This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
‘So,' said Tia, ‘this is the last session before we meet to say goodbye.'
Oh, thanks, Tia. Bloody thanks! Do you think I don't know that? ‘Yes, I know, Tia.'
Tia took off her glasses and polished them. Lynn had never seen Tia do this before.
She couldn’t help staring. Without her glasses and with her head bent, Tia looked much more
vulnerable. She replaced them and became Tia again.
‘I mention this because I am afraid I need to change the date of our next meeting.'
Alarm bells went off in Lynn's head. ‘I need to take leave of absence for a month. Our next
meeting is in two weeks' time, but I will not be here then.' She paused. It occurred to Lynn that she
looked uncharacteristically weary. She was reminded of Lauren and how tired she had looked when
she first met her. ‘It's not cancer, is it?' she asked before she could stop herself.
Tia smiled wanly. ‘No, it's not cancer,' she said. ‘What made you think of that?' Lynn
didn't want to mention Lauren - somehow it didn't seem right - so she shrugged apologetically and
said nothing, but afterwards it occurred to her that this would probably have been a perfectly
reasonable thing to say.
Tia continued, ‘If we wait until I come back - ' (‘Come back?' thought Lynn) ‘then the
Christmas holiday will intervene and we will not be able to meet again until January. This will
mean you waiting about six weeks for our final session. On the other hand, I am not leaving until
the end of next week - ' (‘Leaving?' thought Lynn) ‘and so, if you liked, we could meet again at the
same time next week for the final session. It's up to you. I am sorry to have to present you with this
choice. I'm afraid the circumstances are out of my control.'
‘It's all right.' But it wasn't all right. In one week's time or six weeks' time. It didn't
seem much of a choice. In one week it could be all over . . .and then . . . never see Tia again. On
the other hand . . . six weeks . . . how could she wait six weeks with her nerves strung as taut as
this, for god's sake? And over Christmas too. She'd never survive. One week or six weeks? She
didn't want to think about it. She looked at Tia.
Tia said, ‘You can tell me at the end of the session, if you like.' Now that she had told
Lynn the bad news, she looked more Tia-ish, more composed. Lynn felt that she had imagined the
tired smile and the fragile, defenceless Tia she'd seen. This was the Tia she knew, impervious,
unyielding, apparently indifferent to the bombshell she had just delivered. One week or six weeks.
It shouldn't make a difference but it did. Why? Lynn felt completely wrecked, her frail feeling of
control gone. She'd had it all worked out, how to pace herself, what she would do in the two weeks.
She'd wanted to get Tia a present, or a card. Just a little something, she didn't know what, just to
say . . . ‘I'll remember you.' But a week wasn't long enough. She couldn't think what to get in a
week. She couldn't think now, what to say. But six weeks! She couldn't endure this - rack - for six
weeks! Oh hell!
Tia, as usual, was observing her closely. Her habitual expression, a sort of serious but
ready-to-smile attentiveness had now completely returned. Having just ruined everything, she was
watching with cool clinical disinterest, and, it seemed to Lynn, almost amusement, the effect that
her words were having. Something in Lynn snapped. She felt anger rising within her. What was it
about Tia that produced these extremes of emotion in her? She was perfectly normal everywhere
else. Tia was such a cow. The anger grew hotter.
‘I wonder what you’re thinking right now?'
The volcano erupted, and Lynn didn’t care any more about getting it right. ‘No, I
wonder what you’re thinking, Tia. You deliver this ultimatum – one week or six weeks – then you
coolly sit back to watch my reaction like I’m a bloody lab experiment or something. What do you
think about it all?’
‘I think you are angry.’
Yeah, right, good guess! I am angry! You sit there so smug, Tia, so bloody perfect,
always saying the right sodding thing, never giving any bloody thing away!'
Tia took it without a flicker. ‘That's how you see me. Always getting it right, making
you feel awkward and angry. Wrong-footing you. Staying in control. I wonder if that feeling rings
any bells for you?'
Lynn stiffened. That transference thing! Where had she felt it before? Very clever, but
she wasn't falling for it this time. Oh no! It was Tia - Tia making her angry, no one else! She
refused to be diverted.
‘Yes! Why do you do it? Why can't you just be normal, for god's sake?'
To this Tia said nothing. Her face had a patient look and the fatigue Lynn had seen at
first seemed evident again. Maybe she did feel something. Lynn's anger ebbed away, leaving her
feeling tired too. She felt a sudden pang of pity for Tia. What must it be like for her? What an
awful job she had at times, having to sit there and take it from angry clients, never able to retaliate
or defend herself, to say, ‘Sod off, and stop giving me a hard time!' always having to think of what
to say to help them, having to be there for them. But bloody hell! It was her job. She was being
paid for it! The anger flooded back.
‘Oh, I forgot. This is normal for you! Bloody hell Tia, I'm bleeding to death in front of
you! Don't you care?'
‘Whether I care or not doesn't alter the reality of what has to happen. We have to say
goodbye. You are angry. Anger is a is a part of grief.'
That registered. Lynn had heard that once before, or something like it. When? Her
brain felt muzzy. In the midst of it all, she tried to listen. What was Tia trying to say? Grief. Grief
meant you were sad, didn't it? But she was angry, wasn't she? She stopped and allowed herself to
feel. What did she feel? Actually, when she thought about it, she did feel sad inside. Why hadn't
she noticed that before. Yes, really really sad. Oh god! And Tia wasn't helping. But when she
glanced at Tia, she saw something in her face that mirrored her own feeling. Tia looked so sad.
And she was looking at Lynn.
Did Tia feel sad then? Sad like Lynn? Did she know how Lynn felt? Did she? Or was
it a psychological trick to make Lynn feel better? Because if Tia did know, did care, even a little bit
. . . then she could bear it. It made it so much better than the other time. The bad time she never
thought about, when - something icy gripped Lynn's guts and made it hard to breathe. What was
this? Something was stirring in the furthest recess of Lynn's memory. It was something so
nameless and so painful that Lynn couldn't bear it. She exerted all her strength to shut the door on
it, but even with the door shut she could sense it moving behind. No! Not here, not now! Not on
top of this pain she was feeling. Quick! Distraction!
Lynn said hurriedly to Tia, ‘You look unhappy.'
‘I'm feeling sad,' said Tia. ‘I'm feeling your sadness, Lynn.'
Lynn could see it was true. She felt deeply moved. No one had ever said anything quite
like that to her before and she didn't know what to say. Eventually she mumbled, ‘I don't want you
to feel sad, Tia. It's not your problem.' She paused and groped for her handkerchief, then went on,
‘But in a funny way, I feel kind of glad too. Is it OK to say that? It's like you're sort of. . . oh I
don't know . . . sharing it with me. I don't feel so lonely now.'
‘Yes,' said Tia. ‘I'm sharing it with you.'
Again, Lynn didn’t know what to say. Her anger had evaporated. She smiled
tremulously. ‘Thank you. It's so different from last time.'
‘Something's stirring in my memory, from really early on. Something I'd completely
forgotten. It's so horrible and painful I'm afraid to think about it. I'm not even sure what it is.'
‘But it's horrible - and painful?'
Lynn felt a wild, jerky panic begin to overwhelm her. ‘Yes. But, oh Tia, I can't bear to
think about it now. I feel frightened. What am I going to do?'
‘You don't know what it is and you feel too frightened to think about it. But you've
only just been made aware of it. Can you stay with it just a little while and see how it feels?'
In Tia's calm presence, with Tia looking at her and speaking so quietly, Lynn felt her
fear being contained. The thudding of her heart began to slow down and she took a deep breath.
‘Yes. It's something to do with going away and being frightened. It's too vague and indistinct to
pinpoint now, and to be honest, I can't face thinking about it here. Maybe it will come clearer later.
I've got too much else to think about now, ' she added pointedly.
‘Hmm. What do you want to do?'
‘Like I said, I think it might come clearer, but not here.' The thought of it coming
clearer, elsewhere, when she was not with Tia, filled Lynn with new alarm. She tried with all her
might to think what it might be now, while Tia was with her, but without success. Her mind
refused to engage. It was clinging like a monkey to the patterned wallpaper behind Tia's head. She
refocused on Tia and looked at her appealingly.
‘Sometimes things like this, once we become aware that they're there, just start coming
into our mind bit by bit and we begin to build up a picture. Do you feel able to wait and see what
Again, Tia's calm acceptance of what seemed to Lynn to be a completely bizarre
experience reassured her. Tia could handle this coolly. So could she. She nodded. ‘But how long
will it take?'
Tia made a ‘you tell me' sort of gesture. Then she said slowly, as if thinking aloud.
‘You can either come to see me in a week's time, or in six weeks. What I can do is keep the next
week's slot open for you, if you want to take it up. If you don't turn up, I will assume that you will
be coming in January and send you an appointment accordingly. You'll appreciate that I can't keep
a space open for you indefinitely,' she added.
Again, Lynn was touched. Tia seemed to really want to help her. ‘Can you do that
though? I mean, keep it open like that? Are you allowed?'
Tia gave her a look. ‘Yes, I believe I am allowed to do that,' was all she said.
Lynn felt immensely comforted. Somehow, this being allowed to choose when to
come, and the fact that Tia would keep the session time free for her next week, even if she chose
not to turn up seemed to make a difference. She didn't feel quite so hopeless now.
‘OK,' she said more happily. Another thought struck her. ‘Suppose I remember and
you're not there?'
‘That seems likely,' Tia agreed. ‘Why don't you write it down?'
Write it down! Another good idea. ‘I could send it to you. When I write things down
it's like I'm talking to you.'
‘You can if you like. But bear in mind that I'm not around after the end of next week.'
‘Oh, no.' Lynn had forgotten. The icy hand that had relaxed its hold on her heart
tightened it again. She looked at Tia and received strength. ‘You'll get it eventually though, won't
you, when you get back?'
‘Oh yes,' said Tia reassuringly, ‘I'll get it then.' A cheering thought struck Lynn. She
imagined herself writing a letter to Tia which she would eventually get, but then finding she had
more to say and writing another one. Then another. Tia might get enough for a book by the time
she got back, and she would have to read them all. This struck her as so ludicrous that she chuckled
out loud. ‘What's the joke?' said Tia. So she told her, and Tia looked amused too.
After that, they sat in silence for a while. Lynn kept going to say things, and Tia raised
her eyebrows and looked alert, and then Lynn's mind cut out and she couldn't think what to say.
She was too drained to think clearly now. And she'd had so much to say! She had planned to tell
Tia more about her mother, and now, for some reason, her mother was the last person she wanted to
talk about. She couldn't even think about her. It was very odd, considering how much she loved
her mother and how proud she was of her.
Lynn watched the minutes ticking by in silence, and wished she could save them all in a
bottle and just pour them out in another time and another place when she wanted them, minutes of
her and Tia that she could use properly when she had something that she really wanted to say. And
then it struck her that, whether the time was spent in silence or talking, it was still ticking away, and
what did it matter because soon it would be over whatever happened. And she could never say
everything she wanted to anyway because no matter what she talked about, the moment the door
closed behind her she would remember things that she really wished she'd said instead and it would
be too late. And she told Tia this, and Tia looked sympathetic and nodded, and then Lynn and Tia
looked at each other again and it occurred to Lynn, that actually there were worse ways of spending
the time she had left with Tia than by looking at each other - they could be arguing for instance. So
Lynn told Tia this too, and Tia agreed.
But the time seemed, weirdly, to drag, in a way that it never had before. Lynn couldn't
ask Tia any questions, and she couldn't talk about her mother, so she talked a bit about Sandra and
Chris again, and Tia listened carefully and made some interesting observations, but she seemed very
content to leave the running to Lynn and it wasn't at all what Lynn had in mind. Lynn looked at the
clock a lot. ‘I didn't think it would be like this,' she said.
‘I don't suppose you did,' Tia replied. And eventually, Lynn felt too worn out to talk -
even to Tia, who seemed to understand everything she said. Her brain felt numb. Everything
seemed to be happening in slow motion, and she couldn't help wondering, deep inside, what it was
she'd forgotten, and whether it was really so awful. Because here in this calm quiet place, with Tia
looking at her, it didn't seem as if it could be so very bad.
Eventually, when there was still some time to go, Lynn warmed up, and began to talk a
bit about Lauren, and she mentioned the cancer again and Tia said 'Mmm', evidently making the
connection between that and Lynn's earlier remark. And the mere mention of Lauren's name had a
cheering effect on Lynn and she found herself glad to talk about her - she really hardly mentioned
the cancer - and Tia seemed to enjoy hearing about it and nodded a lot as she listened as though to
say that Lauren must indeed be as nice as Lynn said she was. Tia didn't once intervene or be
challenging or directive. Lynn was quite thankful. In one way it seemed a waste not to be on the
receiving end of Tia's insights which usually made her think, but truly she was so tired and she
didn't think she could have coped with very much along those lines. Tia seemed so
uncharacteristically gentle and everything seemed so unreal - all kind of running together - that she
would not have been surprised to find that she had fallen asleep and dreamt the whole thing.
And finally Tia said, ‘Our time is up for today, Lynn' and they both stood up. As they
moved across the room, she added, ‘I'll keep next week open for you, and we'll see what happens.'
‘Thank you,' said Lynn. ‘And I’ll write to you if I remember anything.' Then she
walked out through the door.
* * *
The feeling of unreality stayed with Lynn all that night and the next day. She kept puzzling at what
it was she couldn't remember, lost in her own interior thoughts, teaching on autopilot and engaging
in conversations quite mechanically. By Friday evening, Mark was quite worried.
‘Are you sure you don't want to come tonight? I don't like leaving you at home like
this. You enjoyed the Works Do last year, they always get a good band.'
‘No, honestly. I'm going to have a shower and an early night. I've just been a bit under
the weather lately. I'll be fine.'
‘Well, phone me if you need me. I wish you'd let me stay home with you. I can't say I
won't be late, because you know how these things go on. Look, are you sure you don't want to
‘Positive. I just don't feel like dancing, but there's no point in us both missing it. Go
on, have a good time. You know you'll enjoy it when you get there. Now push off, you're keeping
me from my shower.'
Lynn's sparkiness seemed to reassure him, and he left, not without a last backward
glance. Lynn gave a big smile and waved encouragingly. He laughed and closed the door behind
him. She sighed with relief.
Lynn had a long, hot shower, as though she could never tire of the feeling of the warmth
penetrating her skin. Theirs was an old shower, fitted over the bath, but it was surprisingly
efficient. It was while she was reaching for the towel, in a state of dreamy relaxedness, her mind
finally switched off, that it happened.
As Lynn pulled the towel off the top of the shower curtain rail, the edge of it caught a
little bowl on a ledge in the tiling and knocked it over, spilling the bright glass pebbles, red and
purple and blue, all over the bottom of the bath. Lynn looked down, felt her irritation turn without
warning to a vast, swelling dread as she saw them shining there. She heard a hoarse voice –
‘Animal!' and it seemed as though the very ceiling was caving in on her. Something terrible and
frightening was in the bathroom with her. She gasped, felt her bowels turn to water and hardly
knowing what she was doing, struggled out of the bath and fled.
Lynn flung open the door of the bedroom and stepped into the dark. As she groped for
the switch, which seemed to take longer than usual to find, the darkness and the colder air on her
wet, naked body seemed to have a horribly familiar feel. She pulled the towel around her and tried
to control her breathing, which was coming in ragged gasps. In the midst of the panic was a feeling
of utter bewilderment. What was going on?
The bedroom was not the place to be. Even with the light on it was dark with terror.
Lynn snatched at her dressing gown and made a dash for the living room where she dragged it
uncomfortably over her still wet body and, teeth chattering, collapsed into the sofa.
Her whirling thoughts were so chaotically unpleasant that she totally blanked them out,
concentrating instead on staring fiercely round the room as though committing every detail to
memory. Never had the ornaments on the mantlepiece, the lampshade, the waste-bin, the blank TV
screen been scrutinised so thoroughly. Lynn's mind, her mental being, was no longer in her head, it
was attached to everything around her. Gradually, the heat from the gas fire began to penetrate her
chilled body, but still she refused to allow any thought in that was connected with whatever had just
As Lynn looked at the sideboard it registered that the drink was kept there. She willed
herself to visualise clearly every bottle behind the frosted glass of the door, lingering on the squat
shape of a large, dark bottle. What was that? - relief engulfed her as she recognised it as a bottle of
Moving disjointedly, as though she was drunk already, Lynn got the bottle and shakily
half filled a tumbler with it. She gulped it down. She was surprised at how easy it was, she'd
thought she'd hate it. Halfway through the third tumbler, she began to gag and realised she would
have to change drinks - the sweet taste was proving too much for her.
What to, though? Lynn looked at the open door and pondered each one in turn. There
was wine in the rack in the kitchen, but she couldn't get her head round fetching it and uncorking it.
Hang on! There was Mark's malt whiskey, that would do. Not her tipple of choice but any port in a
storm, ha ha! Why did she feel sick? And why was it harder to move? She paused to consider, and
a wave of terror that came from nowhere caused her to scuttle disconnectedly towards the sideboard
and slam against it as she reached towards the malt.
Ouch! That hurt! The pain in her shoulder served to clear her head momentarily and
she extracted the bottle and carried it with exaggerated caution back to her nest on the sofa. She
curled up on it and poured herself a stiff one. The Bailey's glass would do . . .
* * *
'Lynn, wake up! What the hell happened last night?' Lynn felt herself rising upwards from a deep
dark place into a world of light and colour that sent excruciating pains stabbing through her head.
She felt absolutely terrible. She opened her eyes a fraction and squinted at Mark, who was bending
over her shaking her. She had no clothes on and she was in bed. How had she got there? But it
was Mark who was asking the questions - but also supplying answers.
'I got in last night at two o'clock to find you completely blotto on the carpet in front of
the fire with my malt whiskey all over the place. And you'd thrown up everywhere. How you
never burnt the bloody place down I'll never know. And what about the mess in the bathroom?
What . . .happened?'
Lynn began to shake her head to clear it. Mistake. She concentrated on lying still.
'Mark, I don't know. I remembered something. I . . .I had a shock. I had a little drink.'
'Big drink then! I don't remember. Leave me alone!'
'Leave you alone! That's what I did last night and look what happened! I can't leave you
alone for five minutes! What's happening? It's like looking after a sodding baby! I've had it Lynn,
I've had it!'
'Oh, shut up, will you! I'm not interested! Eff off! Just bloody eff off, damn you! I'm
sick of you!' The message ended in a scream. Lynn had half sat up in bed to deliver it and now she
sank back, her head throbbing exponentially.
Mark was dumbfounded. Lynn had never spoken to him like that before, as though she
hated, really hated . . . him? This was another Lynn he'd never met. How many more were there?
He was out of his league now. He felt fear shiver down his spine.
Lynn recovered first. 'Sorry, sorry!' she said wearily. I've had a hell of a night. What
time is it?'
She sounded normal. But he couldn't forget what she'd said.
'Half past one.'
'In the afternoon?' Lynn was amazed. 'Oh I'm sorry!' she said again. Again she
sounded so normal. This was scary. These mood swings were getting worse – much worse. Where
would it end? 'Mark, I had such a bad memory. Something from my childhood. Something I've
got to think about, to process. I'd completely forgotten it ever happened, until last night.'
Mark was silent. Inwardly he was raging – bad memories from her childhood? - it was
that bloody therapist again! None of this would have happened if she hadn't come on the scene! Or
would it? He said, as neutrally as he could, 'Bad memory?'
'Oh yes! Mark, it was awful. I can only remember bits and pieces, impressions . . . ' as
she spoke, Mark could see her trembling. She sat up, clutching the duvet to her, staring at
something he could not see. Despite himself, pity overtook him.
'Do you want a cup of tea?'
Lynn came to, breathed out and regarded him. There were still tears of fear in her eyes.
She made an effort to smile and speak normally. 'Oh yes!' And a big glass of water. And some
aspirin. Thanks!' As he went to get them, he could see her struggling again with thoughts he
could not see.
Lynn got up that evening and crawled delicately into the living room, which now had a
distinct aroma of air freshener. Jumbled images and words were tumbling over and over in her
brain but this time she was trying to let them come, containing their terrifying potential for
destruction by imagining them writhing like demons in a glass bottle that Tia was holding.
Mark had asked Lynn what she wanted to do that night, and she had truthfully said that
she wanted to be on her own to try to recall what had happened. Mark had not wanted to leave her
alone, so they had compromised. Mark had gone round to watch the match on Sky at Christian's
and had said he would phone a couple of times that evening to see if she was all right. This had
infuriated Lynn almost beyond endurance, and she had only just managed to control it by saying
that she would phone him instead. Fortunately, Mark had agreed. Guilt at what she was putting
him through was only outweighed by the anger she felt at his inability to trust her, and, above all,
his total refusal to listen to her or to understand what was happening inside her head. That was
what it felt like. Still, that was Mark. She knew deep down he cared.
Armed with a pen and pad, Lynn began to jot down words and then phrases at random
as they occurred to her. As she did so, she began to cry. This took quite a long time. When she
had finished she phoned Mark, sat back exhausted and dozed fitfully for an hour. Then she came
to, looked at what she had written, and decided to go to bed. Feeling very virtuous, she phoned and
told Mark that as well, then went to bed and crashed out.
* * *
The next morning, Lynn surfaced from sleep to find that her mind had beaten her to it. It had
clearly woken up some time previously and was already in gear. She fetched the jumbled notes of
the night before and began reading through them. Now they made sense; somehow the night's sleep
had helped her to remember more details, things she hardly knew she'd remembered. She got up
and went though to the lounge. Sitting on the sofa, she began typing, clarifying, expanding. Except
for welcome offers of tea or coffee, Mark left her mercifully undisturbed. By 3 o'clock it was ready
to post to Tia. She checked it one last time.
Dear Tia she read,
I' had an accident in the bathroom the other night which reminded me of something that happened
when I was about four. You remember I'd told you my Mum was very ill at that time. Well, here's
what happened. She described the incident in the bathroom, and continued:
It was in our first house. My mother was giving me a bath. As I stood up for her to dry
me, I saw an ornament on a shelf. It was really ugly - I think a sort of clown thing my mother had
got from somewhere - you know that Venetian glass, all purple and red. I picked it up and my
mother got very upset. She kept telling me to put it down. I think she thought I'd drop it. Well, I did
drop it - it slipped through my fingers and shattered into the bath.
My Mum was very upset and shouted that I'd done it on purpose, and I said the first
thing that came into my head - nothing's changed, has it? I said, ‘Don't be so stupid.' I didn't
know it was a bad thing to say, my mother said it to me all the time.
Lynn paused to regroup. This was so hard to read. Images of her mother that evening
swam up into view and she fought them down, looking around the room for something else to
focus on. She summoned her resources and read on:
It made my Mum very angry. She grabbed my arm with one hand to hold me still and
started to smack me hard. She's never done that before and it hurt. I was so frightened that it made
me do something even more stupid. I turned my head and bit her hand as she held my upper arm.
And that made something really horrible happen, it made my mum change into another person.
Well, that's what it felt like. She went into a sort of a frenzy then – she couldn't stop. She didn't
even look like my mother any more, her face was all red and twisted, and her breath was coming in
gasps. And it hurt so much, and there was nothing I could do, I tried to wriggle and pull away,
Lynn stopped reading for a little break. The page she was looking at was shaking and it
seemed to be rather blurry too. She stared fiercely at the picture over the fireplace and concentrated
on breathing evenly. After a few minutes she resumed reading.
‘. . . but there was no escape. I don't know how long she did it for. It felt like forever. I
could feel a warmth running down the inside of my legs, I was so frightened I had wet myself. Then
she stopped but it still kept hurting, and she was panting with exertion and she said, ‘You animal,
you’re an animal! You bite, you wet yourself like an animal.’ And then she said, "Look, you've
made me hurt my hand on you," and she made me look at her hand and it was all red, and I felt so
bewildered then because I had thought that it was me that was hurting. And then she clutched at
her stomach and sort of screamed out, ‘And you've made my pain come back!" and she grabbed me
out of the bath, wet as I was, and sort of threw me into my bedroom and it was dark, and she said,
"Stay there until I say you can come out - I don't want to see you again until you’re a human being
again." And she went downstairs and I just didn’t know what to do. I wanted her, but she didn’t
want me. I was in another place, that's the only way I can describe it - I was in another place.
Lynn considered this. It seemed rather a strange thing to say but it was the only way
she could think of to explain how she felt. Come to think of it, that was rather how she felt now.
This was some other little girl she was writing about, not her. What happened to the little girl next?
She read on with interest.
'After a while I crawled into bed as I was and I could hear her moaning and crying
downstairs. I lay awake in the dark for what seemed forever, but I must have fallen asleep because
the next thing I knew someone was waking me up – but it wasn't my Mum, it was the next door
neighbour. My Mum had gone and I was taken to stay with my Auntie OGwen in Wales. I learned
later that my mother had been rushed into hospital in the night with a perforated appendix.
‘I didn't see my mother for six weeks because there were complications - peritonitis set
in and they thought she was going to die. And I thought she was going to die, because I had made
her hurt her hand, and I had made her pain come back, and if she had died, I knew that it would
have been my fault, I would have killed her. And she would have died not liking me because I had
purposely broken her ornament and said she was stupid and bitten her and I was an animal, not a
proper human being at all. How could she like me? How could anyone like me?
Anyway, I had a nice time at my Auntie Gwen's. She had three kids, all quite a bit older
than me and they all made a fuss of me. I guess they didn't know all those bad things about me,
otherwise they wouldn't have. I don't remember their names but I remember that I sat on people's
laps a lot, and was given lots of sweets. I had a happy time there.
Lynn smiled as she read that bit, then continued.
'After six weeks my Mum came back and she was very thin and pale and I didn't
recognise her at first, but she was very loving and so pleased to see me, and I was pleased to see
her too. But it was funny because I couldn't forget that somehow I had made her go away, and a
sort of monster person ihad come n her place,and I couldn't help wondering if the monster was still
there inside her and if it would come back if I was naughty again. And I was always a bit scared
after that because I knew I was very powerful and I could scare people and nearly kill them
without even trying. So I might do something by accident to make my mum go away again and
then she might never come back. So I was always very careful then to get it right and not to say or
do anything to make the monster come back or to hurt my Mum – I'm not sure which. That’s how
it seemed to me then, anyway.
Lynn sighed as she read this. She couldn't help feeling sorry for the little girl in the
story, though actually she wasn't sure if she liked her either. She seemed a very stupid little girl,
though Lynn wasn't sure why she thought this. The letter appeared to have been written a bit
childishly too, but that couldn't be helped. Anyway, it was all over now. That little girl, whoever
she was, had gone. Lynn couldn't help feeling glad. She reread the final paragraph.
Anyway, you'll appreciate I feel a bit weird remembering all this, Tia, and I think I
would like to see you sooner rather than later, so unless you hear anything from me to the contrary,
I'll see you next week as you said I could.
Lynn chewed her lip. Only a few more days and then - no more. She couldn't believe
it. She could only hope that the strange anaesthetic effect of the last few days would last a long
time and keep her numb and light-headed. That way she would be able to cope.
She signed the letter simply, ‘Lynn'; debated on scrawling ‘Thanks for everything' or
‘I really appreciate all you've done' and decided to save it for a farewell card. She folded the letter
and put it in an envelope. She would go out for a walk and post it later. Right now she needed to
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