“To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.” Lord Byron
Losing all dignity, I am dragged slowly across the uneven floor. The rough, filthy carpet scratches harshly against my rubbery face as the boy tenderly, silently steps towards the decaying window. I can feel the fear emanating from the core of his being: I am not the victim here.
I shan’t repeat the screaming swearing his parents threw at each other. The expletives flew across the room quick enough to cut skin and penetrate the soul before self-defence was possible. It would’ve been a shocking attack for a thirty year old, let alone a five year old.
Flinching back from the sight, he searches desperately for a place to hide. There isn’t anywhere.
No furniture, no cupboards, all of his favoured hiding places don’t exist here. In blind terror he runs to the lone furnishings, two tattered, opaque net curtains. They appear to have been sliced by the fingers of a blade, or ripped by the pure anger of a previous visitor. Nonetheless he saw them as a solace from the danger and burrows into what’s left of them, forcing me to come with him for protection, for reassurance. As he attempts to conceal us in the disintegrating folds, their putrid smell burns a brand into our nostrils: “inadequate” it reads, echoing the views of his parents and society whenever they look upon our scraggly, matted hair and ill-fitting clothes.
However, it was a slight haven from the open confrontation of the world
and gradually I heard the decrease and quietening of his heartbeat to a more natural level, quiet enough so that we could hear a door slam and a car drive hastily away outside, setting it racing, pirouetting again.
Now truly alone, the silence weighed down on our small shoulders, menacingly encompassing us instead of offering a friendly difference. Behind me, his breathing stopped, held in by nervousness, unreasonable self-inflicted punishment and fear for the inevitable pain of what would happen next. The heaving gags ripple almost uncontrollably through him, showing his body’s desperation for oxygen, but he will not give in, this I know. I can hear the voices ringing around his head, echoing his parents’ cruel words “you deserve this.” Five more minutes and his body would force him to let go of the only thing he can control in his desperate life, sagging
victoriously into a faint against the wall and inhaling deeply. Only then would the mask of tension fall from his pain-stricken face.
I wait until the moment has arrived.
My opportunity has come. I shall put him out of his misery now, take away the pain entirely, for he has endured it far too long. He will thank me later, I know it. All those sleep-deprived years will be recompensed now and he’ll be free to live a pain-free childhood.
Easing my podgy body from his slackened grip, sitting up and panting for a moment for it has been so long since I’ve moved that my body has seized up and the effort of it is excruciating.
Summoning my strength, I focus on what needs to be done and slowly slip my hands around his neck, using my bandana to choke the breath, the life, from him. His body suddenly erupts into life, arms wind-milling, flailing, failing to stop the assailant. Failing to stop me. He “never tries hard enough”, my thoughts quote his parents as he finally gives in.
Now I drag myself slowly across the uneven floor, its rough, filthy carpet scratching my porcelain legs. Reaching the open window, I haul myself up, over the threshold and plunge into the unknown of the car park below. I shall join you now; you will never be without your favourite dolly...
(c) Tesni Penney