Have you ever noticed that when something horrible is about to happen in your life that time moves far more quickly than usual and when you look forward to something time slows down to a lethargic crawl? It's almost like life is ganging up against you. Actually, I prefer to think that life is doing exactly that. The counsellor, Debbie, says it's good that I can think of life as a being and therefore 'live in harmony with it' or something similar. She tells me that I need to balance my emotions and try to understand life better. Mum's not so sure. She's one of those types that don't like fantasies or make-believe and especially not thinking that life is an actual person. I'm don't think Mum even knows why she's paying for me to go to Debbie. Dad on the other hand couldn't care less about what I think. He'd always been a one people person and the one thing he cares about the most is himself. A very self-centred thing to care about I know but Dad had a hard life as kid so I guess you can't really blame him. I'd only first noticed my dad's absent-mindedness to my feelings when he and Mum were having one of their famous ice-cold glare wars. It usually goes like this:
Mum narrows her eyes and drops into deadly silence and then Dad copies her, trying to be even more silent. Then they stand there in the middle of the hall for ages just trying to stay calm and be rational. It's actually really entertaining to watch except when they start yelling at eachother...that's when I leave. That particular day they hadn't talked to eachother at all so you could feel the tension mingling into the air. It lasted until lunchtime which was when Mum snapped.
“Why don't you do something?” Mum demanded. She dropped the tomatoes onto the chopping board and brought the knife down on them with a SMASH.
“What do you mean?” Dad looked up from his newspaper.
“Just lying around there. Thinking we can live off your uncle's money while I work trying to make ends meet! It was a thousand dollars, Neil. Not a million. Not a billion. One thousand dollars!”
I stopped eating and stared.
“What has this got to do with anything?” Dad tried very hard not to raise an eyebrow.
“You and I both know what bills demanded! We've already used most of the money and you expect sitting around in a chair with a stupid newspaper is going to help to pay for our kids' wellbeing and our own!”
I flinched. Kids...I'd forgotten about Damian as usual. He was about two years younger than me but I rarely ever talked to him. I barely even knew anything about my own brother. I don't think I even know how old he is to be truthful.
“Now, listen Ang. I do my best to keep our lives running efficiently-”
“By being a lazy excuse for a husband? Oh well done. I congratulate you!”
“This isn't the time, Ang. You don't want to upset Damian.” Dad sipped his coffee coolly as if he hadn't said anything wrong.
I suppose Dad just assumes that because I'm oldest I can look after myself and therefore don't need much protection. I see most of his side of things but he never sees mine. That's probably why I need counselling. Bad parenting is a very good excuse to sit and talk to a qualified psychologist for an hour each week.
That had been a perfect example of the conditions of our family. Since Damian has this weird condition where he forgets everything each day it puts a lot of stress on both my parents. Mum most definitely since she's the one who has to go through things with him every morning.
And that's why Mum and Dad split up on the twenty-fifth of December as if to say Merry Christmas guys, we don't love eachother anymore so we're going to move across the country from eachother. I went with Mum to Adelaide (although we ended up in England a few months later) and Damian got stuck with Dad. That was ages ago so Damian's forgotten it and Dad won't want to remind him. He probably won't even tell Damian that he had a sister. Time goes by at a lumbering march when things like this happen. It seems like years ago that I last saw Damian. Perhaps it was. I really envy my brother. To him he's always grown up with a Dad and he won't ever find out otherwise because Mum never visits. It's really weird to think that Damian won't recall any mistakes he's done or friends he's made. Strange even. Imagine living your life not knowing what you'd done before that day or what you were going to do since you'll just forget the next day. To him it's always Day 1 of his life. And perhaps that is why I argue with myself that I'm jealous of that. Anyway, this is what happened when, for once in a long while, Damian remembered.