Forgotten, dead and buried.
Out of bed at 6 am and cleaning my room. Why do I have to push the bed in the middle of the room and lift all small furniture on it every day so it's easier for her vacuuming? Just like me, the vacuum cleaners in our house never has a day off. It's 6 o'clock and I'm already super tired. I didn't sleep much and don't think it will get any better. My mother kept screaming and I tried not to hear her. It's hard. The walls are not keeping her voice out. I can hear children playing outside, my mother's car if she arrives in the street, the neighbour playing drums and Bart making music. He lives next to our neighbours. If I can hear all these sounds people can hear her too.
Breakfast with my parents at seven, breakfast in silence a choking silence. I'm never allowed to speak so that isn't new but usually my parents do. I should say my mother is. She's the one who talks, talks, talks, repeats herself and repeats herself and repeats herself and tells you to repeat what she said which I can't. So I keep my mouth shut which makes her furious. If I try to repeat what she said I can't remember the exactly right words. The thing is she always says the same so after the first words I shut down. I close my ears and try not to hear her. I eat my bread and focus on my plate, on eating. I don't want to hear her voice. She rattles on and on and on it's always the same. How great she is, how ungrateful others are, blah blah blah.
Why don't I have a normal mother? A mum like Ellen, Louis or Françoise has? A mother with a normal voice who lets you play with other children instead of punishing you for everything she can think of? I watch dad slicing cheese for his bread. If he doesn't answer she will attack him. He never needs to repeat what she says. I wonder how auntie is doing. She no longer visits us. Will she go to grandmother if it's Christmas?
I don't want to hear her voice but it fills the kitchen. If I close my eyes I hear that voice everywhere around me.
Why did dad marry her? Did she ever say a sweet thing or was it her dad's money? Grandpa is dead. There won't be money for him. He's no family but the man my grandparents never wanted for their daughter. Dad doesn't look very happy. Perhaps he will sing if he cleans the bathroom and kitchen?
Her hand smacks me in the face. My head slams against the wall. "Are you sleeping again? Stand up, you lazy kid. No one is as lazy as you. Why don't you comb your hair!" All I can do is stare at her. I have nothing to say. Whatever I would say isn't good enough to make her forget her anger, make her like me. I try not to touch my face or head while I look her straight into the eyes. She looks at me, observes me, waits till I say something. She turns around abruptly and slams the door behind her.
"Get up you'll be fine," dad says. He didn't help me. He gave up risking his neck for me. "Let's clean up the place before your mother is back." He starts cleaning up the breakfast table and I go back upstairs. The rooms, stairs and hallways, toilet and living room are my task. No polishing shoes today. I don't know who will vacuum since she isn't there. If she comes back at the end of the day she'll be mad because the house is a mess. That's how she calls it a mess.
I don't feel like cleaning. Everything is clean. I pile up the small furniture on the beds in each room. I clean doors and doorknobs and wipe the dust not a single person can see. In each room, I wait till the time is over. The time it takes to clean a room to her standards. I don't hear her, I don't hear her car. It's silent till dad comes upstairs and starts singing while he cleans the bathroom. I clean the toilet. Tile after tile. Another door on which I'm not going to spend 33 times scrubbing on.
How many times did I step outside to knock the dust out of the duster?
The living room is the only place where furniture can remain at its place on Saturdays. It's clean like always. The Christmas tree is still outside. Will she be back to decorate it? I sit on the floor and wait. My head hurts. I touch the spot. Blood. She'll be mad if there's blood on the furniture or carpet but I have to lay down.
Dad comes downstairs and I hear him enter the kitchen. Later I'll tell him I finished my tasks. I like to listen to the sound of the clock. Dad sings again.
Dad told me to help him to set up the tree in the living and he put the lights on. The smell of the tree fills the air. Shocked I was as I looked at the floor. A trace of needles everywhere from the living through the hallway and kitchen. "We'll vacuum it before your mother is back, after that we get the boxes with decoration," dad said. It felt as if he had everything under control and no longer cared about what she would say or do.
"No hiking today?"
"No, it's vacation. Dad... I don't want to go hiking ever again."
The day didn't end too bad. The bakery delivered boxes with bread, cookies, cakes, a Christmas loaf and chocolates. My mother came home with bags with stuff she bought and decorated the tree. It took her hours because it has to be perfect. She made a mess again and vacuumed the living three more times. She didn't say sorry or look at me. I stood there and watched her. Unsure if I was allowed to leave or had to wait for a new order. She let me put some 'angel's hair' on the ranks. It looks nice but it hurts if you touch it. The tree looks beautiful all silver with white of the 'hair' and the yellow big candle lights. My mother knows how she has to decorate a tree, furniture a house and how to spend too much money.
December 18, 2021
I visited Sunday school and my parents went to church. If I don't comb my hair straight you can't see the blood on my head. It's cold so I wear a hat outside. The teacher didn't notice it.
December 19, 2021
No school, no housekeeper just me and my mother cleaning.
To my mother, it's an ordinary Monday. She works 24/7 and if she doesn't work we clean. In the morning we start cleaning till she has to go. She leaves if someone calls her or if she visits people at their homes. She visits in the afternoon. A few evenings a week people visit us. Dad says he has things to do. He left.
I don't like staying home during vacations. Vacations at home are good for more cleaning, scolding, whipping and pain. That's all it's good for.
In the evening I'm allowed to sit in the living and watch the tree. The living is for weekends only. I spend the most time in my room or the kitchen if I'm not at school and have to clean the house.
December 20, 2021
The living room is in the Christmas mood my mother isn't.
Her mood goes up and down. I'll never know what she will say or do next. I don't trust her and am glad I don't need to share a bed with her like dad. If she kills him who takes care of me?
December 21, 2021
On television is more Christmas spirit than at home. I'm afraid of my mother. She acts weird. Dad says nothing and stays in the little room upstairs. She keeps walking up and down while saying the same words over and over again. Can't she just sit down for a moment and act like a normal person?
I try to watch telly but it's hard with her around. She can snap any minute. We didn't have tea yet. I leave and hide on the toilet and try to think about what to do. I can put the kettle on and make us some tea. I go ask dad if he likes some tea.
Back downstairs I fill the kettle with water and put it on the cooker and wait. I wait at the kitchen table and try not to touch more things than necessary. My mother always knows if something is touched, moved. It's good enough for the next scene. Why is she walking up and down? Is she crazy?
I fill the teapot and a dad's mug. I'll give him first before I ask her. Back in the hallway I no longer hear her voice behind the door in the living. Should I enter or drink my tea first? I knock on the door and carefully open it. She stands in front of the tree.
"Mother do you want some tea?"
She turns around stares at me as if I'm a stranger.
"Yes," she says and follows me to the kitchen.
"Take some cookies." We sit at the table and she pushes the wooden cookie box over the tablecloth towards me. The madness disappeared.
December 22, 2021
Today felt like a better day.
I read the book school gave me again and my mother was in a chocolate mood. She ate a lot of chocolate and butter cookies. Not if it's coffee time or tea time but just so. I don't like the butter cookies and chocolate she buys. It's made by the baker. Grandmother's chocolate is better. She buys small bars of chocolate with hazelnut or Koetjes bars (the wrap is blue-white with a cow on it). Always five wrapped together. I don't think she eats them. It's for the visitors, sometimes she gives me one. It's the only sweet my grandmother has in the cupboard. My mother's cupboards are filled and one huge drawer of the antique cabinet is for cookies, cakes, chocolate, pastries only. Perhaps her mother never gave her candy?
December 23, 2021
At 5:30 I'm out of bed.
The laundry will be collected and the clean laundry taken back. We have enough sheets for at least twelve beds.
My mother started the day in a good mood but halfway through the day, it changed after grandmother called. Tomorrow we will visit grandmother and the next day granny. Each year with Christmas it's the same routine. Granny cooks too but we never had Christmas dinner with her.
At midnight we visited the church. It was crowded and I couldn't sit anywhere. I don't like to be in a cold church in the middle of the night and listen to a story I already know. A story about the hope for peace, love and light. Peace, love and light? Try to live with my mother for a week or better month and all the hope and dreams you had are gone. If you are lucky you get out sane. Jesus is lucky his mother isn't like mine or perhaps he's not. With a mother like mine you wish you were dead. If no one believes you, everyone is blind for what she does there's no reason to stay alive. What is a lifelong scolding and beating worth? Even in church, I hear her voice. That voice is always in my head. It's hard not to change into that man Norman Bates. He knows how it is if you can't escape out of your mother's claws. Jesus didn't rescue either did god. It is as it is. If there's a plan for everything it means God doesn't care and he won't come to your rescue. He wants you to suffer. I don't believe that old man preaching. He says what they all say but never talks about real life, real suffer and pain.
Happy to be home back in bed even my bed is cold.
December 24, 2021
Not much sleep. Out of bed at 6 am.
Merry Christmas... I've watched a film on television. Grandmother doesn't have a tree. Auntie and my new uncle came for having Christmas dinner with us. Soup, goose, dessert and coffee with apple pie. I like grandmother's dining table and chairs. The legs are claws of an animal. We didn't sleep at her place. My mother was angry and granny was too. Dad drove us back home. Tomorrow I will see granny. A long drive in the car again. The light of the star of Bethlehem in front of our window was on. Welcome home.
December 25, 2022
It was good to see granny is still alive. My uncle was home and another uncle came with his wife and children. I don't really know them just my uncle. I like him most of all uncles I have.
We ate nothing special but it doesn't matter. I can't eat much anyway. Again soup, rice and beans and meat and chocolate custard. We had coffee and cake and I helped granny do the dishes. I like her gas heater and watched it burn. No one talks to me. Uncle didn't stay long. My other uncle can be a bully and hates my mother and the adults talk to or fight with each other. It doesn't matter if it's Christmas or not. There's no love, no hope, no light wherever we go.
December 26, 2021
Days pass by. The tree is the only light in the darkness even if it loses its needles. My mother waters it daily. I think it's too warm inside and it starves. What is cut dies. It will be hard to get it out of here.
Mother gave me chocolate wreaths at tea time. She sang. I hope she isn't up to something bad again. Dad visited uncle G. He never takes me over there. I'm not sure if my mother was there. I think she likes him somehow. She doesn't like people and never forbids me to take his candies.
I had to come along with her as she visited the people. I felt bored and it's cold in the car if she doesn't drive. The car makes me sick and it takes long before she comes back if she visits someone. Why do I have to sit and wait in the car? Why?
December 29, 2021
Tomorrow we visit grandmother again. She'll bake oliebollen and apple beignets. I like the apple beignets most of all.
I didn't need to clean that much and was allowed to go outside. It's not so cold. No snow. It doesn't feel like Winter. I didn't know what to do or where to go to. I watched some children play and met Ellen. We searched for coins on the paths behind the row of houses where she lives and followed the path to where I live. Some mothers were outside frying oliebollen just like last year. It makes it smell nice outside.
December 30, 2021
Laundry day. The last day of the year. No illusions it will get any better. My mother won't change into a beautiful fairy if the clock strikes twelve. She will be ugly on the inside forever sneaky, mean, violent.
At 10 o'clock she received a phone call. She sounded agitated finished her coffee with cake and went to her room. She had to do her hair and makeup first which takes hours. She called for me and my task was to check her hair. She doesn't need me she has 4 mirrors plus doesn't believe what I say anyway. It took and took and those people called again which made her angry with me. Finally, she left. I felt relieved, cleaned up everything and took another cup of tea. I put the dishwasher on. It's not difficult and I know we won't leave if she finds tasks to be done. Dad left. I hope he is back home before her. I'm not sure what to do. I checked every room if it's clean. My mother hates dust and dirt and every single item needs to be right at its spot. Should I vacuum the stairs an extra time? I walked the steps she can see it on the carpet.
I vacuum underneath the tree and sit on the floor with a dustcloth in my hand. It's better not to touch anything. She doesn't only see footsteps but fingerprints everywhere too. I hug the dogs but can't feed them. If they come with us in the car they feel sick too. If they eat they vomit and make my mother furious too.
She arrived late. Dad bought us something to eat. She didn't say anything, didn't complain about what the house looked like. Dad drove us to grandmother. I think grandmother was angry. She said she waited for us the whole day.
"Shut up woman," my mother answered angrily, "you know I have to work."
If I would only think these words she would wash my mouth with soap and best me to death.
"You could have called." Grandmother looks at dad but he doesn't answer.
I went upstairs to the room in the attic. Three long stairs. For New Year's Eve, we always dress up. Black suit for men and women and girls wear a long dress or skirt. I don't know why because no one takes a picture and we don't go outside to wish the neighbours a happy new year. It's the first thing we do the next morning.
So long dress it is just to drink hot chocolate, eat oliebollen and wait till it's midnight. No one plays with me, talks to me or cares if I'm joining them in the front living room. They watch a show about the past year. I don't know if I should laugh or cry. I have no clue what is talked about on the telly. Grandmother put bowls with oliebollen and apple beignet on the dining table in the back living room. No one cares how many I'll eat. They are there to be eaten and if the bowls are empty there are more, way more in grandpa's office.
Champagne, happy New Year wishes, fake kisses.
Firework outside and on television. I don't like champagne or coffee. All I drink is tea and on rare occasions hot chocolate or hot milk if I am staying with grandmother.
In my bedroom, I watch the firework up in the sky through the small window. I can see the colours while I'm in bed. Tomorrow everything will be back to normal. My normal which isn't something to be happy with. The Christmas spirit is already dead and buried. I don't have anything else to achieve other than staying alive till I find a way to get out of here.
December 31, 2021