Sometimes when I’m standing on the road half way between the good side and half way between the bad side of me I start to believe what people think of me.
There’s a crack that emerges in the asphalt – splitting, splitting, spitting up rocks and road dust and all the things wrapped in blackened paper that I keep at the back of my heart – things I don’t want to admit to myself; things that I don’t want to be there but are there. Things I don’t want to be true.
That I am not a very nice person.
That I am uncommunicative.
That I bring certain things upon myself.
That to like me as a person is very, very difficult because I am very, very difficult.
I work on these things all the time but sometimes when the crack in the road begins to widen, they emerge grubby-faced and vigorous. Regenerated.
There are only some people who have seen those parts of me wrapped in dark paper.
My family, mostly.
Some people in the family like those parts to remain firmly underground where they belong; others like it when the crack in the road widens and the taint in me flies free.
Because it helps them.
It gives them an excuse to act apallingly.
Because my unwrapped, blackened parts have driven them to it.
Or so I’m told.
My parents are leaving for Christmas in America in two weeks.
They haven’t yet told me.
I found out through my sister.
They probably weren’t going to tell me at all.
I know that technically we are having a big time out from one another.
But being in a different country for Christmas is fairly significant news.
I thought they might have let me know.
I’m not even angry. Or sad.
I’m just shaking my head saying: So it’s come to this.
I’m thinking I must be the person they make me out to be.
Otherwise they wouldn’t be such petty, vicious children.
I walk in the rain praying for clarity, my old walking shoes squeaking like floorboards. And then I see it. A puddle big as a mirror. As clear as one.
And I see my face in it. Silver and black and grey and blue all at once.
And I know that face.
And I know the fears I have.
The rocks by the puddle are covered in mud. Velvety, glossy mud that doesn’t look as if it could spawn anything sinister.
The wind ruffles the surface of the water.
My face is reshuffled.
When the water calms it is the same face.
The face I know.
I am not monstrous or even threatening.
I am just me.
Living as best as I can.
And as I walk back home the crack in the road has disappeared.
The street are half wet, half dry, patchy as paint flicked from brushes.
And it occurs to me that this is the way that life is – the good and the bad parts jostling to stand in the light.
And there is nothing wrong with that if we let ourselves be who we are.
If we let ourselves be ourselves.
A storm is coming up.
But that is good because in the morning everything will be clean.
And the roads will be seamless, undisturbed.