I am watching the fly crawling up the wall. Why doesn’t it fall off? I seem to remember a teacher once tried to explain how they hold on, even on to windows and ceilings. Maybe if I could do that I would have got away from the filth that night and never have ended up in here. Anyway I’m glad it’s on the wall for now. It’s better than it buzzing around my head. There’s a buzzing noise in there all the time as it is and the fly makes it worse. Even worse is when it lands on me, or on the food when that comes. I try remember what that teacher said about germs, but it’s just around the corner in my mind and I can’t quite reach.I lay on my back for a bit and must have gone to sleep because now the light has come on. It should be supper time soon, unless that hard-faced cow seeing I was asleep wrote down that I had refused food again. When I got off the bed the other day, my skirt fell off, I have lost so much weight. Mostly because the so-called staff are glad if they can write down I refused to eat, when really it’s just so they can avoid unlocking and coming in. Should be funny that they think a five-feet-tall bare-footed bean-pole can do anything against two great fat lumps, with their vicious hands and hard-toed shoes. Not to mention the keys.
I wonder what it is about keys? Here they use them as actual weapons – a sly dig in the kidneys, a scratch across the arm, or even worse the face. It all gets written up right and proper as ‘accidental contact while restraining’, ‘warding off attack’. You think of it and we inmates are supposed to have done it.
All the staff seem to like to jingle their keys. Is it to let you know they are coming? Is it a threat? A warning that you’re in for it again? Are they as frightened as we are and jingling the keys proves to them they’re in charge?
The staff at the other place used to do it as well. What was it called? Name gone. How could it, when I spent all that time there? Anyhow, even the decent staff there were always jingling away, or twirling the big fat bunches on those big thick chains.
Keys were very important there and you couldn’t make a joke about them. One day some of us pretended to be plotting to steal somebody’s keys. Did the lid blow off? You should have seen it. Four of us all banged up in the ‘pokeys’ all day. I am sure they would have locked us all up, but they only had four rooms.
Of course, I was one of the four. I could never learn to keep my mouth shut and anyway some of the staff had it in for me because of what I had done – or what they thought I had done.
A bit of a practice for being here really. Four dirty walls. A high window, with glass you couldn’t see through, or break, a solid base in the corner, with a nasty old mattress on top. At least here there’s a toilet that flushes and some bog paper and somewhere to wash your hands after. There it was a bucket and that’s it.
There was a fly there as well. I wonder how they get in? Do they whizz in when the door is open? Do they want to get out? Do they think it is forever? Do they think? Some days I think I am here forever. Some days I don’t think at all. I look at things and don’t know what they are. I don’t know where I am. There is just this buzzing in my head.
The doctor said I had done damage to my brain by sniffing stuff when I was younger. Not snorting coke like they do now. We used to do glue, or lighter fuel, or petrol. I used to be top of my class at junior school, until I found out about sniffing. Then when I moved to the comp it was the best thing to do.
The school was big and noisy. The big kids used to push us new kids around. I couldn’t always find my way. I still wake up thrashing around, wondering how to get to the design and tech room. We had to move around for every lesson and turning up late for a class was bad news. Then you had to carry everything around to try to keep it safe. At juniors we had one teacher, one classroom, one desk, one peg in the cloakroom and nothing ever really got nicked. But not any more.
At the comp, kids would even take your bag from next to your feet. They had a scam all worked out. One of them would start a ruck on the other side of the classroom and when everybody was looking somebody’s bag would get lifted and never seen again – at least never with anything in it. Whenever this happened to me it meant trouble at school as well as trouble at home. At school it was not having PE kit, or the books for the lessons, or the homework that I had spent hours doing. At home it was the cost of another bag, more kit and on and on. Not to mention a clump around the head, no tea, grounded and on my own all night, or all weekend or whatever.
Being on my own here should be a walk in the park. But it’s hard, so hard. The light goes out. I hold my stomach tight to stop it feeling so empty. Something runs down my face and I’m crying again.
I can’t see the fly now, so that other picture show starts running in my head. I’d run off from home, sick of being locked in and left while Mam went to the pub, sick of hearing her and the next bloke come back drunk, falling about, giggling, crashing about in the bedroom, through the paper thin wall next to my bed. I’d soon found out it was best to keep quiet and not let them know I was there. One or two of the men had found me …. My stomach heaves at the thought even now.