Monstrosity

A word must be put in for monstrosity.

It has an ugly head, but disguises itself wonderfully under the soft and peachy skin of a four year old child who is loved by everybody. She knows she is loved. She knows her smile will charm an adult, and a kiss on a wrinkled cheek will yield more affection, which she thrives on.

Her eyes are wont to fill quickly, as her heart is so sensitive, and the adults croon over her, saying what a kind and wonderful soul she has.

‘You were so sweet and charming, Len,’ my mother says.

She doesn’t know the truth.

She doesn’t know that when I was four, I used to pinch a little girl. I pinched her and she cried.

I did it again the next day.

And the day after that as well.

I don’t know why I did it. I just remember doing it. I remember feeling guilty.

So why did I do it?

What was wrong with me?

Was I guilty about doing it, or was I guilty about being found out?

If you look at photographs, you see a small child with shiny brown curly hair and a dimpled smile. Her eyes sparkle with innocence and brim with joy.

If you peep into my memories, you see lots of love. Lashings of it. I am saturated in love. I have so much that it spills easily out of me and I can make little gifts of it to give to everybody else.

So where was the love in my four year old brain when I pinched that innocent little girl who did nothing to me?

My mother doesn’t know that when I was seventeen, I thought I was in love, and did many selfish things to chase something that was bad for me.

She doesn’t know that when I was twenty three, I felt hard done by, and used my husband’s love for me to selfishly get my own way, even though another party deserved to have her whims met more than I.

She doesn’t know that I have temper tantrums, sometimes, and say cruel things to my husband, who goes out of his way to please me, and who always wants to treat me well.

She thinks I am kind, and compassionate, and sweet, and she takes comfort in the fact that a child of hers creates good in the world.

But you see, I don’t feel so good.

I feel monstrous.

I cannot sleep at night, because I cannot ask forgiveness of those I have wronged, because I am either terrified they will crash back into my life, or because they do not know I have wronged them.

I did not commit a murder. I didn’t take anybody’s rights away. They probably don’t even think about what happened because they don’t know, and even if they did, they would not think it was monstrous.

But it is.

Oh, it is.

And humanity is not perfect, nor will it ever be. Humans make mistakes, that is for sure. But I have learned one heartbreaking thing about adulthood, and that is that humans have the power to hurt others. They can hurt others without realising it, so very deeply, and they can make selfish mistakes.

The mistakes you can make, others can make too. So you really should work on treating people well, and really think about what slithers out of your mouth.

There.

That is all I have to say today.

I wanted to disguise these dark thoughts in a piece of fiction, but I don’t have it in my heart. I feel very heavy and monstrous.

I have to work on being kinder, and better, and more honest. And dear God, forgive me for pinching that girl when I was four years old, because I severely regret it. What was wrong with me?

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I didn’t SORN my car.

I only have forty minutes left to do something productive. Writing this blog post is as productive a thing as any, eh?

In four days it will have been an entire month since I have left work. I have not done much since then. I have slept a lot and have vamped up my fitness regimen, but I still haven’t pumped my bike wheels (I keep leaving the pump at my mum’s house which is two hours away) and I still haven’t joined the gym. I wrote 5600 words in my ‘novel’ and I baked plenty. I also applied to plenty of jobs but nobody is hiring so I will inevitably have to wait forever and just keep trying.

I am being extortionately lazy and unproductive.

It’s becoming a little desperate.

I put off SORNing my car for so LONG that now I have to pay £50 in addition to filling out the SORN form. My front tyre is BUST and I can’t pump it up because there is no petrol in it and it is not insured so if I am caught driving it (which I can’t because the TYRE IS BUST) I will be fined £1000. Also have six points taken off my license, right? Oh I don’t know. Bad things will happen.

I kind wanna blame my husband, though? Even though it’s my car?

Listen, before you get all angry and het up about my ‘men-mysogyny’, here is why:

  1. He forced me to cancel my insurance because he was going to insure me on his car.
  2. He decided he didn’t want to insure me on his car, and refused to let me drive my own car home saying it’s too dangerous since I have only done motorways thrice.
  3. I had no car so I gave him two options, 1. either sell my car or, 2. let me pay for insurance and just drive home.
  4. He said he would sell it, but failed to do so.
  5. He said I shouldn’t insure it because he was selling it, BUT HE DID NOT SELL IT. So I didn’t SORN it thinking it would be sold. BUT IT WAS NOT.
  6. It is all his fault

Now he will be mad at the fine because it was my responsibility to declare my car off road (SORN) but HOW COULD I DO THAT WHEN HE SAID HE WAS SELLING IT?

See? So confusing.

Here is what I will inevitably have to do:

  1. SORN my car.
  2. Pay the damn fine.
  3. Smile at my husband  and pretend it was not his fault. Also don’t tell him because he will have a fit. EVEN THOUGH IT IS HIS FAULT.
  4. Sell my own goddamn car regardless of my husband’s controlling protests about my incapability to do it to his standard of perfection *rolls eyes*.
  5. Buy a better car and refuse to listen to my husband’s protests about insuring me on his car (Which he won’t do because he doesn’t trust his WIFE with his PRECIOUS). *ROLLS EYES HARD*
  6. Feel relieved that I now have my own car and don’t need to keep wasting money I am no longer earning on those damn trains.

Burnout

I am growing up.

Things are changing. My face is taking on an adult quality that it has lacked since I entered adolescence. People no longer mistake me for a sixteen year old.

I felt this acutely on Friday when a man with a badge stopped me in town. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not twenty five,’ really quickly because I knew what was coming and they usually need you to be 25.

‘Could have fooled me!’ he said, his eyes already scanning the crowds for another easy target.

Could have fooled me.

Really? Oh no.

There are bags under my eyes and they usually go within a day or two but these have been here for two months. My face is ashy and grey. My lips are purple. I don’t know why. I look fine after makeup but without it I look like a pile of lumpy ash.

Other things are changing too. I am not happy anymore. I find it incredibly hard to smile, and I am pludgering on through my days with a grimace; a combination of four hours’ sleep, and a day filled with minute planning else none of my goals will be achieved.

I complain a lot.

My tummy is bloated. (It is. All the time. Another medical mystery to solve.)

I don’t like living here.

Everything is a mess.

Stop being a child, Damian.

My tummy hurts.

I’m tired.

And I am. All the time. Every day I dream of falling back on to my bed for a nap, but it cannot happen, and when bedtime comes my brain is full of information and is busy creating a list of things to do for the next day that it usually takes me a good hour or two to wind down and be ready to sleep.

I have four thousand words to submit on the 17th of May, and two thousand five hundred for the 15th. I have a large exam for the first of June, and I haven’t read six of the eight set books required for the exam. How will I read six books in two weeks? As well as teach a bunch of kids for three hours a day and go into work for two hours a day, and chauffeur my brothers for 1.5 hours?

I can do it, of course. I already have a schedule.

But when moody madam is tired, schedules are generally hard to keep up with and I am always one to two hours behind because sometimes I can be slow.

So, I think I am growing up. I am learning to live, slowly and painfully. I don’t have my own life plan because I am living with my in laws, and usually have to follow their schedules and take my belongings wherever I go. So my wash bag and a towel along with a change of clothes comes in the car with me, along with a change of shoes and all my study books and teaching materials.

Most my showers are taken at the gym, and I usually groom myself there because the bathrooms are not always free at home and sometimes I can’t use them. It’s weird. I take such quick showers, I don’t see why its a problem. But eh, I guess I have a system now.

The epilating is hard, though. I don’t have time for that, so I try to make time. Last week I got to epilate and moisturise my legs and arms properly for the first time since December. I only had fifteen minutes before I was being called out of my room, so I hurried. But my legs still feel amazing.

D reckons I need to make more of an effort with my appearance. I do, of course. I look horrible. Just awful. I don’t feel confident to wear nice clothes because I have a stress pooch. My tummy pooches out when I am stressed and also it is always bloated so I don’t feel great making an effort with my apparel. Must get that sorted. I cut out dairy and grains, so maybe I should try just eating fruit and veg for a bit.

D says in August we can start looking for our own place. Financial reasons, of course. August can’t come soon enough.

Anyway. I am becoming better at hiding my sadness. I smile and chat away, but sometimes I show my mum my moody feelings because I can be fully myself with her. Still, it isn’t nice for her to always see me unhappy. I should make a better effort.

I don’t want to, you know? I don’t want to. And all my creativity is running dry.

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No Title.

Haka-haka-haka-haka. His sobs reverberated through the phone, punctuated at intervals by wet gasps. He cries like he laughs, she thought, like a raucous oscillating drill. She sat in the living room downstairs, her family sound asleep in their beds upstairs, unaware of her turmoil.

Please, God, please. Help me.

“How could you do this?” he rasped.

She didn’t reply, but her shoulders trembled, and silent tears formed rivers down her soaked, swollen face. She felt strangely detached from him. She was hurting because she didn’t want to hurt him, but a part of her was itching to slam the phone down and run away.

He took a deep breath, “I won’t let this happen!” he choked, “I’m getting in my car right now and driving up to give your father a piece of my mind,” he spat, the old malice strong in his tones. Anger clouded her vision like a red veil. She stood up.

No more! No. Fucking. More!

She held back the overwhelming urge to scream, aware she was hyperventilating; her voice was high and harsh, an icy whisper into the phone.

“How DARE you,” she hissed, drawing power from her fury, “WHO do you think you are?! Don’t you DARE come down here. I don’t WANT you here. Don’t you DARE.” She spat each word out. She was terrified he would do what he threatened to, and indignant that he would have the audacity.

He was sobbing quietly as she finished talking. She became aware of her heavy panting. Both her fists were clenched, holding the phone so tight to her ear that when she moved it a little it unstuck from her hot, wet face with a squelch. All her muscles were tight, on edge, ready for flight.

“You’ve ruined my life,” he finally whispered.

You’ve ruined mine.

“Why did you waste all my time?”

“I didn’t,” her voice faltered.

Two years!” the hacking increased.

Haka-haka-haka-haka.

She wanted to slap him across the face. He wouldn’t manipulate her feelings like that anymore. That pathetic, weak crying. She felt repulsed.

I didn’t waste your time. I didn’t. Did I?

I chased him, though. I ran after him and wept when he didn’t text back or answer calls for weeks and weeks. I put myself out there for him and lied through my teeth for him, and went to him even when he was cheating on me the whole time.

I lied for him when my mother demanded to know where all my pocket money would go. Later, when I had no pocket money left, I stole money for him to pay his insurance. Not just once or twice, but many times. I always put it back, though, when my money came through.

‘What would I do without you?’ he asked me, smiling gently as I put ten twenty pound notes in his ravaged, bony fingers. It felt good, when he smiled like that.

“Len?”

She heard the hope in his voice and hung up, heart thumping wildly, staring at her blank screen. He didn’t call back. One minute passed. Then another, and another. She got up and lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling.

Please, God, keep him away from me. Please protect me from him. Please make him happy without me. Please, please God.

An hour later a message lit up her phone. Under his name in the notification bar was a small yellow face with two rivers of tears running down it. Her heart slumped.

Please, God.

***

“Is it because your parents don’t approve?” he asked her a week earlier when she tried to break up with him in person. They were in his mother’s front room, him standing, her sitting. He had been angry all afternoon, slamming cupboards, shaking her.

“No!” she sobbed.

“Then why?” his voice was rising, and a vein on his forehead protruded, purple and throbbing.

“I just don’t.. want this life.”

“I told you I would marry you.”

She shook her head, her shoulders shaking uncontrollably. He moved closer to her, and her eyes focused on the giant metal cross leaning against the far wall, everything else in her frame of vision blurring. His crotch pressed into her face, as she focused on the way the russet hair of Jesus curled over his bronze face. He pushed into her and her head jerked back roughly against the sofa, straining her neck.

“I don’t let my parents choose who I should love,” was his parting shot, his eyes red and wet.

 

***

She knew deep down in her heart that it was wrong. She knew it was wrong when she started talking to him. She did a double take when she saw his photo online. Strong brows knitted over a pair of sharp ocean eyes, pointy nose and bright red mouth. Hair spiked up over his forehead.

‘Hello! How are you today? :)’

‘Hi, I’m good thanks, you?’

They spoke for a while. Then she went out and had no internet. When she got home, there was a message from him online.

‘You make my tummy flip!’

It sounded cheesy, and she didn’t know if it was the excitement of the day clinging on to her, but the sentence made her tummy flip.

‘I bet you say that to all the girls.’

What am I doing?

Three days later, he professed his love for her, and told her he was jealous of all boys who spoke to her. Never had she been so flattered in her life. She hugged herself everywhere, her knees wobbled like jelly when she thought about him.

I’m in love.

Maybe it was this wholehearted, deep rooted infatuation making her half mad that obscured her judgement. She called him every night. He told her she was ‘so fucking sexy’ when she sent him a photo of herself at his request. He said her voice on the phone was beautiful, he could listen to it all night.

‘I don’t believe in sex before marriage,’ she said, when he mentioned that he wanted to be inside her. It threw her a little, disgusted her, but another part of her liked hearing that.

‘So marry me.’

She loved his voice in the dark as she lay on the damp grass under the stars through the summer, her phone pressed hard to her ear, her voice a quivering whisper as they spoke into the small hours.

“Come and see me,” he pleaded with her, “be brave.”

She did go, finally. The harsh light overhead accompanied with the rattling and swaying as the bus wound around tight country roads made her queasy. She watched the man in front of her, as the folds of his neck, behind the sweat stained cuffs of his shirt, rolled over each other with each movement the bus made, and when he turned to glare out of the window, she caught a whiff of something acrid. She leant as far back on the seat as she could, tugging at her neckline. If it was a little looser, perhaps she wouldn’t feel so nauseous. Or maybe it wasn’t her surroundings at all, but the fact that she was doing this. She was going to meet him. A loud voice in the back of her mind which she tried her best to stifle, was telling her to go back, go home, but his words rang in her ears.

‘You’ll always be under the control of your parents.’

He loves me, though. He loves me.

When the bus pulled into the station, there he stood, waiting for her. A cold, clammy feeling spread over her body as though somebody had cracked a giant egg on her head.

 

***

His face loomed in front of her, his eyes not blue and not green but an icy ocean of both colours.

Live a little, his voice raspy from all the cigarettes he was always smoking, it’s legal I promise.

No no no no. I don’t want to.

 

Go on you buzzkill.

She took the flimsy little roll up he held out to her. She toked on it, and her eyes scanned the stars above. She shivered in the icy cold.

Eyyyy. That was nothing. Have another.

It doesn’t taste nice.

That cackle again. Hack hack hack.

She breathed in the putrid smoke, she held it there like she’d seen him do so many times. She breathed it out, and watched the swirls drift away in the wintry air. Just him and her, standing alone in the doorway to the garden. Just how she’d always wanted it. Why, then, was she so unhappy? She tried to lift her feet but they wouldn’t move.

“My feet won’t move,” she heard her voice say solemnly. She felt anything but solemn, panic rose inside her. Her movements were slow and dreamy, her speech was lethargic. Her brain separated into two, one ugly one telling her she was mad and that she was going to die, and the other swelling up, the voice of reason, telling her to hold on. His eyes drifted in front of her, and her logical brain told her not to trust him.

‘I’m dying,’ she murmured faintly, ‘call an ambulance, please!’

He laughed. High pitched and feminine, she thought. Hold on, hold on, hold on.

***

“Where were you?” her mother demanded, her tone terse. Amal could see the worry creasing the lines beside her eyes.

“With Lucy,” Amal muttered, pushing past her mother and going up the stairs. She sniffed the inside of her polo neck. She smelled of him. Cigarettes and lynx, and something musky.

“Were you, really?”

She hated the accusation in her mother’s voice.

“Yes.” Her voice was clipped.

She pushed herself into the bathroom, and ripped off her clothes, discarding them on the cold, tiled floor.

She had rushed out in the morning, without any breakfast. Used whatever money she had left to buy the bus ticket. Sat on the rickety bus for an hour and a half, feeling as though she was going to vomit from nerves and heat. Walked across the disgusting old bus station and crossed the road to where he was waiting in his ancient, battered dark blue Citroen. Climbing in. Then her silence would settle in. It was as if a heavy weight was placed on her chest, suffocating her. Thoughts would bubble up and froth away, swallowed back down her oesophagus, until her belly was full, like a leaden sack. He would talk at her, mostly lies to big himself up. The sack in her belly growing and growing until it swelled into her chest, eating away at her as he launched into his customary rant trashing her family, calling her parents all kinds of names. Did she argue? No, she just sat there and drank it all in. But she loved him, so it was okay. She loved him when the pain seared through her, every inch of her body tense. It’s almost over. Almost over.

In the shower, as the scalding water beat on her skin, plastering her hair to her face, her whole body revolted, repulsed. She was throbbing and sore. Her legs shook and she had to hold on tight to the side of the bath so keep the room in focus.

How could she have let him touch her.

 

***

He texted a few months after she had left him. ‘Your name. That’s all I can think about.’

 ‘I miss you so much.’

‘I will call your mother.’

‘You ruined my life. I’m going to kidnap you and kill your father.’

‘I will kill your whole family.’

‘I love you so so much. I can’t stop thinking about you. If you don’t reply, I will kill myself. You heartless bitch.’

The last text, full of malicious venom, made her shriek with fury. She refused to reply, though, to grace his malice with any response.

She screamed and and screamed into the emptiness of her house.

Delete, delete, delete. Twenty calls a day. Anxiety ripping her apart, racking her body, making bile rise in her throat. She retched from fear, but nothing came out of her mouth.

***

Manipulative psychopath. His figure was blurry in the distance, but the lanky legs shooting out beneath him as he scuttled along the pavement like a giant grasshopper were telling. His bony shoulders jutted out on either side, his long head rising up in the centre, the light brown fluff on top, greasy and thin, swept over his huge, gaping forehead. The way his head sat a little forward, his neck protruding out over his chest, giving him a self-conscious hunch. His body growing narrower and narrower down to his feet. He was long and narrow and bony and revolting.

He won’t recognise me. It’s been so long. 

She felt he was looking at her; she drew her face inwards so that folds of skin bulged out beneath her chin. She scowled heavily, knitting her brows together, and lifting her upper lip, trying to make herself as ugly as possible.

He was coming closer. Each step she took was weighted.

Don’t look up.

They passed each other. Blood thundered in her ears.

Please don’t recognise me.

The moment passed. The whirlwind rushed by. Her limbs were weak.

Manipulative psychopath.

His crotch in her face.

His drugs in her mouth.

His scent in her nose.

His harsh anger, rattling through the phone, making her throat dry and filling her with dread.

His threats.

“I’ll kick you in the fanny if you don’t shut up.”

“CUN-ttttt.”

Threatening her if she refused to come and see him.

Slamming doors in her face.

Calling her mother a bitch.

Those sexual messages to Angie, Katie, Chloe.

Her running after him, despite the sexual messages.

His.. crotch.. in .. her face.

“CUNT-ttttt.”

She whipped around sharply, suddenly furious, her scarf whirling around her head.

I had no closure.

She followed him as he jaunted off down the street. His long arms swung uselessly beside him, making her angry, twitching like that. She walked faster.

He needs to pay for what he did.

Her voice broke when she tried to call out to him. He didn’t turn around.

I’m going to punch that fucker in the face.

Her breath came out heavy and thick, her chest heaving with adrenaline and anticipation and hot, hot rage.

He can’t just walk away from me.

Turn around. Turn around and face me, you coward.

 

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Lamenting my Toes

Today

As I wheeled by bike

Out into the wonderful outdoors

Fresh, cold wind on my face

Up my ankles

Fanning my cheeks

I heard the trees swishing their bare branches

The birds tweeting

The hills rolled away in the distance

I climbed aboard

I squeezed the handlebars

And I thought to myself

Goodness gracious me

I am twenty two in 26 days

TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD.

Only eight years or so,

Until I am thirty.

When you reach thirty, folks,

You have hit the point of no return.

You’re a true adult,

At thirty.

The truth is, folks

I still feel twelve.

In fact,

I still feel six

Looking down at my feet

To see how far off the ground is

And wonder if I’ve grown a little

I still feel small.

Nowadays,

When I look at my feet,

It is only to have adult thoughts

And lament about my long toes,

 

The coursework that I have to submit,

Or the bills I need to sort out,

Or the..

Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

The Transition

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened.

I don’t know when I went from hiding between the clothes in a supermarket, or jumping over the cracks in the pavement which were really large crevices filled with gnashing crocodiles, to trawling miserably through the same shops that I used to make magical playgrounds out of.

When I went to the hillside park of my childhood the swings were old and rusty and too small, the playhouse desperately needed a lick of paint, the grass strewn with cigarette ends and bottle caps.

Where was the vibrant green hill of my childhood? Oh, it’s just a small mound with more sand than grass.

The glorious forest of trees I used to wander through, my head craned, fascinated by the canopy high high above, is just a tiny thicket, its ground peppered with unsavoury adult things that I now know the meaning of. I look down now, not up.

Walking at night was an enchanting adventure, all the shadows seemed blacker somehow, and moved when I walked. I felt so deliciously vulnerable, safe in the knowledge that my parents were with me so I was protected. Now it is all dark alleyways, and every stranger is a potential attacker, heart quickening as I hurry along, desperate to finish my business and get safely home.

Even my childhood home is different. My old reading nook is too small, it’s only an alcove that could fit a skinny child.

I don’t know when I stopped running everywhere. Running down hills because my legs would swoosh so fast and the scenery would blur, picking all the daisies, the climbing frame becoming a castle, turning strangers into evil sorcerers and playing hide and seek with them while they walked on, oblivious. Discovering secret tunnels full of prickly thorns, that were just gaps between thick holly bushes. Always, always always finding the most fun way to get to places, catching flashes of my parents as we darted through bushes and happening upon little trails through the trees. Walking past people’s front gardens and sniffing their roses, and dreaming of the colourful arrays they had nodding at passers by.

Now I hurry on by, maybe admiring the flowers a little, but never with the radiant reverence of my childhood.

The world is still the same, folks, but the colourful film of innocence has been lifted from my vision, and everything underneath is drab and grey.

When did this transition occur? For I don’t remember it. I remember vehemently saying that I would never be as boring as the adults, but here I am, walking not running, stepping not skipping.

I miss the magic so so sorely. I try to conjure it again sometimes, when I am playing with children. Try to see the lions approaching through the trees, the swings turning into swift hover boards, the daisies twirling their pretty white skirts tinged with purple like small fairies, but the images fizzle away so quickly.

Do you remember the moment you transitioned? Or is the moment elusive to you, a slow and painful death of the allurement of life.