Nah. It doesn't matter if I am standing in front of stripy wallpaper, a 'House of Fun' mirror or Mcdonald's, I am still going to look like I have eaten the size 4, eighteen-year-old I once was. The house looks great though---the rooms look loads bigger.
They were soul mates---married just a year before a late diagnosis took him away. They were supposed to spend their lives together, she could not, would not accept this as their fate. She may not be able to spend her life with him, but she would lie next to him for all eternity.
I place a thumb to each eye ball and push. I know no better way to stop the pain. The release is not quick or sudden, but eventually the ache within dissipates. After writhing in agony for so long, my soul is weary and yearns to be unconscious. I oblige.
I had looked forward to the serenity of darkness. Alas, chaos reigns behind my eyelids. Shooting stars and flashing lights continue to attack me after the violent onslaught to my eyes. Though finally asleep, it seems I shall not be allowed to rest.
The kaleidoscope of colour begins to bind, taking the shape of orange jumpsuits. Then, there are the masks. Faces depicting the worst of human suffering scratch at the inside of my skull. They too beg for mercy. Roused awake by their screams, I once again push my fingers into my eyes.
The Little Things
It is hard to be grateful when your soul is on the floor,
When you can no longer remember anything you are thankful for,
But then a little voice says, 'Mummy, it'll be okay,'
And their little hand drags you through another day,
You sit and eat together, leftovers from last night,
But you smile because if you can eat, it will be alright,
The wind hammers the creaky roof above,
The roof that shelters you from harm, protects your love,
Before he went to sleep, 'I love you, Mummy,' he said,
Two little eyes closed, safe and sound in their bed,
You unscrew the bulb and embrace candlelight,
You are sleepy, but have enough wick to read one chapter tonight,
You lie in bed, grateful, yet still you weep,
As you lie and pray for a good night's sleep.
A rolled note; a case sticky from overuse. She inhales deeper to get every speck.
Do as I say, not as I do.
If only we could talk to our younger selves, what would we tell them? The girl I once was has long since passed, yet here you are, giving me a second chance to save the girl I could, and should have been. So, don't do it. Your eyes are filled with temptation, wonder at the possibilities that this small, plastic bag may open up to you. Well, let me tell you, there is nothing here for you. There is no elevation to the next realm, no supreme party, no magical cure. The only thing that you will find at the bottom of this bag when you have desperately ensured that it is indeed empty, is pain.
Of course, you ignore me as I too once did. And as I watch you hold back your hair to give it your first ever try, I pray that you will tell the girl who stands in your place five years from now, all that I have told you. And I pray that she listens.
1. Have kids. They don’t give a flying fuck what the clock says. They want Cheerio’s in the Batman Bowl with the green spoon (that probably needs washing first), and they want it immediately. You will be so used to having your sleep snatched from you, that you probably won’t even notice that one measly hour slip away. Oh look, there it goes, along with your sanity. Bye-bye now.
2. If you are a little smarter, you possibly don’t reside with tiny humans, and therefore may get to travel a bit. In this instance, pack a suitcase before bed. When you wake up, adjust your watch (you may need to guess a little at this point), and then unpack your suitcase again. This way, you can trick your body into presuming you are jetlagged. And you know the best cure for jetlag, right? Yes, that’s right, any alcoholic cocktail you can get your hands on. Vodka in your coffee totally counts. And if someone says, ‘Hey you drinking at this hour? You know what time it is?’ You can laugh and say ‘no’ because you genuinely haven’t got a fucking clue. Is Google in charge of the time now? Are you? You’re drunk, you probably shouldn’t be. But seriously, whose job is it to reset the time on your phone? Make sure you pay through the nose to ring Direct Enquires to find out the actual time. Or stay ‘jetlagged’. Your call.
3. Again, if you don’t have tiny sleep thieves littering your home, you may consider this final option. Now this one you need to start the night before and you are going to want that Vodka. Or whatever other alcohol you can get your hands on. But go steady now, you’re going to need to pace yourself. This one may prove tricky if you are over the age of twenty-five. You are gonna just go straight through. Weekend bender. Deal with it Monday. You are going to feel shit no matter what.
If you are over the age of twenty-five, give it your best shot. You will pass out and wake up feeling like the aforementioned shit anyhow. And you definitely won’t care what time of day it is just as long as no one opens the curtains or breathes too loud.
In conclusion: make bad choices and Daylight Savings Time ceases to matter.
Once Upon A Valentine
I cradle my heart in my arms. She looks up at me and I know I am loved. Her long lashes tickle my skin as she finishes her feed. I lift her away from me and am saddened by the absence of her warmth. She is now too full and contented to notice her missing mother. Fighting my selfish impulses to keep her awake, make her stay with me, I lay her down in her crib. She is safe here. She can rest.
I too try to rest. But my heart is hurting. It is February 14th - Valentine's Day. It's been at least one more year than the five Ryan and I have been together since I last received so much as a card. He protests the commercial absurdity of the made-up holiday. I pretend to agree with him. I pretend it doesn't hurt watching my girlfriends accept ginormous bouquets of roses, but aren't all holidays made-up?
I am shaken from my brooding by the onslaught of my phone vibrating. I had put it on silent so as not to wake the baby - should have checked the vibrate setting. The buzzing device rocks itself to the edge of the table and crashes to the floor. She is crying before I can hit 'answer.'
'Hi Gorgeous, you okay?'
'Yep, er,' WAAAHHHHHHHH, 'I'm afraid I can't hear you very well.'
'Sorry..[inaudible]..I wake her?'
'Don't worry, it's just nice to hear from you.'
I scoop her up and place her on my shoulder. I bounce her gently and readjust the phone in hopes of hearing her daddy better. My efforts are futile.
'Really?' My heart lifts. I don't need a cheesy card or garage-bought flowers to watch die, I need him. She must have sensed the happiness within her mother, for her cries have ceased.
'Oh, but babe, I don't think I can get a babysitter at this short notice.'
He doesn't respond. Perhaps he gave up trying to be heard over our daughter's angry protests.
'Actually love, I think you've got the wrong end of the stick, I was asking you if you don't mind me going to the cinema tonight with a mate from work?'
Of course, that's what he meant. Tears are beginning to pool in my eyes. I daren't let him hear them, they will only annoy him. After all, I should have known better.
'Oh, okay. Erm, what time will you be coming home? I bought us steaks.'
Tempt him back through his stomach.
'Oh, well it won't be too late, I need to give Caroline a lift back afterward though because she doesn't drive.'
'So you are taking another woman to the cinema on Valentine's Day?'
My voice has cracked and I know I sound pathetic.
'Don't be so ridiculous, you know I don't do Valentines.'
'Yeah, I know.'
I throw my phone back down. WAHHHH. This time we sit and cry together.
***EIGHT YEARS LATER***
I am sat writing, dwelling on Valentines' past, when I hear her giggling in the kitchen. Her younger brother is chasing her with a spoon. They are helping their father prepare a romantic meal for me. Crayoned hearts decorate the candlelit table. And I thank my lucky stars for 'Caroline from work.' And I thank them again for the wonderful step-father my girl now has, and her half-brother. And for good measure, I thank them once more for the dozen roses on the windowsill.
I wonder if Ryan is taking Caroline to the cinema this February 14th? Probably not, he doesn't do Valentine's Day.
End of the Unknown
I no longer fear where I am going for I'm finally there. I've made it.
He was so beautiful when we met. His kindly soul danced with my own. I shook hands with his demons.
I miss that man. And the one he could have been. Our children will never meet that man, only see him through the bottom of an empty bottle.