I finally bit the bullet and started a 365 self portrait project. The hope is that it will encourage me to draw everyday, and in doing it in a diary I won't be daunted by the blank page syndrome and will be able to keep track of when I've done them if I stick to doing them on the correct day.
My first efforts are pretty dire, but will improve with practice. Hopefully. It's not easy drawing yourself in a mirror.
The house is quiet and empty, mum is next door supping strong tea with the next door neighbour and they are quoting the old swap the children dialogue that has been playing between them for 5 years.
I feel lost on my own, but at the same I enjoy the peace, the moments of freedom to do what I want, sit where I like and not be the cause of everyone's ill temper.
In my daze of quiet time pleasure I wander upstairs to the bathroom, and remember that they are hidden on the top shelf.
I have to climb onto the bath and the sink to reach them, they are kept on a high shelf to prevent 'accidents' happening - again. Why do they think I have so many accidents? Why do they think I stopped falling down the stairs once I discovered I could reach the medicine cabinet? Do they even think?
I have the cabinet door open now, and there they are, wrapped in wax paper and hidden behind some ancient Yardley perfume my mum was given for Christmas before I was born.
Sneaking back down stairs with them hidden in my shorts pocket, hoping that my mum is still next door, sharing tea and fantasies of a better life with the right children.
Outside I go, there is a place at the bottom of the patchy garden, past the disused dog kennel, and under the overgrown lilac trees. It is cool there, the sun is hot today and the ground is dusty dry, packed hard where happy children have played together, and where one unwanted child is penalised for her existence.
Under the lilac tree, filled with the sound of dozy bees and sharp chattering birds I open the wax paper packet and my breath is taken away by the beauty and purity of the edges on the blades. Clean, smooth and perfect, untouched by him and his pink face.
I take one out and run it along my fingers, edge first. Almost immediately a flush of the red stuff, dripping onto the hungry ground, swallowed incompletely by the dryness in the back yard.
I succeed in opening all of my fingers today, before mum catches me and wonders how I managed to have yet another accident. She threatens to tell him, but she won't. He'll find out later, will be offended by the signs of blood and won't look at me until they are healed, fully. They take an eternity to heal, I can keep a scab going for weeks. Its like being on holiday. I know it will end, but for now, I have peace.