In Less Than Five Years

Broken Heart
Artist: Stephanie Marrott



In less than five years, the Duncan Clan lost thirteen members. Molly, her husband Jack, their four children. Michael and Faye. Daniel, his wife Cameron and their three children. All had been deemed guilty of treason, either directly or by association. The unspoken, unanimous verdict of the condemned, They are to be punished until they acquiesce or we will turn our backs on them as dishonoured cast-offs.

Still feeling the faint stirrings of compassion, Faye believed Barry suffered deeply from the loss. He was perplexed and angry by what had happened. Edith, on the other hand, was a person Faye came to view as a consummate game-player. Winning and control were more important to her than love and friendship. Time and again, Edith’s carefully contrived actions portrayed this, even when it came to the crumbling relationships with three children, three ‘in-laws’ and seven grandchildren. Edith and Barry’s actions were so loud, their words lost any meaning.

Faye had to come to terms with a cold reality: Edith had never really loved her at all. Edith tolerated her as a daughter-in-law, nothing more. Over the years, Edith’s green-eyed jealousy had become uncomfortably obvious at times. Faye never took it very seriously because, sadly, Edith was blazingly jealous of everyone, not just Faye. But when Michael’s parents dismissed him as a ‘crazy’ buffoon and her as a contemptible villain and unscrupulous professional, Faye had enough. They had irrevocably crossed the line. Faye decided to divorce. Not Michael, but his parents. She would never again acquiesce or tolerate their cruelty, personally or as a spectator. The knowledge that Barry had once loved her disappeared into the gaping wound of the broken heart.

If still alive during these years of personal, familial and professional hell, Faye’s wise and astute grandmother, Mama Ted, would have quoted her long dead father-in-law, the famous Captain C.M. Tyler. Captain Tyler, one of the pioneer founders of Colorado, was fond of saying, in his best Teddy Roosevelt impersonation, “You’ve been dragooned, my dear. It happens to the best of us.”

Faye felt like the proverbial virgin in a whore house. All those years invested. She had been a willing Pollyanna who believed in the magic image of a charismatic and loving California clan named Duncan and the well-crafted fantasy of their Camelot. Well, not any more.

The sweet Maui onion of illusion had been peeled and its pungent bitterness exposed. Michael and Faye, even at perilous odds with one another, shared an inscrutable unity; a fierce, burning focus and tenacity to survive and break free from the massively dysfunctional world they had come to call ‘The Borg.’

Determined to shake off these gloomy thoughts, Faye began to sift through the other stacks of photos and keepsakes stored in the enormous cardboard box, looking for an image that would make her smile. Over the years, she and Michael had shared so many spectacular moments. For her, there was a mystic quality to the process of photography; capturing time through a lens. Frozen crystalline mirrors of reality in any given moment. Images that wait patiently, timelessly, for their power and message to be rediscovered and reinterpreted.

Much like insights, the impact of a long-forgotten photograph profoundly affected her, when and where she least expected it. Like finding a misplaced but necessary piece to a puzzle. A discovery. A revelation. Belonging to the past. Belonging to the present. A bridge that connects the events of destiny. Memories of yesterday, coloring perceptions of today which influence dreams for tomorrow. All woven together, they create the collage of life.

There it was. The photo that made Faye smile. She remembered the exact moment Michael had bought the small matted print in the gift shop. He had wanted to buy her something to remember the evening. The impact of seeing the colossal modern sculpture ‘Eclipse’ that dominated the hotel lobby came rushing back. She had not forgotten. It had been the first Friday in May 1973 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. Their first date.

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