A Typical Day
Michaela McGovern Kindlon (age 16),Coláiste de hÍde, Tallaght, Dublin 24
“My doctor tells me my lifestyle is unhealthy and that I’m sick. He tells me I need to move on from what I saw all those years ago.” Photograph: iStock
I can’t remember when I woke up, or if I slept at all.
I can see daylight sneaking her way through my curtains and I begin to panic, because I could possibly have missed the most exciting part of the day.
I climb out of my bed. The sheets are turning faintly yellow and I know I should change them but I don’t know if I’m able for that right now.
Maybe next week.
I make my way down the creaky stairs, the bare wood rough on my feet.
There are two nails you have to watch out for, one on the third step and one on the second last.
I shuffle past the rubbish on the floor to get into the living room to check on my goldfish. I never gave him a name because it was too much commitment. I tried to name him once, but ended up spending two hours pulling and pulling and pulling at my hair until my scalp was sore.
My fish has been floating in his bowl for about two weeks now. At first, I didn’t notice he was dead because the glass bowl was so full of green gunk that I couldn’t really see him anymore. I know I should’ve cleaned out his tank but I didn’t want to take him out of his home, and when he comes back it would be all different. He seems like a happy fish, honest. I know I should flush him down the toilet, like you see on TV, but I really don’t wanna accept he is gone.
Maybe another time.
I check the dusty clock on the wall. 7.43am. I let a sigh of relief because I haven’t missed it yet.
I sit in my armchair in front of the window and I wait.
At 8.51am, I notice the figure through the blinds on my window. I watch them approach the hall and I leap towards the door –
My whole body overwhelmed with excitement–
Here it is–
Everything has led to this –
The figure leans in close to me–
And drops a piece of paper through the slit in the door–
My vision blurs with tears–
Because it’s almost like company, for a moment.
I run back to the living room and watch the figure leave, his navy cap and bright yellow vest, his back turned to me.
Once he is gone, the adrenaline evaporates into the air. I sit in the armchair and look at my mail. It is a letter from my doctor letting me know when his next visit will be and asking about my medication. He is a really nice lad, brings me shopping once a month because he knows I can’t go outside. My doctor knows I won’t reply to his letter. It would take me a century to find the words and besides, I don’t have a stamp. My doctor offered to bring stamps once, but I said maybe another time. I don’t like to write anymore, but I do draw circles, sometimes.
I find myself in the kitchen.
The entire countertop and floor are covered in plastic, plates and old food. A blanket of mould shelters almost everything and flies dance around the room. The smell is breathtaking, it really is bad but I wouldn’t know where to start in here. It’s just too difficult.
I know I keep saying maybe another day, but today just isn’t the day.
The fridge had nothing edible apart from a tomato, a yogurt and a half-eaten tin of beans. I take the beans out and put them in the microwave. The beans on top have formed a hard, dark layer but I think they’ll be fine. I stand and watch the beans spin and spin and spin. I start to think of how microwaves work but I know it will just frustrate me so I have to stop. It happens quite a lot lately. I cannot let myself think about the world advancing around me, without me. My doctor tells me to just accept this sort of thing, let myself go through the process of thinking. I think my doctor doesn’t know all that he thinks he does.
I take my beans and push past all the rubbish and coats in the hall, to get back upstairs.
I don’t know why I even have coats anymore. I haven’t worn any of them for a very long time and I’m sure they are miles too big now. I have thought about bringing them to the charity shop or throwing them out, but I think they would be awful upset to lose their fateful place on the floor in hall.
I avoid the nails on the stairs and go into the small room next to mine. It is by far the cleanest room in the house. I’ll admit the smell is strong in here too. To be honest, I’m not sure if the smell is from the house or whether it has seeped beneath my skin.
Anyways, it is an empty room except for my darling in the centre in her cage and a cupboard in the corner. Her large cage is rusting now but it still stands proudly. When I walk in, she is sitting on her perch. Her eyes turn my way but not her body.
Her eyes used to light up when I walked in, but now she understands that it is me and only me she will lay eyes on, therefore they have fallen cold and glossed over.
I go to the shabby cupboard and take out a handful of seed from a plastic bag and put it on the floor of her cage. When I do, she snaps at me and my hand begins to trickle blood. But I know she didn’t mean it, I know. I sit on the rough, dusty floor with my can of beans and watch her pull out her feathers with her beak. They fall elegantly to the floor, leaving her pink skin exposed. I watch her. I eat my beans with my hands, unable to distinguish the trickling blood from the tomato sauce.
I can’t tell if it’s dark yet from in here because I boarded the window with wood. I was afraid that the sight of the other birds in the sky would make her feel trapped or upset. It’s for her own good.
When I walk outside the room I can see the orange glow pouring in through the windows. I trudge to my room and turn on my tiny radio. I have to turn it off after a few minutes because the news scares me too much. There is just so much going on and so much hurt out there. My doctor told me I should face that too.
Maybe one day.
When I turn the radio back on, classical music is playing. I breathe in the music and I stare at the wall. The wallpaper is peeling and is a painful colour. I try to think of when it was white with a floral design, but that really hurts my head.
As I lie on my bed, I start to consider a conversation me and my doctor had the last time we spoke.
He said I would be happy at a new place. He said the new place had other people like me and people who could help. He told me that I would finally be able to get my life back on track. But if I’m honest I don’t really understand because today was a very productive day – I did all I had to and I don’t want to leave because who would look after my fish and my darling?
My doctor tells me my lifestyle is unhealthy and that I’m sick. He tells me I need to move on from what I saw all those years ago. I tell him not right now, but we both know I will die alone in this house.