Alley Kid Twelve.

I don’t normally post warnings on my posts. Especially not Alley Kid, but I think the contents of this I should. If you have read my books, you’ll know what to expect, except. this isn’t so graphic, but there are details of abuse.

 

I don’t know how much time has passed. It feels like hours. My head is heavy inside, and it’s still daylight. I’m laid on a makeshift bed on the floor with my mattress from my room. Maz is laid with me. She is asleep. I don’t know what woke me. I look around and try not to wake her too. The place seems quiet. It takes me a moment to realise he is still here.

I can see the door. He’s waiting. Hiding.  I see shadows and darkness; it’s where he likes to hide. I see his eyes in my mind. The wide open discoloured whites of them. The way his skin wrinkles underneath. The dark spots on his cheeks. I can see them like he is right in front of me.

Something touches my foot. It’s soft, like a feather.  I don’t know what it is, I have a cover on me. I lift it and look down, but there is nothing there. I put my foot back down, but it’s there again and I move my foot, reach down and brush off whatever invisible thing it is. I close my eyes and then open them again. I can’t keep them closed. He’s going to come at any moment. Maz is asleep, she won’t know and no one will hear me, no one will help, just like always.

Maybe it’s his hand on my foot. Maybe he’s about to grab me. I can feel it. Next will be his nails in my legs like when I was little and he would drag me down and claw at me. I try to move and get away. I can’t. Inside I feel dead and heavy. My mouth is dry and I can’t take in enough air. My throat feels constricted; my lungs won’t go deep enough. I start to gasp and Maz wakes and sits.

“What’s wrong?” she asks me.

I try to talk. I say the words. I hear them perfectly, but Maz doesn’t understand. She asks me to repeat them and I do, but still she doesn’t know what I am saying.

“You’re slurring,” she tells me.

I try to speak clear. I try and tell her that he’s there. I try and move back and get away. I’m shaking and crying because I can’t tell her, all I can do is make sounds that aren’t even words. I try and push myself back, but just hit the front of the sofa. I am trapped.

“There’s nothing there,” she says to me. “It’s just the phet, you took too much.”

Joanne comes into the room. She must have heard me. She has a bag and Froggy is with her.

“Is he okay?” She asks Maz.

Maz nods. “He needs to sleep it off, but he won’t.”

Joanne has cans in her bag. She pulls one out and passes it to Maz, Maz offers it to me, but I don’t want it. Maz tries to put it to my mouth and I try and push it away.

“You need to drink,” says Joanne. “It’s been days you haven’t eaten or drunk at all.”

“If you don’t drink something your body is going to shut down,” says Maz.

I take the can from Maz, but she holds it with me. My hands are unsteady. I put it to my mouth and as the drink hits my mouth I realise how thirsty I am. I don’t waste time. I don’t sip it. One gulp becomes another and another, each one is not enough. I can’t take enough to make the thirst go away and within seconds, the can is empty. I need more. I hold my hand out and try and say the words, but I can’t. Joanne knows what I want though and she reaches in her bag for another. She passes it to Maz and Maz opens it, but my stomach flips over. I feel the heat of it inside as it sloshes the juice I have just ingested. I retch but nothing comes out.  Maz gets off the mattress fast and I try to move.

She tries to help me get up, but in her position she can’t. Joanne tries to help, but its Froggy that gets me to my feet and I know that any moment the drink is going to come right out. I can hardly move. I try and steady myself on all of them and in a rush, they manage to get me to the bathroom. I vomit in the sink and collapse on the floor. My body hasn’t finished though, but I don’t have the energy to get up and vomit in the sink or the toilet. It’s down my clothes. I can smell it.

Joanne runs out of the bathroom and comes back seconds later with a bowl. I ask her for a cigarette, only managing to get the word smoke out. She reaches in her pocket for her pack and gives me one, but I can’t even light it. Maybe this is death.

My mind wants to sleep. It wants to shut down. I feel it pressing on the inside making my skull ache. My eyes try to close but I fight them. I smoke my cigarette and sit forwards to wake myself up, but then he is there. I see his shadow out in the hallway. I lean back and he moves too. I lean forward and so does his shadow. I do it over and over.

“What are you doing?” asks Maz.

I try to talk but say nothing.

“You’re rocking.”

I still don’t say anything. I stop rocking, but I don’t take my eyes off the shadow. Maz has the shower running. For me I guess. I just keep my eyes focused on him, but they keep closing. They close for minutes at a time and I don’t realise. I don’t want to sleep. Maz and Joanne are there. They take my top off and I don’t stop them. Joanne tells me to stand and I have to lean on them and she tries to unfasten my jeans, but I don’t want her to, not with him out there.drug

Somehow I am in the shower and I don’t know how I got there. I’m leaning against the wall and sat in the base. Time slips in and out and I don’t see it. I try to ask, but they don’t understand and my words won’t come out. I keep still as they clean me up, get me out of the shower and put me back in bed.

I try to protest at being in just my underwear. I am cold. But Maz gets in with me again. They throw more covers over me and I can’t fight it. Sleep takes me away and I am gone.

I see flashes of moments. I open my eyes and people are in different places. Joanne on the chair watching the television. Maz on the chair. Froggy sat playing my games console. I don’t speak, just reach for a drink each time. The bowl is next to me just in case, but I don’t drink so much.

Someone is shaking me. I feel them and tell them to stop it.

“Wake up,” he says and I realise it’s my father. I didn’t know he is here, I didn’t remember. Did I let him in? I don’t know. No one else is there.

“Do you have the money you owe me?” he asks.

“In my wallet,” I try and say, but my words don’t come out.

“What?” he asks me to repeat and I try. “I can’t understand what you’re saying,” he tells me.

He kneels down to me and I try and tell him again. He grabs my hair in his fist, pulls my head up to him, I can’t move. I try and get out of his grip but I can’t.

“You’re such a waste of space,” he tells me. He clutches tighter, pulling my hair and I can’t fight him off. “You’re nothing to me.”

There isn’t anything I can do. It all goes dark and I fall asleep again. I forget my father is there and when I open my eyes he is gone. It is dark again and Joanne is watching the television with Angela and Colin.

I need the bathroom. Something feels wrong. It feels like I got turned off for a few hours as though I were a machine. I didn’t dream. Just darkness. I ask Joanne what time it is, she tells me. It’s been hours and I don’t remember them.

I try to stand, but my legs are shaky. They haven’t stood for I don’t know how long. My underwear feels wet. I look at Joanne and Angela and Colin, but they aren’t looking at me. They have a film on and I wonder if somehow I managed to wet myself. I don’t want them to know I slept so much I wet the bed.

I pick up a towel that’s laid on the arm of the sofa and wrap it around my waist so I can go to the bathroom.

In the bathroom I take the towel off and then my underwear. I just stare at it. My mind expected just to see wet clothes, but the red glares at me and I stare at it as though I have never seen blood before.

I feel nothing. No pain, no bruises. I don’t know why it’s there. I don’t feel ill. I feel panic inside. Fear. I don’t want Joanne to see. I don’t want to know where it came from.  I get in the shower instead. I don’t care that it isn’t heated yet. I want to hide from my blood soaked shorts. Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe they aren’t there. Maybe it’s from the phet. I shower, but I can see them through the door. I have to get rid of them.

They are still there when I finish showering. Part of me wonders why. Why didn’t they just vanish? I can’t sneak them out. I’m sure that Joanne will see them. She’ll come out of the lounge the moment I come out of the bathroom with them in my hand. I get the envelope that holds my needles instead. I tip those into Joanne’s makeup bag and then I put my shorts in the envelope.

The blood is wet, it marks my hands and I just stare at it. I don’t know where it’s from. I don’t understand why I am bleeding.

 

Birthday Wishes

I find that the people that touch us the most are the ones we don’t expect to come along. They pop up like surprise and leave you feeling great inside. Maybe that’s their purpose, maybe it’s our purpose to pop into each other’s lives and make them better. If we stay or go, I don’t think it matters, but as long as the footprint that gets left behind is one of love and kindness, that is what is important.

Last month I received an email that touched me in such a way, from a wonderful young girl who had read my books and taken to them so much that she wrote a fan fiction. It felt so amazing to mean that much to a reader, that she would spend time on something and message me about it.

Today is her birthday. I wanted to make sure that she knew how much I appreciated what she had done and loved what she had written. She truly is an amazing writer.

Happy Birthday Nafisa!!! 

naf

I hope that your day is as wonderful as you are and that you enjoy it to the fullest. It’s your day, this one and everyone after it. Make them your own and thank you for taking the time to write and to message me. I hope that you keep writing, you work was so great to read.

Happy Birthday once again,

Much love and care.

JD

Some Days

Some days, everyday feels like a fight. Usually, I have had a trigger when it gets this way that goes like a snowball. One thought and my mind is off for days until it gets to a place where it can rest, or perhaps, I simply have too much and it gets too big and I can’t carry it on.

snow_road-winter-xs

A couple of weeks ago, I got stuck in the snow on the way to University. Every day, I have to drive through the area I grew up in; so many places, so many memories. Some good and some bad.

While driving a road that normally takes less than five minutes, and took me almost forty-five through the snow, my mind wandered. I spotted the fish and chip shop my Nan would take me to when my parents had left me. I saw the shop owned by my Nan’s friends. She would drive me insane as she chatted about all the boring things adults say, while I, a seven year old, just wished she’d say goodbye. I got to the main part of the road where my Nan used to walk along each day, and that was when my mind got stuck.

She’s been gone almost thirteen years now, but I remember her face, the way she walked, her voice. I can hear it perfectly in my mind, and on that day, it was almost like being able to see her walk along that same road as she had done when she was alive.

I reminded myself that she was gone, but of course, that led me on to remembering when she died. I was twenty-four.

She had collapsed in her house, but luckily, she was by the telephone and called for help. She had a blood clot in her lungs and was taken to hospital. My dad called me up to tell me and inform me that she was probably going to die. Of course, I didn’t waste time in going to see her.

Every day, he would call me to say, your Nan is sick, maybe she will die today and she will be by herself, and each time, I would panic and get there as fast as I could. By Friday, she had been there for five days. I went to the hospital and my father was there with my brother.  I didn’t want to stay with him and have to listen to what he would say after, about her. I don’t know why I gave her a hug and a kiss. I hadn’t done that in a very long time, but I had just wanted to.

The next morning, was the same scenario. A call from my dad to tell me my Nan was going to die alone.  I was going to see her anyway. I was going early because my partner and I had a young baby and we were house hunting.

I knew the moment I walked onto the ward that she was gone. I felt it; like emptiness. The nurse caught me before I got to her bed and ushered me into a side room. I didn’t want to hear the words. My dad sat there with his fake tears and fake grief, getting all the attention and pretending that she had been like a mother to him. He had loved her and  spoke whatever lies he could think of. The kind nurse asked him if he would like to see her and say goodbye. He said yes please, through his sobs and asked me if I was coming. He sent my brother out for a walk, so he didn’t have to deal with it.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see her. My last memory had been me saying goodbye and that was enough, right? He stood at the door to her room. I stood to the side and couldn’t see her. He started to cry again at the sight of her and told me she looked like she was sleeping and smiling.

I agreed to go in, but she didn’t look like he said. She looked dead. Her cheeks had sunk, she was pale, and cruelly, she was still warm as my father carried on his performance of the grieving son in law.

He took her personal possessions from the nursing staff, including her purse, which he emptied and spent the money on my brother. I went home and kept my grief inside because he stole it from me.

The biggest part of this memory is that I remember thinking, what if now she can see the truth. What if she knows what I had done with my father all these years? Now, she would hate me. Now, she would know I am a monster. She would know that everything about me was a lie and that I was some sick human that engaged in sexual contact with my parents.

I realised that this is when I buried everything and I became sick within my mind. This is when my OCD really began to peak because it needed an outlet.

This week has been like opening something I didn’t know I had sealed, and feeling it.

Alley Kid Eleven

I can feel the phet beginning to clear away as the light of a new day comes in. It washes away the dark and takes it from the outside and puts it on the inside, like a dirty puddle in my mind.silhouette of man/male on wall, cast by orange light /sunset.

The lightness from the phet inside my head gets replaced by darkness. I can feel it; a weight behind my eyes. Suffocating me. Dying on the inside once more. Often, I wish I could close my eyes and never open them again. I don’t want to die; I just want to make it all stop. Something to fill the gaping hole inside.

Karla is in the bathroom while I get dressed in the bedroom. I wonder what I’m doing. Why I’m doing it. I have no desire to be with Karla, but then I have no desire to be with anyone.

I have to leave before someone in her house wakes. She lives with her parents. I don’t want them to catch me. I don’t want them to know my face; to familiarise themselves with who is sleeping with their daughter.

Part of me wishes she would leave me alone. She wants more than I can give. More than I am capable of. She wants the world and I am nothing more than a waste of her time. Yet I cant end it. Part of me craves the fact that she wants me. What if I was to leave fully and it was a mistake?

Karla comes back out of the bathroom and I tell her I have to go.

“Can I see you tomorrow?” She asks. I don’t really know. I give a non-committal nod. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing tomorrow. I just want to go home.

I say my goodbyes, but I don’t end it with a kiss. She waits for one. I feel it. But she’s just like everyone else, waiting for what she wants and not seeing what it is I want. Not that I know. Everything feels pointless.

I get back to our flat and Joanne says nothing as I get in and it’s after 6am. She doesn’t care either. A quick stop off at the fuelling station on my way home for cigarettes and she’s happy. Of course when I walk through the door it’s as though she didn’t notice I was gone. The place is spotless. She and Angela are sat smoking and chatting. The overflowing ash tray sits on the table. I throw her a new pack as I pop my head around the door before going to my own bedroom to gain my happiness again.

Its almost an instant lift as I take the phet. Like pressing a button inside my mind and everything feels great again. The adrenaline up along my spine clears away the darkness and I feel normal once more. Normal enough that I go and join Joanne and Angela. Normal enough that I can sit and talk and I don’t really care what we talk about. Usually men with Joanne. She laughs and jokes.

Between the chaos, the days just go passed. It feels as though we have sat there the entire time. I haven’t seen Maz, but that is not unusual either. She takes days of rest, days away from this life where she sleeps. I don’t blame her. Sometimes I wish I could do the same. To close my eyes and sleep the days away.

Five days I have been going on the phet. I can smell it on my skin. My body sweats it out. We just have a little left now. The money is all gone. Woody came around and gave us what we needed. He went away pleased with almost three hundred pounds in his pocket. I have cigarettes and phet, I don’t need anything else. Will is still at his mother’s. Colin is with us and he doesn’t seem to mind that we have been awake the entire time. Mark has been a few times to take his brother out. Part of me gets on edge when I see him. Maybe today will be the day the police catch him here. I haven’t seen Phil or Becci. I wonder what he thinks of his car.

Joanne and I sit in the lounge. It’s morning. That itself always feel strange to me. When I have been awake all night and we watch the new day come in, it feels as though I’m outside of the world. Like I am watching people on the inside get up and do normal everyday things. They missed the new day come in. How strange for them. They went to bed and when they wake, it’s all different.

“We have a bit of money left,” Joanne says. “Shall we get some more phet?”

My mind screams yes, I want to. I don’t want to feel the darkness. But I know I need to rest. Five days, my jeans are loose. I can feel my bones. Maybe another day and it could fix everything. Fight away the dark. Not listen to my father tell me I am fat.

I sit on the sofa and turn on the television. The week’s daytime television is just beginning. I can hear my cat, Sooty. I haven’t seen him for a few days. He’s crying in the hallway. Joanne is on the sofa opposite putting on her shoes. l go to get the cat while she goes out for more phet. But I turn to stand and he is there. Behind her.

I lose control in that moment. He’s right there. I see his face. Just as I did when I was a child. The bad man. The man of my nightmares. The one who came to my room every night. I scream and back myself away as fast as I can. Joanne stands up. She is screaming at me, but I’m not looking at her. I’m looking at him. His eyes, his smiles. The darkness that is there, it holds his intent. No one can help me. He’s blocking the door and I can’t get away.

I can’t breathe. I clutch my chest. It is tight. Joanne grabs my arms. She shakes me. Asks me what’s wrong. I pull away from her. I have to get away. I look at the door he has gone. I can’t hear sooty. Maybe he killed him. I remember the cat. The one in the woods. Just the same. Its black and it can’t get away and the man killed him.

I move back from Joanne. I can’t get the air in. I’m going to pass out. I know it. I can’t breathe. “I’m calling an ambulance,” she says as I clutch my throat to try and get air. I shake my head and tell her no. They can’t come. They’ll know about the phet.

“What’s wrong?” She yells at me.

I’m shouting. She can’t understand. I can’t get the words out enough for her to get them. I gasp for breath. I shout. “He’s there, and point at the hallway. No one is there.

I get to the window and open it. Joanne yells at me again. “What are you doing?”

“He’s here,” I shout. I can’t shout hard enough to make him go away. I can’t make Joanne understand that he is there. I can see him. In the shadows out in the hallway.

“I’m going to call the ambulance,” she says to me again as I try and hold myself up. The room is spinning. I need air, but I can’t get it. My throat is closing. I can’t breathe deeply enough. Joanne gets the phone and I take it off her.

“No,” I say. I smash it down onto the table so she can’t call. She can’t call anyone. I watch for him at the door. The bad man. I can see him.

“I’m going to get Maz,” she yells at me. She is crying. “Stay here.”

Joanne leaves, but I can see him there. His eyes in the darkness. The silhouette of him. Like in the dark when I was little. The way he stood at the end of my bed before he got me. When I was little and couldn’t fight him off. When he did what he wanted and no one came.

I’m crying and screaming and yelling at him to leave. He doesn’t move. I open the window more and get my foot out of it. I don’t care that it’s the top floor. I need to get out, I won’t fall. It’s a big ledge. I’m half out the window. I can hear him. He’s making sounds like before. Like a growl.

I hear all the noises in the kitchen. I don’t know what it is. I get more out of the window ready to jump. No one can get me if I jump. It’s better than him. Better than his nails and his teeth and the things he’ll do to me.

Maz runs into the room. She doesn’t come very close. She shouts my name, but I can’t come in. But he’s gone. I can’t see him now. Maybe he is hiding. Maz walks slow to me. She puts her hands out. She is crying too. “Please don’t move,” she says to me. Joanne is with her. She stays behind.

Maz moves forwards. She grabs my hand and pulls me in. She wraps her arms around me. I can’t breathe still. She sits me down, she doesn’t let go. She lies down with me and wraps herself around me.

“He was there,” I try and tell her, but my words don’t come out.

“Don’t try to talk,” she tells me. She runs her fingers through my hair. I close my eyes and let go. “You’ve overdosed.”

Whatever

Whatever.

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(Sometimes I just write to get things out, this is one of those times.)

I want to hurt because it’s there. I want to scratch it out and make it go away. I want to make me go away. I want to turn it all off. I can’t cry it out enough, shout it, say it, or do anything to get it all out and gone.

It’s anger and aloneness, all at the same time. I want to curl up so it will go away and leave me alone. Then I don’t have to feel it any more.

I want him to take it away, say he was sorry, and know what it feels like. I want him to feel it so he really does feel sorry, not just words, but for him to understand. I want him to go back and fix it.

I want to be normal, go back, and make me be normal then. Why couldn’t I have proper things like food or clothes or just to feel safe? I do not know whose fault it is. It’s a mess.

I can’t think. It makes me want to put my head through a wall. There doesn’t seem to be a point. I can’t undo any of this. I just hide. It’s all a secret. People think I am one thing and really, I am something else inside.

My brother said when he moved out of my father’s house that it would be the end between them, but instead, he gets a normal relationship. His father coming to his house to help with DIY projects. My brother pops to our dad’s for things, he has a key, and he just walks in like a normal son. He gets everything and I have nothing.

I keep my dad away and I feel bad for it, but if I don’t, then it doesn’t change. He touches me, he hurts me, he leers at me and reminds me it’s all my fault because I was a ‘nice’ child. It was me. I turned him on. I flirted. I was the one with the smile and the face that promised more.

That is how I get everything.

That is all anyone ever wants.

It was me who climbed into his bed and I never said stop, not when he started to remove my clothes. I could have. I wasn’t afraid. I could have got out of the bed but I didn’t because I wanted that and he knew it. He knew it all the time. When I would come home from school and get changed; the way I got changed and that he could see me, made him want me. When I took a shower or a bath and walked passed him in just a towel.

It was all me, not him. Not him, because he didn’t make me. I got him to do those things. Not him. Me. It was me.

That’s why I don’t get things, because I’m the bad one and my brother is innocent. I am hard faced and I don’t feel anything and I don’t care. I am bad.

 

Alley Kid Five

I walk away. I don’t have an argument. She’s right. There isn’t anything I can say. I’m a mess, they’re a mess. Everything is a mess and I’m sliding down a slope with no clue how to stop or how to get off before I crash at the bottom.

Joanne answers the door. It is Froggy and I’m relieved.

“What are you going to do?” Maz asks. “Colin needs feeding, if anything.”

I shrug. I don’t have any answers.

“It’s just until tomorrow night,” I say. When Phil and I get the television. I don’t tell Maz that part, but I can anticipate her reaction and lecture.

“You can’t all last until tomorrow with nothing to eat.”

“You can ask your dad,” Joanne says. “He’ll lend you twenty quid if you ask him.”

I know he will. If I ask, he’ll do it. It’s about the only thing he does do for me. Course, I’ll pay for it one way or another and not just in handing him the cash back over. I dread the thought of it. The look in his eyes as I confirm I am nothing, like he has told me all my life.

“He’ll probably say no,” I say in a vain hope that they will believe there isn’t a point.

“He won’t,” says Maz. “Tell him it’s for the electric or some crap like that.”

I have a million answers why I don’t want to ask. Each one of them formed over years, yet I know none of my friends will understand. Each ‘yes, but’ will be rebuked with one of their own. I keep my thoughts to myself as I nod and agree to ask him.

Maz takes Colin with her and Mikey, Joanne goes too. Froggy and I walk along the promenade and I don’t really think about going to my father as we talk about nothing and everything. Froggy wanders off in his own direction a few blocks before I reach my father’s work place. It doesn’t take long to get there, but I feel the heaviness inside as I get to the entrance of the alley way where he works.

I hear his music as I get to the door. I walk through the first small garage to the part my father works in. The scent car filler, like antiseptic hits my nose. My father is working. Blue and white sparks fly and crackle around him like electricity, as he welds.

I wait. I know better than to interrupt him or talk until he has finished and I have permission.

He turns and nods at me, but doesn’t say anything. My illogical fear begins to eat away inside as I stand there.

“How much?” He asks.

“How do you know I want to borrow money?”

“That’s all you ever want,” he says to me. “Same as when you were a child.”

“I never asked for money.”

“No, but you always wanted something.”

I sigh. “It doesn’t matter,” I tell him and turn to leave, but he tells me to stop. He reaches into the top pocket of his overalls and pulls out a wad of notes. “Twenty enough?”

I nod.

“I’ll add that to the bill.”

“Bill?”

“Raising a child doesn’t come cheap you know. Ten grand I shelled out to raise you. Someone’s got to pay me back. “

I don’t have words. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. He has never thought I was worth something in his life; just an object to use and throw away time and again. I wonder if he classed his abuse as a complimentary service.

I take the note from his hand and thank him.

“No one you could f**k to get this?” he asks. “Probably could have made more than twenty. Isn’t that how you always do everything? Course, when you were younger you were a nice little boy,” he says, and winks at me.

I feel my face flush with shame; it burns hot under my skin and through my cheeks. It clouds my vision to the point that the real world feels hazy. I don’t even know what to say. I want to hide. I want it to go away. I’m sorry for those things I did. I know they were my fault. I would take them back if I could.

I don’t say anything to my father. I just nod and leave. He doesn’t say anything to me either. On my way out, I grab a piece of discarded metal off his sheet cutter and take it with me. I don’t plan to do it. I can’t help it; what I feel inside has nowhere to go. No tears. No shouting. No target.

I put the metal against my skin. I stomp my feet hard on the pavement as I walk. Both forces equalling each other. I dig in with the jagged edge. Dig in deep and make it all go away with the welcome burn as my flesh splits open.

 

How Far We’ve Come.

How Far We’ve Come.

It’s been a long road, I’m still travelling it. Along the way, there have been many ups and many downs. I’ve crossed many hurdles and I am sure there are even more to come, but sometimes it is nice to just celebrate the highs. That’s the purpose of this post.

July 4th. I sat and watched my son graduate from his class in culinary school. He has special needs. If someone had asked me when he was little, the little boy that wouldn’t even talk, I would have not thought it was possible for him.

He made me proud.

This is a short story I had written not so long ago based on a memory of mine, though I am sure he doesn’t really recall the first time he spoke. I am sure I will remember it forever.

 

*  *  *

The snow is falling outside. It started just a little while ago. I see it out of the window as I stare into the darkness and watch it coat the ground, leaving a blanket of untouched whiteness. It’s falling fast, thick and heavy. We don’t get to see snow so often; if we do it doesn’t tend to stay. The sea air sees to that. I press my face against the glass and look out along our street. It’s quiet and peaceful; everyone is sleeping. Everyone but me.

My breath fogs up the cool glass and I wipe it away. Will has never seen snow. Not real snow like this. I wonder if it would be wrong to wake him. Perhaps it would be wrong to chance him missing this.  All children should see snow at least once in their lives. It’s like magic.

I find my boots and coat and put them on. I grab Will’s too. He isn’t sleeping either when I poke my head around his open door.

“Do you want to come and see some snow?” I ask him.

He doesn’t answer me. I show him his coat and  boots as I kneel down beside his bed.

“It’s falling real fast,” I say. “Do you want to come and see it?”

He doesn’t say a word to me, but he takes my offered hand and lets me pull him into sitting position. I put his boots on his feet and tuck his Spiderman pyjamas inside. No need to get dressed. I put his coat on and zip it all the way up to his chin.  I add a hat and pull it down over his ears. I smile at him, but his mouth doesn’t even twitch.

His small hand rests in mine. He lets me lead him down the stairs to the door of our apartment. We go out of our door, across the hall and outside into the cold night. The air is fresh. For a moment I stop and take it in. The snow is soft under my boots as I step out. Will takes one step and then he stops.

“Its real snow Will,” I say. “Do you like it?”

I hope he does. All four year olds like snow.

Will doesn’t say. He doesn’t speak. Not even a murmur. I know he’s in there somewhere as I watch him for any reaction. Maybe the snow would make him utter his first word.

“Snow,” I say in hope, but no.

He says nothing again.

I bend and scoop some  off the ground. I offer it out to him. Will looks at it. His  mouth doesn’t move, not even his expression changes. I keep my sigh inside so that he doesn’t see it.

I reach for his hand and turn it over. Placing the snow in the palm of his hand, I push his small pudgy fingers closed around it. I watch his face as he touches the snow for the first time. I hold my breath a little, waiting for just a spark. A little one. One to say that he feels it.

“Its snow Will, you like snow?”

He stares up at me with innocent blue eyes. Eyes that match mine in colour only. My innocence was never there, but I’m trying. Trying to ensure that Will keeps it and my tainted life doesn’t ruin his.

“I wish you would talk,” I say to him as my hand closes over his. “Do you want to make a snowman?” I ask. “Like in your story book? We can give him a hat and a scarf and then he won’t be cold.”

I’ve never made a snowman myself, but I have seen it done. I put my hand on the snow and push it down to leave a trace that we were there. Will doesn’t make a move. His hand is still out holding the snow that I gave him. His hand has gone red from the cold and guilt bites at me.

What was I thinking? I open his fingers and push the snow away. His hand is so cold. I hold it between mine and try to rub it to give him some warmth again.

“I’m sorry,” I say as I breathe onto his icy fingers. “Let’s go back inside and get warm. “

I glance back at the snow. My chest feels heavy. I hoped it might work. Something new. Something he had never seen before. Perhaps it would break him from his shell and bring out the little boy I knew was in there.

I take Will’s hand and go to lead him back into the building, but he doesn’t move. He stands still; his feet firm. He isn’t going to come.

“Come on, it’s cold,” I say, but he doesn’t respond.

He lets go of my hand and walks toward the road. It’s clear, but I jump down anyway and try and get in front of him without startling him. If I startle him, he will scream. We were one notice away from eviction. I glance at the window of the woman that lives below us and pray that she is sleeping.

“Will,” I say. “Come on mate.”

He stops at the kerb and turns to look at me. He takes off his hat and holds it out to me.

“Talk to me,” I say to him. “I don’t understand what you want. You don’t want to wear your hat?”

He pushes it at me, against my chest. The only sound coming from his mouth is the usual frustrated murmur as I try and decipher what he wants. I don’t know what it is.

He goes silent and lets go of his hat. He bends down to the snow and scoops up a handful. He gives it to me.

“You want to make a snowman?” I ask him, I don’t really know.

I’m guessing in desperation so I don’t set him off.  All I have is what I feel. Maybe I will get it wrong or maybe I will get it right. I don’t know.

I take the snow and squeeze it together into a ball. I roll it on the ground. Will doesn’t move nor does he help as he watches. The ball gets bigger as I roll it. I make it big enough for a snowman’s belly.

I do the same again with another to make the head. Just a little smaller. I lift it onto the snowman belly. I glance at Will. He is just watching me.

“Do you want to make his face?” I ask. “Shall we give him stones for eyes?”

I dig in the yard of the neighbours. I know they have gravel and stones for decorations. They won’t miss a few. Not while we have the snow. I make the snowman’s face and give him a smile.

“Do you want me to give him your hat?”

I wait a second for a reaction before placing it on the bald snowman’s head. Will looks up at him. I pause.

A smile? Please. I wish.

Will turns and walks away; his face blank.

“Will?”

He walks into the building and up the flight of stairs. I stay where I am and watch where he just vacated. I don’t know what to do. Did I upset him? Did I fail as his father once more? I look at the snowman. He smiles at me in the dark.

“I tried,” I say to him and then I shrug, defeated.

I go inside after Will.

Will has gone to his room and taken off his coat. His boots are lined up perfect. His coat is neat and straight. His bed covers look like no one has moved except for the small form of a child. He is lying still; his eyes are open and he stares at the ceiling.

I clutch the door frame and watch him in the dark. Holding onto my failure. He doesn’t even know I am there.

“I’m sorry,” I say to him. “I wish it could be better for you. You deserve it.” I sigh. “You don’t deserve me.”

The night becomes day and I wake. I’m sitting on the floor at his doorway. Will is awake too. He gets out of bed and steps over me to go to the bathroom. I hear him use the toilet and then the sink. Three pumps on the soap like he was taught. He washes his hands. Two exact minutes as he brushes his teeth. He leaves the bathroom and walks over me once more into his room and gets dressed in the right order. Socks, underpants, t-shirt, pants and sweater.

“Do you want some breakfast?” I ask him from where I still sit.

He doesn’t answer me.

He passes me again and goes into the kitchen. The fridge opens and I hear him scream;  so loud, it pulls my heart through my chest.  I am on my feet running to him without thinking about it.

He is stood with milk around his feet. The carton is on the floor.

“It’s okay,” I say to him as I try to clean it up, but he keeps screaming.

“Please don’t,” I beg him.

Soon she will bang on the door like we committed a great offence. Then she will complain. Just one more is needed. We don’t have room for any more strikes against us.

I pick him up and wrap my arms around him. I don’t bother to get his coat from his room. I just need to get us out of the apartment. I grab mine. It’s big enough for both of us and I race down the stairs. He calms down a little, but not much. The store is just around the corner. It isn’t far.

The snow is deep. It seeps into my jeans over my boots as soon as I step out, but it’s okay. We’re just going for milk. He wraps his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck.

“Hat,” Will says, as we reach the snowman at the kerb.

I stop. I’m frozen in time.

His voice resonates around my head. I try and catch up with what he said.

I’m not sure I heard him.

“Hat?” I ask him, but he says nothing.

“It’s okay,” I say as I wrap my arms around him as tight as I can.

He said hat.

JD Stockholm  2012©