Dear Rebel

I hate you.

I hate that you made mom cry by being conceived, I never knew that we were poor until she started screaming that we couldn’t afford you. It’s impossible, she screamed, it’s your fault, she howled, she threw stuff at dad hollering how could you do this to me.

Dad folded her into his arms as if she was me, he held her tight and spoke to her in the voice he used when I woke in a fright at night, We’ll manage, he said, I’ll come up with something. Between those two sentences he went from us to I, from comrade to free contractor, he held our mother tight as he left her behind.

I hate that you kicked mom so hard that she cried out in pain even before her belly grew too big for her to march. I tried to reason with you, I put my hand on mom’s belly and whispered that you could rest easy, we were good comrades, there were no capitalist pigs around, you would be perfectly safe and there was no need for fear or anger.

I hate that you refused to listen.

I hate that you spent two days forcing your way into the world. I spent the time with Joe, he took me to church and told me about Jesus and Mary and how God is just a cowardly fantasy. Then he bought me hot chocolate and lemon pie in a bakery. Then he let me sleep in his bed, which was the softest, warmest place I’d ever known, and the next morning he served me tea and I secretly hoped mom and dad would never come for me.

I hate that dad cried when he came for me.

«We lost,» he said. «The miners went back to work».

If you had not been born, my dad would not have been pacing the corridors of the hospital for those two days and he would have been able to stop Maggie the Witch, keep the spirit of the miners high, save the unions, give the people coal, not dole. Most of Britain’s poverty, all the youngsters with no money for an education, the under-aged single mothers with under stimulated kids, its your fault, Rebel. Just for being born.

I hate that dad named you Rebel. Riot is an act of the community, Rebel is a single persons egotism. You were never a part of anything.

I hate that you were the one to inherit dad’s huge, tireless voice. You screamed constantly, you even took brakes of feeding to rip my eardrums open. Pretty soon, mom refused to give you breast, you bit her and you screamed no less if your belly was full. Dad got bottles, and milk, and started carrying you back and forth, back and forth, all day, all night. Mom was not there, she marched, or planned marches, or wrote articles on a type-writer in Joe’s office. I waited for her on the stairway, it was freezing, but the sound of you was muted. Our downstairs neighbor came out to tell me off for having such a noisy brother sometimes. Other times, he gave me biscuits.

I loved the medicine mom made for you, even though I hated the way our parents argued over it. There was a kettle on the stove, boiling, a sickly sweet smell not quite like the smoke from my parent’s joints raising from it. Mom’s face was red with anger, dad’s face was wet from tears, mom said the alternative was death, she’d kill you, or herself, or all of us, dad said he would do the killing of her if she hurt you. I hate that she was too stupid to believe him, but I loved the silence of the nights after mom had force-fed you milk with medicine and held you until you passed out.

If I couldn’t sleep, I snuck out of bed to steal a sip from your medicine bottle. The taste was awful, but it made me giddy, and happy, and tired, and I always slept in.

I hate that you learned to walk early, and that you walked like a malfunctioning robot. You kept going in the same direction until you hit something, and then you kept walking, howling in frustration that the couch or bed og wall wouldn’t move. I resigned myself to walking where you walked to turn you around whenever you walked into an obstacle. I admit that I pinched you. As hard as I could, every time. You still made less sound than if you were left to trying to move the kitchen table or a closed door. And I believe it worked, because you learned to stop before you hit whatever was in front of you, you even learned to turn around, you discovered that there was a corner of our living room where the light from the window hit the wall and made patterns that you could touch for hours. You still shouted angrily at the world, but I could close the door to the kitchen, plug my ears with my fingers and pretend I could not hear you.

I tried to tell dad that you could learn, that I had taught you to stand still in the corner we soon spoke of as yours. Dad slapped me for pinching you. Mom slapped him for slapping me. Then she took me outside to walk the streets. We did that a lot, whenever we just couldn’t take the sound of you any more. Mom held my hand and we walked for hours. Sometimes we stopped by Joe’s office, sometimes we visited someones flat, but often it was the middle of the night and we just walked the streets hoping that you would sleep by the time we got back.

That time, you did. You had fallen asleep in your corner. Your diapers were dirty and your face was covered with snot and salt from dried tears.

You were alone.

I hate that you made dad leave.

I hate that you made him slap me.

I hate that you destroy everything just by existing.

I hate you.

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