Salt Water.

I fell asleep.

Now, every child growing up in a violent home knows that this is a big mistake. If a fight kicks off, who will defend my Mum? Who will call the police, the ambulance? Our neighbours can't be counted on; the whole cul de sac is aware of the savage beatings inflicted on my mum, but nobody ever intervenes. The adults prefer to ignore what goes on behind our door.

I'm woken abruptly by my older brother, urgently shaking me and saying "Sam, Sam! It's Mum!". Instantly, I jump out of bed whilst cursing myself, for not being awake to protect her. I feel sick, and fear- the familiar feelings. "What is it?", I ask as we rush downstairs, and I sense that something is not quite right- this isn't a 'normal' night. There's no crying, shouting, or the sound of glasses being smashed. My brother doesn't reply, and leads me to the bathroom.

Mum's there, with her head bent over the toilet, throwing up. Malcolm is stood by her, holding a glass of water. I'm only 7 years old, but at the very moment that I'm confronted by this scene, I know: Mum has done something bad to herself. Malcolm turns, and explains the concept of ingesting salt water to induce vomiting. He wants us to encourage our Mum to drink the vile substance, to make her throw up the pills.

I can't do it. My brother starts chanting: "drink it, Mum!" ... but I cannot do it. I'm too mortified. Mum has hurt herself, and I can't comprehend that fact. "Sam, say it!" ... and I still cannot say it. Frustrated, my brother punches me on the arm, and it's what I need for the tears to come. I start crying, and my brother hits me again. He raises his fist again, but is interrupted by the doorbell.

"The ambulance!", Malcolm announces whilst he sweeps to the front door, looking every inch the caring and considerate boyfriend. I hate him so fiercely in those few seconds, and think: "it's because of YOU that Mum's done this!" but of course, I'm far too terrified to say that to him and remain dutifully silent.

Our pet cat, Chloe, comes running through the front door with the paramedics, and I hold her tightly, whispering reassurances, while they strap Mum to a wheelchair. She's completely out of it and her eyes glaze over as her head turns towards me. I don't think she's aware that I'm there.

The paramedics wheel Mum out of the house and into the ambulance. As soon as they're gone, Malcolm turns to my brother and I and tells us that Mum's done this before, but it was just attention seeking, and sets us a mission to find the pills she's 'obviously hidden'.
Me and my brother head to search the kitchen, and I'll always remember our exchange of words: "I thought I heard Mum moving pots around in here earlier, did you?"
"Yeah, I think so."

Truth was, neither of us heard anything, we were just trying to reassure ourselves that Mum hadn't overdosed and wouldn't die.
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Jul 15, 2010