‘But mum, just one more.’ says Sasha. ‘how can you need one more Sash? I did you this same drawing last week’ I reply whilst picking up dirty clothes from around the flat. I was explaining to Sasha about periods and she asked if I would do a drawing. So I did. It was fucking graphic and her eyes widened as I drew the sweeping lines that make up a woman’s genital area. I coloured it in with the most vibrant claret acrylic paint that shone off the page. ‘But mum’ she’s whining now. ‘Sash why would you want me to do another one of those drawings?’ You must have it somewhere, go and find it child.’ I’m irritated but not angry. ‘I gave it to Joanna’ ‘Why did you do that Sash?’ ‘She liked it and her mum has never talked to her about all that stuff, so it was like educational too’. I have to smile.’you should have just said so Sash, it’s fine’. ‘actually can you do three more as Keren and Georgia want one each too.’ I’ll have to buy some more of that red paint.
I can feel it coming. It’s like a gentle rumbling on the other side of a door. To start with, I can push it back, keep it at the periphery of my life. Even though I know it’ll get me eventually, being able to fend it off, even for a few hours is really useful. It’s like knowing the date you are going to die and being able to get your affairs in order. Except for I die every few weeks. It’s a bit tiring. My mum thought it was a menstrual thing and sometimes it is kicked off by my cycle, giving it an added extra bit of bonus energy to really fuck me with. But usually it comes along all by itself, rumbling and grumbling until it is time to succumb. I forgot to put the washing on and I realise that I have been sat here for an hour looking at the lampshade above me and wondering if I can be arsed to get up there and clean it. I can’t.
I make coffee and add a splash of brandy to it. It’s when it’s approaching that I have to be really careful about how much I drink. Too much and it will overwhelm me and it can take a week to recover. Too little and...well, I don’t know what will happen if I have too little and I have no intention of finding out. The alcohol fumes from the coffee tickle my nose. I text Sasha’s dad so he knows that she’ll have to stay with him for a few days. He knows I can’t help it, that it is real and unavoidable and disgusting and painful and all fucking consuming. Sash will know when to come back and she will sit on the edge of the sofa and stroke my hair. I’ll cry and she will hold me like I am the child. Then we’ll put some music on and dance furiously around the flat. But that’s all in the future, I’ve got to go into the tunnel to come out the other side. Jimmy is the only one who can come round at these times. It’s not like having a person here and he leaves me the fuck alone whilst making sure I have what I need a couple of times a day. I text Gemma and ask her to cover the next cleaning job I have lined up. I drink more coffee and I wait.
By lunchtime nothing much has changed. I get some clothes together for Sash and ask Jimmy to drop them round to her dad’s. Jimmy nods silently and takes the bag and hands me a perfectly rolled cigarette. I give him a tenner and ask him to get some more beer. When he returns, the fridge is full and the tenner is on the kitchen worktop. I fold up the money and put it back in my purse. I start to cry so suddenly and so hard that it feels like the sides of my head will simply fall off. I hold onto the fridge and let myself slide down it onto the floor. This is going to be a bad one.