Isn’t it funny how the little things in life matter the most? The small things that people say, they’re what hurt the most. Actions speak louder than words, but it depends on what the words are. Sometimes its best to just keep your mouth shut or what you say will set a spark. And it will come back and haunt you forever. I’m Vanessa Dales, I’m 16, and I learnt that the hard way.
I guess it distracts me. It takes my mind off whatever is pissing me off, whatever is hurting me. I do it because it soothes the pain, I do it because it feels so much better than everything else. It sets me free, I open up my life bag, I open myself up and out comes the pain, out comes the stress, out comes the blood. I have to keep it covered, its always on my mind, keep it covered keep it covered, maybe I should stop, let it heal then I wouldn’t have to cover it, no its here for a reason you fat bitch, its here to remind you of what you are and what you could be, keep it covered. I never forget that its there, sometimes I have a look and wish I had nails to dig into it when I need to, but I don’t so I have to hold everything in until I get home, where the knife waits for me. I inscribe ‘PERFECT’ ‘CALM’ ‘CALM’ ‘FAT’ ‘FAT’ it started with just perfect, and scratches, but ive given up on the scratches now, I scratch away at scars though, so they bleed, and scratch the bleeding, and sometimes dig the knife into the scratch that hurts, and lets out more pain. I feel free, but every day it gets deeper, and I cant help but think, as the blood drips down my arm, I cant help but think that one day, it might not stop bleeding, it might get serious, I might need an ambulance to fix it, but I know that that wouldn’t stop me, I would just keep going and going until one day, they cant put Vanessa together again.
I’m going to take you back, right to where my story started, when I moved down from the Lake District a few years ago. I’ve always lived independently. My dad left before I was born, I never knew him at all, Kirsty, my mother, I’ve never called her mum, we’re not close enough, well she doesn’t care, she’s either out at ‘work’ or out getting drunk with her friends. I have no siblings, or pets. I never fitted in at school up North, I never had friends. Sometimes people would feel sorry for me and come over, but I never knew what to say, so eventually they all left. Anyway, Kirsty got a new boyfriend, she’s been through millions that I remember, none of them have ever stayed longer than a month, she seems to think that each one is ‘the one’ I never batted an eyelid when she told me they were going to get married, honestly, this would be announced a week or so in, every single time, I was used to it. But they never did, obviously. There would be a massive row three weeks in, and nothing more would be said, but this time I snapped.
I was lying in bed trying to sleep through the shouting and smashing glass. It stopped, the door slammed shut, frantic footsteps crashed up the staircase, and along the landing, into my room.
“Get up you lazy girl! Aren’t you useful for anything? Honestly!” (Is she drunk?) I rolled over wearily to face her “I need money ‘Ness.” (As if I’d give it to her) “Nick’s just left and says if I don’t pay him 200 quid by Monday he’ll tell Abbi what happened with Liam.” (Yep, she’s drunk.)
“What DID happen with Liam” I planned to stare her out but she wasn’t in the mood.
“How dare you be so ungrateful? After all I’ve done for you!” She stood tall, drinking in the sensation of power; her face was wrinkled, weary, and blotchy from her unhealthy habits. Her skin was covered in a thin film of drunken sweat, which dribbled down her cheeks and collected in small droplets on her chin. If I didn’t sit up now she would have hit me I knew it, there was more to her little rant. So I shuffled up and propped myself against the headboard. After about ten minutes of offensive language, peppered with the actual information she needed me to know, it came to light that she had been truly ‘heartbroken’ this time and she was moving us both to Los Angeles… this didn’t bother me at all. She’d never be able to afford it, but she’d move us, I knew that, she had that little glimmer of determination in her eyes, this was rare, the only other time she'd really said anything and meant it was when she threatened to lock me away, I never thought she’d meant it, but I spent three weeks of my life shut away in the loft because I didn’t buy her the right beer. I was 7. She leant over me, close enough to smell her foul, drunken breath burning at my nose, and whispered in a low threatening tone, “This rooms a tip” she gestured around her with the free arm she wasn't pressing hard against my empty stomach for support, “If you don’t get your act together young lady you’re going to find yourself on the streets.” And with that, she exhaled one more, sickening time, and brought herself back upright, leaning heavily on the headboard, which let out a low, creaking groan as she freed it from her grip. After one, quick, disgusted look around my totally empty room, she waddled off into the bathroom to empty her stomach of vodka, leaving the bedroom door open. I threw the duvet back against the wall and jumped off the bed frame, (no mattress, just the rusty metal frame) the door slammed shut as hard as I could push it, a small cloud of ceiling dust hovered above my head and tipped onto my bruised shoulders. I crammed my neck upwards to survey the damage, usually I put up with that... woman I tried to never lose my temper because I knew it would leave her in an even more foul mood the day afterwards, but sometimes what was built up inside me thrashed out all at once, pumping liquid strength into my arms, four times I’d pulled the door off it’s hinges, and each time I’d had to pay to replace it, which I did without complaint, but now the ceiling was looking a lot worse for wear, there was a large, black hole in it which led directly into the loft, with web-like cracks leading off all around the room, sometimes creeping down the walls.
Sure enough, at breakfast the next morning, she announced that L.A was too high brow for us, “I.e. you can afford it because you don’t work, instead, you drink until the spreadsheets look like omelettes.” She didn’t reproach me for this, she couldn’t deny it, and anyway, she was too ‘heartbroken’ to care what people thought of her. I stuffed the last piece of toast in my mouth, stood up, grabbed my bag off the counter, and with a meaningful “Happy 14th Birthday Vanessa, I hope you have a lovely day,” I slammed the door and kicked stones all the way to the bus stop.
Nothing special happened at school just an average November day, no one acknowledged me, same as usual, it didn’t bother me most of the time, they didn’t pick on me, they just left me be, although I know the sorts of things they say between themselves, but they didn’t say it to me, and although it used to hurt, I was used to it. Who cares what they think? I didn’t. Not really. I would let go of my real problems when I got home. The demons between my bones would be gone soon. The day drew to a close, I found myself sat in Biology picking at my arm with the compass and counting down the last two minutes until Friday was over. 3.. 2.. 1.. que frantic shuffling as everyone rustled and wrestled with their bags, stuffing everything in, hurrying to get out the door. I didn’t really care though, I idled home, to find Kirsty packing things into cardboard boxes. She’d probably chosen a house somewhere, I could tell, in the space of a day she had propped up the for sale sign between the bushes. She’d cleaned the windows, swept up loose leaves from the driveway and had wiped down the grotty front door. “Wow. You’re actually working for once. This clearly means something to you.” She shot me with her beady eyes, I smirked and stepped inside, purposefully not wiping my feet and treading mud into the carpets.
It all happened quickly, within literally four months, we were sat in her old ford, following the removal van, down country lanes, motorways, and city routes. Hours went by, until finally the lorry pulled over in the outskirts of London, unloaded our furniture and left it on the driveway. Leaving us to it. Un surprisingly I hadn’t been told where we were going, but I didn’t really care, what I did care about was how I started out here. I planned to start all over again, I wanted friends. A normal life. We stopped on the driveway of a large house so much larger than the old one, (how she had been able to afford this I was astounded) which backed on to a small forest. Or a large wood if you’d rather think of it like that. I sat there for a moment, gaping around at the place, I saw small creatures like rabbits snuffling around the garden, butterflies… buttering, or whatever it is butterflies do in their spare time. There was a large array of multicoloured flowers, bees buzzing to and fro between the petals, legs thick with sticky yellow pollen, birds chirping away their merry little songs from somewhere, frogs leaping in and out of the rippling pond and squirrels dashing up and down the crusty bark belonging to rich, leafy trees, which stretched out all around the house. It looked like something out of a fairytale. But looks can be deceiving.