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She never asked for anything from her parents, partly because she knew that she’d never get it, and partly because she never took part in any form of showing-off. She would say things which she didn’t mean… “Why would I want a TV in my room? It’s such a waste of space and time.” That would cover up the unspeakable desire inside. And being special felt kind of… special.
In other words, she was constantly being let down, and constantly letting other people down.
Before her 15th birthday her dad (for the first time) asked if she’d like anything, “maybe a TV?” He suggested, “I know you never really ask for anything from us, and I would like to acknowledge that by doing this… I realise how much you would like a TV of your own.” Indeed? She wasn’t sure herself. Her old CD player was doing fine, and with bad eyesight, she could manage without a TV – technically. But on the other hand, everyone else had one, and she had been the odd one out for long enough. Perhaps dad was right, perhaps she did want one. So they started going through shopping catalogues, checking out websites. And finally they decided on the one that she would like to buy.
“I haven’t talked to your mum about it yet. I’m sure she won’t mind though.”
Except she did mind.
“A TV? Give me one reason why you would need a TV.”
“What’s wrong with the one in the living room? What’s wrong with your CD player?”
A chain of emotions hit her and she started to cry. After all these years the ending was all the same. Nothing, nothing, nothing. It wasn’t really the TV that she wanted, it was the sense of finally getting something.
“Are you sure this is not because everyone else has one? How long do you suppose you’ll be watching it for? You hardly watch any TV.”
She wiped her tears away and cried harder, trying to gain sympathy from her father. This was war, she decided. Mum had got to lose.
And mum did. She didn’t know, or intend to know, what dad said or did to her. All she knew was that on Saturday he declared that they were going out to buy it. Mum was without a word.
She had conquered. That was good enough, she thought. As for the TV, did she really need it? Was she really going to spend four hours a day watching it just for the sake of it? And did she really care about the so-called normality? Would she ever be considered normal anyway?
“Maybe not.” She’d feel guilty if they bought it. She was sure of that. Spending hundreds of pounds on something she didn’t actually care about wasn’t such a good idea to her either. She’d won the war once, now she wanted to win it a second time, whilst not losing the battle within.
“Excuse me?” Dad was confused.
“Maybe we shouldn’t buy it anymore. If you detest the idea so much.”
Dad stared at her in wonder, whilst mum started again, “of course I detest the idea so much. How…”
“Come on,” interrupted dad, “I promised you and everything.”
She was crying.
“If you want it that much, you know you’ll get it, stop crying.”
She carried on crying and looked miserable.
“Crying doesn’t work with me missy,” said her mum, “if you…”
“ALL RIGHT! I said don’t buy it! It’s like buying trouble! How am I supposed to stand you nagging at me 24/7 just for a TV alone?! I’d much rather not have a present! I never got any from either of you anyway!”
“Great, that’s it. Go away and calm down. We’re not getting you one, I assure you.”
She cried as loudly as she possibly could, stood up and headed towards the stairs. As she walked up and entered her room the crying ceased, and she was almost smiling.
She’d won again. Mum was the baddy. She was the victim. Good.
As she threw herself onto the bed, she felt something in her, breaking. Broken. Dead.