It's Sunday when Dad tells me to clean out the attic. At first, I complain because who wants to spend their last day of freedom before school wading through rat dung and cobwebs? Then Mom tells me to suck it up and put on the Marigolds, and I do just that in three seconds flat. She's terrifying, that woman.
I grab the mop bucket and fill it with boiling water from the kettle, pouring in whatever liquid cleaner I can find under the kitchen sink. Wiping the sweat already forming on my face, I grab the attic key from the front hall and job up three flights of stairs. The door to our attic looks like something from a horror movie. It's covered in mahogany paint that hadn't dried properly before Derek, my brother, decided to run his hands through it. Fingerprints paint the colour of dried blood decorates the door frame. I'm not cleaning that.
Slipping the key into the hole,...
You are not yourself, they say.
I ask, but if not me, then who am I?
Confusion beats in my chest like a sister heart
Drawing blood, running spiralling rivulets
through the gaping holes in
You are not yourself, they say.
I reply, it is better somebody else than me
The eyes in the mirror are not my own yet
they speak my name
spinning my mind
f a r t h e r,
and farther away.
You are not yourself, they say.
I say, no, not today
Maybe I was never myself
and somebody else lived through me
Perhaps they'll leave and I'll be
I am not myself.
No, not today.
You want to tell mum, but you can't. Your mouth won't open. It's glued shut, trapping the words you were going to say inside. Mum doesn't even look at you when you tug on the hem of her dress. She's busy, she says. And when mum's busy, you don't interrupt. So you keep it to yourself, lock the story that you'd prepared all morning in the small box in your mind. You'll never let it see the light of day again. Not on your watch.
1 billion children in 2014 suffered from some sort of abuse, and a quarter of all adults report having been abused as a child. Nobody wants to hear this - the consequences of our innate selfishness, even to the people who are entrusted in our care. They say that truth is a bitter pill to swallow, and nothing helps wash out the after-taste. Studies from all regions of the world suggest that 80%-98% of children suffer...
December has always been the anticipation of snow, sitting up after watching the Late Late Toy Show, eyes glued to the window. December is watching the deepened, midnight sky and instead of being gifted with fluffy, white flakes, the world is cursed with heavy rain. And that's how my December starts - every single year.
My December starts with the inconceivable feeling of being old. Irrespective of the fact that I'm not at all yet nearing my golden years, my mind can't help but realise that yet another year has gone by, and I am but a year older. And yet, despite this revelation, I still force myself to stand up, to put on the same mask of indifferent joy that I wear every other day, and walk outside of the safety of my home.
I suppose December should be different, but my December starts the same way, every single year. My small village is bathed in cold, the type...
"You're not going to do it."
She looks up at me. "And who says I won't?"
I shrug, stuffing my hands in the deep pockets of my jacket. The chill is palpable today, stuck in the currents of the wind, and I am not as youthful as I used to be. I feel the Norwegian cold more often than not these days.
"You need the money," I take a guess. "You can't drop it all."
The girl - she can't be more than 16 years of age - pushes her curly hair away from her face. Both arms tighten around the suitcase against her chest, and her eyes are wild in the twilight. The water rushes beneath us, singing its tune without a care in the world. Sometimes, I wish I could be just like the river.
"I - I don't even know why I took it," she says, glancing away. "I can't give it back, not now."
You are 11 the first time wisdom is bestowed upon you - wisdom previously intended only for the presidents and the politicians. You had seen it all, and in your finite wisdom, you had disapproved immensely.
Between the crooked branches of trees and strong pathways that lead to a row of quaint houses, you speak with whom you presumed would be your best friend until the day you both died. Young bravado shields your sense of aging, conceals the gradual realization that all children must grow up, eventually. You are on route to your friend’s house, engrossed in the inane chatter of the small and naive when she stops. She informs you to be on the watch for her father and her brother, waving her hand in an ‘it-can’t-be-helped’ sort of way and explaining to you that they might not be welcoming as they could be a ‘bit racist’.
Cue the loud silence - enter the deafening noise of quiet...
The McDonald's erupts into chaos, screams and the high-pitched whines of children piercing through the air.
The stench of sweat hangs low above our heads, mingling with the smell of greasy food and burning.
An image flashes in my mind; the deep frying oil reaching a spark and erupting into orange flicker flames. I tilt my head up above the shorter people in the crowd, searching for another way out. Someone jabs me in the ribcage, but I've already made up my mind to move.
The back door is blocked by a light beam, intended to open upon emergencies. I lab the small button beside the glowing beam, and immediately it dissipates. An unknown foot strikes my shins, and my knees buckle. Scrambling wildly, I grab onto the handle of the door and push.
Nothing happens. It's stuck.
Grunting softly, I slam myself into the glass, again and again, acrid smoke burning the hairs on the nape of my neck. I wipe...
There's a guest in me
A guest that has named themselves Anxiety
And suddenly I'm too blind to see
That I? I am sick
And those around me must be thick
To think that I am alive and well for the exterior
Is not what my interior hides
To find a happiness that doesn't exist
I am but hollow tree stump that lives to resist
The help from those who tell me they care
And suddenly I am no longer me
But the she that they want me to be
I know nothing but pain in my heart
The emptiness that starts
To consume and fume and suddenly I have no room
I am filled up with regrets
My mistakes live in houses inside my head
And each night I go round the block
Trick or treating for memories
That hide in me
I - can’t - stop.
Beware, for it’s in Wonderland you step, faces lit while the conjugation of a thousand words grace your ears, as I take deep, calming breaths...
Pray tell, what do you see in me, as I stand up here and berate you all with thoughts of melancholy and my mind’s downfall. I ask of you, what do you see in me, do you see the years of elation,
a child’s dream come true as I dance in fields of tulips
Emotions not yet forced into a prepubescent probation
Let’s take a trip through the mind of a girl twice forgotten,
Pain rising as feelings are brought to light
As 3 years of hiding are now diminished as I tell you myself
In my sight
I see a girl who was taught to hate herself, was taught to find the unique parts of herself insane
Taught to find her feelings and bottle them think nothing of them but vile things; vain