Look at her, sitting there and snivelling like a kid again, dabbing at her eyes with a Kleenex, just like she always does. Christ, she's pathetic!
They're only crocodile tears, you know: as soon as she sees me open my eyes they'll dry up quicker than rain in the Sahara. She'll be on me like a shot, her arm around my shoulders and her lips whispering in my ear, for all the world looking like a concerned and devoted mother. Her performance will fool the doctors and nurses, yet again. Honestly, you'd have thought they'd have seen through her by now, but no, they only see what she wants them to see and they carry-on like nothing out-of-the-ordinary is happening right in front of them. Sod 'em, that's all I can say. I'll just lay here a while longer with my eyes closed and concentrate on keeping my breathing regular as if I'm still asleep. I'm not in the mood for mother's brand of Tender Loving Care at the moment, thank you very much.
You've most likely already gathered that this isn't the first time I've been to this hospital - and other local hospitals for that matter. I reckon that this is my ninth overnight stay in the past five years or so. It might be more for all I know, but I do know it sure as hell isn't any less! And on every single one of those nine (or more) stays, mother has been there when I've regained consciousness; sat on the hard plastic orange chair by the window clutching a soggy tissue, her reddened eyes still dripping tears for the benefit of the nursing staff.
She'll be wearing that pukey-green raincoat again, too. I HATE that coat: to me it symbolises hurt and hospitals because she only ever wears it when I'm in hospital. I asked her once about that, but I can't exactly remember what she told me. I know it was something to do with not being recognised in the casualty department by other patients or something. Whatever, I detest the sight of the thing and I wish she'd get rid of it, but no: mother knows best, doesn't she?
I guess you're wondering why I've been in hospital so many times, aren't you? Sorry if I'm rambling a bit, you know, like not coming straight to the point. I've got to tell you this in my own way because the pains in my head and my back make clear thinking hard, if you know what I mean. I'll try and be as clear as I can, but this isn't all that easy, you know.
Did I tell you that mum's got a fading bruise on her right eye? No, I don't think I did. Well, yeah, she has, and if mum took all her clothes off you'd see loads more bruises, some old and fading like the one on her eye, and some fresh and painful-looking. They'll be on her chest, her arms and legs and her back, too. Loads of them.
No prizes for guessing who made those bruises. Yeah, Dad. Evil bastard.
Oh yeah, it's thanks to him as well that I've spent so many nights in hospital. I might only be a kid still, but when he starts throwing his fists around, man or woman, grown-up or kid, don't make any difference to him. When he goes off, there's no stopping him and whoever gets in his way feels his fists. Normally it's mum who gets the worst of it and, to be honest, there's been times when she needed hospital treatment herself, but she always refused to go. She said that it was because she was afraid to leave me alone with him, but that's just so much crap: the real reason, I know, is because she was always afraid that someone might ask too many awkward questions. Silly bitch, she must think I'm a retard or something.
The first time I was hospitalised (I heard the doctor in casualty say that word to mum once: "She'll need to be hospitalised for a day or two Mrs. Parker" he said and I liked the way he said it, his funny accent making it sound like something nice, although it wasn't really). I think that the doctor was foreign. I was ten years old. Dad had hit me before, of course, but never as hard or as often as the first time I wound up in casualty. Anyway, that was the first time that mum did her whispering-in-my-ear bit.
"We can't tell anyone about this" she said, "we've got to make believe you had an accident at home, you know, like you fell down the stairs. Daddy's an important man, you see, baby, and if people found out about this, he'd lose his job and we'd have no money and probably lose our lovely home as well and where would we be then? And there are people who would want to take you away and you'd never see me or daddy again, ever, ever"
And on and on she went, for what seemed like hours, her warm breath tickling my ear, but I said nothing. I couldn't anyway.
Oh, God! I'm so stupid! I didn't tell you I can't talk, did I? Sorry, I'm getting as stupid as mum (that's a horrible thought!) I'm not dumb; I mean I am dumb but I'm not really. I mean I can talk, but I don't. Actually, I can't. I'm not making much sense here, am I? Let me explain and then you'll see what I mean.
I was about three years old when I first saw dad hit mum; at least, that's the first time that I can remember. I do remember mum screaming as his fist smacked into her face and I screamed too. I remember that he turned towards me and the face I saw looking at me wasn't my daddy's face. It was the face of a monster and I screamed all the more. He bellowed at me to "shut the f*** up!!" and mum yelled at him to leave me alone and he punched her in the face again. I was crying so hard and was so terrified that I wet my knickers for the first time since I stopped wearing nappies. When he saw the puddle of pee his face went bright red and he stomped across the room towards me.
I was screaming my little head off and calling for my mummy and he was still yelling at me, calling me all sorts of names and using words I didn't understand and mum was moaning and begging him to leave me alone. I must have closed my eyes or something because the next thing I knew was that the left side of my face was burning hot and I felt myself flying across the room. I found out later that he had hit me so hard that I flew twelve feet across the room and had been knocked unconscious when my head hit the wall. Dad didn't even wait around to see if I was hurt. I remember mum cradling me in her arms and her tears wetting my face. She didn't even call a doctor or take me to hospital...
From that day on I never spoke again. I tried, God I tried, but nothing ever came out. Eventually mum took me to different doctors to see if they could make me speak, but none of them could. They used long doctorish words to explain to mum what was wrong with me, words I wouldn't even attempt to say even if I could, something psycho--or-other. Anyway, that's what I mean when I say I can talk but I can't. I hope that makes sense to you.
What it boils down to is that mum knew I'd never say anything to anybody anyway because I couldn't. Not that that stopped her reminding me not to say anything every damn time I ended up in hospital.
Just look at her, will you. Would you believe that she's not yet forty? Talk about old before your time! I tell you, I don't feel sorry for her, not at all. She's a pathetic and useless creature and a waste of space in my opinion. Don't you go getting on your high horse and start telling me that she's my mother and that I ought to show more respect for her. Why should I?
What do I mean by that? Look at it from my point of view: I was three years old the first time dad belted me one, not much more than a baby. I didn't know any different or any better. But mum did. She knew that it wasn't right for a big, fully grown man, to hit a little kid, so what did she do? She had a choice, didn't she: stay or go? She chose to stay.
She chose to stay with a man who regularly beat her up when the mood took him and he didn't confine himself to her, either. No, he was happy to have a go at me as well. What choice did I have? I was a kid, just a little kid. I had the right to expect love and protection or something, but no, all I got was a mother who wouldn't do that for me, let alone herself.
Respect? If I'd known the meaning of the word when I was three years old and being belted twelve feet across the lounge courtesy of dad's hand, I would have lost it for mother there and then, when mum chose to stay with him. I hate her, I hate her. I hate her for choosing dad's wants and needs over mine and her own. I hate her for putting me through all these years of violence and abuse because she was too stupid and too selfish to look after me properly. Most of all, I loathe her for making me a part of her guilt; for manipulating me into going along with her stories to protect him! That, above all else, is utterly unforgivable. She made me, her own daughter, feel guilty and, in a way, responsible for all of the awful things that could have happened to us if I so much as said a word to anyone about the real reason I was in the local hospital's casualty department again. I had no choice but to go along with her, did I? What the hell did I do to deserve him and her? Don't talk to me about respect!
I'll be seventeen in a few months and old enough to leave home. In spite of everything, I'm quite bright and I reckon I'll be able to take care of myself. I do still have problems remembering things sometimes, but I can read and write well. I'll be able to get by, I know I will. Also, just lately I've rediscovered my voice! Unbeknown to mum and dad I have been practicing, using it at every opportunity and I can now speak as well as him and her. I'm getting quite excited about it.
I've got a huge surprise for mum this time when she comes over and starts her whispering thing in my ear. I have an awful lot to say and daddy, in his crude way, has taught me all the words I need to know.
It's time to open my eyes now and let mum know I'm awake...