Perfume. That's what reminded me of my mother. The sweet scent of white musk triggered off many happy memories of my younger days back on the East Coast. Whilst the temperature rarely rose above twenty-five degrees, once the strong rays of sunshine scattered across the sandy beach, I felt I was in paradise. As a child, I was fascinated by rockpools and the waves that rolled onto the sand in addition to the seagulls swooping through the clouds. I often wished I was free like a bird to travel wherever I liked day or night, summer or winter. Everytime you opened your mouth, the strong salty air would tease your senses and make you feel more alive and at peace. The local pub just overlooking the sea served the most amazing seafood I had ever consumed and even thinking about their delicacies made my mouth water. Those were the best summer holidays of my life.

I bet you thought I lived by the sea. No, unfortunately. I've live in the country, just outside Oxford. Presumably, you assume I am either privately tutored or attend private school, enjoy horse riding, strawberry picking and taking part in fairs involving the mass distribution of jams. If so, you are most certainly incorrect. Although I use received pronunciation, I am far from what you would consider 'posh'. Whereas some of my peers are overjoyed in the thought of attending tutoring sessions in Mathematics after school and applying for Oxford and Cambridge, I am content sitting in bed reading a fantasy story. To put it simply, I am different from other people my age.

My mother disappeared without a trace when I was eight years old and life has never been the same since. According to everyone, my mother was 'mad'. Of course, it took me many years to understand what that meant. By mad, they meant insane. I knew she wasn't like other people, but it wasn't something she had enforced upon herself. Even with the drastic moodswings she was still a kind and honest person – her illness didn't really change her, or so it didn't seem like it to me. One thing I can remember her telling me was that she was a city girl with a country heart. Whilst she was born and raised in London, she much preferred the countryside and the seaside even more. Cosmopolitan was not her style.

It was only two years ago when I was fifteen that I found out that my father had been involved with my mother's abrupt exit. Whilst I feel my father is one of the loveliest male figures I have ever known, alcohol warps his personality until he is rendered unidentifiable. Jekyll and Hyde syndrome, as I call it. Alcohol intoxicates him and transforms him into a monster, a man I do not recognise. When he drinks, he is not the same man who used to play hide and seek with me in the fields – I am afraid of him. However, when he is sober, I look into his eyes and see a deeply troubled man trying to hold everything together. Being a single father mustn't have been an easy, scripted job. Alcoholism and domestic abuse is rarely heard of around these parts, so for most of the time we keep ourselves to ourselves. I feel we aren't accepted by the community as such because of our history, but that's okay because I don't plan on sitting around here for much longer. I don't even know if my mother is still alive and if she is, I don't know where she would be. I can't even remember what our favourite holiday destination is called anymore. All the fabulous memories are starting to fade, like ink on an old, worn piece of paper. I hope to remember, because I have a thousand questions listed that only my precious mother could answer. There is barely any connection between me and my father now, and I'm beginning to lose touch. All I wish for in my prayers every night is for my family to be back together again. If there is a God, please make my dreams come true.