Tuesday May 3rd
“Do you remember Mr. Benn from the telly?”
She smiles and nods her head. She is wondering what on earth I’m going to come out with this time.
“He was served by the same shop keeper in every episode. Mr. Benn would go into the changing room and out through another door into an adventure. Coming here reminds me of Mr. Benn. It’s not an adventure, but I feel as though you’re the shop keeper.”
She grins and says she understands.
“It’s as if you’re here just for me. You don’t have a life, you’re probably not even a real person. The building has you in it, but if the building wasn’t here then you wouldn’t exist.”
She looks at me steadily, nodding encouragement.
“It’s the same as a child being shocked when they see their teacher at the shops. It has never crossed the child’s mind that the teacher lives a life outside of school. To them, teachers are found only in schools.”
Tuesday May 17th
The days come and go.
A terrible day when I can’t leave the house. A wonderful day when my mouth aches from smiling. An atrocious two hours when I am all outsides with no stuffing. A morning when I sit and stare out of the window, unable to do anything else.
One hour on a Tuesday.
Tuesday May 24th
Just because it is a certain o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, I am expected to open my mouth and spew forth.
I wonder if others here feel the same.
I feel so tired, this hour, this Tuesday.
I follow the lurid green trousers slowly up the four flights of stairs into my Tuesday room. I sit on the chair nearest the heater and stare at the confused looking rag rug.
I look up.
“Hello,” I say, smiling as best I can.
She smiles back.
I gaze fixedly at the skirting board. My eyes cross and I do not untangle them.
I bet I’d be a whizz at seeing the hidden picture in one of those Magic Eye computer prints. Perhaps I should suggest that She put one or two on the wall, to give people like me something constructive to do.
I wonder if She’s looking at me. I don’t look up.
My eyelids feel as though weighted with pound coins. I want to sleep.
My chair is surprisingly comfy. It is covered with soft brown velour. I have an urge to rub my cheek against it, in the way that my friend Mary used to when we were children. When we were about five years old I saw her test something against her face for softness factor, and I followed her example. It is a much more satisfying test than just using hands.
Perhaps I could steal the chair for my sister. I could bump it down all of those stairs and escape with it into the street. She wants one with arms though… “Sorry? No, I don’t feel like talking. I’m tired.”
The clock in the town chimes the half hour. I twist the button on my skirt round and round.
I’m not going to talk. I’m not.
Sunday May 29th
I carry an enormous butterfly net, which I keep in a specially made holster, strapped rucksack style, to my back.
I watch as emotion flows from my big toe and drifts upwards.
It starts to spiral, like a gentle whirlwind.
I reach back over my shoulders, my concentration not wavering for a second. I grip the stick of the net firmly with both hands and whip it over my head. With one fluid movement I capture it.
Carefully I tip it from the net into my hanky, securing it with a knot.
Maybe it will be analysed on Tuesday, or maybe I will hide it under my mattress.
Tuesday June 7th
I fill the kettle from the tiny sink in the downstairs loo. I have to angle the spout so that the tap dribbles in just enough water for my cup of tea. The tea and coffee are free. Making it occupies the mind whilst waiting for the footsteps.
I sit in the waiting room on a fabric covered chair with wooden arms. It is the same kind as the staffroom chairs from my primary school. When I was little I always wanted to have a go in one because they were grown up chairs. Now I sit in one for real, sipping tea too hot for its thin plastic cups. Double cupping is a minimum requirement for my fingers.
The walls are covered with posters and adverts, all offering help and support for broken, vulnerable people.
Why am I here? I haven’t been molested or abused, I haven’t committed a crime.
I feel rather inadequate.
Then I think of how I cry at classical music and cry for no reason on buses. How I notice every flat note that the buskers play and cry at the candles on the altar in church. How some days I can’t do anything at all other than sit or sleep. How I cry because a huge part of my soul is missing, trapped in the endless black tunnel.
I finish my tea as the footsteps come to a stop in the doorway. I throw my cup stack into the bin and follow the Mr. Benn shop assistant up the stairs.