She spent much of her time in her head, recreating little vignettes of her own past. Sometimes it was unintentional and the thoughts just came, seemingly out of nowhere, like a cat darting across the road in front of a car. Other times, it was much more deliberate. Attempts at piecing together an identity that was either lost or perhaps had never been discovered in the first place. She wasn’t sure which.
Reading under the Christmas tree, in the warm glow of the lights that made gentle patterns of colour on the ceiling.
Blinking hospital machines, red and green, screaming out at 2.00 in the morning.
Bus rides to perhaps inadvisable destinations, book in hand, headphones protecting her from unwanted exchanges with fellow passengers.
Gerberas for gran, bright with an innocence that made them look like storybook flowers.
Cold sweats, pinpricks of light flitting across her vision, stomach twisting like someone running it through an old-fashioned laundry wringer.
The peach-hued glow of the evening sun, setting over the hill, as she sat and inhaled the woodsmoke.
That bitter, metallic taste that came with sudden fear, and the subsequent shame of being marched through a crowd of shoppers by an officer, handcuffed to her own transgressions.
All those familiar voices on the radio, people she considered closer friends than anyone she actually knew in person, punctuating her day, giving it structure and meaning.
Bleach. Goddamned bleach.
Clementines, red licorice, Twinings Irish Breakfast tea, tuna, bran flakes, Mini Eggs, green apples.
Journal pages filled with words that no person should ever have to read, let alone write.
Trips to the basement in the middle of the night, to purge her sins.
Cups of tea and a train ride to the CNE with an old best friend; fireworks in an empty field and drives to nowhere with a slightly-awkward crush; emails and movies and sobering talks about Big Life Issues™ with a favourite cousin; disposable camera snaps and beer and pizza crusts and an uncomfortable evening at a nightclub with an overseas friend who was far above her own rung on the social ladder.
4.00 am, Mum checking to make sure she was still breathing.
Christmas parties that she eschewed in favour of her own solitary party, replete with records on the turntable, mugs of tea, and usually a mini snowman in the back garden.
Excursions to the public library to use the computers, to remind herself that she wasn’t the only one like this.
She had all these fragments, and countless more, seared into her memory. Hopefully forever, as she was terrified to lose them. But she didn’t know what to do with them beyond turn them over in her mind like a piece of beach glass you find on the sand. Examining the different angles, the weather-worn edges, the way the light would glint off a corner in the sunlight. Like pieces of broken glass, they were part of something larger. She just wasn’t sure what, couldn’t picture the whole. Sometimes she wondered if they were best tossed back out to sea.