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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Father has stopped going on work trips. There are mutterings over your and my heads about whether they will take away the company car.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. “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.
  7. I ace my exams. You look me in the eye like you have never seen me before.  Dad hasn’t worked in years now.
  8. You and I leave. We try and flee home. We try to out-Northern each other. I win.
  9. Sleep is for the weak. There are so many people to meet so many things to do. Father cannot cook any more.
  10. You finish uni, postgrad, and get a real job. I drop out of uni, and start applications.
  11. You stay at home, to help out with Dad. I start a new uni.
  12. Father goes to the doctor. He starts meds.
  13. Father gets a carer.

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Image credit: Beatrice Debney