Parents work mainly in simplifications. Ask a question and you’ll receive precisely enough information to shut you up. As you get older, the questions become more complex as do the answers. A system of gradual revelation. Television took gradual out of the equation. Somewhere in Gloucester a three-year-old watches Titanic and asks, “Daddy, what are they doing in the back of that car?” In Austin, Texas, a seven-year-old watches an episode of CSI, “Mommy, what’s auto-erotic asphyxiation?” In Brighton a ten-year-old – me – watches an episode of Quantum Leap and then asks the question, “Mum, what does rape mean?”
The accepted parental answers are: You see, when a boy loves a girl… When a boy has no one else to love… When a boy hurts a girl…
Simplifications are all parents think we can handle. Simplifications lead to me seeing Richard West hitting Stacy Nichols on the arm in a deserted stairwell; to me running into my first year class of middle-school and yelling out, “Mr. Lockley! Mr. Lockley! Richard’s raping Stacy on the staircase.”
Maybe parents do it for their own benefit too. One day I asked my mother, “Why doesn’t Dad live with us anymore?” The whole truth flashed through her eyes, her pain was synthesised into tears: one part heartbreak to two parts oblivion. I can’t imagine how she could have put that into words. My bite-sized truth for the day:
“Because he decided he didn’t love me anymore. But he still loves you boys very very much.”
For a time, that was enough.
July 28th, 1 AI (Anno Inmortuis)
I remember an interview I had with a career counsellor back in high school. He kept going on and on about me needing to decide what I wanted to do with my life. “Jobs give us fulfilment Katherine, jobs give us a purpose Katherine. You need to engage in your life more Katherine,” he said. I had like, no answer for him. Most of my friends had decided back in 9th grade, but not me. I wanted to do nothing. Looks like I got my wish.
The days are hard to keep track of. My phone died a while back, the calendars ran out and the newspapers stopped arriving. I can count the nights, but I can’t remember if this year was a leap year, or if March has 31 days or 30. Stupid things like that. Where’s Google when you need it!
It’s getting quieter here, back before the riot, our town had about 5,000 people. Now I think we’re down to 50. You’d think we’d all stay together, pooling our resources, keeping each other company, but we don’t. The only other person on my road still around is Leah Maclay. Her parents died back in October before last. Nothing restores your faith in humanity like a crisis. Everyone gets scared and their first thought is: “I must protect myself and my family.” Where do they go? To the gun store. How many people turn up at once with the same exact thought? Hundreds, maybe a thousand. So did they (a), agree to ration ammo like civilized people, or (b), shoot the hell out of each other. If you picked A, I like your optimism. If you picked B, I like your accuracy. I’m starting to see the importance of a purpose, a goal. Wake up, try to wash, find food, read, sleep. So boring. Even my 50 Shades fanfic can only entertain for so long.