Inoculations

Sequel to my movella Iris. It is two years since Iris met Gareth and she is only just beginning to re-assemble the pieces...

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2. In which I explain the outcome of Gareth

After Gareth, I was charged with arson but balanced by my “insanity” and so ended up hung in an equilibrium between criticism and pity.

After Gareth, I became a ragdoll pawned between Mental Health Units and Young Offenders’ Units. After a while it became impossible to tell the difference between institutions; the lines blurred. They were all prisons to me.

Somewhere along the line I lost my appetite for cookery. My nights were polluted by the gastronomy programs that the anorexic patients insisted on observing religiously and my enjoyment was all but flushed out by the practice. I harboured memories of insect mannequins leaning forwards to let their eyes lick foods they could not eat; my memories tainted me.

Upon my release I tried to take evening classes in French in the hope that I’d one day find my way back to taking the GCSEs that had been burned from my hands. After five weeks I gave up because the teacher got on my nerves and because I could never quite manage to walk straight home afterwards; I’d find myself getting lost in the streets, wondering whether I could ever trace things back and start to unravel the mess I’d made. Having dropped French I was coerced by my psychologist to taking up a couple of B-Tech courses. I applied for two – one in science, one in travel and tourism – two subjects I had scant interest in. I thought too much to be satisfied by either and so I dropped out after one day.

I had a sort of restlessness, after Gareth, and although I told myself it was nothing to do with Gwenafwy School, I knew that it was. It was funny how I’d kept myself floating for almost eight years before I started to drown. As if there had always been a certain limit to my rationality that Gareth had forced me to surpass.

If I’m honest, I think the problem about Gareth was less due to the paralysis of knowing that he loved me than to the audacious and prohibited concept that I perhaps liked him back. I’d managed to bypass others who’d cared; they were faces I’d discarded in a bid to keep my focus on survival. People who cared for me were difficult and hurtful and incongruous but as long as I managed not to give a shit about them I could keep on playing my games. The problem was that, no matter how far I distance myself from the idea of Gareth, he impinged on my mind with a lethal permanence. For him I forgot the importance of not giving a shit and that remains singularly the cruellest thing I’ve ever done.

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