Free from this

Sometimes it was just too tempting to sit, huddled in her soft cotton pyjamas, a steaming cup of tea clasped between her fingertips. When she shouted like that it was the only thing Gillian could think to do. Retreat under the covers, close the curtains, turn the television up loud, block the sound. But she could always be heard. It didn’t matter how loud everything else was, she had a way of making herself louder.

It wasn’t always like that. She’d learnt to deal with her in her own way. It might have seemed peculiar to someone else, what she did, but it allowed her to cope. It made life bearable. It made her bearable. But even on those good days when she was reduced to a mere whisper, she was always there. Gillian could feel her, watching, waiting for her to slip and give in.

She was selfish and cruel. She knew exactly what to say to Gillian and when to say it. Even when Gillian felt her strongest, when she squeezed her eyes shut and told her it was lies, her words still hurt her. They’d be tell-tale signs, a twitch in her foot, a red raw hangnail, torn from its bed, a shaking leg, a bleeding lip and a temper. Gillian became absorbed, obsessed with what she had to say. Everything else mattered, but then, none of it did. It was a constant battle.

It was those dark days when Gillan appreciated the breeze. When she dared herself to leave the safety of her sheets and step out into the world. She’d close her eyes and soak in the cool, gentle touch of the air, as it whipped the edges of her trousers and threw her loose strands of hair into chaotic waltzes. It was like having her life breathed back into her body. She would never be free of her she knew, but in those rare moments, she felt like anything was possible.

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