Mum woke me up pounding at my door. “For fucks sake, stop locking the fucking door!” she screamed.
I wearily got up. “I’m sorry,” I said groggily. “I woke up in the middle of the night-”
“Shut up and get downstairs.” I heard her storm away, cursing under her breath.
Daniel pulled himself up. “What’s wrong with her?” He had given up on growling at her, as she never heard a word he said. Still, there was a familiar quiet anger radiating from him that I hadn’t seen in a while.
“Calm down,” I said to him. “I’ll just go down to breakfast, okay?”
That was probably the worst thing I could’ve done that day. You would’ve thought that after nearly seventeen years of this, I’d be used to it by now, or at least that’s what I thought. I entered the dining room bracing myself for another foul mood.
When I sat down, Mum began to speak. “I do too much for you,” she announced.
I held my tongue and started eating breakfast.
“That’s why you’re like this. Why you think you can get away with being a ratbag. You’re ruining your life with this, you know.”
Here we go.
“You’re a lazy, useless excuse. You never do anything for me.”
I pretend to be mentally stable, I hide my scars from people so that they don’t ask you about it, I keep quiet about the fact that I want to kill myself so that you don’t get even more stressed and hysterical…
“You’re so dramatic about everything,” she scoffs. “How it works is if I do anything that upsets Princess here, you have a tantrum and get sent to Helen, and I’m the bad guy again! That’s all they are, tantrums. It’s called attention seeking madam, and I’ve had enough of it.”
That’s not my voice though. Kaya?
“That medication would’ve helped you, but noooooo, you just had to keep up with the drama! No wonder you’re failing all your classes!”
One more push, and I’ll slit your throat, Kaya hisses in my head.
Kaya. No. “I’m not failing,” I murmur. “I’m keeping up with the work now.”
My mother scoffs. “Yeah, and how long is that going to last? You’re lazy. You’ll fall behind again, no doubt about that. And then I’m going to be the villain again because you’re a selfish, lying drama queen!”
Suddenly, my hand reaches for my bowl and lifts it up, over Mum’s head. I can almost see it smashing down, ceramic shattering, blood spilling out…
“Stop it!” I scream out loud. By some miracle, I manage to gain a split second’s control, and I turn to the left so that the bowl hits the floor. “Just stop!” I shriek, not quite sure whom I’m actually speaking to. I’m sobbing, and Mum screams and pelts me with her fists, and I can’t do anything because I’m so fucking useless in Reality.
I sweep up the shards afterwards while my mother types an abusive email about me to whoever reads them, and at some point, I decide to not be entirely useless. “You don’t have to scream at me just because you’re dying of cancer,” I tell her.
Too bad. I throw the shards away in the bin and go upstairs and buckle over. But someone catches me.
“Come on,” Daniel breathes into my ear. He holds me up and drags me into my room. “Easy does it now.” He shuts the door behind us and pulls me close to him. “It’s okay now…it’s alright…”
Much later, I felt better. Probably because I spent the journey to school madly singing British pop songs. It’s even more effective than crying. If only people couldn’t hear you as much.
“I’ve had a think about it,” I said to Daniel. “And I’ve decided not to let her hurt me anymore. I mean, I’ll probably forget to do this later, when I’m depressed and suicidal, but this is what I’m thinking right now.”
Daniel nodded. “Go on.”
I inhaled. “I am starting to get in control of my life,” I started. “Or at least I’m feeling that way. I think that I’m now in a place where I can begin to smile and let myself be happy again. It probably won’t stay that way, knowing my luck. But there’s absolutely no reason why I should stop right now, just because of what my mother says.
“I think she’s like me. She has trouble being happy, and she can’t express that properly. I’m the same.”
Daniel shook his head. “You don’t accuse her of being an attention seeking liar.”
“I do call her other things though,” I pointed out. “Emotionally unstable, hysterical, selfish, close minded.”
“She is those things though.”
“And that’s true to me,” I continued. “Just like all those things are true to her. Our minds are determined to believe what they want to. Does that make sense?”
Daniel paused. “Maybe,” he admitted. “But I refuse to believe that you’d be cruel enough to tell a recently suicidal person that they’re lying, that they’re not really in pain.”
“Hush,” I hissed.
“Cat,” he sighed. “It’s not right. It’s as if you can’t be happy if she isn’t. She’s just going to keep hurting you.”
“Maybe,” I said. “But I only have to deal with it for two more years. Not even that, actually. Then I can move out and live my own life away from her. After I get a job and find a flat.”
“You’ve got to go through that bridging course though,” he reminded me.
“True…so less than three years.” I had met with my school a week ago to discuss my schoolwork, and they decided to put me onto an alternate pathway into uni. It basically means I’m now doing easier courses and I don’t have to take the big exam at the end of Year 12. It does mean that I have to complete a certificate course in IT in order to graduate, and take an enabling course the next year in order to get into uni, should I wish to go. “But I can still work, and get a job. That might be better actually. I can save up money for a year and once I have enough to actually start renting, I can move out.”
Daniel looked a little skeptical. “I know it’s a lot harder than that,” I admitted. “But I don’t need to get into detail right away, do I? One step at a time.”
He smiled. “Exactly.”
I hesitated for a moment. Very rarely did I ask Daniel about his past. It was something I had learnt very early not to enquire about, and later I realised how guilty he felt about it, for leaving it behind. But it was an innocent question. “What did you do when you finished school?” I asked.
“Me? Hmm.” He frowned. I waited for him to continue, and after an eternity, he sighed. “Promise you won’t laugh?”
“Oh god, what did you do?” My mind started going through all the ridiculous careers; professional clown, ballet dancer, porn star.
“Firefighter,” he said, going a bit red.
“No way…” My eyes were probably popping out of my head. “That is wicked.”
Daniel closed his eyes and shook his head. “Immediately regretting that decision.”
“That’s so cool!” I crowed. “And nothing like what I was expecting.”
He raised an eyebrow. “What were you expecting?”
“Porn star,” I replied.
Daniel stared at me. “You’re a looney,” he finally replied.
“Yeah.” I grinned at him. “Little bit.”
“So you’re going to go to uni,” he quickly continued our previous conversation. “You’re certain of that. What about your mother then? Are you going to see her after that?”
I didn’t know how to answer. “I’m undecided,” I said slowly.
“There are times where I love her and times where I hate her,” I reminded him. “I guess it depends whether or not I forgive her or not.”
“I’m undecided,” I repeated. “All I know is that she’s not going to stop me from being happy. And if she’s going to belittle me for the rest of my life…well, I don’t see why I should stay around to hear it.” I pressed the button to stop the bus, leapt up and gathered up everything in a rush to get off in time. Daniel and I started to walk toward my house. “I don’t think of family the way everyone else does,” I said quietly. “I hope it’s different when I have one of my own. Well, if I have one of my own. But I’m never going to put myself before my child. I’m never going to torment them and tell them they’re horrible people. Because they’re not. No one is. Not even Mum when you think about it.” I made a face. “I’ll probably be one of those parents that just lets their kid run wild because they’re too afraid of their children hating them.”
“You’ll learn,” Daniel said encouragingly. “You’ll have help from the people around you, your partner, friends, whatever. But more importantly, your child would grow up knowing that they could come to you for support, no matter what.”
I smiled. “Silly. But thanks.”
We walked together in silence for a while. “Porn star, huh,” Daniel mused. “I had no idea you had such a high opinion of me.
I stuck my tongue out. “Shush.”