From the Author
Hello and thank you very much for inviting me to ‘Bound 2 Escape’!
First of all, I would like to make a general comment about manipulation. As such the term may carry a negative connotation and to some extent, it should because we probably have all been in the situation where we enter a shop and minutes later, depart with a product we originally had absolutely no intention in buying. It’s as if someone else outside of us has been pulling the strings and controlled our behaviour. The clever, friendly and savvy sales clerk sold us something, which we knew fine well that she would try to do, but we still sometimes wind up feeling tricked. Yet, we also accept that these manipulative skills are simply part of life. We apply them ourselves more or less subtly when we need something from someone or wish to achieve a goal.
However, these skills don’t carry the kind of malice and danger that are employed by malignant manipulators who exert their control over long periods of time, without people realizing it and when they finally do, it is often too late. They have lived in worry and self-doubt for too long. The damage has been done and despite an increased awareness on bullying and abuse, still too many victims either end up as headlines in a newspaper or remain hidden, unable to ever seek help.
In ‘Tess and Tattoos’, the first story of my anthology of five novellas, the reader meets Sandra, a kind and sensitive nurse who is able to unlock the deeply set hurt and shame that Tess has had to live with due to a troubled past and help her to find peace to move on.
Five stories – Five Lives
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
About the Author
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
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She turned on the reading lamp next to the sofa seat and picked up her sketch book. This had been her favourite game of all time – trying to remember someone or something she had just seen and jotting the contours down on a piece of paper. She had never been good at maths or English, nor any good at figuring out which rivers ran through which country. She had managed to impress with her special ability to draw three-dimensional pictures accurately and swiftly, on the back of a glass mat in a café, on scraps of paper, or with chalk on the school blackboard. Her artistic skills landed her a well-paid job in advertising as a young adult and she fondly remembered the years creating original brochure covers, overseeing the production of glossy magazines and then landing the much-coveted business deal with a major auction house that would dramatically change her life. There had been so much gossiping behind her back thereafter. And she had to admit that it had partly been justified. The director at the auction house had not only chosen their agency because of her clever pitch but because Tess had been the one presenting it. What her colleagues didn’t know was that something had gone terribly wrong in her life and to extricate herself from it would come at a great cost. But jealous they remained for many years, clouding their vision from noticing what was truly happening behind closed doors.
Here we go again, I’m talking to you, my love. I think that jealousy is the worst of all human character traits. It kills so much potential, destroys so many friendships and relationships in general. If there is one thing I would like to be able to eliminate from the human race it is the capability to feel jealous and act on that negative feeling. It would be best to find the bit of DNA that is responsible for making us act in jealous and envious ways and simply snip it out of the helix. It sounds so good to say this, and I admit I’m getting rather childish in my old age. Of course, there is a reason for feeling jealous. It will have been a feeling that spurred on our ancestors in securing land, maybe, building a family and community, acquiring skills that outdid the neighbour, colleague or brother. But would we really be worse off without jealousy? What if we all got up tomorrow morning and decided that we’d always be genuinely pleased for those who did better than us, who may have been given more talents, more endowments, and better life conditions at birth than us? Would we never aspire to do as well as them, pick ourselves up to show the world that we were equally worthy of a lion’s share? Who knows? I think being able to say, ‘Well done’ to someone else and say, ‘I’d like to try and achieve what you have achieved’ is being confident and contented. Exclaiming, ‘This is not fair’ and ‘I want what you have’ are comments driven by different motives. Ultimately, you are not choosing what you really want to do, but only aiming to outdo someone else, including yourself. If you do this all your life you’ll never be happy, because there is always someone better, prettier, cleverer and faster than you. Argh, enough said.
She shook her head, then rested it onto the soft pillow tucked behind her neck, scolding herself for her silly monologue. Before closing her eyes briefly, she thought back to the tremor she had managed to conceal earlier. It had become a rare event but remained a curse, waiting to strike at unexpected moments, ones she could not shrug off completely no matter how hard she tried. She remembered the day when it had first crept into her hand.
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