Break The Child: Chapter Thirty Five: Not that Kind of Family...1
Chapter Thirty-Five: Not that Kind Of Family
I’m supposed to be resting but I can’t sleep. The hospital’s too noisy and I hurt too much.
Everything hurts and my left eye is swollen shut. I have to squint through my right eye to type. I’ve got a fracture to my skull and a black eye, bruises all over my arms and a big scratch down my cheek that stings like mad when tears get in it.
But mostly I’ve got scars on the inside. I’ve got the marks in me from being beaten up and I think they’ll be there forever. And the worst thing, which will never go away, even when things are quiet and sweet, even when I read her letter over and over, the worst thing of all, is that…
…I’m scared of her.
When she was normal she used to knock on my door before she came in. But she hasn’t done that for a long time. She’s walked in on me while I’ve been getting dressed and it’s embarrassing, so I made a sign for my door that said, Please Knock Before Entering and a smiley face, it’s still up, but she can’t read now, and she’s forgotten all about knocking.
She wanders around the house, touching things and messing with things. She steals everything and hides it in stupid places. She rived our lounge carpet up and hid a Jamie Oliver cookbook under it. Dad went spare. And she put all the Brillo pads and dishcloths in the cat bed.
Nothing is private anymore.
Sometimes Dad loses his temper with her. He gets tired from her wandering all night and then he hasn’t got any patience, and then he shouts. And he swears more now, too.
When she goes to the bathroom she misses the toilet and either pees on the seat, or pees on the floor—that’s when she goes to the bathroom to go to the bathroom.
She leaves the hot water tap on all the time and somebody has to go in after her to check she hasn’t put the plug in and to turn the tap off. And she goes to the bathroom all the time, like a hundred times a day and nobody else can ever get in there. It drives us nuts. And when you do go for a bath, she comes rattling on the door—guaranteed. She wanders along the corridors all day just going into the bathroom and turning the taps on and spitting in the sink.
She spits. My mother is the best lady you could meet, she even used to go to church sometimes and she wore Marigold Gloves to do the washing up. When we had dinner parties, she used to put serviettes beside the plates, and we were never allowed to use our best glasses. She used to go mental if I put my elbows on the table. Can you believe that? She used to tell me off for elbows and she spits like a boxer.
She spits up phlegm everywhere. She makes this awful noise in her throat and then hawks up a mouthful of stringy, horrible phlegm. Sometimes it drips off her chin and she uses one of our clean tea-towels to wipe her mouth and blow her nose on. It’s all right when we catch her and can put it straight in the wash, but can you imagine how many times she’s done it when we don’t know—and then we’ve dried our things on it. Gross.
We can’t leave any pots in the sink. Dad says this is her revenge because she used to hate me putting dirty pots in the sink and not washing them and putting them in the dishwasher straightway. Mum hawks up and then spits it all in the basin. She does it in the bathroom sink when the toilet is right next to her, and I hate washing myself now because the sink has all slimy goo running down it. But it’s worse when she does it in the kitchen, because that’s where we wash our plates.
Sometimes, if there’s nothing near her to spit in, she does it right there on the carpets—even in the lounge. I wasn’t even allowed to have a packet of crisps in there in case I spilled crumbs on her posh sofa. It’s horrible, and when it’s green if she’s got a cold, it makes me sick in my mouth and my eyes water from gagging.
But the worst thing of all is when she does it in our mugs and glasses. Even the ones we give to visitors. Dad says the dishwasher cures all ills—but how shameful. Our poppy field mugs with gozz in them. Aunty Linda and Aunty Helen bring their own mugs with them now and they won’t leave one in our cupboards for next time. And they won’t even wash it at our house, they take it home dirty to wash there.
They bring food, like sausage rolls for everybody or shop bought sandwiches, or they order a takeaway and dish Mum’s up to her and eat theirs out of the carton with a plastic fork.
It’s not just the spitting, it’s because Mum touches everything and takes bites out of stuff in the fridge and then puts it back. She pokes stuff and tries to snatch food off people’s plates, and sometimes she has dirt under her fingernails. She scratches her bum a lot. She even eats raw bacon and sausage and things that can hurt her. She either washes her hands a hundred times when she goes to the bathroom, or she doesn’t wash them at all.
One day there was poo all down the banister. I can’t touch the banister now and I use my elbows to open doors or have a disinfectant wipe over my hand. If I’ve got kitten heels or wedges on I have to be careful not to fall down the stairs.
Dad says the whole house feels contaminated.
I asked him if I can have a lock for my bedroom door, but he said that we’re not that kind of family. Whatever that means.