“My goodness, it hasn’t changed at all!” Lisa’s eyes bulge in surprise as she looks around the neighbourhood. An old Victorian mansion peers at us from the top of the small hill. Paved and untrodden paths lead down into town where we’d stopped for panini and coffee not long ago.
Mourning the lack of life around them, trees stood bare, rarely moving in the cold winter morning. The house itself vibrates of ancient history, stories forgotten, failed to be passed on. As an over-ripe banana, patches of spots, black, white, and forty shades of brown cling throughout the peeling walls of the house, its russet picket fence the only reminder of good old times.
Lisa brought me to our childhood home. She said it’d help me recover. But as I watch her reliving her teenage—I imagine golden days of scratched knees with tears streaming down mud-covered cheeks and screams encoring through the hill, I suspect her intentions. Beaming with joy, brimming with nostalgia she turns to me, eyes expectant as a child tugging at her mother’s apron while the ice-cream truck passes by. And I look back at her. Nothing.
They said she’s my sister. She said this was our home. I remember nothing.
Bumper sticker: “You can make it if you try.”
What a load of boohockey. It’s never only about trying. Luck—that’s what I need, that’s what everyone else has that I don’t. I’m not untalented, I know that for sure. And it’s not as if I don’t try either. In fact, I try hard. Every day.
In the morning when pink horizon melds with orange, hope swells within me like a hot air balloon. I gawk at the path ahead of me as a child watching the colourful orb reaching for the skies, and I imagine life becoming easier to tread. Potholes vanish, sticks and stones crumble under callous feet, and entry barriers fall apart.
When summer scorns through my neon blazer, I cringe my eyes against the rays, sweat dribbling down my temple to drip from my nose, but I hope. Passersby don’t realise how difficult it is. To be a traffic conductor, underpaid, unseen, waved at by dogs and children immature to hold a phone—no one knows what that’s like. To spend almost every waking moment standing. Like a parking ticket, a special-edition vintage, I’m limited-time only. Valid until I have control over my bowels; diabetes will wreck me before it wrecks my life.
So don’t tell me I’m inadequate. You entitled little son of a my-father-paid-for-my-Volkswagen.
Don’t you dare suggest I try harder for a better job, family, friends, or meals.
It’s all I do to stay sane.
Image source: burst.shopify.com
Nodding, she mutely accepted the handsome volunteer’s scripted gratitude. A measly $15 donation didn’t warrant his genuine thanks.
Still. More welcoming than the tirade of her alcoholic breadwinner.
If voices had colour,
mum’s would be yellow
for she was mellow
at the doorway
chases ma blues away—
school wasn’t easy
being picked on as measly
yet for me she was there
we had to go nowhere.
If voices had colour,
dad’s would be black
dark, deep, bleeding slack
with a sense of hollow
he’d always wallow
in games after work
and want braised pork
thus well-fed he was
cushioned by his arse
while mum, she’d pass.
She’d definitely be at the opera. Alone.
I should go too—there’s no way she’d bring the restraining order along.