I’m dying. I’m sick and I’m dying. Not the best way to start a relationship I admit, but then I don’t even know if you’re real. It’s part of the illness. They say it takes people different ways. Me, I see people that aren’t. Sometimes, I think they’re stealing from me. Sometimes, I think they’re someone else. In my most lucid moments I can see the frustration on people’s faces. I can see the fear, the pain, the unbearable sorrow. That’s when I know those people…they’re real. The ones that aren’t, they never cry.
Those lucid moments don’t last long so if I drift off, please forgive me.
Somehow I got lost. I can’t remember when or how, but I don’t know where I am now. I seldom know who I am. She was here again. Wherever here is. She keeps coming, I think. I like her. She smells nice. She calls me Mum. But that can’t be right. I woke up this morning so excited. It’s my tenth birthday. But that nice Jamaican boy says my birthday’s not ‘til next week. Does he cry? I can’t remember. I hope he does, because then he’d be real. I like him. I hope he’s real.
Today, she made me go with her. I might not know where here is but it sure isn’t there. I don’t like going there. It’s never the same there I remember. I’m so scared she’ll leave me there. It smells funny. Like sour soap. It burns my nose. If she leaves me there the sour soap will burn me all over. I know it will. They’ll make me bathe with it. Do they know there are dead people in the water? All burnt by the sour soap. I can see them. I want to go home to...here. There is…I don’t know. It’s not here. I want to see that nice Jamaican boy, then I’ll know I’m here again.
Such a nice young man came to sit with us. He shouldn’t have though; we were waiting for the doctor. He had a nice white coat and he hugged me. He smelled like the forest behind my home. I told her I wanted to have my birthday party in the forest.
“Sounds like a great idea,” the nice young man smiled.
“You should marry him,” I told her. “Such a nice young man.”
She talked to him for a while and then he started to talk to me. He said I had something that belonged to Al. I don’t know any Al. I knew a Jay once. I told him, the nice young man. I told him I knew a Jay. He smiled. She started to cry. I’m not sure why. I just patted her hand. People pat my hand so I patted hers.
She gave me an ice-cream in a cone and we sat in the sun for a bit. “I can’t eat this.” I said. I was so sorry. She seemed so sad when I said it. But then she smiled, “That’s OK, Mum. I wanted two anyway.”
She’s got a lovely voice. It reminds me of someone. I can’t remember who. I had a daughter once. She was lovely. I really did want to eat the ice-cream but it wasn’t my birthday. That’s next week. I’ll be ten. Jay said so. I can eat it then.