“…picture, picture, smile for the picture, pose with your brother, won’t you be a good sister?”
Everyone remembers their childhood to some degree.
The adventures and magical stories, playing knights and soldiers in the garden, writing crazy tales for your parents and telling them that it’ll be your next book. Remember the days out in the sun? Playing outside on the pavement with the neighbour’s kids, hop scotch and tag, sticky hands and ice cream flavoured tongues, pretty smiles, smeared with chocolate and clothes muddy, twigs in bushy hair.
But it wasn’t perfect was it?
Remember the nights crying yourself to sleep, listening to your parents argue and your brothers shaking in the next room, worried about what was going to happen? Remember the nights worrying about your mother as her depression consumed her, what about your father’s dependency on alcohol? Remember the days at school just wishing it was over, the nights spent hurting yourself because it was better than wallowing in your own sadness, the days where the thought of sleeping forever felt better than ever waking up again?
“…everyone thinks that we’re perfect; please don’t let them look through the curtains…”
But then, there you are, smiling for the family picture. Your mum’s smile is tired, forced but she so desperately wants this birthday to go well.
“Stand next to your brother,” she’ll say, smiling in that broken way, as if she was never going to see you again, “be a good sister, go on.”
“You have such a nice family,” they’d say and you’d smile, tightly. Look away because it was easier to lie without someone’s eyes on you. Perfect, they called you. If only they knew what happened behind closed doors. If only they saw the arguments, the attempted suicides and disappearances.
My childhood was a mix of bad and good, horrible and magical. I’ll always treasure the wonderful times and it’s much better now. But I don’t feel nostalgic for those dark days during school when I was made to feel ugly by my peers and the only friend, my best friend, was in a different class.
It was a different time, almost as if I don’t recognise the person I once was. But now, “I see things that nobody else sees”, and that’s okay.