door and fell asleep to the feeling of a river flowing under my face. The tears just kept coming.

My curtains were blocking the little bit of sunlight peeking through the usual clouds of London. I liked it that way. No matter how hard this city tried to impress me by these rare days of decent weather I haven’t changed my opinion.

“You need to tell Walter” yells my subconscious. I quiet her down by thinking of what I would tell him and how. He’s understanding. It can’t be that hard.

I decide to pull out a paper from one of Laure’s drawers and begin my letter to Walter. I hope Vincent doesn’t see it.

As I went to mail the letter, I felt a drop. Typical London weather. Deceiving and betraying. Laurie was waiting for me at the door when I got back.

“You decided to tell him huh” she said.

“You told me to do it, made it seem like owed it to him.”

“He deserves to know Anna. Maybe he’ll want to raise it with you, maybe he’ll even offer you all those nice things you’ve always wanted.”

“Men like Walter don’t stick around to raise a child Laurie, are you out of your mind?”

What was I thinking writing that letter? I hope it gets lost. I hope he doesn’t get it. I hope the world swallows me whole. Me and this bittersweet blessing growing inside me.

***

Walter is at my door. His letter in one hand and the other in the pocket of his custom tailored suit. He looks exhausted yet put together. He looks just like how I remembered him.

“Hello Anna” I couldn’t answer. He doesn’t ask to come inside but he does so anyways. I follow behind.

“Are you lying to get more money? You know you don’t have to do that. I will give you as much as you want. Just don’t lie about things that are so serious.”

“I wish I were but I’m not. You don’t gotta pretend like you care. I’ll be fine. I’ll just need some money.”

“So it is true. You are really having this baby?”

“I’m don’t know if I can abort it but either way I can’t afford to get it ripped out of me. Neither financially or emotionally.”

Walter’s silence worried me. I was curious to know what was going on in his head. What excuses he’s making up to get out of all the responsibilities. Of ways to convince me to get rid of it.

I see Laurie’s face through the crack of her bedroom door, obviously eavesdropping on my conversation with Walter who still hasn’t said one word. She gives me a look of empathy and signals me to continue the conversation.

“I understand if you don’t wanna be a part of this baby’s life. You’ve gotta life to live and a career to build. All I’ll need is a couple quid a week to support it and it’ll be fine. I’ll have Laurie help with the harder parts.”

His expression unchanged, he walks towards the door of my bedroom and shuts it closed making the room much darker. He grabs my arms and steadies me onto the bed. I don’t know what he’s thinking and I don’t know if he’ll say what he’s thinking. He’s playing with his hands trying to distract himself from the situation and it’s making me mad. Why can’t he just talk to me?

“is it mine? I mean, am I the father of this baby?” he says.

“It’s not like I’ve slept with anyone else Walter.”

Another moment of silence and at this moment it hit. I’m pregnant, with Walter’s baby, a man I don’t deserve, in a city that I despise, with no money, no place to live, and no family. How will I raise this child? How will I provide for it? Do I want my child to grow up and be as miserable as I am? All these questions are clogging up my brain and I don’t even notice that Walter is speaking to me.

“Anna I don’t think keeping the baby is a good idea. I don’t think an 18-year-old child is capable of undertaking that kind of responsibility.”

“Are you saying you wouldn’t help me raise it?”

“I knew coming here wasn’t a good idea. I should’ve sent Vincent.”

“Answer my question.”

“You know the answer. You know I’m not like that.”

I can’t listen to him any longer. I need to lie down and process all of this.

“I can’t do this right now. Do you mind if I lie down?”

“Sure. I’ve checked into the hotel right around the corner. I’ll come back first thing tomorrow morning before my flight back. We need to finish this conversation.”

As soon as Walter steps out, Laurie comes rushing in to catch up on the parts of the conversation she missed. By a simple wave of my hand she got the message and didn’t bother talking about it to me. She sat down, on the bed beside me, trying to comfort me. Eyes bloodshot, lips and body trembling I was in no state to have a conversation. Instead she did her best to calm me down.

I began to drift into sleep to the touch of Laurie’s soft hands caressing my arm, up and down and up and down again…

***

I woke up feeling drained and weak. My face felt swollen and my lips were still trembling. I had no intentions of getting out of bed today but Walter, as promised, was at Laurie’s door at exactly 8:05 in the morning. I made him wait while I got ready to face him.

“Hullo Anna” he says after sipping his tea.

“Hullo Walter”

“You look well” he was lying. I saw it in his eyes.

“Thank you so do you” I say without looking at him.

“Can we finish last night’s conversation. I don’t have much time before I have to catch my flight.”

I don’t say anything because I don’t wanna talk to him. I know what he’s going to say and even if I don’t wanna hear it he’ll say it anyways.

“Anna, you know I care about you. I’ve always taken care of you when you needed me to. I’ve done more for you than I thought I would.”

He took a break to drink some of his tea and waited for me to say something. When I didn’t he went on.

“I got what I wanted from you and you got what you wanted from me. Why do you feel the need to want something more out of me?”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that…” I can see that he’s unsure about what he’s going to say, almost as if he’s afraid it’s going to hurt me. Right now, at this moment, nothing can ruin me more than what he’s already said. I want to hear what he truly thinks.

“You’re selfish and ungrateful that’s what I’m trying to say. I gave you more than what you deserved and you have the audacity to demand more from me. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes I do” I whisper. Right now, I feel intimidated. I’ve never seen him this upset and he’s never spoken to me like this. Why does this make him so angry?

“How much money do you need for the abortion?”

“What?” Did I hear that right? He’s really gonna make me do this?

“I said how much money will you need to get the abortion?”

“I.. I didn’t know I was getting an abortion.”

“Of course you are” he says. “There is no way you’re going to birth this child. My children are going to be raised properly and by a good mother. Not by some child who thinks she can take advantage of me like you did.”

In that moment Laurie walked into the room and looked at me with sad eyes.

“Laurie dear, how much does it cost to have an abortion?”

“I know of somebody,” Laurie said. “I don’t know whether she’ll do it for Anna now, I mean she should’ve done something like this way sooner.”

“How much is it going to cost me?”

“She’ll do it for about fifty quid.”

“Fifty quid seem reasonable. If I double that will she do it today? Even right now?”

“I’m sure she can, yes.” Laure says looking awfully confused.

“Anna get your coat, and hurry I don’t have much time.”

I stood there, unable to make a single step, feeling paralyzed. I felt betrayed by Walter and Laurie and by myself. Why am I not strong enough to stand up for myself?

I somehow found myself out in the street Walter already on the side of the road calling a cab and Laurie guiding me towards him.

If the weather in London wasn’t generally as sad, I would say that it’s mimicking the way my soul feels inside me. At that moment, a cold wind blew straight through my skin and made my bones tremble inside me. I wish I hadn’t sold me fur coat.

***

“How do you feel? Do you need me to get you anything? A glass of water maybe?”

“A whiskey please” I said, experiencing one of the biggest pains I have ever felt in my life.

“Laurie wait! Where’s Walter?”

“He left my dear, his flight was going to leave. He couldn’t stay. He gave me the money it’s been taken care of. You need to rest now.” with her usual saddened expression she went off to get me what I asked for.

And just like that I’m left alone, like a stone-cold victim at a murder scene. How did everything get so messed up? Why is life so unfair to me? Why do I go through so much only to lose so much? My vision started to get blurry and I felt the heat of the sun and I heard the waves the ocean back home. If only I can start all over again.

Konstantina Vanikiotis

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One thought on “Voyage in the Dark (Revised)

  1. This is great! I’m happy to see that you threw yourself into this project with such enthusiasm. You certainly wrote a lot, and it’s quite good. I think you capture the spirit of the novel quite nicely. It’s clear that you paid close attention to Rhys’ style and the way she writes. Really nice. One important note, though: I don’t believe it was Walter that got Anna pregnant. It’s never clearly stated, but the implication is that she sleeps around a bit after Walter, and this is when she got pregnant. Just a detail. The book is confusing and ambiguous at times, for sure. But, this doesn’t take away from how involved and polished a piece this is. Great work!

    Like

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