it was spring. the swallows were making nests in the thick bushes by the river and the dirt was starting to dry up aftr a long winter. i put on my white and blue trainers and i climbed the willow tree in my backyard. i could see your house if i climbed to the very top. i never saw you, but i saw your little sister and brother outside playing with water pistols. your house was large and white; made of weather boards and memories. you had an old verandah; the wood was grey and breaking in some places. i could see that your steps needed repairing and that some of the tiles on your roof were missing.
you had a row of fruit trees, and i watched as your brother and sister climbed into them and dissapeared. i wondered if i dissapeared when i climbed into my tree. i wondered if it was possible to hide from myself, like i could hide from everyone else. i sat in the sky and watched as your brother and sister languidly climb down, and take their fruit inside to your mother.
the next morning, before light, you knocked on my window and whispered for me to come outside with you. you handed me an apricot and told me you had picked it yourself, yesterday afternoon. i knew very well that you hadn't but i thanked you anyway and told you that you were very sweet.
we went down to the river and you drank the water with cupped hands. we sat inside the hollows of trees and we smoked.
i imagined that we were sitting in the soul of the tree, burning him down. setting his soul on fire.
maybe now, he would be pretty. maybe now, that my soul was on fire like yours had been, i would be pretty. maybe now, that i was as pretty as you wanted me to be, maybe now you would be happy.
i drew kohl-black lines under my eyes and dyed my hair to the colour of night. you ran your fingers through it and told me i looked nice. you told me i reminded you of something, but you just couldn't remember what. you wrapped your arms around me and you pushed me against your bedroom wall.
my eyes glazed over and when you took off my shirt i tried to hold your arms down.
i tried oh so hard to stop you. 'please?' i asked with tear-tracks down my cheeks.
'you're not supposed to cry' you said to my shoulder.
i still loved you.
i had thrown out my white and blue trainers and i lived by night. my mother told me i was throwing myself away, but i just told her they were old clothes. she said that's not what she meant. i didnt understand her.
when you had left, me and kim sat on the curb with our cigarettes lighting the areas around out feet. when you left us there you had told us you'd be back soon, but i dont think we really cared, as we rode off on our rusted bikes. mine was white, hers was green. i still had a basket in the front and when kim asked me what it was for all i could remember was carrying my school bag to school, and taking food to our grandma.
i told her it was to carry beer and spray paint.
my mother said once, that i had this look in my eye sometimes. that i knew what i was doing was wrong but i didnt really care. i told her that i didnt.
i think she cried when i left, but i dont see why.
you were cute when you were drunk. we leaned against the street lamp together and drank who were were away.
i woke up two doors down from my house, under a willow tree.
in my mind, i saw apricots and your little brother and sister, andn white and blue trainers.
i wondered if they knew what we were doing to ourselves.
(if only i had known, we were doing it to them too)
i came home and mum was crying. dad had his arm around her and my little sister was in her room. i think she was crying too.
i had black smears underneath my eyes and i felt sick.
i went to bed.
i woke up and i wished i could sleep again. mum was in the kitchen and it smelt of porridge, but i think it was burnt.
i wanted a shower. my eyes were tired.
mum stared at me and dad didn't look at me.
i had a shower.
when i got out there was sun shining through the bathroom window and half of me was bright. i had bruises on my stomach and i didn't know how they had gotten there. i wiped the left over black from beneath my eyes and pushed my wet hair back.
when i left the bathroom my dad came into my room.
he looked as though he had been crying. you know when you can tell someone's been crying. their eyes look smaller and their slightly red, and you can see that everything hurts.
he asked me where his little girl had gone.
i told him she was still here.
my rusted bike needed new wheels but i didnt have the nerves to ask for new ones. me and kim sat in her trailer on the double bed; she smoked and i drank.
kim didn't know when her step-dad was going to be home, so we left. we hoped the cigarette smell would leave with us.
i felt like crying, and sleeping. i felt sick. i thought it was the smell of kim's trailer had made me want to vomit, but once we left i realised that it wasn't. i picked at my nails and washed the fear down my throat with wine.
my eyelids were painted with a mask. disguise who you really are, rachel.
paint over yourself.
me and you, we sat in the hollow of the tree again.
i had ants crawling on me and black bark through my hair. my shoes were falling apart and the white of my laces was fading. im sure the kohl-black underneath my eyes had faded slightly since last time i saw you. everything was fading.
your second-hand smoke filled my lungs, and cut my throat. i exhaled and it healed it. cigarette ash fell on my jeans and when i tried to wipe it away, it left a mark.
i wondered what it would be like to paint yourself with cigarette ash and vodka.
maybe a little water.
i tilted my head back and closed my eyes. i saw apricot trees and the river before you drank out of it. i saw your bedroom wall and my blue and white trainers.
i went home and told my mum i wasn't throwing myself away.
i was just, painting over it.