• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 06
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It was hard to leave. I had to leave in a way that wouldn’t be obvious, or else I’d have been stopped from going out at all. It took me a long time just to be allowed to go to school. I learnt very quickly that voicing what I wanted if I didn’t get it did not work. Sulking was out of the question. I had to be quietly manipulative, appear endlessly patient and make it seem as if any idea I had was in fact hers and that any benefit from it wouldn’t be for me but for her. I had to work so hard to bite my desire down, cover my tracks and continue to slowly, slowly inch towards escaping.

At no point did I say that I wanted to go because I felt so stifled, so hemmed in, so compressed. At no point did I say how much I loathed being near her. Instead, I talked of improving my employment prospects and improved employment prospects would mean more money coming in. The only thing that could compete with her desire to control everything from what I wore, who I saw and what I did, was her desire for more money. Having enough money would mean she would be able to keep things exactly as they were. As she cajoled the washing machine to stop it from spilling sudsy water, I’d muse about how if I went to school and got a job, I’d be able to buy us a brand new one that didn’t keep breaking down and we’d never have to go to the laundromat. She hated that place more than any other.

I kept to myself at school though oh how much I wanted to reach out and make a friend, someone I could have shared my secrets with. But she wouldn’t allow it, she wouldn’t let me stay after school for anything. I even had to go home for lunch. I had to start walking home as soon as the bell for the end of class went. She even timed how long it took me to walk home so she’d know if I was dawdling.



That was my big mistake. I got distracted. One day I just stood there and let myself really imagine what it would be like to not have to rush straight home, to be able to hang back with my classmates, to go for coffee, moan about homework, diss teachers. I lost track of the time.

I was only seven minutes late, just seven minutes. Five and she might have forgiven me, though only after a long lecture about what tardiness could lead to. Five could have been the teacher taking time to wrap things up but seven, seven was deliberate defiance on my part. Seven meant I had been talking to others, seven meant I was polluted. Seven meant she came looking for me.

I had no idea she could punch that hard.