Monster and Gown
Do you think I wake up in the morning, look up from my coffee and think to myself ‘let me see here, which one will it be today?’ I don’t. I don’t have to. The day will go on and one of them will do something. Anything. Something left out of place. Meals not cooked or served on time. Not the right temperature or flavour combination. Hiding around the house, pretending to attend to things.
What purpose have I for them if not to wait on me like a king? I’m sick and tired of putting up with this type of unacceptable behaviour. How they have the audacity, the absolute nerve to ask me why. Why? Why the fuck do they think?! I take them in, Her and her ugly little pest of a daughter.
I take them in, provide for them and She treats me like I am stupid. She thinks I don’t see Her, I don’t hear Her. I do, I hear Her, I hear them. I always hear them. I hear everything. She deserves it. And they wonder why I drink. Do you think I would need to come down here every day, drink the contents of a bottle of whiskey until you can see straight through it, until I can see double of it, if I had a decent woman at home waiting for me? It’s a fucking tragedy.
Her sorry self, with her fatherless child, her bastard child. Poor kid is so desperate for love that she still thinks that I am the greatest. She’s got this new thing where she calls me daddy and follows me around like a lost puppy. Well she is no child of mine, not my blood I will tell you that. Fucking four eyed little gremlin.
What she is, is an inconvenience. She ran away from me today. It was my turn to pick her up from school. I instructed her, very clearly, that she was to finish school and walk with the landlady’s child and meet me here, at the Bar. Do you think the petulant little bitch listened? Two hours I wasted, looking for her. I went to the school, looking like a fool. I looked everywhere, every corner of the neighbourhood, all the playgrounds. I would have gone around to her friends’ houses, had she any. Then it dawned on me, finally. The childminder. And that is exactly where I found her.
Cowering behind the sofa, like I’m some kind of fucking monster. She came kicking and screaming and begging the hippie to not let me take her. The utter embarrassment. The woman looked uncomfortable, but she knows me as the father, she had no choice but to let me take the child. It cried all the way home. I don’t know how many times I had to yell “Quiet!”. But it was once we were back at home, behind closed doors that she took it too far.
She knows better than to stay silent when she’s being spoken to. She just ignored me. I asked her what the fuck she thought she was doing, hiding from me. She just sobbed, first silently, then louder and louder. She wouldn’t stop. She wouldn’t answer me back. The louder I yelled, the louder she cried. She left me with no fucking choice. I left her there. Her limp body laying on the tiled kitchen floor. She’ll be fine. She needs some discipline in her life. Her mother is too soft with her, you know? Ah, what do you know? You’re just a barmaid. The kid needs to learn.
I was very brave today. I ran away. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to leave Mum behind. But I was very scared. He told me to meet Ana at the school gates and walk home with her. Not our home though. Her home. Ana lives above the Bar. He drinks there almost every day. He said he had to look after me until Mum finished work. But I don’t like it when he drinks. He’s very mean.
I thought I had bought myself enough time until Mum came home. But he figured it out. He found me before Dragon Ball Z had even finished. I am only five, and we haven’t lived here for very long. It’s a very small place. I don’t have any friends and the only other adult I know is my childminder, Lucile. Lucile was very surprised when I rang the doorbell today. I told her Mum must have forgotten to tell her I was coming today. I don’t know if she believed me, but she let me in anyway. She made me chocolate milk and let me watch cartoons in the living room.
I knew I was in trouble when the doorbell rang again though. And I definitely knew I was in trouble when I saw him. The veins on his head looked angry. He was very angry. I was very scared. I cried. I begged Lucile to let me stay. She looked very sorry, but she said that he was my Dad and I had to go home with him. But the thing is, he’s not my Dad. Not really.
I was born before my mum met him, so I have another Dad. But he didn’t want me. I only call Him daddy because all the other kids have a Mum and a Dad. And Mum is having another baby with him. So, he will be my baby brother’s Dad. He was very nice in the beginning and took me to the playground and bought me dolls and ice cream. I wanted him to be my Dad. But I don’t anymore. He hits Mum a lot.
They go in the living room a lot, and he always locks the door so I can’t go in and he always leaves blue and yellow circles on her skin and makes her cry. Mum always says: “If we stay in the living room for too long and it’s quiet, go out into the street and ask for help.” But I’m only five. I shouldn’t talk to strangers. I want to ask for help now. His hands are tight around my neck, like a snake. I can feel my hair brushing the ceiling and then it all goes dark. And it’s cold.
You are not my daughter, not born from me, or carry my family’s blood. I suppose that is why I could never connect to you. Yet you adored me deeply, it repulsed me. Your brother, my heir, that is my pride and joy. But as I look back on my life, I fear it is with you that lies most of my regret. Your brother was too young, the last time I saw him he was days away from his second birthday. He will not remember anything. You, however, you will remember everything. Won’t you?
They say those are the most formative years of your life and I fear I ruined your childhood. You must think of me as a monster. But I was just a very sick man, and the drink didn’t help. If only you could see me now. Sometimes, I think about just turning up, one day, unannounced, but the reality is none of you would even recognise me. I found all of you online. I often look at the little information your private profile provides, mainly your profile picture updates. Your brother is a different matter, it’s hard to keep up with his ever-emerging new profiles.
If he’s anything like me at his age, he will create a new account and promptly forget the password forever. I lost count of how many e-mail addresses I had in my twenties. I hope he is like me, he certainly looks like me. I know I have made mistakes, but god knows I have paid for them along the years. I hope your brother knows that. I wonder if your Mother has poisoned him against me. I could never blame her. He will soon be arriving at his eighteenth birthday. He will be a man and able to make decisions of his own. I will try to engage in contact with him at this time.
I assume you have told him horror stories from those days. I wonder how skewered your memory is. Did you tell him about the time you fainted? I didn’t even hit you. I thought better of it. Didn’t I? I left you alone and went to the Bar. Your mother wouldn’t forgive me that time, that offence. Not her precious girl. But it was you, you ran away. You disobeyed me. You lost me my heir, my precious son. But still you were a child, you had seen so much, of course you would dramatize the situation. You would have said anything to get your Mother away from me.
That is my deepest regret, what I did to your Mother, a good woman, beaten black and blue, trapped, weak. I regret the way I treated her, and I regret making you watch.
I guess, it all started two weeks ago. I came home from work and I could feel the tension in the house as soon as I walked through the door. It was heavy on the shoulders and in the pit of your stomach. I found Mum upstairs, as usual, sat on the toilet with the door wide open. Only she wasn’t playing games on her phone or filing her nails, as usual.
She looked withdrawn. Puffy red eyes. My heart sank. Then I panicked. I imagined the worst. But in the end, there was no reason for panic. “Your brother’s father has died.” He was found dead in his home, after being “missing” for three days. Heart attack. My heart sank again. This time for my brother. I raced downstairs, through the house, into my brother’s bedroom extension.
He seemed fine. He looked sad, but much like his father, the only feeling he can express is anger. The rest gets thrown back, into the bottom of a bottle, piling up, building walls around him as tall as he is. That’s over six foot, none of us stand a chance. We smoked a lot that night. We got high in silence. I was just simply there, in the only way I knew how. In the only way he would allow me to be.
We’ve always had a strained relationship, my brother and I. I have always secretly hated how much he reminds me of his father. Of course, he has no idea of what his father was really like, of the pain he inflicted on Mum. And I would never want to haunt him with those memories or taint his own personal version of his father. I know how big of a hole growing up fatherless left in his heart.
I remember desperately wanting to meet my own father when I was a girl, to know what he looked like, to know who he was, to know where the other half of me came from. But my brother feels things more intensely, I know he has suffered not having his father around and now losing the chance to ever have him.
He and Mum flew over for the funeral last week, they were taken to his house, my brother got first digs of anything there. I think he felt a little closure. Yesterday I came home from work and found Mum on the sofa, curtains drawn close, crying in the darkness, unconsolably. I panicked. When she told me that it was over the recent death, I just couldn’t fathom it. Why? Why was she crying? Why was she sad?
We had an explosive row. She said I was cold hearted. Turns out he had left me a letter. Mum found it, an envelope with my name written in calligraphy. She said I should read it. I said she was weak. This man beat her for years, he hit me once. Didn’t he? In fact, I’m sure he strangled me. I was around five years old, and then he left me passed out on the kitchen floor to go drinking in a Bar. How does a letter make any of that okay?
How the hell can she be sad that he is dead? Or is she right?
Am I heartless?
Am I being irrational?
So, to answer your question, I am here because I need help. I’m graduating soon, hat and gown and all, I’ve accomplished so much in my life, so why is it that even though he is now dead, the monster inside my head is still very much alive?