You and I
18 April 2019
Sometimes it feels like the past is rushing past; Marina Johnson responds to A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
- I remember you and I being made to sit on my great-grandfather’s lap. I remember his hands being terrifying, old, wrinkled and so soft. When he died and I felt glad I would not have to touch his hand again.
- In nursery they have stapled my favourite dress from the box to the wall for this week’s colour. RED. I hide under the table and refuse to come out until my you find me.
- Father has stopped going on work trips. There are mutterings over your and my heads about whether they will take away the company car.
- I am at school, and I have to have a name label on my desk because I cannot spell my name. Shame burns my cheeks.
- I am sat down with my mother. “You know your father is not normal”. It confirms what I knew in my bones. I am 13.
- “If you don’t make out with a woman before the age of 14 you will become a lesbian” is whispered at the lunch table. I stare into my butter chicken.
- I ace my exams. You look me in the eye like you have never seen me before. Dad hasn’t worked in years now.
- You and I leave. We try and flee home. We try to out-Northern each other. I win.
- Sleep is for the weak. There are so many people to meet so many things to do. Father cannot cook any more.
- You finish uni, postgrad, and get a real job. I drop out of uni, and start applications.
- You stay at home, to help out with Dad. I start a new uni.
- Father goes to the doctor. He starts meds.
- Father gets a carer.
Image credit: Beatrice Debney