Wreck by Beth Allison

All you ever did was wreck me…

If Daisy could have one wish, she would choose to be six years old again. Young, carefree, innocent… untainted. Before everything happened. Before everything changed.

When she was six years old, her life was managed – safe, routine. Take Wednesdays, for example. For six-year-old Daisy, a Wednesday looked something like this: Daisy gets up in time for school – seven, half seven. Mam washes Daisy’s face with the bright pink and pale blue Cinderella flannel. Daisy cleans her teeth using a white stripe of toothpaste that tastes like tangy spearmint. Daisy eats chocolate Weetos for breakfast out of a bowl that, once she crunches down the Os and slurps down the milk, shows a picture of her three favourite Disney princesses. Daisy’s blonde hair is brushed into a high ponytail that swings when she walks, those annoyingly loose wisps fastened into place with glittery hair grips. Daisy walks the ten minutes to school hanging onto Mam’s hand, skipping and counting the number of silver cars (a different colour on every day – silver on Wednesdays) that pass her by. Daisy arrives at school. Daisy’s mam hands her over to the teacher on duty, kisses her cheek then dashes off to a very important meeting with very important people. Daisy has two lessons. Daisy eats her snack. Daisy has another lesson. Daisy eats her packed lunch – sandwiches, fruit, a treat and a drink. Afternoon lesson. Afternoon break. Final lesson. At three twenty, Daisy’s grandparents meet her in the school yard, all hugs and smiles and “Did you have a nice day?”. They tuck Daisy into their little white car and Granddad drives the three of them back to their house – always warm, always cosy. Daisy plays skipping ropes with Granddad while Grandma cooks her tea – half a tin of Heinz macaroni cheese and a glass of fresh orange juice. Daisy eats it all. Daisy plays dolls house with Grandma; sometimes, if she’s really good, Daisy is allowed to use the retro Barbies that used to belong to her mam. Daisy’s mam picks her up at six o’clock. As Daisy is strapped into the car, Grandma’s hand steals into hers and deposits a treat wrapped in kitchen roll – a smiley face biscuit, a Freddo, or a little packet of Dolly Mixtures. Daisy eats (again) on her way home. Daisy bites and chews and swallows. Bath time. Story time. Not long after, bedtime.

“I put you high up in the sky
And now, you’re not coming down.”

All of a sudden, Wednesdays are different. Everything is different. Daisy’s grandma isn’t here anymore. Neither is her granddad really – not as she knows him, anyway. Instead Daisy has a stooped, crooked shell of a man, the kind who shuffles when he walks, mutters, keeps his gaze trained to the floor – the floor of a one-bedroom flat that he’s supposed to call his own now, a dingy room with a carpet that smells like cat wee and walls the colour of mushy peas. Daisy’s mam stops taking her to school, stops going to very important meetings with very important people. Daisy’s mam stays in bed instead, hiding from breakfast and the daylight and even Daisy herself.

Daisy is not six anymore. Daisy is eight and does not know what to do. So a monster is born and nestles itself away in Daisy’s head.

“It slowly turned, you let me burn
And now, we’re ashes on the ground.”

Daisy is seventeen now. Daisy has never had a boyfriend – bar those two weeks last summer when her lips had been permanently locked to Aaron Sampson’s, until his wandering hands, fuelled by a bleeding sunset and cheap vodka, had crept too low and freaked her out completely. But she understands perfectly well what all those love songs are singing about. It’s not lust or desire; it’s not heartbreak; it’s control.

It has been a long time since Daisy has eaten macaroni cheese, or Dolly Mixtures, or chocolate Weetos. It has been a long time since both of Daisy’s grandparents, and then her mother, left her. It has been a long time since that monster took root in her mind and lay there, sleeping. Now, the monster has full reign. Daisy is the monster; the monster is Daisy.

“Left me crashing in a blazing fall,
All you ever did was wreck me.”

If Daisy could have one wish, she would choose to start over. She would go back to being six, seven, eight years old and do it all differently. Daisy would have looked after her mother; Daisy would have stuck in at school; Daisy would have kept eating things like biscuits and macaroni cheese. Daisy wouldn’t have let her family fall by the wayside like leaves in an autumn wind; Daisy would not have tried to prove that a person can survive on a cocktail of chewing gums and Diet Cokes; Daisy would not have allowed the men in white coats to cart her off, feed her full of therapies and fats and false promises and then, when that didn’t work, do it all again a second time. Daisy would not have let the monster in her head take over; she would have worked hard to prove that monsters can be defeated.

“Yeah you, you wreck me.”

Now, Daisy doesn’t have the energy to prove this. Daisy knows nothing expect one thing: sooner or later, one day, this monster is probably going to kill her.

“Yeah you, you wreck me.”