“Of course it’s easy for you, you don’t do anything. You just sit around feeling sorry for yourself and I do everything for you,” she shrieked, and I have to say that is the most articulate I’ve ever heard her. She didn’t stop to talk about it though. She stomped out and I don’t know when she’ll be back, I just have to stare at the door and wait. But it’s easy, that’s what I was trying to explain to her, this is all very easy, simplified. We both know what we have to do. Back in my day, when the world was whole, problems were complicated, and I was just trying to explain that to her,
“You can’t even imagine how difficult it was,” I explained, “some days the twat in the desk opposite would actually make me want to throw up with disgust, he was such a creep. Listening to his rasping breath, smelling his farts every single day. Awful.”
But she didn’t listen. she thinks she’s got it tough. She thinks that she battles with terrible uncertainy, but the fact is that we know how we will die, we know we’re dying already. We know that it doesn’t really matter if we don’t get up tomorrow. Who will care? Nobody. No boss calling on the phone. No mother whining that we don’t take responsibility for anything.
And there’s no pressure now. When I was young the pressure was unbelievable, the constant feeling that no matter what I did, it was never enough. I would often cry. Sitting in the bath, the water gone cold, my desperation washing away down the plughole. Picking at a mole on my thigh and thinking about all the ways I was a failure: I wasn’t on TV, I didn’t have my own company, I didn’t have a boyfriend, and my TV had black casing, even though all the other furniture was pink. I would whisper to myself, “at least I’ve got my health at least I’ve got my health,” over and over. God I felt so ugly.
And when I try to explain this to Kaylida, the desperation, the sadness, she laughs in my face. I found her a few of my old self-help books, so that she could understand that it wasn’t shallow, that I wasn’t really crying about material things, but about the empty gaping hole left by my bitch queen mother, and then she laughed even more at me. I don’t think she really has the intelligence to understand it. Education hasn’t exactly been a priority during her childhood. And there have been a number of reports about the mental subnormality of her generation due to the water and toxins, and the atomic gasses. Still, she’s my little honey, and I love her for all her faults.
Kaylida came back from scavenging. She was extremely proud, carrying a bag full of tins that she had found in someone’s basement. The tins were baked beans and I hate baked beans. I tried to hide the disappointment on my face, but I’m no good at acting. I’ve never been able to hide my feelings. Anyway, I think it’s important to be honest. It’s not my fault that I hate baked beans, I always associate them with mum and her inability to cook because she was too selfish, too caught up in her own little world. So all the excitement fell off Kaylida’s face, and I was left feeling guilty, which is the last thing I needed.
The baked beans were foul and I could taste the contamination seeping out through the lining of my stomach. I started farting, sharp pains darting out in all directions from my stomach. Kaylida sat and glared at me as I started crying. I don’t know how she can be so heartless. The toxins don’t affect her like they do me, she grew up with the radiation and her body is practically immune to it. I keep saying to her that she should be thankful, it isn’t her generation that is dying of all the cancer, it is mine. We don’t have the same strength. I blame yoga and detox diets. I spent six years trying to get my body toxin free, make myself healthy and pure. I didn’t smoke or drink, I meditated for hours on end. It was the worst time of my life. Always in denial, always suffering. Kaylida doesn’t know what that is like at all. She thinks that she is suffering because she goes without, but the fact is that she isn’t denying herself, she takes every scrap she can find. Every bit of food, whether it is mouldy or glowing in the dark. She will eat seven-legged, two-headed bugs if she finds them trying to lay eggs in her pyjamas. However, I spent all those years, surrounded by sushi bars and curry houses, while I ate water cress and celery. With no exaggeration, I can say that I would kill for curry and chips right now.
I must have been crying twenty minutes before Kaylida crawled over to give me a hug. Kids are so selfish nowadays. I remember scoffing at my own mother when she used to say that, but now it is actually true. I try and explain again,
“It isn’t better to have loved and lost Kaylida, it is utter Hell. It’s so much better to be like you, to have never known anything but hopelessness and degradation, it’s just easier.” But I still don’t think she understands.