Danielle! You’re going to be late for college
“Are you ready?” ” I’m leaving!”
“I’m coming! ” “it’s only 8.30, what’s the rush?”
“I told you, I have a meeting at 9.30 so I need to drop you off first!”
“It’s fine…… my first class is at 9.15.” “You are always rushing! Even when your early…!” “That’s so crazy!”
“That’s not the point!!” I hate being late.” ” You are constantly late!” “You could never work for me. Sister or no sister!”
“Well, I can just get the train.”
“I’ve not even had my breakfast yet.”
“Fine.” “Just make sure you lock up behind you.”
“Ruth!!!,” The frustration was in my voice.
“I’m not bloody six years old, you know!”
“I know,” she said smiling at me
“Your just annoyingly slow.” As she kissed me condescendingly on the forehead and flew out the door.”
We got on so well. She was never one to let the grass grow under her feet. Her energy levels were always that of an adrenaline junky. The total opposite to me. That’s maybe why we got on so well now. I wasn’t always the calm one, the quiet one. There has been a real journey to get me to this point.
She became my world when our mother died seven years ago. Mum had been drunk and lost control of her car during a frosty winters night in the early hours of the morning at Highstoke. A notorious stretch of road with a hairpin bend.
My older sister took on the role of mother at twenty-five, when I was just 11. It wasn’t easy for her and I certainly added to her struggles. For the first three years, I didn’t care about anyone. Literally! Not even myself.
After all, if my mother cared she wouldn’t have been drunk and driving along Highstoke?
It wasn’t until my sister lost it with me, telling me how selfish I was and in fact, I was becoming just like our mother – in between floods of tears and literally destroying the living room out of anger. Having being called out of work again for the umpteenth time due to my behaviour. It worked! The thought of becoming the very person I raged against and doing to Ruth what she did to me, was my wake up call. I had refused any kind of therapy before. I would allow anyone in. How I never ended up in care was a miracle? Ruth fought hard for me and somehow not all my grades spiralled.
I just didn’t want to deal with feelings I struggled to explain. All I knew was I often found myself in a dark place. They were at times so dark they became suffocating, and getting off my face with drink and was my out.
I loved Ruth, she was my world really. She always took care of me. Mum was often drunk. That had been her life for at least six years before she died. I was too young to understand what started it all. But Ruth behaved more like my mum for as long as I could remember. Her pain cut through the fog of the vodka I had consumed.
Even when I woke up the next day, I remembered what had happened. The aftermath of the living room rang it home in vivid three-D reality, as I negotiated my way around the broken and overturned pieces of furniture and ornaments. I decided to start clearing up. It was the least I could do. As I started with the broken mirror now shattered on the floor, I started to put my apology together in my head. An apology as sincere as I could make it, stating I would see a Therapist.
“Be careful with all that glass Danielle,” Ruth’s warm voice had returned as she came into the room behind me.
“Sorry, I’ll see The Therapist!” I blurted. So much for practicing.
“Honestly I replied.” I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks. Lord knows, I hated crying. I never cried. But for the first time in the longest while – I was being honest.
I felt the comforting hug of my sister and that was the beginning of me getting my life back on track and normalcy, (if that’s a word?) Yes, normality slowly returned to our lives over the following weeks and months.
I made myself a black coffee with warm toast. Normally I would have made a bacon sarnie, but as it was late, I would have to get that during our break in college.
Time to leave.
I threw on my white hoodie, grabbed my rucksack and went out the door. Making sure I double locked it.
Its was a beautiful morning. A bit chilly but I knew it would warm up as the morning progressed. I hated being too hot and I really couldn’t be arsed with lugging a coat or Jacket around with me.
I arrived just in time……well 9.20am. But whose counting?
Chemistry. I loved my sciences. Who knew? Me with the behaviour I had. But their was always something about maths and the sciences. The logic of it. I always found it easier than English or History. Numbers were just easy for me. The plan was to get my As and then go to university and do Marine Biology.
I knew how to study hard. I had a lot of ground to make up during my years of chaos. I made the teachers eat their reports and predictions for me by getting six As, (three of which were A*’s), 3Bs and a C. Yeh you guessed it. History. Had to do double studies literally at the weekend and some evenings. But my sister believed in me and paid for a private tutor. Mr Stevonson. Had to give it to him. He knew his stuff. He also understood me and recognised I had a strong connection with figures and science. Which meant the pace could be intense and he didn’t have to explain everything. Truth is – I ended passing the subjects for the Academic year for my age and he was able to introduce subjects that were A level and above by the time I was fifteen.
Class moved quickly and before I knew it, it was time for lunch. I met Diane, Jen, Alesha and Yvy at the main doors as usual and we headed out to the cafe near our local park to get something to eat.
I really don’t think I’m cut out for “Multi media…..I really am going to have to look for something else?”
“Why on earth did you choose it then Yvy?” I asked.
“I don’t know….I liked some of it. But lately I just can’t concentrate.”
“It wasn’t always like that, but I find I’ve just been getting tired alot lately, and by the time I get home, I just don’t have the energy to study.”
“Have you been in contact with your GP?
“Got an appointment tomorrow?”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“Nah Danielle, I’ll be fine!”
“I think I just need some iron tablets.” “That’s what I had in the past when I felt tired.”
“Ok.” “We can catch up tomorrow.”
We arrived at the cafe. We all had lattes and toasted sarnies. I got my usual – toasted bacon with added lettuce and tomato with lashings of ketchup and a dash of chilli sauce. Not the normal sarnie but as this was my regular eatout. I grew to have a understanding with Paul the owner. Everything was freshly made. Bacon was fried to order. The others had sausages. He served the best food for miles. His cafe was never empty and today was no different. Once we all had our food we walked over into the local park and sat down to eat a the large wooden table.