section 6


May day

How appropriate, today is perhaps the day when I admit that I might, just might need help.

May day, may day, – I am vanishing & my dead twin wants to take my place – somehow normality has slipped a long, long way away – we’re not in Kansas anymore.

I am failing to keep up the lifelong pretence with the changeling, everything is fine, all families live like this, we are normal,

The changeling seems to be visiting more often; I find her staring down at me, her face twisted in puzzlement –

“why do you sleep all the time?” she asks

I struggle to give an answer that will not send her screaming to the door

“I feel old and tired” I say, it is a vague enough answer and she is arrogant, with the arrogance of her perfect youth to see this as a fitting answer, after all, in her eyes I am old & tired.

She walks carefully around my tiny flat, picking up the detritus of someone who spends much of their day hiding from the voice inside their head – I find that madness really gets in the way of housework and there is some pleasure, some poetic symmetry in making sure that my home reflects the chaos in my head.

I am always relieved when she leaves, I have managed to ignore the on-going sense of disappointment, of something vital missed that has coloured our relationship since her childhood, so really nothing has changed, I am still letting her down, but being haunted is perhaps a legitimate reason for parental failure.

May day may day may day – I wish there was someone who could rescue me, although clearly [can the mad ever use the word clearly legitimately?] there is quite a lot of backstory to plough through before the possibility of swashing & buckling, heroics & maidens pulled from towers.

Clearly [ that word again] – it is time to go back to sleep


When  things fall apart, really fall apart, they do so quickly, the last time dear reader, that I addressed you, I was clinging on to a superficial appearance of functionality, I was, in the jargon, coping, perhaps a little fuzzy around the edges, which in my case takes on a whole new meaning, but if you had met me, you would have seen someone going about, taking up space, fitting in.

I glibly described myself as  mad back then, but in that “ho ho ho, we’re all made here you know” way – now I know exactly what madness feels like – not a funny t-shirt or calendar in sight.  this madness sucks me in, creates a web of confusion, I am trapped by my own mind, I no longer know what starts within me or what she has begun. I feel myself loosing the language needed to even explain what is happening – to know  why things have reached this stage………………….. even to understand on any level at all what exactly is going on here…………………………

She has entered me, is now part of me, she possesses me, wraps  herself in me, I feel myself shrinking, diminishing.

Once we were two that made a perfect one – now & oh its happened so fast that I only became aware too late, far too late to stop her, far too late to really understand what she wanted all along.

I woke up in the morning, looked into a mirror and saw her looking out of my eyes. I shook  my head violently, as if I could really dislodge her, I banged my head against the bathroom wall, as if an act of self harm could really make any difference.

I screamed

I cried

I ranted

Finally, I gave up & looked again in the mirror, the face looked back at me, eyes red, sore, aching from salty tears, snot trails on my cheeks, bruises already appearing on my forehead. Her eyes stared back at me with cool defiance and I swear a terrible suggestion of laughter.

She is with me always now, mostly she is happy enough to leave me to get on with everyday things, just an occasional reminder as I pass myself/herself in a mirror that she is here, but some days & these are the worst days of all, she shows me what she can see, I look down with strangers’ eyes at my own body, see myself heaving this sad sack from place to place. On those days I want to scream, to throw myself at the walls. I have considered gouging my own eyes out – at least then I would not have to see the way she looks at me/looks from me, but I am too fearful or perhaps not desperate enough and part of me still clings to the notion that this really cannot be happening.

If I am careful, do nothing wrong, perhaps she will leave, give me back my body, my eyes. I used to think that I was incomplete, now I would do almost anything to feel that incompleteness again. So, I creep carefully, I listen hard, waiting for her messages, I ask her again & again “what is it you want from me?”, so far there has been nothing, but I know that if I just wait – it will all become clear.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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