The Devil in Me
“The devil in me is looking at the devil in you – a reflection of itself…”
She’d come to realise variations aside we’re all made of the same substance. Didn’t help her to know anymore or any less though, head spinning she needed answers not more questions but the questions persisted. “What makes a person great?” saying the words out loud didn’t bring the answer to her mind. Looking in the mirror across the room seeing herself slumped against the wall, mascara smudged, cigarette between two fingers hand around a bottle that in turn was resting on the floor. Deciding now being great involved looking a hell of a lot better than what she did at the present time. Leaving the bottle behind she crawls on hands and knees closer to the mirror, peering in as though she were looking into a pond trying to wipe away some of the makeup while taking a drag on her cig, perhaps she was simply looking for some depth within herself. Not realising she had started down a path one that wouldn’t be easily walked. Achieving answers was a given knowledge of self was for the taking if a person could accept the truth. Unknowingly she had opened a door in her mind, crawling back to the bottle she takes a swig, no longer thirsty just pleasantly numb she was trying to maintain what she didn’t feel, more difficult than it sounds. Lying on her back one leg over the other she lights another cigarette, hums a tune while staring up at the ceiling, seeming oblivious to her discontent. Emily enjoying the moment, Bacardi was such an easy tasting alcohol, made her mellow smiling she turns onto her side for a different view of the room. Not wanting the evening to end she intended to make use of the prelude to light, refusing to sleep because she was tired or had no other company. Drifting in and out of day dreams, letting her thoughts wonder she mentally peruses her life to date.
Having travelled a little but wanting a change of direction Emily was back to being a student. Enjoying the lifestyle, no cares, and a lot different from the grind of 9-5 office work. Living with her mother though, wasn’t easy to come home after living away. Knowing independence then having to answer the same old questions “where are you going, what time will you be back?” The questions could be endless sometimes this undoubtedly effected the already strained relationship Emily had with her mother. They used to be close when she was a child, resentment building through her teenage years, they fought more often. Emily had grown up and away from her mother’s outlook on life. An attractive woman Emily thought who didn’t appear to be comfortable with herself, social but found it difficult to make friends, shrinking away from individuality, happier to blend in but also wanting to be noticed, her mother Deborah was a contradiction of sorts. Emily was waking up to her own feelings and idea’s, travelling had broadened her horizons of people and places inquisitive she would always want to see more! This year had been sociable so far however Emily always needed time on her own for retrospective thought. A person couldn’t learn about themselves if they didn’t ponder. Often looking at their relationship past issues yet to be resolved, arguments usually ending in each of them ignoring one another. Silence was bliss unless fuelled by a disagreement only then did silence become a state of discomfort. Emily’s mother had a gift for seeming to lower the temperature of a room simply by a stare. It used to stop Emily in her tracks, make her scuttle off to her room out of the way but more recently she would just roll her eyes and opt for some much needed fresh air!
The fresh air wouldn’t change the past or her mother it did allow Emily to imagine. Letting her mind run free, what would life be like if she’d been born into another family, been an only child, what if she’d been 5’8 with flaming auburn hair instead of 5’3 with mousey brown locks so many variables, to what if!? The afternoon would drift by while she puffed on a sneaky cigarette contemplating better days. Yet there was no escaping who she was, how she had been brought up or what she had been taught as a child by both her parents. These beliefs/rules had held some security but now they were the cause of an inner turmoil.
Emily had been programmed as any child is taught to believe what their parents believe, taught how to behave and what is deemed socially appropriate. The foundations of a world had been set in her mind one where many hours of arduous work equalled money, money wasn’t easy to come by and didn’t grow on trees. Morals, a concrete understanding of right and wrong, honesty over and above all else and Sunday school, made to go every week although her parents had long since taken a step back from Church life. Realising there was something else to believe in only fuelled her curiosity of the world it gave her added muster in refusing to conform or be caged. There would be no glass ceiling in Emily’s world. Such bold decisions came with their own price she didn’t find life suddenly any easier because she was prepared to be open minded. Society has a sixth sense for those who do not conform to rules. Belonging wasn’t an everyday feeling, if anything her new ideas had added distance to already formed friendships and perhaps made her appear unapproachable to those she didn’t know, she could only guess. Emily didn’t have all the answers, why she found it difficult to fit in, why girls her own age would rarely make an effort to chat. Inevitably the unhappiness caused would take its toll drinking to numb what she felt was medicinal, a remedy of sorts. Bottle of Bacardi a friend for the evening, inviting, compliant, taking her mind away but a fair weathered friend at best, the mornings after were hell and the Bacardi was no where to be found!
Breaking free of others beliefs was a struggle as was re-programming what she had been taught as a child. Drinking was no answer or the kind she needed but Emily wasn’t perfect. Focusing her mind wouldn’t be easy, finding new outlets for her energies led to exploring a creative side – Enduring;
A mouth to sentence the brain
A life time suppressed
Would be a murderous thing
Unable to speak my mind
Would be an affliction
Misery of the worse kind
Elixir to lose yourself
Dull the pain
Drugging the senses
Not for me
Choosing the pain
To keep myself sane
Is how I’ll remain
With no apology
Regret, nor any shame
Understanding and accepting herself was part of the problem, so she should begin, open now to where this might take her, a cure other than ‘hair of the dog’.
Emily’s challenge lay in embracing a disposition for being opinionated, outspoken, strong minded and wilful something she rarely received constructive feed back for. Stepping away from beliefs she’d grown up with left Emily feeling wide open perhaps a little vulnerable and having no teacher in the physical sense was daunting. A suggestion that she held all the answers she’d ever need within herself was a revelation. One that Emily didn’t quite know what to do with, aware now her body and mind weren’t in agreement and hadn’t been for some time. This creating havoc from within. Confusion aided by denial throwing up a smoke screen, the problem didn’t lie outside it lay in her own perception of the world and how she thought it should be. She had been fighting against herself begging the question how long had Emily been on auto pilot, using others beliefs to navigate her way through life?
Continuing her thoughts on what makes a person great; wondering, if other people saw greatness in a person would they encourage it to grow or stamp it out through fear or delight? Emily loved people watching so much could be told by a flick of the hair, tilt of the head, a smile or frown. All the answers were there, body language speaking volumes of thought, more honestly than most would afford verbally. She could read misdirected communications between others however her own emotions evaded her at every turn, knowing herself wasn’t as easy as knowing a stranger it seemed. Another question; if someone held greatness within themselves how long could it be sustained if it went unnourished? Would it disappear slowly fading like the days light or remain in wait for a spark to ignite. Always waiting to be told she was good, to be told she could achieve. These emotions pulled at Emily’s heels, other areas of her life were unavoidably impacted by her lack of confidence. Romantic attachments were few and far between blinded by feelings that were rarely reciprocated. Love though was an important component of life and living, love of many things kept people going gave a person hope she thought. Hope of making life better successful or maybe just a little more bearable.
She had so many dreams, wishes but she was lost she knew where she wanted to be but Emily hadn’t the faintest idea how to get there. What was life’s meaning, drifting along each day no compass or understanding of which way was the right way. With a will to work and an interest in new experiences, why did what she want appear to be so out of reach? Her thoughts groggy now she breaks into a whispering sing song “what a difference a day can make, twenty-four little hours’…” She felt alone Emily wanted to be loved yet she wasn’t open to letting someone get that close. Allowing a person to know what makes her tick, feel alive make her run shout scream or cry. This honest evaluation was a crack of light, allowing others in to know her meant making more of an effort, shedding the ice maiden persona that had apparently stuck in her teenage years. Like a seed the idea began to grow in her head, Emily held the power in her hand now all she had to do was process the command.
Sleep was waiting in the shadows of her dimly lit bedroom only a matter of time before she slipped into a dream world, other than the alcohol induced state her mind was mulling its way through now. Exhausted lying on the floor in the dark she pulls a blanket up and over her shoulders, inhaling the fabric she snuggles in, eyes heavy her mind lulls Emily is convinced tomorrow will be better than today.
Rolling over Emily is aware of a familiar noise a low constant hum, she sighs inwardly knowing her mother had begun to hover. Guessing she has about two minutes before the vacuum cleaner is bouncing off her bedroom door. Arm outstretched she feels around for a bottle of water. Hearing the vacuum on the stairs now Emily tries shielding her ears from the noise too late though her mind already beginning to mimic the low vibration. She may as well be having her brain sucked out through her ear, feeling slightly nauseous she sips the water delicately. Trying to guesstimate the time Emily opens her eyes and squints around the room. Difficult to tell, she was on the floor and her travel clock was on the bedside table, no mobile insight obviously M.I.A so that left the sun in sky. And as much as she’d like to tell time by the sun’s position or the shadows cast on the wall there was more chance of Emily winning the lotto. Grumbling she gets to her feet a little too quickly still squinting she stumbles over the remnants of last night’s party, catching herself she stops mid motion. Thoughts forming more rapidly now she realises her mother is on the landing, sniffing the air she’s suddenly aware of the smell of cigarettes lingering. Emily rushes across her room stumbling over her hair brush come microphone, hopping she makes it to the windows and flings them open. In somewhat of a panic she searches her knicker draw for matches ignoring the stinging sensation shooting up through her foot. Fumbling she strikes a couple of matches and eventually lights her oil burner all the while inwardly screaming a sing song string of “Oh fucks”. Standing statue still Emily tries to decide if she should go out into the hall or wait until her mother reaches the bedroom, see if she knocks the door. Seconds pass and she begins to hobble across the room to the door listening closely hoping Deborah wouldn’t come in imagining the argument that’d unfold as she had zero tolerance for smoking, Emily rolls her eyes. As she predicted the hover begins to bounce off her bedroom door, not just once, twice but three times, her mum mutters something and makes her way back down stairs. Relief takes over as Emily turns her back to the door slowly sliding down to rest herself on the floor. How she hated the taste of nicotine in her mouth the morning after and the furry feeling on her tongue, “Eww”!
Hungry she feels her tummy rumble but doesn’t want to do the 100 questions with her mother. It is inevitable though Emily makes her way slowly downstairs to the kitchen. Tucking into scrambled eggs and soda Emily watches her mum walk through the door to the cooker, check the tea pot and pour a cup of tea. Deborah sits across the table now, she seems in a good mood maybe this wouldn’t be as much of an energy suck as Emily assumes. “So what did you get up to last night, were you out” Debbie inquires “Nope” Emily answers, she keeps her head lowered and continues to eat “I was out with Clive we went to the cinema then back to his” Debbie offers almost boasting. Emily was hoping that’s where the details of her mother’s night would end; she didn’t need to know what happened after the cinema! “Yeah we had a really good night, thought he would’ve text by now though…” Debbie slips her phone out of her pocket checks it and pops it back into her pocket, her good mood teeters a little. Emily watches while she sips her tea, she can tell Debbie’s mulling over the in’s and out’s of her date, analyzing every moment, she would be wondering why he hadn’t text and nervous in case he wouldn’t. “So you didn’t do anything, you just sat in on a Saturday night!?” Debbie asks in disbelief, Emily knew it annoyed her that they didn’t chat the way they used to it never helped though so what was the use! “Thought I smelt something funny at your door when I was hovering, you weren’t smoking drugs were you?” Debbie was scraping the barrel with this question as alcohol had always been enough for Emily. “No I was in my room listening to music and on my laptop, O.K” Emily glares at her across the table, “really dear you should get out, get a boyfriend… do you know Amanda was asking me if you were ‘funny’, I nearly died she wondered if you were gay, she’s never seen you with a boyfriend…” Debbie keeps talking as Emily gets up walks toward the back door opens it and walks out through it she faintly hears “where are going, Emily, Emily…” Emily rolls her eyes just keeps walking relieved she fell asleep fully clothed the night before.
Sitting on her favourite wall she watches the world pass by, people in the park having a Sunday stroll, cars on the road. She missed her grandma she always encouraged Emily to travel “see the world” she used to say. Her mind switches from happy memories to present reality, she needed to get out of her mums place, lay off the drink maybe she’d do some more travelling put college off until next year, anything for a change. Who was Emily kidding though she could move across the world and she’d still be the same person with the same issues. She already had the answers they lay in wait, ready to be found in the corners of her mind. Change would only happen life would only get better if she made a conscious decision to live a better life. If she wanted more friends she had to be friendlier, if she wanted more opportunity she’d have to open the doors, put herself out there. It was time to take a sledge hammer to the walls that had been built up in her mind cemented in place by other people she didn’t need to be great Emily just wanted to be happy. Not fully realising the resilience of her own strength bouncing back was what she was all about inherent to her nature, design. Having up’s and downs was unavoidable there was something that carried her saving Emily from complete darkness usually when she could take no more a crack of light would appear.
Standing up the sun appears from behind a cloud hitting her face she squints against the brightness. Warmth of its rays making her feel a little stronger she was going home to pack her bags, knowing one person who would let her sleep on their couch, time to call in a favour but she’d given plenty out. Her big brother was about to get a visitor.