Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I thought, I'll write more later, in bed. I fell asleep with the lights on and the television on.

Julie was looking beautiful today, all eyes and pretty hair. She sent me a funny little English email. She rang me standing outside the house. It was a gorgeous half day. I played with the child. I played with the child in the sunshine.

Today I did not go to Lorient. I don't know if it was a good decision. Instead, I stayed at home, cleaned my bedroom floor, read a little, ate a crème egg because I felt sad, cried, went to bed, got up, made my bed, read a bit. I slow things down. I stop watches.

This kitchen is cold. From the kitchen table, an operating table, a dining room table (talk about knives and forks and scalpels and the hearts of your relatives, loved ones, over dinner, these tables), I can see the boulangerie from where I sit.

I'm watching TV with the sound off. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Do we get to see Benson's heart, skin, thighs, I love yous?

And now everyday:

We have a grown up child: grandmother. We have a pretend grown up: child (parrot, echo).

She: a white bathrobe, bare legs, blue socks with a pink line at the top, brown slippers, her whole unwashed again. The boy: blue pyjamas (far too short), blue slippers with zips and plastic soles, long, long forever eyelashes, straight nose, ugly little mouth.

(I wish: Drunk, drunk, drunk. He says oh my god, Olivia are you drunk? I say, yes a little, laugh.)

She pulls a grey metal chair into the middle of the stone floor, arms either side of the child. He doesn't look at her. He doesn't cry when she hits his legs, once, twice, three times, four times, five times. The child is stiff. He whispers, c'est moi qui commande, raises his finger, moves his head away from her. He whispers. She gets more desperate. She shoves the chair back into the table. Child: c'est pas la peine de crier, with his finger lifted. Her hands are so swollen. She hits, she hits, she hits. Tears.

(I wrote Hannah a birthday card. I wrote emails complaining about how little there is to eat here. I get giddy.)

The fridge door is open (fridge : American, huge, taller than me, white). They are looking in the fridge. Qu'est-ce que tu veux, mais qu'est-ce que tu cherches ? Kiri ? I am washing up their bowls, the juicer, an orange mug, knives. I can see their legs under the fridge door. (Parle, tu sais faire à trois ans et demi. Parle. Tu n'es pas un bébé. Pourquoi tu parles pas?) Legs, such little legs.

Go away because I'll die soon, says the child. He's sitting on a plastic Winnie the Pooh car, his arms crossed over the purple steering wheel. I'll die soon. Why, who told you that? Non, vas t'en.

He stops on the stairs, all sad and crumpled. Hey, come on honey, what's wrong. Let's go upstairs. He's sitting on the stairs, holding on to the railings on the old, old banister.

She pulls him on to the floor screams, As-tu fini ? As-tu fini, hits him again and again and again. He's put back onto the chair, tears running into his mouth. Then: he isn't crying, she thinks he's an actor. He's angry because he can't do as he likes, t'es mechante. She says nothing, kicks his chair hard. He screams but does not cry. Rocks back and forth on his hands, mouth open and very red. She picks up a glass and makes as if she'll throw it in his face. Louder, louder, louder.

A dream last night. She undressed herself and then she undressed me and she tried to kiss me. My mother was in the house. It was my bedroom. She got into my bed, was all "c'mon, c'mon". I wanted her (to stop). I want her to stop. I just want her to stop. She wants me to be found out.

There is more crying. I stand in the corridor and listen. It is morning, lightish, dull day, blue light through the window. I go back to my bedroom, my bed, pull the covers over my head and around my ears and vas t'en noise, please. Please, please.

He's crying when he comes home from school. I try to take him out of his grandmother's arms. He cries harder and harder. Maggie m'a fait pleurer, Maggie m'a tapé. C'est pas grave, je suis la maintenant. Je suis la. Mamie est la.

(I say, we're going on an adventure to find something to eat, come with us. He catches my hand, I'll send you an email.

Good, I say. See you. See you. I let go of his hand.)

He eats mucus producing cream cheese. He's clingy. I feel tired of him. We play catch in the living room. He screams when I catch the ball and screams and screams and screams. I hold him. He scratches my face. I let (him) go. Vas t'en Je veux plus de toi. Vas t'en! Vas t'en. Screaming. Ferme la porte ! I'm sent down stairs.

(I'm still saving things up to tell you and I still miss you.)

He's impossible over dinner, wants to eat dinner downstairs with me sitting next to him. I leave my food (fried chicken, pasta – I didn't want to eat it anyway).

I run the water for his bath. He doesn't want me to touch him. He undresses but needs help with the shirt. He screams, screams, screams, screams, half undressed, red and fat and ugly. I hold him, carry him. She rescues me. The bath water is still running.

I remember I used to write in black biro all over my stomach FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT. The black FATS were upside down because it's easier to write like that. FAT FAT FAT FAT lined up on my skin.

I sleep in late, give myself a headache. I am not tired but I sleep. I want to dream about my friends, want home, London. I dreamt things I cannot remember.

I slept, woke up, went back to bed. I slept, woke up thinking of legs and thighs and shoulders and went back to bed.

I'm tired.

I think I swallow too much Carmex. I think I use too much Savlon. What shall I buy tomorrow in Vannes? A cup of coffee with lots of sugar and no milk. Chocolate fish. I wrote a story about chocolate fish (There was a chocolate fish. He swam in a river. He could feel the salt in his chocolate eye and his chocolate ear and chocolate mouth and on his chocolate fins. The chocolate fish saw a piece of bread. He swam and then bit his big lips around the bread. Pain! Pain, not bread in French (although the chocolate fish was French) but douleur, in the mouth! He was pulled out of the water… To be continued) so now I shall purchase some.

I'm reading about Milan Kundera and his gestures.

Madame E leant back on her chair and said merde very slowly, smiling and it brought her back, hit me in the stomach. Another language: she was sitting opposite me, with her rubbish sense of direction. I thought about genes and family and gestures.

I order coffee in a café, a pain au raison, bought chocolate orange peels for Mum, chocolate hens. No chocolate fish! Spice cake from a man selling honey. I listened to the TV On The Radio on the bus, looking out of the window. I bought a huge wicker basket.

Carmex is making me sick. There are bones and ribs under my skin.

I am always hungry.

The child ate up all his fish fingers, didn't touch his pasta. He sat on my lap, wriggling (keep thinking about his insides, intestines, kidneys, they seemed so close to my skin and bone and muscle). My knee damp with child warmth. I long for grown ups.

The house: there are four floors, two kitchens, four bathrooms, four living rooms, halls, staircases, dust, so many bedrooms.

I run, feet shoved in these grey, pink slippers. The doctor and Madame E (dressing gown, night dress). The telephone, the child starts to cry. I run up to him, hearing his funny little bare feet running about. He is damp and he smells stale. He is crying. His bed is clammy and warm.

The child and I drew pictures of Father Christmas and of Christmas trees and I taught him how to write the letter A. I love that whenever he signs his name there will be the A I helped him write with little dots for him to join up.

All today: stay alive, do not die, what would I do. I had breakfast with them both, though came down to the child in tears. A fight at the breakfast table, a little boy who lies. He is pulled on to her lap, all tearful and tired, still, still for a bed and kneels on her lap, his little legs falling down next to her. I wanted tea, an apple. The child wants my tea, wants an apple, wants me to make him orange juice, wants not to go to school really, if you could drag your feet more.

I woke up earlyish today and padded ever so quietly down for breakfast before my little French nightmare woke up. I ate muesli while Madame E ate her bowl of café au lait with biscuits and fussed over the child, how naughty and terrible he is.

I followed yellow signs that said Diversion!