I got back home on Friday

by | January 24, 2021

content warning: abuse, violence, graphic images, homophobic slur, strong language (for Helplines see below)


I got back home on Friday and was met with a hug and a slap on the back that was a bit too hard. Just stinging the skin a little. My name exclaimed like I was a welcome sight, something he loves, a person he’d missed.



Worm. Dirt. Arrogant. Lazy. Selfish. Irritating. Disrespectful. Shithead. Poof. A list of pet names my father has for me.



My nose is bleeding. There are little drops of it on the cream carpet of my room that harden into plaques of red. I don’t want to wash them out. I want them to sit there and speckle the house that I’m trapped in.

I can hear him whistling. Whistling in the bathroom after what he’s just done. I think that was the moment I really understood, really knew that he’d never see himself as he really is. Never know that what he does isn’t normal, isn’t kind.



At dinner I called him nasty and mean. He refused my diagnosis; hurled insults across the table in return. I couldn’t find the right words, so I was left with those, as if I was on a primary school playground scolding someone for stealing my football. I talk about him being ‘bad’ and it being ‘awful’ but it’s not really either of those things. I suppose he’s not nasty and mean, he’s right. They’re not the right words.



I still haven’t finished unpacking. It would be an admission of something if I properly unpacked I think. That I’m not going back. That it’ll be six months of this. I don’t think I’d make it to the end of the six months.



There’s a kind of violence too. Not the kind of violence that looks like when he took a leather dog lead to my brother’s back. A different kind. That was wild and outwards, exploding out of him in every direction. This type of violence is pointed, deliberate, like all the feeling that frenzied out of him is pulled and grasped inwards, into him, until it comes out all at once in one direction like a dentist’s drill, the whine of it just too high for anyone to hear. Something boring into you. You can’t quite hear, but everybody knows it’s there – every word laced with something that threatens you, something that feels like he’s going to grab you by the throat and break your collarbone into tiny pieces, something that tells you that you are bad, really very bad, and it doesn’t matter if you know what that means or why it’s true, it just is.



My friends are sweet and concerned. They send me videos of better times and a frog eating someone’s finger. I skype them. Drink wine. But I’m still on my own in a house with this man that I think I might hate. This man that takes little pieces of me everyday and puts them somewhere, a murky place where I can’t get them back. Now I feel smaller, less. Pulp under the weight of the man that abuses me. That’s a word that I was afraid of using for a long time. Abuse. Horrible, nasty and mean were all much easier words. But the hole in the wall where he fought my brother and the dents in the plasterboard that my hand traces when I look inside myself all testify it’s true.


My friend tells me that I should leave home. That she’s thought that for a long time. I think she’s right but that’s all too easy to say. It’s harder to run. To run away, not knowing where I’m running to.


There’s a box room in my brother’s new house, which he shares with five other renters. It’s just a single bed and a doorway, but I think about it a lot.

I’ve talked to mum and she’s afraid of losing me. I know Dad focuses so much on me because my brother doesn’t live here any more. I know what that will mean for mum if I leave as well. Passed on like a baton. I don’t think she cares about that though. She just worries about losing me.


There’s a damp that’s seeped inside and can’t be shaken off. Like wearing wet socks as I trudge on through it all, peat lapping at my ankles as I sink slowly into the ground. It’s marshy and wet and rolls on past the horizon, past what I can imagine the future to be.


I realise that I snap at mum like he does sometimes. Just sometimes. But enough to make me feel sick.


I think about the way he’s helped to build me. How he’s nailed the wood and plaster all together,  with the odd screw sticking out. Now the rot’s set in, and mildew splatters on the walls like galaxies of black and slimy scale whose roots go down much deeper than my skin. I’m not angry anymore. Instead I’m sopping wet and dark and all weighed down by it.


My dad struts into my room with a measuring tape. He thinks I’m ‘down’ because my room is a mess. Thinks that the solution is a bit of home-improvement. He gestures at where he might put up some shelves, mutters about a chest of drawers he’ll buy. I want to think it’s sweet, but it just makes me angry.


My mum brings in a bunch of daffodils in a mug for me to put on my desk. It’s little, and it’s beautiful, and it’s kind.


My psoriasis is bad again. White plaques of skin sit on seething bright red patches, dappled across my shins, elbows and back. Little constellations, like the limescale inside our kettle spangled on my flesh. Like flaking white paint on plasterboard. It always gets bad when I come home. Like my skin is trying to tell me something.


Months ago, I stayed at a friend’s house. Student houses, at least in my experience, often smell the same. I’d noticed that before but only when my friend told me that her house had mould did I realise what that smell really was. Caught in every crack and crevice of the bathroom was an invasive species of slime that had dripped and seeped its way into the walls. Bleach and lemon was applied, my friend clearly unwilling to allow me to experience the mottled black displeasure that she dutifully tolerated every evening. Most of it was gone after a while, the house now smelling quite different to those rows of student homes, the bleach and lemon having strangled the smell of must that had lingered in the house before. There were still little speckles on the walls, and the bottom corner of the tiles was still dank and infested, not that I minded. I’d never cared about the mould at all, in fact. But it gave the opportunity for my friend to be kind, to fuss over the bathroom as surrogate for fussing over me. So I was grateful – not to have a clean bathroom, but to be welcomed home like that.∎


Words by Anonymous. Art by Elizabeth Tiskina.



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