Author's Note- I wrote this for my English best writing coursework. Please read and tell me what you think. I know it sounds like the narrator is talking to herself most of the time, but reviews and constructive criticism are VERY much appreciated. Thanks =)

Beth xx

Darkness. In truth, a great deal of the ordeal is simple darkness to me. To this day there is a large proportion of it that I do not remember. But whether or not this is by my own choice I have never quite figured out. Perhaps, being only little I subconsciously chose to forget the most painful parts, partly due to fear and partly because I did not understand them. I suppose that now, if I tried hard enough, I could remember things I never knew happened. Snippets of events come back to me sometimes, someone's voice, the scene of a room. But they are all over the place, like pieces of a puzzle that I have no wish to solve. It is a form of self-protection, blocking out the most painful parts and trying to pretend to ourselves that we do not remember. But it does not work; eventually it catches up with us and we find ourselves forced to face it. I don't want this to sound like a hardship tale with a happy ending, because it is not. But it is easier to fall for the, "trials make you stronger" tagline. Far easier to do that than to tell anyone how I really felt about my life.

I've struggled for years and never have been quite sure whether I am afraid or not. At this present moment I do not think I am, but I have had fifteen years to come to terms with everything. Whenever I try to tell anyone about this it always comes out like a story, something I have made up to get attention. But that is another thing that is not true. I think they feel uncomfortable with me talking about it so they try to ease the conversation along by making light of it. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn't. That is more of a failing in me than in them.

Fifteen years ago my mother married a drug addict. Pure and simple. But first I need to explain something. This is my view of what happened, and because I wasn't there when she fell for him I do not know what it was like. I don't want to make my father sound like a monster or my mother reckless and uncaring, because neither of those statements are true. Everything that happened was not the fault of a single person. I expect it was a combination of events that began a long time before I was born. That's life. It sneaks up behind you and slaps you in the face occasionally, the pain from the sting lingering on your face like the taste of slew berries. We should expect that; we were not born into a garden full of roses.

My mother did not know what he was like before she married him. He seemed to change literally overnight. She suspects that he was not using drugs when she met him. He told her that he had stopped years before. She believed him, but we will never know the exact truth. I cannot imagine the sheer terror that struck through her as a flash of lightening to the earth as she ran away from her home and family because her husband had threatened to kill her and her unborn child. She did all that for me and no matter what we go through now, I love her dearly.

This is not supposed to be a history lesson. And no matter how much I tell you, you are never quite going to understand the full picture. I nearly always sink into the background, yet underneath the surface all of this is lurking in a murky pool of blackness. It is the kind of story you read about in novels, it is not supposed to happen to you.

All of it sounds a bit shocking, but I have often thought how I am not supposed to be here. It sounds like I'm crying out for sympathy, but I've tried to write this down before and it always comes out the same. Although it sounds strange, I do not completely regret what happened to us. It taught me that your life is affected as much by other people's actions as your own.

I am actually glad that I did not have a perfect childhood. It was painful and I did not understand it but it brought my mother and I closer together. And when I think that she does not understand me now, I remember how much she sacrificed for my life. So in some ways, what happened has been a saving grace.

Morbid as it may sound, I often wonder about how, "fate" meant me to be dead. Flashbacks that never happened swirl through my mind, fluid, and piecing themselves together without my control. A man walking home in the dark, his mind awash; a mix of changing colours. The moon glints as it catches the light from the protruding knife he carries in his pocket. But it is not really him. Strange demons dominate his thoughts and turn them upside down, giving him a thirst for violence. They cling to him, no matter how hard he tries to shake them off. They claw at his brain, snatching away all rest and peace and replacing them with doubts that his wife loves him, they make him think that she does not want the baby. These demons send him mad with rage and jealousy for something that does not exist. Even years after he thinks they have left him, the ugly creatures return when he least expects it. They crawl their way back into his nightmares, into his life, and he, unable to stop the terrifying demons gnawing at his body and brain, surrenders to their will. His life is in their hands; they have taken everything away from him. He can change from a perfectly normal man into someone who drives uncontrollable fear into his wife within a few minutes. He becomes violent, mental, confused, encased in a jealous rage. I suspect that there is a tiny voice, nearly crushed inside him, desperately trying to escape, and yet unable. The effects of LSD cause this. This is schizophrenia.

Other shadows and silhouettes dominate my mind from time to time. A woman lying still and dead on the floor of her house, her newborn baby remaining cradled in her arms. Her face is contorted into a grimace a pain, yet still wanting to protect her child even in the throes of death. That could have been us. But it was not. I have so much to be thankful for, for these shadows never did happen. We live, nearly as normal, hidden in a tiny town in North Wales. Our names changed, our former lives lost, the traces of our past concealed from all but a few select people.

But we were not allowed to rest for a long time. I no longer live in fear, though when I was younger, I watched life through a half-closed periscope into a reverse, "Alice in Wonderland" world of court cases, contact days and the constant risk of being discovered. However, my mother's fear was unfathomable to me then. I could not understnad why she was so very afraid of me being snatched from the school playground. This is where my mixture of blurred memories begins, or rather what I allow myself to remember. I still do not know what lies buried in my soul. What my young emotions found far too painful to recall.

Ultimately people are born selfish. They do not care for anybody's needs and desires save their own. As I said earlier, they learn that life does not completely belong to them. It does seem slightly unfair when I think about it sometimes, but none of us can smash through the eternal diamond that is the truth. Other people leave their mark upon you, for better or worse. Life hands you The Ace of Spades and then cruelly snatches it away with its next breath. As if to derive some unknown form of sadistic pleasure from our pain. If you live to be old enough to look back on all your years, you would see that a heavy weight of your joys and tears were dealt to you by others and that your own decisions only made up a small portion of them. That is not to say you have no choice in which direction life takes you; it was merely to demonstrate how strongly things beyond your control can affect you.

People would say that I should be grateful for the little time I spent with my father, for some people are never given that that chance. But being still a small child I never appreciated the visits to see a man who was no more than a stranger to me. It was selfish and I know that now. But remembering how I used to sit on my bed on a Saturday morning thinking why I was being forced to visit a man who very name emanated fear for me I can recall seeing the seagulls sitting on the rooftops opposite our house and how they flew freely across the morning sky. I forever longed to obtain their freedom; I was caged compared to them. Trapped in almost every essence of the word. Other people who, "knew better than me" controlled my decisions, decided upon the course of my everyday life. Fear held my world together, kept its hooks firmly attached in my mind. Unshed tears that I knew not how to express filled my lungs and drowned me slowly from the inside out. Perhaps they are still there now, I have no idea. Am I still dying inside? My question remains unanswered. At night I sometimes wonder if I still carry this little hurting girl with me, wherever I go. Doubtless I do, but if eel she is buried too deep for even me to reach out to her. I want to be free of her, to scatter her to the wind and watch her die and yet I hold onto her at the same time with yearning, desperately seeking to hold her close to me. Better to feel her than nothing at all. For we hold onto pain for fear of what will come in its place. Nothing at all? That is the worst of all. Better to hurt than to let go and never feel anything again. The pain reminds out soul that we still live.

Through all these thoughts full to the brim with self-pity I never once thought how it must have been ten, no, a million times harder for my mother. I am ashamed to be reminded of how selfish I was then. Her emotions must have raked over the coals as we walked through the door to the, "play centre". I did not play. Going through the motions and actually doing something are two completely different things. Different and yet so alike that at moments even your closest friends cannot tell the difference. A gift to the human-kind and yet a curse as well. We were given the ability to hide our true selves from others but this prevents us from receiving the help we so desperately need. Bittersweet. Like honey and lemon, sugar and vinegar, life and death. Like trees in November. The sense of knowing where the snare is set and yet walking into it all the same.

My mother would try her very best to make the situation better for me, never once thinking of herself. She bore my pain all this time, as well as her own. She would invent games for the three of us to play, no matter how difficult or tiresome it became. He would tell her how she was trying to take me away from him and keep me for herself. I am not sure how accurate this next bit is but it is one of the most prominent events that has remained with me so there is no way I can leave it out.

During one of the arranged visits to Aberystwyth I can remember my mother sitting at the other end of the room, as if trying to protect me from whatever was about to be said. She looked as though she was crying and my father was shouting at her. For some reason I always remember this images hazed, as in old sepia photographs. I do not know why this is. Memory can play strange tricks, for good or bad. Self-protection again? A child's wish that whatever is happening is just something out of Grimm's Fairy Tales and not real. I remember thinking, "Why is this man hurting my mummy?" I was angry. Angry at him, at the whole situation. I wanted to protect her, to make sure we would be safe from him forever. But I couldn't. I wanted a daddy to hold me in his arms and say, "I love you." Someone who would make mummy and I happy. Someone who could release the fear from her eyes, who could stem the tears and yet another letter arrived from the court. But I couldn't have that either. At the same time I wanted to cry, to be comforted, but nor could I do that. Nothing in the world could make me understand it-something was preventing this three-year-old girl from crying. It was a defeat. A complete, desperate, hopeless defeat. I've never been able to obtain any of these things, even now. I lie to myself that nothing has affected me, but it has. What has happened is not only a memory. Wistfully, I occasionally think what it would have been like had we all had a, "normal" family life. I have not been able to completely escape the shadows of our past life. However we do live in the light at the moment; we do not have anything to fear. The tunnel of darkness has finally passed behind us. My father no longer fights for custody or visitation rights; we are longer plagued by doubts that everything will emerge again.

When remembering the occasional visits to Telford I wonder how all this actually came about. While I blamed my father when I was younger, I believe I have forgiven him now. Everything that has happened has given me a small jewel of understanding as to what kick-starts some people on the downward spiralling path of drugs. Although the actual act was his decision and it was a wrong one, part of the choice had already been made for him when he felt lonely and unloved as a child. His decision was stolen away when his mother told him he was born out of a rape. The sheer sense of being unwanted must have been an all-consuming, unbearable feeling. The demons had already begun to feed on his dying flesh, offering him their sickly sweet taste, their false comfort. Lulling him onto their featherbed offer of an, "easy" way out and helping him set foot on the first uncertain step downwards. I am not trying to make a list of excuses for him or romance the idea of his condition. However, I am guilty of romancing the sadness in situations I have seen. At least a few of them anyway. I had an idea that there was a strange kind of nobility in carrying on through trials. Some sorts of attractive quality that drew me into tragic experiences and made me write over the top tragic romances. This must sound abnormal and excessive now, but there was something almost sensual about romancing sadness. Experiencing these things myself reversed all that. I realise now that it was a well-disguised form of self-pity.

"If you enter this world knowing you are loved and leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with."
-Michael Jackson