Price Of Love

Entry by: Briergate

15th February 2017
Mostly, it’s very dark. He’s put some sort of tape up against the window, so I can stay hidden. I’m OK, though. I know the rules. He’s been kind, mostly. He’s explained that I’m to be very, very quiet, or I’ll get us all into trouble.

He’s written a list, and sometimes when I’ve been bored over the oast few days, I read it through again. I’m good at reading; Mrs. Parks at school says I am, and sometimes when mums come in and hear me read, they give me a red star. That means, good.

So, I’ve read the list a billion trillion times. I can probably say it out loud now without looking, if I screw my eyes up shut against the dark, and keep the white, square image of his spidery handwriting at the front of my eyelids. His writing isn’t cursive. We do cursive at school, and even though it looks like a spider pegging it in a frenzy across the page, I’m not too bad at that either. His writing wouldn’t get a red star. Not even a white one.

• DO not go near the window
• If you hear the doorbel ring, clime back under the bed
• DO NOT play your music unless it’s through your headphones
• DO NOT shout me, if you hear voices
• DO NOT make crumbs, or pee, or leave anything out when you go back to hide
• Do not walk about in the room unless you know NO ONE AT ALL can here you
• Pee in the upstairs bog, but DO NOT FLUSH and I will do it when I come back
• DO NOT sing, shout, or make noise.

There are things about the list that I’m not that chuffed about. Like, me Mam gave me a bollocking when I spell words like ‘climb’ wrong. Climb is a tricky word, Mrs. Parks says. It’s got a funny thing on the end, a B that you need to remember. I don’t get why. It’s like, if you’re doing something outside like playing, and a bee comes along, and you have to all of a sudden include it in the game; as if it belongs there. Maybe, I’m a bit like a bee. I really don’t think I belong here, but I know it’s just a game, and I’ll be allowed out soon.

I’m OK, though. It’s not so bad. I miss Mam, but I think whatever it is I’m doing here isn’t because I’ve been bad, but because we’re on an adventure, and it’s a game, and I’m the very middle of it. It’s nice, in a bored sort of way. Sometimes, I can feel invisible at home. The littlies are a pain, and I get fed up with them being the middle of it all, all the time. I’m not that great with nappies, or ponytails, but I do it all because even though they’re royal pains, they’re alright really.

I don’t like the bed I sleep under. It’s well boring, this room. There’s crappy wallpaper with mouldy bits on it, and it’s not even a decent colour like what I’ve got at home. I don’t mind Mike too much, but the other day, he climbed into the space under the bed with me and made me be quiet. More quiet even than all the other days. I didn’t like being crowded in with him, and he smelled scared; as if he was giving off this smell of cold, dark afraid. Usually, Mike’s all about larking about, but when the Bad Men came in, he seemed smaller. He fit under the bed with me, and I pushed myself up to the edge and concentrated completely on breathing really quiet.

They went away, and then Uncle Mike was OK, and went back to normal. There was nothing left to show that he’d been afraid apart from a small, sharp smell when he hugged me. I felt better, then.
I wish he wouldn’t tie me up. It doesn’t hurt, but I get hot and panicky when I think that I might need to go for a pee. I’m OK, though. I can come out of the space under the bed. I’ve got my ipod, and I listen to songs, but I can’t walk very far or get to the edge of the room.

But, I’ve looked at it all. I’ve looked a lot. I see the edges, the carpet, when I’m back under the bed. There’s this brown stripe along the side of the wall. I know how that stripe gets there. It’s the same at our house. When you clean the floor, there’s this funny bit where the dog hair and crap can’t get sucked up. I quite like it. I quite like that it’s the same here, in this dingy room, as at home. Sometimes, my little sister plays with the stripe, She’ll get a car and ‘vroom’ along the grey bit, like it’s a road. I’m too old for that, but I sort of get it.

Under the bed, in my space, it smells grey. When you first get in, it’s scarey, and too dark. At home, we’ve got these circles that light up at night, because my little sister gets scared if she can’t see. She still wets the bed, so she doesn’t get out, but if she opens her eyes and I don’t wake up straight away, she gets freaked out. I feel a bit like that sometimes, here.

When the Bad Men went away and I’d stayed quiet, Uncle Mike treated me. I got a McDonalds Happy Meal. It smelt amazing, and tasted better because I knew I got it because I’d done everything right.

Under the bed, in my grey space, sometimes I count. I only do it in my head. I’m being really grown up, now. I’m learning. When I was little. Me Mam hit me sometimes because I was bad, but I know that since I came in here, I’ve been good. I pee in the right place. Sometimes I’ve felt a bit scared and a bit alone, so I’ve peed in my sleep in the grey space. I don’t mean it, though, and Uncle Mike hasn’t been angry about it. Maybe, my peeing here is the same as him sweating out his panic next to me. I get it, and maybe he does.

I’m OK. Uncle Mike brings me food, and I get sweets as long as I remember to hide the packets. In the grey space, there’s a whole load of wrappers now. I sort of like sleeping there now, because I don’t get all that at home. Helping Mam and Uncle Mike is OK. I know I’m going to make her happy.

I have a secret. Sometimes. When Uncle Mike has gone, and everything is quiet, I get massively bored. Sometimes, I sit in the corner, and I looks at the striped wallpaper, and I’ll just sort of get a corner and pull it. It feels sort of damp. It pulls like bog roll in a wet shower. I pull it, and it gets up my nails, and it smells different.

When Uncle Mike comes in, I scotch back up to the bed, and then he does this quiet thing; he sort of nods his head at me. He holds the mattress up, and I go back inside. I don’t cry when he ties me up. He gives me pills and they make everything hazy, and OK. I sleep a lot. All I need to do, now, is carry on being Shannon, but quietly.

Maybe I’m learning a lot. Maybe, I’m learning more than good reading, and cursive. Me Mam is going to be chuffed with me. Maybe after, when I get out, I can be proud, and she’ll be proud too. I just want to help her. I want her to hold me, and think I’m the whole, whole, wide world.

There’s noise again, downstairs. I’m climbing into the grey space, hiding myself; hiding my hope.

I'm OK.