My name is Bella, I’m six and a half years old, it’s Tuesday today. I just ate my dinner, pork chops and boiled potatoes with gravy. My grown-ups always talk to each other and ignore that I’m standing underneath them staring up at them like they’re the stars. My mother, use her hands a lot, waves them around like whisks, which I overheard is unusual for a Swedish woman. My Father comes from Italy, and Italians do gesticulate a lot, not him though, his voice is calm and his body still. When my Mums’ voice starts to raise my father’s whole body squirms and his feet begin to walk backwards out of the room. It makes me laugh watching them, he looks scared but my mother isn’t scary, she’s just loud and he doesn’t like that.
Our apartment is vast, I run around it to get rid of what grown-ups call energy, the energy causes havoc with my body, my siblings and I move around a lot but I do it the most. My bedroom, that I share with my older sister, has two sets of bunk beds in it as well as a single bed pressed up against the wall. The corridors are narrow and long and appear to lead to nowhere and everywhere. We often play hide and seek, and I lazily hide under a glass coffee table, and my kind older sister plays along and pretends she can’t see me even though I want to be found, I hate waiting. Being the youngest has its advantages. I explore things, but my eyes are not crystal clear, they’re fuzzy and I bump into things, I have bruises everywhere.
This morning I wake up at the base of my parent’s bed, they don’t care as it isn’t a regular occurrence, My father’s hairy feet are entangled with my mothers, their toes tickle my face, and it makes me smile and not able to fall back asleep. When I open my eyes I know that I’m the first person awake, that happens nearly every day and I like that. The silence excites me as if it was I that discovered this exact day.
The apartment is still and the streets outside are asleep, silent apart from the occasional bird song, giving the morning the permission to proceed. I move slowly, careful not to wake anyone up, the living room is bright because there are no curtains, toys and clothes are strewn all over the place and half-drunk wine glasses and leftover meals in dirty bowls decorate the glass coffee table. I head towards the kitchen, my stomach is rumbling so I open up the fridge which, as per usual, is a bit like a hospital, clean and empty. There is some milk and a sad-looking jar of homemade Lingonberry jam at the bottom shelf. I get a cracker and spread some sour jam on it; even though my parents mostly forget to buy milk the kitchen is still my favourite room.
The sound of the radio comes on which means my Dad is up; he wakes up early too.
“Bella!…” He picks me up and tickles my armpit and I laugh because he always does that, I throw my arms around his head and squeeze it then he throws me up in the air and plonks me down on the table.
He presents a brand-new carton of orange juice from the back of the fridge; he opens it and drinks straight from the box. I love Orange juice; he passes me the box and I take a big swig. I promise not to tell anyone. We had, after all, he says in a posh accent, special permission from the Queen herself.
The mornings are my favourites, the silence, the calm before the storm and the alone time with my Father. He scoops me up again, laughs at my funny hair and tells me that I have to eat, food makes you grow and I am too small for my age. I nod as I agree with him, I’m tiny, the top of my head doesn’t even reach the kitchen table yet but I am fast and I can move like a ninja. To prove it, I jump up into his lap and check his moustache for food or orange juice bits stuck in it.
”All clear!” I announce.
Arlo Guthrie comes on the radio and he sings along to Alice’s Restaurant in his out-of-tune talky singing voice, I love my Dad, and I wish the rest of the family would take even longer. As I think that my brother and sister arrive with their eye’s half shut and feet dragging behind them, demanding breakfast and moaning about the lack of food in the fridge. I don’t care about what I eat, and besides, I get to share the secret orange juice. My Dad tells them about the starving children in Africa and makes them a jam hard bread cracker each. Janna and Pim stop talking and start chewing on the crap crackers.
I go back to my bedroom so that I can play with my dolls, whose faces I paint the colour blue. I like blue, neat perfect dolls looks dull to me, I don’t like anything to be too perfect, things are better wonky and different. My mother doesn’t like the dolls, my sister calls them “ the freaky girls” but to me the dolls are beautiful; their faces are blue like the autumn sky or the deep sea and they have different personalities and shades of the colour too. I line them up, they are all called Patricia, it’s my favourite name, elegant, classy and long. The kind of name you have to repeat twice if you heard it for the first time.
The Patricia’s rest against the wall in my bedroom, and I pretend they have a fight, they all wanted the last Coca-Cola and two of the dolls didn’t like sharing as they have a fear of bacteria. I have that, so I understand how they feel. I pretend the other two tease them and swig the drink straight from the bottle. The red-haired doll is particularly mean, but she is sad because her Grandmother died. My Grandmother is my everything, she is warm and soft, and her kindness was so pure I wanted to be with her always so I could understand why she is sad and angry. I love all my dolls, even the one that isn’t kind. My sister has two pet rabbits, Eon and Neon, they hop around our house and shit everywhere. They chew on the electricity cables too and I don’t like them, one of them bit me. My sister loves them and I guess she deserves them; she is a very nice girl. She is always good and quiet; she moves slower than I and she makes me feel safe. I am safe, I know that but I feel scared at night and she doesn’t, she never locks any doors and I have to keep guard when she uses the toilet. My brother is much older and he has many friends, he doesn’t even look at me. All I can think of is that I wanna grow tall and move to a different country or planet. Energy starts tickling my body and I start running around the room singing a song I made up about chocolate.
“Bella, please…..” My mum pops her head in the room.
“It’s too early for that noise..”
I stop and look at her, she continues down the hall and as her footstep fades I start running again and singing but a little quieter.