Illustration by Corinna Sargood, from Angela Carter's Book of Fairy TalesMy life is better without you because you used to make me sandwiches with horrible fillings, such as jam and sausages, or ham and bananas; then you'd watch me eat them and snigger to yourself. Sometimes I was sick.
My life is better without you because once when I was weeding the drive you came back from the shops and ran me over. My ribs and pelvis were crushed and I was in hospital for five months. Even now it's hard to breathe. You didn't apologise.
My life is better without you because you used to do the hoovering at 2am and would hit the bed repeatedly with the upholstery attachment. Then you would hoover the mattress, poking the nozzle beneath me and catching the hem of my pyjama top.
My life is better without you because whenever I tried to leave you, you hired security people to find me and take me back. I could never get further than a few miles away because you took away my bicycle, my car, my passport and my money. I had to sleep in fields and hedges; so I couldn't leave in cold or wet weather. Once I knocked on my neighbour's door and asked for shelter, but somehow you knew I was there and came for me. I wondered sometimes whether you controlled the world.
My life is better without you because you always knew what I was thinking and I was scared to think anything bad in case you saw it. I used to wake up shaking whenever I had nightmares about you, when my dreams were begging me to leave you. I was so afraid you'd see them.
***I wrote this piece last Saturday as part of the Day of Meaningful Nothing. Jenny suggested we write on this theme, as she, Rebecca and I love Luke Kennard's prose poem, ' My Friend', which I won't reprint here as would put my own piece to shame. She also reckoned it might be cathartic for us all to write about getting rid of someone who used to cause us pain. I didn't want to write about any real people, as I still miss most (though not all) of the people I'm no longer in contact with. Instead then I wrote about someone fictitious. It was only when I came to read it out that I realised it was actually loosely autobiographical, describing among other things aspects of my childhood. It prompted much discussion among Jenny, Rebecca, Suzanne, Terri and I about childhood: being forced to eat food we didn't like, being powerless and unable to run away, believing our parents were telepathic, and, of course, angry maternal hoovering.
Rebecca has given an excellent account of the day on her website. I can't add to her description, but I would like to thank my four fellow Meaningful Somethings for filling it with their creativity, honesty, sensitivity, intelligence and good humour.