Girl Half Empty

//What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in//
- Simone de Beauvoir
/June winner of the diary competition/


16. //Wrapped up in empathy, The chemicals are pushing past my blood//

June 28th

I do not hate my mum’s absence the way I hate my dad’s, I have realised. Last weekend, while my mum and other wrinkling farmers relived their uni days, my dad and I lived like life was a stream of giddy sleepovers, exertion, car journeys and Harry Potter films. We battered through the food supplies, cooking with hungry sloppiness that was somehow reassuring. We made-do-and-mended like teenagers living alone for the first time. We lived with a customary dash of cynicism and a touch of carelessness, safe in the knowledge that all unravelled ends would be re-tied when my mum returned. We talked of mundanity, we found solidarity in our distastes, and we understood that we both live too much like broken things to consider the world’s broken state in detail. Instead we smeared the education system, played at half-lives and tested ourselves with the nameless credits that follow ’19 years later’.

I danced while he slept and when I slept he lay restless, waiting for the week’s grey skies to reclaim him. We walked together.

This weekend my mother and I dashed around being organised and self-sufficient. Our conversations were forced philosophically through literature to exam results via my dead grandmother and my dying grandfather, and then on to the cluttered-ness of our hometown and the north south divide, we ploughed through Cameron’s arrogance on the EU and found that we could no longer avoid the issue of my dad’s chronic depression and chronically depressing job.

In practical terms my dad and I cannot live without my mum, in emotional terms I could not live without my dad.

She told me he needed to get medication and counselling, maybe he’d listen to me? He needed to leave his job but not without a new horizon to drive himself away to, could I think of anything?

I hate my dad’s absence because there was not the same certainty that it would terminate with the Monday train. Because he was happier in Carlisle with his best friend close and his life far away and Mum was happier knowing that he was happier away from her. And I was lonelier without my safety net of a small and stressed man whose greying grey matter was pressing dark clouds upon his every move.

I hate my dad’s absence because I want to sit on his bed and talk to him. Before he left she told him, please remember to come back… and that’s why I hate his absence.

I love my mum but although we talk deep we don’t talk close. We aren’t close. It’s all about where my brother’s illness drew the lines. My dad and I sit on one side drifting out to sea, my mum is chained to his health by the blue necklace he gave her for a birthday he spent falling into hospital beds. We watch the way our family divides from under one roof and so not stop it.

Most of my friends take their problems to their mum but it is my dad who will stroke my shoulder in one particular way and for whom I am brave enough to cry and splutter like spilled milk. It’s him who tells me that the used-to-be-friends for whom I am no-longer good enough will remember me one day once they’ve stopped trying to re-define the boundaries and grow up and fit into being ‘cool’.

My dad’s a car wreck in need of a scrappage scheme… or perhaps just some mental health support. But we’re on our side. The only two.

Without him my mum drove me back to normality from the insane business of my weekend and I tried to decide whether I’ve lost my faith in humanity or whether I’m finding it.

I felt the sweat cool on the elbow I dangled out the window and watched the road through the smeary windscreen and I knew nothing but the certainty of Time Dancing on the car stereo. She held the steering wheel and I subconsciously arranged my hands to cling to the door handle or my knee or the drawstring of my hoody. Trying to clasp water in my fingers. I observed people still making links; I recalled the way my DT teacher reverently asked the irreverently-treated Ukrainian girl to help him communicate with a Russian girl in his year seven class, I watched the way one old farm tried fervently to repeat a rural era with jams for sale at the end of its garden, I saw hand-in-hand skylark kids running amongst the little pieces of me scattered on the verge along the way:

I had a party down that road, back when I was young and futile and un-soiled.

I rebuked my brother’s reminder that I was soon to be fifteen, back there. Not all that long ago.

I drove that way to those firework displays that my friend’s parents once took me to. My first and only candyfloss. The bonfire burnt my throat and eyes. The camaraderie of arsonists brought me to life.

Down there was once green fields. A hundred lives rabbiting above ground these days.

Here my father and I hated on the ‘CONSERVATIVES’ banner tied between oak trees.

And here we laughed at the graffiti that caused a UKIP slogan to read.

    racist UKIP bastards

Now mum tells me that Ben Howard’s a soothing source of music and I wonder if she’s listening to the same song that I am.

I’m a jigsaw puzzle of sea and sky and I can’t tell one shade of lilac-grey from the next. A billion shades of lilac-grey.

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