Locked out


By Ella Godfrey, Must the past stick to our soles like gum ?


My Mother put a padlock on the bathroom door. On the outside. I asked why. I said, ‘Mother, why is there a padlock on the bathroom door?’ I knew why, I just wanted to hear her actually say it. Because if she actually said it, I could point out how she’s actually crazy.

I had this whole speech prepared- half prepared- about what Freud would say about the padlock. Like, how it probably symbolised repression and control and sex, probably, and how that proves she’s the mental one. And I would have said that. All of it.

Except she couldn’t even look at me.

My parents each get a copy of the bathroom key and if any of us find it necessary to ‘utilise the facilities’ then we have to go and ask and give it back straight after. I suggested it would be easier to process if we all consolidated our excrement into one daily deposit. My parents work in finance, which is why that’s actually hilarious. Nobody laughed, though. I’m not allowed to make jokes.

The bathroom padlock matches the one on the cutlery drawer. She must have bought them as a pair. So now we can’t piss or butter our bread without permission. Apparently she’s working stuff through. I should be more considerate. She’s the one who needs support. It must be really tough for her.

She started texting my friends. Asking them for little reports and updates.

‘are you with her?’

‘is she there?’

She never texts me. She knows she’d only get some sarcastic response.

‘ok just about to jump off this bridge lol.’

I don’t go out anymore. It’s easier not to. She always wants to know where and how and with who. And I’ve told her, it’s ‘with whom’.

I have to wax now because I’m not allowed razor blades. Draping the strips over the radiator. I told her, ‘that’s fine. Isn’t waxing women’s favourite kind of self-harm?’ She’s silent after I say this. I know what her silence says. And I tell her, ‘there are worse things’. I don’t remember the last time we had an actual conversation when she wasn’t in tears or silent.

Inside the locked bathroom there’s a locked medicine cabinet. If I have a headache I have to go to her and she’ll get her keys and unlock the locked bathroom door, and unlock the locked bathroom cabinet and place a single aspirin in the palm of my hand. So I don’t get headaches anymore.

I like irony. Here’s a good one. You can fatally overdose on antidepressants. Isn’t that crazy? My mother didn’t find that very funny, for some reason. They get dispensed into my palm like everything else.

I have a theory that one by one every room in this house is going to be shut off to me. She’ll padlock them all, so I can’t go running off and I’ll have nothing and nowhere to go to. Which is ironic. Because that’s the feeling that got us here.

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