Selfish. Smothered. Spiteful. It’s been rough these past few months. In fact, it’s been a few years now. Though lately, it has got worse. They think I cannot hear. Of course I can hear, I’m not deaf. Every day after school, without a word I would shut myself in my bedroom; shut myself out of their lives. Jumping every time I heard a smash or a scream. Why am I cringing, I hear it all the time. I don’t think I have heard my parents speak politely to each other in a long time. Selfish. They both come in, trying to spend time with me. Asking for praise, ‘who’s the best parent?’ Smothered. Determined to wind each other up. Spiteful.
My hobby is Maths. Not only my favourite subject in school – my hobby. I have a wardrobe in the corner of my room, white, like the boards you have in school. Empty. I have a board marker from my teacher, she gave it to me after I begged for one. Every time my parents are shouting, I shut myself in the wardrobe and make sums. I adore solving Maths problems. At least I can solve some problems in my life. From the first time I learnt to write, I wrote numbers. You could say my wardrobe was my sanctuary, my hide out, my fortress. Every time I heard my mum and dad arguing again, I would run in there with my pen in my hand, singing Spice Girls’ songs out loud so I can block the shouting. In this wardrobe, I was invisible, in another world, I was its princess.
I love my parents, I really do. They make so much effort for me, take me out to the cinema or arcade. Take me to school and pick me up. Let me have little parties for me and my friends in the pubs they work in. They treat me really well, like a princess. They surprise me with sweets, buy my favourite books. I am obsessed with the fairytale ‘Princess and the Little Pea’, convinced that it is true. One day I came home and had a stack of mattresses my parents bought for my bed, underneath all the layers was a pea in the centre on my bed. That’s the best present I ever had. All I needed was my Prince to complete my fairytale. It’s just a shame it cannot be like this all the time. They don’t know I can hear them, they are so oblivious to how much noise they make. I can look after myself, well, I have to. I cook my own dinners sometimes, my dad used to be a chef so he taught me how. I’m only allowed to if they are around and I am careful. I put myself to bed, read myself a story. On occasion my mum will read to me until I sleep. She still then wakes me up shouting at my dad or vice versa. I cannot escape.
Knock, knock. The wardrobe door opens slowly, revealing my mum with a confused face. We are alone. Dad is at work, and we are alone. She gently takes my hand to pick me up from the wardrobe. I squeeze her hand in desperation, I didn’t know what was going to happen but I knew it was terrible. Something wasn’t right, more so than ever. She leads me to my desk chair and crouches down beside me. Looking up, I can see her eyes welling up with tears. I look at my wardrobe. All I want to do is shut myself in there again, escape from what was about to happen. And then, there were the worse few words a child could ever hear. “Hannah, me and your dad, we are getting a divorce.”
Selfish. Smothered. Spiteful. The feeling of a knife stabbing up my spine, a bullet to my gut, a slap around my face. I stare at my wardrobe again, wishing it would just swallow me up into another world. My world I have always dreamt about. A tear slowly trickles down my cheek. Followed with some more. I cannot stop. I cannot control it. Without any reason why they had been fighting, why they were splitting me in half, no apology. Am I the one being selfish now? Am I smothering my mum, trying to change her mind? Is it spiteful that I am crying and shouting at her? This isn’t going to change their minds.
It is days after, the numbers and symbols inside my wardrobe have been wiped clean, taken down, piece by piece and I watch it happen. It is gone, all those fixed problems. My only inspiration. My only hope. Gone. I went to school without doing my Maths homework. I go home and watch TV as my parents pack my stuff. What else is there to do?
Summer time is what I dreaded the most as I know this is the last summer with both my parents. I go out with my friends, it isn’t fun anymore. I’m not interested in the games they are playing. They didn’t understand what was happening, they are too naive, I don’t want to tell them.
It is the beginning of year 5. I’ve changed schools, new town, new house, new people. Completely alone. It wasn’t long until I made friends, but it wasn’t the same. Only once a fortnight I see my dad. I miss him, he taught me near enough everything I know. I am tired of learning from other people. I wasn’t the normal Hannah anymore. Starting fights through frustration, being lazy not doing my work, losing weight…
That was once upon a time and I have avoided thinking about it as much as possible. But still, every time I hear a plate smash, I cringe. If I see people fighting, I try to fix it. I see children playing and all I want to do, is bring back my childhood. I never had the chance to be a kid. Yet that’s who I am now, giving myself a second opportunity, I deserve to be carefree. I am always happy and never sad, as I think what is the point? This is the first time I have ever sat down and faced the truth, without fantasizing about true love and romance. At the end of the day, I am back to the Hannah I used to know. Not the one who did Maths and hid away any problems but the one who did dream about true love, and would one day find her prince. She has him in her life now. And they will live happily ever after.