Alley Kid Fifteen

The moment before I open my eyes is the most peaceful. It’s when I don’t remember. It’s when I am awake for the first time, and everything feels right. But it is nothing more than a fleeting moment until my mind does remember, and everything crashes through my head. I am awake, and I am alive. Why am I alive? I don’t understand. I don’t want to be. I want to be gone forever where nothing can hurt any more. I don’t want to feel anything.

I curl myself up onto my side, wrapping my arms around my shoulders in the only comfort I know. In a childish move that I taught myself, I hook my feet around each other, and without thinking, I rock myself and push away the tears. I’m not supposed to be here. My chest heaves from the effort of not sobbing, but in a split second, my stomachs flips and my throat contracts; I realise I am going to vomit.

I scramble from the bed, almost falling as the sheets tangle between my feet and I half slip, half run, from the bedroom to the bathroom, as my body heaves and the contents of my stomach rises into my mouth. I try to keep my mouth closed and not let it out onto the floor. I can’t even think as I launch myself into the bathroom, and over the sink, and let everything out until I can’t breathe.

I turn the cold tap on in an effort to clean the stinking mess away, but my body has more. It retches and turns my insides upside down until there is nothing left to come out. I know this. I have been here before, with my mother and her vomit-inducing medication. She made me ill even though I had nothing to bring up other than the burning bile and stomach lining inside. But, she isn’t here. I grasp at the running water with cupped hands and shove it into my mouth, and down my throat, so there is something to bring back up.

I’m cold and shivering as I collapse on the floor of the bathroom, panting from the strain of so much vomiting. I grab one of the t-shirts from the washing pile. I don’t care if it is clean or dirty. It’s an effort to put it on; each movement causes my head to ache and my stomach to threaten another round of trying to escape. I have no idea what time it is or for how long I slept. I don’t even know why I am not dead. I drag myself backwards and manage to sit up and lean against the bath. I can’t stop the shaking, and my body is clammy and tired. I wish I could close my eyes and go away. Why do I never go away?

Joanne comes to the doorway with Colin and Angela behind her. I guess they heard me being ill. I try to look away from them. I don’t want to see them, and I don’t want them to see me, not like this. I’m such a failure in all ways. I can’t even end my own life. I should be dead, not here, and I can’t keep my bottom lip from quivering. I’m so disgusting I don’t understand why they don’t see it. It’s all over my skin. I try to make it go, but it never does. I can’t even make me gone.

“Are you sick?” Joanne asks me, keeping her distance.

I would too if I was her. I don’t answer her though, not that I can. As I try to nod my head, my body crumbles at the movement, and everything spins again inside. I hold my breath, wondering if I should try to get to the sink, to the toilet, or if it will pass.

Colin gets passed Joanne and comes to me. I wipe my watering eyes and mouth. He shouldn’t see me this way. No one should.

“Shall I call work for you?” Joanne asks.

I work behind the bar at a nightclub in town on the weekends.

“What time is it?” I ask her. Perhaps I will make it.

She tells me it is 5 p.m, and I know they I won’t be alright in five hours, not like this, but I hate to lose money. Its two days worth of phet money, but I don’t have a choice. I just nod and ask for my cigarettes. Colin goes to get them, and when he comes back, he takes one from my pack, lights it, and gives it to me to smoke. How pathetic I am, that a seven-year-old boy must light my cigarette for me.

I take it from him, but it tastes bitter in my mouth. The action of inhaling threatens to make me gag once more, but I persist. I hold it all in and keep myself still. I don’t say anything as Colin takes a cigarette for himself from my pack. I don’t approve of him smoking, and he might not be my son, but he is still a child. Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to argue with him.

“Leave me alone,” I say to them.

They stand, gawping; there is nothing they can do for me. Joanne takes Colin and Angela. She shuts the door behind them and leaves me to it. I lean against the side of the bath as my head swims between awake and asleep. I try to tell myself to get up and secure the bathroom door so no one else can come in.

I click the lock over eventually, but I can’t make it back to the bath. I just lie where I am. I can hear them in the other room, laughing, joking and watching television. I let myself sleep on the bathroom floor until someone knocks on the main door. My heart sinks as I listen Joanne greet my father and invites him in.

I cover my ears with my hands. Perhaps, if I can’t hear him, it is not real, and he is not here. But, Joanne knocks on the bathroom door and tells me my father is here. I mutter something, but I don’t think she hears it. She tells my father I have a stomach virus and have been in there all day.

“I have to nip and get some milk and bread,” she says to him. “Do you mind staying here while I go in case he needs anything?”

My father, the fake Samaritan, says yes, and I try to curl myself into the corner away from him, even though there is a door between us. I wish he would just leave.

Joanne leaves and takes Colin and Angela with her; a chance to stock up on alcohol and cigarettes for them, to. I listen as they all leave and the front door locks behind them, leaving me with my father. I know he is on the other side of the door. I feel him, but he doesn’t move. Maybe he is waiting until he is sure they are gone.

He knocks on the door as I expected him to, and calls my name.

“What are you doing?” He asks me.

I wrap my arms around my head and pull my knees up to my chest. I don’t want to see him.

“I’m sick,” I say, but he tries the handle.

I peek out between my arms, watching it. I hope that it stays, but it’s nothing more than a hook and a loop pushed into rotten wood.

“Open the door,” he tells me, and I am grateful the lock holds.

“I can’t move,” I respond in the hope that it is a strong enough answer and he will leave me alone.

It isn’t. He pushes against the door. Perhaps he will break the lock. It’s small, and if he wants in, he will get in. I try to slide myself back to the door and lie in front of it, but the movement, and the fear of my father causes my stomach to twist in agony. I crawl to the toilet bowl and let out what’s in my stomach once more.

The bathroom door opens, and I swallow like when I was a child, and had to push the vomit back down, or be beaten. I can’t breathe from the effort of it. Vomit stings the inside of my nose and the back of my throat. My eyes water and I cough as my father’s hands grasp onto the back of my t-shirt and pull me away from where I am kneeling. He flings me into the hallway, and my head cracks off a wooden box where we keep the shoes and coats. I don’t know what I have done wrong. It will be something, it always is. I don’t ever do things right. I make everyone hurt me.

He storms out of the bathroom, his heavy feet crashing on the floor. He comes over to me and slams his hand against my already bruised chest. I try not to say anything as he winds me and with no effort, pulls me to standing. He is big and strong, built for the bikes he rides, and I am nothing more than his half-starved junkie son. My legs are weak and don’t want to take my weight; my entire body shakes from the effort and I lean against my father without thinking for support. He pushes me away, making me stumble. The wall catches me, and I let myself sink down and rest on the floor. I know he is going to hurt me. He is angry with me and won’t stop until his temper is satisfied. This is always how it is. His blows will come until his anger is gone. When I was a child, I would pray that I would pass out just so I didn’t feel it any longer.

“Just do it,” I tell him.

I am tired of this game. I want him to hit me and get it over with; my words seem to fuel his anger towards me. He crouches next to me, takes my jaw between his fingers, and digs them in. For a second, I am sure he’s going to punch me in the face. Instead, he grips my jaw tighter to the point it might break. Pain shoots up the side of my face.

“You’re not worth it,” he tells me.

 

Suicide.

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Suicide.

I read an interesting blog post about this today, from another survivor. I say another survivor which is really a lie. That person is a survivor I am not, I just didn’t die that’s all and there’s the difference.

The blog however was insightful, for the first time I had seen, someone saw it the same as me. She planned her suicide date as her fathers birthday, a bittersweet revenge perhaps? Where as mine would be when my father has not talked to me for a while and I’d hope it took weeks for him to learn of my demise. I’d want him to know that he didn’t have the right to be informed. He wasn’t top of the list and he’ll miss my funeral.

Of course before anyone panics, I’m not going to do it. It’s a mere fantasy. I can thank my children for being here and taking away that option. I’ll admit sometimes I get mad about it. It feels like I’m trapped here when all I want is for it to be over. I come close sometimes, but all I do is imagine their faces. I imagine them alone with no one to be there when things in life get too bad. When they just need their dad.

My father is not taking that from my children. I’ve been there for every moment in their lives and I’m going to keep being there, even when the days are hard, when the pain inside is so bad I’m begging almost for it to be over.

I’ve tried before of course to end it all, clearly with no success. The first time I really recall I was seven. I lay down in the bath and just didn’t move with my head in the water. I think I almost did it too, I floated away inside my mind, the need to breathe had gone, and my saviour, ironically was my father and his belt.

I didn’t really try again until my late teens, but I had no fear of death. I took risks, I didn’t care, if death was going to claim me I was going to tease it. It didn’t work of course. Even when I almost died at sixteen some part of me wanted to live.

I’d got septicaemia. It was a loving parting gift in a way from my fathers actions, that I’d been too ashamed to deal with and I was found with no temperature and hardly a heartbeat, my friend didn’t waste any time in calling an ambulance, he even called my father who refused to show his face, he was simply too busy at work to deal with his son that was being rushed to the emergency room.

I was eighteen the next time I tried. I’d landed myself with my special needs son because his mother couldn’t cope and I’d just lost my second child to the cruel hands of fate. I walked out the hospital completely broken, not hearing anything passed the doctors words that started I’m sorry. I spent two weeks getting drunk until I tried to slit my own wrists. The unfortunate timing of another friends visit soon blew the end to that one, but kicked me onto my downward spiral of illegal drugs.

A year later I tried again to end it. A come down from a concoction of drugs and nothing to live for except a son who I was failing, I necked a bottle of pills. I was sick for days after. Funny really I always thought there was no escape when you tried that way, but seems my body wasn’t playing.

Twenty three was the last time. My life was happy. I’d met a nice girl. My son was doing well. There was a new baby on the way. I’d been clean from drugs. I had a job, was going back to school. I had everything, but the pain inside I’d spent my life running from. That agonising sadness that’s nestled deep within my chest was so consuming that I felt helpless. It was a letter from my daughters mother that stopped me. She didn’t know of my past, but she had read some of my writings and she replied to one. I’m grateful to her, she saved my life in so many ways, she’ll never know.

I haven’t tried for a long time since these. Not even when I lost a second daughter. I think about it. It’s in my mind every day. The sadness is still there, but now it’s nothing more than a pleasant fantasy.

Something I keep on the back burner. It pops into my head at random times. When I’m driving, I think, just a quick flick of the wheel and I’m done, it’s over. When I’m out running, what if I just closed my eyes and ran, would a car hit me? Would it be quick?

Then I think of my children. They are better than any sadness I feel. In selfish ways when it feels too much, I let them make me smile.