I managed it, my 2000 words, most of them were today mind. It's been a good week. I was able to work and look after my parents without too much clash. Went to three new meetings, made some new friends. I've read the Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer which was brilliantly written and covered off mental illness in a really honest and straightforward way. It felt like my writing about alcoholism as did Big Brother by Lionel Shriver which I am halfway through. Although about food addiction, it really tapped into my soul and inspired my writing. I guess that's why I decided to share my writing with you. Fortunately it's chapter one so I won't be giving too much away, will also stop me from going back and tampering with it for a while. Am very nervous about posting it though which is why I'm doing it now, before I change my mind. Apologies if the formatting doesn't work out on what you're reading it on, I did try to make it work.
Chapter 1 - the beginning.......
"A mouse took a walk through the deep, dark wood", the words grate against my teeth and my tongue, I have to work at not spitting them out. I turn to look at my son and breathe out a deep sigh as I see he is finally asleep. Thank God. I pick up my wine glass and take a drink from it. Putting it down, I stretch my neck back and look up to the ceiling. Another long evening of book reading, I look at the pile of books that I've worked my way through as he's lain there, eyes wide open, staring up at me as if I held the answer to his pain. Not me, my love. I can't fix it, not this time. I have another sip of wine before I get out of my bed to pick him up. He's so heavy now and almost as long as I am tall, I'm not going to be able to carry him back to his bed for much longer. I struggle through my doorway, along the landing, into his room and drop him onto his bed. Pulling his duvet over him, I tuck him in and kissing his forehead, wipe the tears from his face. "I'm sorry", I whisper in his ear, "it wasn't supposed to be like this, I don't like it either."
I walk slowly back to my room to collect my glass, stretching out my back and shoulders as I cross the landing. Just before I get to it, I catch sight of my reflection in the mirror and stop. My mouth has dried up, my stomach turned and I am transfixed by what I'm looking at. I say 'what', because that's the only word I can think of. I move towards the mirror and reach out to touch it. The glass feels sticky beneath my fingertip and I wipe the surface in several places desperately hoping to find that its something else. I raise my eyes to look at the face in the mirror and my breathing quickens as my heart begins to pound. The face in front of me can't be mine, please tell me it can't be mine. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I stay here, my eyes closed tightly, my breathing quickening. I have to look, I have to know. I open them and look again. It is still there, this face that I don't recognise. Her eyes look into mine, grey, pale and lifeless, not like mine, bright blue and sparkling, hers aren't blue and they definitely aren't sparkling. How can that be me. Tears are forming in her eyes, I watch one move down to her cheek and I reach up to brush it away. My hand touches the mirror, and as I move my hand to my face I see hers doing the same. I look at the rest of her face. Her skin is pale and thin with a yellow tinge, hanging from her cheekbones, it seems to be falling off her. She looks back at me, I can see the horror in her eyes as they move over my face. Hair, no, what is that? I see more grey, strands of it, matted together into a sort of ponytail hanging from her neck. I reach to mine and wince, where there were soft curls is now a clump that feels thick and heavy. I struggle to pull my fingers out of it and I see the tears are now falling from her face and onto the floor. Down on the floor, I see her feet, black feet, deep black as if she's been walking in mud. I look back up at her face. What have you been doing to yourself? What have you become? Taking in the full picture, I see clothes I don't know, on a body I don't know, shapeless, washed out; my stomach lurches and I run to the bathroom.
I'm sitting on the bathroom floor hugging my knees to my chest, burying my face in the darkness. I can't stop the tears, two damp patches forming on my trousers, my heart pounding. I sit up and lean back against the radiator feeling the warmth begin to flow through me. A bath, that's what I'll do, I'll have a bath. Turning on the taps, I lean over to wash my face and wipe my mouth before putting in the plug. Bubbles, need bubbles, there by the taps, I open the bottle and pour some in. I drop my clothes onto the floor and step into the water. I lower myself into it, grateful for being small enough to lie flat; warm and safe. Coming up, I reach to my hair and wrestle the band out of it, hearing it breaking as I finally get it free. I close my eyes and return to the depths, wondering how long I can stay here. Not long it seems as I come back up. The questions are rushing through my head, what have I done, how has this happened and many more that I can't make out. I settle on what do I do now. What do I do now? A sensible voice chimes in with how about getting clean, that would be a good place to start. Yes, wouldn't it. The tears come back and this time I fight them off, washing them away. Let's start at the top, hair first. Squeezing shampoo out of the bottle, I wonder if this is even possible. Oh well, here we go. My fingertips work themselves very slowly from the edges of my hairline towards the top of my scalp, it's extremely painful, each hair holding tightly onto another, my fingers forcing them apart. As I sink back into the bath, I remember that is the easy bit. The next bit will be worse, getting conditioner through the rest of it. Still, one step at a time, isn't that how it goes. I pile the cream onto my hand, rub it between my palms and lather it over my hair. My hair, not her hair, mine. Working my fingers through my hair, I see her again, staring back at me from the mirror. I lie back, leaving the conditioner to attempt to work miracles and close my eyes.
My fingers won't break up the clump of hair at the back of my neck. I can get through a lot of it which is a miracle in itself but the knotted mass refuses to budge. The question is can I bring myself to cut it off. Do I have a choice. I don't think so. I need to be clean and I need it now, not later, not tomorrow, now. With a deep sigh, I pull myself up out of the bath and wrapping a towel around me step onto the floor. This time, I see my feet and take a sharp intake of breath. They're not black but a dirty shade of grey, streaky and grimy. I walk down the stairs into the kitchen to collect the scissors. I've had long hair since forever. It's one of my better features, if not my only good one. Long dark brown curly hair, the last time I had it short was before my O'levels, a long time ago. Still, this will be another one of those changes I didn't see coming, part of life's rich tapestry. Bollocks to life's rich tapestry, it can go fuck itself. Another mirror, another deep breath. She doesn't look so bad now, now that she's started to wash. I pick through my hair, trying to find a small a part as possible to cut out. Oh what the hell, here goes nothing. One cut and I'm holding it in my hand, quickly I put it in the bin, trying not to look at it. I look back at the face in the mirror, she looks lost, don't touch your hair, please don't touch your hair. Getting back into the bath I pick up the scrubbing brush and the soap. Time for the rest of you. Left arm first, scrubbing at it till the skin turns red then the right one, my back, front, legs, feet. Much more soap for my feet until they finally start to look red too. The soles of my feet disgust me and I sit on the edge of the bath to finish them off. I dry my hair, put on some gel and sit on the side of the bath, exhausted but clean. Better get dressed I suppose, I finish drying myself, hang up my towel on the back of the door and walk back across the landing without looking at the mirror. I definitely don't want to see her like this, without clothes, I'm not ready for that. My pyjamas aren't on my bed so I get a pair out of the drawer. That's strange, my drawers aren't normally that tidy, everything in neat piles, how did that happen; no matter, I get dressed.
Walking down the stairs, I notice how quiet the house is, unusually so. This house used to be filled with music, there was always something on or someone playing. I turn the handle to the living room and go in. It feels very still, there's no-one at the piano or the drums, the guitar sits alone in its stand. Moving to the stereo I wonder what it would be like to hear some. I can't remember music, I haven't had any on, how can that be. Taking another deep breath, I turn on the stereo and press play. Strings, keyboard, as the drums come in I can see Mac and Finlay, dancing, laughing, here in this room. Finn's in his dad's arms, a toddler, he's holding his head back, hysterical with laughter as Mac jumps about the room. Mac sings along with the song as he always does.
The heart is a bloom They see me and reach out to me.
Shoots up through the stony ground I reach my hands out to them and I join in.
There's no room I am smiling, laughing,
No space to rent in this town as they take me into their arms
You're out of luck We dance together,
And the reason that you had to care all singing.
The traffic is stuck Finn mouthing anything,
And you're not movin' anywhere nothing in particular
You thought you'd found a friend We bounce in a circle
To take you out of this place moving around
Someone you could lend a hand laughing
In return for grace at each other
It's a beautiful day Mac catches my eye
Sky falls, you feel like I love you
It's a beautiful day I love you too
Don't let it get away "Me too" screams Finlay
You're on the road We return to singing the song,
But you've got no destination Finn's blond curls bouncing
You're in the mud "Mud" he screams,
In the maze of her imagination we laugh.
You love this town Finn blows a kiss,
Even if that doesn't ring true I blow one back,
You've been all over I let go of their hands
And it's been all over you and dance
It's a beautiful day It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away Don't let it get away
It's a beautiful day It's a beautiful day
Touch me Touch me,
Take me to that other place take me to that other place,
Teach me teach me,
I know I'm not a hopeless case I know I'm not a hopeless case, I smile at Mac
See the world in green and blue I'm back in today,
See China right in front of you standing still,
See the canyons broken by cloud staring at the space
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out in front of me
See the Bedouin fires at night The boys are still dancing,
See the oil fields at first light calling to me to join in,
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth reaching out to me,
After the flood all the colours came out I shake my head, "I can't" I whisper.
It was a beautiful day It really was,
Don't let it get away a wonderful moment,
Beautiful day family time, together.
Touch me Mac, why did you go
Take me to that other place why did you leave me,
Reach me how could you do that,
I know I'm not a hopeless case I miss you, really miss you
What you don't have you don't need it now Stop singing,
What you don't know you can feel it somehow please stop singing.
What you don't have you don't need it now Please.
Don't need it now Please.
It was a beautiful day I close my eyes.
I turn the stereo off and walk out of the door and up the stairs.
I remember now, why this has happened, why she looks like that. I go to the mirror and look back at the reflection. He left you, didn't he, he left. She looks back at me, I reach up to the mirror and our hands touch each other. You are me and I look like you because Mac left. But I can't look like that, I have to be a mother, Finlay needs me, I'm all he has. I can't stay looking like you because he needs me. I have to get better, I just have to. I walk away from her and climb into my bed. As I get in, I see the glass of wine, waiting for me. I realise that this is the first time since Mac left, 10 months and 23 days ago, that I have actually been aware of getting into my bed. The glass of wine has been one of many, far too many. As I lie down, I feel my head on my pillow and I close my eyes. I know what I have to do.