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Conversations With Tia

Conversations With Tia

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Published by LouiseVanstone
When Lynn sees a therapist on the National Health for help with depression after a miscarriage, more comes to light than she had bargained for.
As she struggles to make sense of her life, chaos seems to invade it from every angle. Will she make it through?
When Lynn sees a therapist on the National Health for help with depression after a miscarriage, more comes to light than she had bargained for.
As she struggles to make sense of her life, chaos seems to invade it from every angle. Will she make it through?

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Published by: LouiseVanstone on Feb 10, 2013
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Sections

  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 14
  • Chapter 15
  • Chapter 16
  • Chapter 17
  • Chapter 18
  • Chapter 19
  • Chapter 20
  • Chapter 21
  • Chapter 22

‘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

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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

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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

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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.'

‘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.

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‘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

happens?'

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

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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.

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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.

* * *

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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

come?'

‘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

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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

happened.

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

Baileys.

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

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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.'

'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

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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.

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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

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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

241

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

242

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

lie down.

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