Roots to Ground Us and Wings to Help Us Fly {Chapter 3}

We buy too many books.

At least, that’s what dad says, but mum and I laugh and open packages

and they bring a smile to my face.

And I’m never too tired to look at a good book.

Some might say we’re obsessed.

But the books hold up the 200-year-old ceilings and cakes the walls with stories from lands that

can only exist in our imaginations.

I go to the library once a week

and borrow 6 books which I’ve finished by Tuesday

and mum hides them so I can study.

I write stories and poems and read them to everyone, and make up words and worlds and people

and it’s like they are my best friends.

Sometimes what I write is scary and dark. But that’s okay because at least I’m coping and creating.

I write a book by hand and it has pages of messy scribbles,

and I wonder if maybe I do have repetitive strain disorder

but the steroids didn’t work, so the doctor must be right.

Even though I don’t want

him to be.

I take a break from studying. I hoover the hallway

and lie on the sofa reading War and Peace before appointments.

And try not to fall asleep.

My sister goes to work and studies biology and learns sign language

and takes me shopping when she gets paid.

They pay for her to get first aid training

and put her with kids with learning difficulties

who love her

and she comes home with stories every day.

I sit on the sofa and listen and try to be happy for her while my mum understands how I’m feeling.

We celebrate GCSEs and Level Threes and take photos

and eat ice cream and pizza on a Saturday


We try to be quiet while watching films

and I train my illness to stop taking up so much space.

I try to stop taking up so much space.

I pretend to be myself for my sisters who do their best to understand but aren’t quite there


We redecorate my room with soft creams

and blues

and move me from the smaller room to the bigger one for my back.

I listen to the radio at midnight when I can’t sleep and stare at the Bible verses

we put on the wall.

I dream of who I used to be and who I thought I would be.

And come back to who I am when my head hurts too much.

A lawyer.

A writer.

A creator.

A mother.

A social justice warrior.

A feminist.



Sometimes I cry my eyes out in my mum’s bedroom.

I know her duvet as well as I know my own

and I snuggle down and sob myself until my eyes are swollen,

and I know that if I don’t stop, I won’t be


to breathe.

We watch Narnia and Merlin and Legally Blonde

and have dance parties in the kitchen when I am able.

We go to the pond.

To the woods.

We revel in nature

and how simple yet intrinsically beautiful

and complicated creation is.

My brother goes to college once a week

I go to my friend’s house,

and we eat noodles while watching Supernatural.

I come home before dark and eat dinner and

pull myself into bed where I lie and stare at the ceiling

and remember how life used to be

and wonder if I would go back there if I could.

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