In search of adam, p.16
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       In Search of Adam, p.16
 

           Caroline Smailes
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  i watched it fall

  eleven floors to the ground.

  he let me. he laughed as i did it.

  his hands grip my breasts and squeeze.

  i don’t know if anyone saw me. i don’t care.

  5th september 1970

  bill refuses to give me money. he says that i’ll spend it on vodka. we can’t afford for me to be wasting money. he works really hard. he’s saving.

  the bloke three doors down buys me vodka. i suck him off and he gives me the bottle. i don’t care. i like the taste. he shoots out quickly and then i spit it onto his shoes.

  he can clean it up.

  bill asked me where i got the drink from. i told him that you gave it to me. he didn’t laugh.

  17th october 1970

  i have no future.

  i sit alone in the flat.

  your da says that we need to move. that we should buy a house, put down some roots and start again. my roots flap in the breeze.

  your da says that i need to get a grip. what should i grip? my own throat would be a good place to start, but i don’t have the strength.

  your da has been working hard at the factory. it’sall he does. he works long hours to stay away from me and he thinks that i haven’t realised.

  he can’t cope with being in the flat.

  i think that he hears you too.

  i think that he sees your stiff body in the corner of the front room. he wouldn’t tell me.

  he wants to buy a nice house, near the coast.

  he says that the fresh air, the clean start will do us good.

  i know that he’s right. i know that we need to escape the darkness,

  but i’m frightened to leave the flat.

  it’s our home.

  what if you come back?

  what if you return and i’m not here?

  what if we move and i stop hearing you?

  your da says that we should give our marriage one last chance. we should move where no one knows us.

  we should move to our own little house.

  we’re going to leave everything behind.

  bill doesn’t speak to his mam anymore.

  no one will know where we have gone.

  no one will miss us.

  i get flutters of excitement.

  how dare i get excited!

  to feel is to forget.

  but adam, no more accusing neighbours, no morehushed voices and no more pointing fingers.

  it’s the right thing to do.

  fresh air.

  the seaside for you to play on.

  i know that we must leave.

  your da has told me that i must not tell anyone of you.

  i must leave your memory.

  i mustn’t speak your name.

  i say it over

  and over

  and over in my head.

  he can’t stop that.

  19th november 1970

  ‘and adam called his wife’s name eve; because she was the mother of all living.’

  13th december 1970

  happy birthday. three today.

  14th december 1970

  we have found a house.

  a new house.

  it’s just being built. disraeli avenue in new lymouth. there’ll be three bedrooms.

  you can have the box room. i’ll decorate it for you. blue? or red?

  i thought about putting our blood red handprints all over the wall.

  i don’t think your da will approve though.

  17th december 1970

  i can’t wait for the summer.

  in the summer your da ’ll show his arms.

  he has adam on his arm. i see it and i smile.

  i want the world to ask him who adam is.

  i want to hear them speak your name.

  maybe i should get a tattoo. i could have your name scratched across my forehead and then they’d have to ask the questions.

  19th january 1971

  a sign.

  where is my sign?

  i don’t want to leave our house.

  how am i going to tell your da?

  2nd february 1971

  ‘so he drove out man; and he placed at the east of the garden of eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.’

  1st march 1971

  we met our new next door neighbour today. the foundations are down and we went to see. i wanted to write your name in the foundations. bill told me to get a grip. i was. i thought that i was.

  they were called mr and mrs symons. they asked if we had any bairns. your da said no. i pulled up my top and showed them my belly. they looked at me like i was a nutter. i don’t think that they saw the stretch marks.

  they’re fading away.

  your da said something about me having just had a miscarriage. did i? when did i?

  i don’t know if i did.

  i don’t know anything anymore.

  it’s all changing adam.

  everything is changing again.

  your da said that you’d never been born.

  were you? were you real adam?

  a sign. where is my sign?

  9th march 1971

  ‘and it came to pass, that at midnight the lord smote all the firstborn in the land of egypt, from the firstborn of pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. and pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the egyptians; and there was a great cry in egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.’

  2nd may 1971

  i sat today.

  i had a box that once contained my wedding shoes.

  i placed into it everything that reminded me of you.

  i will place this diary into it too.

  i mustn’t write to you anymore.

  your da said it makes me look crazy.

  i don’t care.

  i’ll keep this with me,

  my tiny box of you.

  it’s our secret.

  i must try to be strong. i must try to live.

  i know that you’ll send a sign when i can meet you again.

  we move to our new home tomorrow.

  ‘for in six days the lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the lord thy god giveth thee.

  thou shalt not kill.

  thou shalt not commit adultery.

  thou shalt not steal.

  thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

  thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.’

  25th november 1973

  i had to tell you.

  you’ve a sister.

  she was born yesterday. her name is jude.

  maybe one day you’ll meet her.

  7th january 1980

  it’s been so long since i’ve written to you.

  you’ve been buried in your box, but i can’t pretend anymore.

  i need to talk to you.

  i look at jude and i feel a deep ache.

  she’ll never know you. as she has grown, she has become more like you.

  sometimes i can’t bear to look at her. i feel that you’re within her, trying to communicate with me. she has a lost look, a hollowness that stares into me. she’s searching for answers. she knows that something is not quite right.

  i can’t tell her about you.

  how do i find the words? how many words do i speak before she realises how inadequate my feelings are for her?

  how do i tell her that i’m a child killer?

  my thoughts keep flicking to you.

  you’re my habit. you’re in my blood, pumping death into my veins.

&nb
sp; i wish that i was with you.

  i think of jude, i know that she needs me too but without you i can’t be the mam that she deserves. let me know that you hear me adam.

  11th january 1980

  i lay in the pea green bath. it was full. it was hot and i floated. my ears rested below the surface and i heard life. i heard the water breathing. i felt alive. my flesh was warm and the breathing shrouded me. i wanted to sleep. i wanted to drift away into a land where i could breathe again. i needed to be in a land where i was surrounded by love. i’m so very alone. i don’t know what to do. i need you to tell me what to do.

  27th january 1980

  ‘and cain said unto the lord, my punishment is greater than i can bear.’

  13th february 1980

  last night your da asked me why i’m always so miserable. he hates it if i mention your name. he gets angry and lashes out with his fists.

  i guess that that’s how he deals with his emotions. he should have protected your memory.

  we have no marriage. i wish that i’d someone to talk to. i miss my mam. somehow you’ve become a sordid secret.

  should i be ashamed of you? how can i be? you awakened me. i had purpose and a future.

  losing you has turned me into a bitter old woman. i can’t give love. what’s the point of loving? jude is such a perfect little girl, but she deserves so much more than i can give her.

  if i give her all the love that’s bursting beneath my skin. if i do this, then i know that god will take her from me. if god sees me loving another, then he will make another deal. i will kill again.

  i’m not worthy of her. i’m protecting her. i withhold my love.

  i can’t cope with what the future might bring; my life is brimming with insecurities.

  17th february 1980

  i told your da that i didn’t feel that i was coping. i said that i might go to the doctors and he told me that they’d think i was mad and lock me up.

  your da tells me to get on with life, that i should look at all the stuff that we have and not dwell in the past.

  all the stuff that we have means nothing.

  i like to think about you.

  some days i can’t get out of bed,

  i lie in the quiet thinking about you.

  jude comes in and i pretend to still be sleeping.

  she climbs into bed and burrows into my space.

  she pulls my arms around her and i know that she is smiling. her love for me has no boundaries.

  she isn’t like this with your da.

  i’m her everything. she’s such a good girl;

  she dresses herself and is ready for school.

  i scrape back my hair, grab some clothes and force myself to walk her to school.

  i look a mess, but she never complains.

  she seems so happy to be with me. she grips her hand in mine and walks with her head held high.

  she loves me. she sparkles with affection.

  she deserves better.

  what kind of a role model am i?

  all that i can teach my daughter is how to be a killer. i am incapable of love.

  i can hardly look after myself, never mind a daughter.

  19th february 1980

  ‘behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall i be hid; and i shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.’

  20th february 1980

  your da doesn’t really bother with jude;

  his world revolves around his beer, his mates, his football and his tv.

  i have to make sure that his food is ready for him when he gets in, that the house is tidy and his clothes are ironed.

  when did i become his slave?

  we have sex when it suits him.

  he climbs on top and enters me.

  i feel nothing. a log of hollow wood.

  he fills me and then rolls off to sleep.

  i hate his smell.

  i hate his weight.

  i hate the feel of his breath onto my ear.

  i hate the feel of his stubble on my cheek.

  he isn’t the man that i fell in love with.

  thankfully he doesn’t want me very often.

  my life is full of routine and emptiness.

  i can be in a room full of people and i feel lonely. i hate noise. i hate crowds. i like to be surrounded by silence, and then i can fill my mind with my own noise and thoughts.

  i busy myself, but nothing excites me. i have a gaping hole within me. nothingness accompanies me. i don’t think that i can take much more of this. i need a sign.

  25th march 1980

  jude, i’m going to die.

  tomorrow i’m going to die.

  tonight i need to find words.

  i can’t live like this anymore.

  yesterday i went to the doctors. he told me that i was pregnant again.

  i can’t be a mam again.

  adam has sent me this sign.

  so i have tablets and i have vodka.

  i don’t even know why i’m writing this.

  there’s so much that you don’t know and i doubt that your da will ever let you see adam’s box.

  but, i wanted to try and explain why i have to die. i killed adam.

  i killed your brother.

  i can’t be your mam without adam.

  there’s so much that i need to tell you, so many things that you need to know about being a lass. i have no right to tell you them. i’m no good at being your mam.

  i know your da. he’ll meet someone else and she’ll look after you. she’ll be your new mam.

  i can’t bear to write anymore.

  i’m never far from you—i can’t say goodbye.

  one day jude, one day i’ll let you know that we’re alright.

  adam sends you a big hug and kiss.

  x

  Adam was responsible.

  Adam was evil.

  My mother wasn’t wicked.

  My mother was wonderful.

  My mother was the most beautiful and magical woman to ever live.

  Adam had taken my mother from me.

  Adam had tricked my mother into leaving me.

  Adam was working for the devil.

  He was nasty. He was evil.

  Evil

  Evil

  Evil.

  My mother was so very unhappy.

  Adam made her unhappy. My father made her unhappy.

  I hated them.

  I hated my father. I hated Adam.

  I wanted my mother. I needed my mother.

  She should never have left me. She made the wrong decision. Adam forced her to make the wrong decision.

  I hated Adam.

  I hated my father.

  My mother.

  My mother was so very unhappy.

  She wasn’t evil. She couldn’t be evil.

  It was my father.

  My father and Adam.

  Not my mother.

  My mother was so very beautiful.

  I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know.

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  Killer

  My mother was a killer. My mother is a killer.

  Murder. Murder.

  I had to make a decision. Quick Quick. No time to waste.

  Quick.

  Quick.

  I had answers. I had more secrets. But. But I could cope. I had to cope. I had to. I had to protect my mother.

  I had to keep the words unspoken.

  Locked away.

  No need to talk about it.

  Quick quick. I replaced all of the tiny items. Back into the box. Back into the box that had once contained shoes. A long long time ago. Now it held the weight of the world. It carried the weigh
t of the world.

  Onto the floor in my bedroom.

  Stomach flat to the blue carpet.

  I stretched out my arms.

  I dived under the bed.

  My fingers brushed against my EIIR Silver Jubilee tin.

  I dug my toes into the carpet.

  Edged myself forward.

  Ducked my face to the floor.

  Breathed in the cloud of dust.

  Scrambled a little further under.

  Half a head under.

  I placed the box.

  Next to the navy blue cylinder tin.

  In gold capital letters. EIIR. 1952-1977.

  The Queen of England would look after my secrets. And my mother’s secrets.

  I wasn’t holding the box. I wasn’t carrying it around with me.

  But.

  But still. I carried the weight of the world.

  Ever After (1992)

  Ward 23

  Overdosing on grief.

  Alone.

  Slipping

  Into an already been

  State of decay.

  Daffodils

  Like hospital pills.

  Tick, tock.

  You’re dying.

  Sinking in anxiety.

  Tears.

  Paranoia

  Into the welcoming earth

  Of splinters puncturing.

  White walls

  Need sausage rolls.

  Ding, dong.

  You’re dead.

  Ask for a razor.

  Remember your name?

  Hear them screaming

  Into the night.

  Electric scales

  Like bitten nails.

  Squeak squeak.

  It’s mouse.

  May 24 1992, 11:27am

  I got a taxi to the hospital. GP told me to. Just follow the signs to the mortuary and you’ll arrive at Ward 23. I followed the signs. Ward 24. Mortuary. Ward 23. My father had agreed to meet me at the entrance. I had had to call him at work. He was leaving early. He wasn’t happy. He couldn’t keep getting time off work. He was waiting for me. I paid the taxi and together we walked past the mortuary. I understood. We arrived at the ward. 11:44am. My father pressed the intercom.

 
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