• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 10


Even though my brother was littler than me, he was Dad’s number one. His red boy. All fire-engine-loud blaring scarlet ’cos that’s what boys are. Boys shout and run so fast their faces are happy tomatoes and don’t they make their dads proud? But when he got bigger, my little brother, he didn’t want to be red anymore. He began to pick up other colours, yellow, mauve, emerald green. When he turned full rainbow he buried his set of red toy cars in the back garden. Not deep enough. He didn’t let out a sound when Dad thrashed him till his thighs ran with blood.

Then I was Dad’s angel, his pink princess. He painted my room pink, bought pink everything to decorate it until it felt like I was living in a body part turned inside out. I reigned over the whole Barbie kingdom, zig-zagged across it in the tiny pink car. I pretended to enjoy it. I liked being favourite. I liked doing no wrong. Until doing wrong was just too alluring. The day I coordinated thick black eyeliner with tatty t-shirt and ripped jeans, Dad didn’t raise his hand to me. Just glared hard then iced over, moved on. He left me to it, welted by his frown lines and frozen gaze.

Dad went thundercloud black for a while. Door-slamming, heavy-frowning, soul-sucking black. He couldn’t keep it up and so he brought Elise home. Petite Elise teetering on high heels, tittering into cupped hands. She had baby blue eyes and she liked everything to match. Baby blue fluffy cardigans. Baby blue earrings that tangled with her blond perm when she shook her head and laughed at Dad’s unfunny jokes. A baby blue car. Once she realised she’d never get us to match, she drove off fast in her car leaving only baby blue exhaust fumes behind her that made us cough.

The car the jack-knifed lorry landed on when it concertina-ed the life out of Dad was a white sports model with gleaming metal trim like shark fins. Dad wanted to slice through the world in it. He got no further than the A27. My little brother and I tried to be sad at the funeral. We blinked and blinked our eyes so people would think we were crying, but all we could see was the stack of fading colours, the crushing hand, the telescoping walls. All we could feel was a tentative unfurling.