A place I can breathe in

Friday 29 October, 2010:

Tau phones me. As soon as I hear him, I can tell he’s drinking with his dad. His voice sounds full of alcohol; thick with it.

“Hey Tau,” I say.

“Hey Miss,” he replies. “How you been?”

There’s so much I want to say, and so much I’m unable to say. So I just tell him I’m fine, and I ask him how he is, and what he’s doing today; and: “Uh, just… waiting for something,” he says.

“What kind of something?” I ask curiously, catching something in his tone.

“Miss, I’m selling,” he tells me with candour.

“Oh,” I say. “Are you?”

“Yup,” he says, kind of heavily; not especially bragging, nor trying to shock – just tired and matter-of-fact and a bit drunk at 10am.

“Well, just… be careful, Tau,” I say, trying to choose my own words with care.

“I will,” he assures me, and then, “Miss, I’ll come see you soon.”

“That’d be good,” I tell him.

But I feel torn in my heart, to find him drinking so early in the morning like this – and telling me calmly that he’s selling again.


I don’t even mention school – it’s Tau who brings it up.

I say, apropos of the dealing, “So… is this your new career move, Tau?”

“Pretty much… for now,” he admits, and then, “But I still want to come back to school next year.”

Oh Tau, Tau – I think. I don’t see how in the world it would happen. Even if he wants to, and even if he enrols – he’d probably last about two days before all hell would break loose. And I can’t bear the idea of that happening. Tau being forced to do things against his will; being contained, chastised, chased and hounded into a corner.


Yet for him to say he wants to come back to school – it’s like a ‘lifeline’ Tau sometimes holds onto. Just knowing the possibility even exists makes him feel… lighter, I think. Because he’s so heavy and encumbered. And I miss him, and I see that he’s had to grow up into someone he maybe wasn’t ready to be – and yet how can I fault him for that? How can I say he should have stayed a kid?

Tau… well, Tau’s always found it hard to just be a kid. He is – I mean he could be – but it’s always laced with something else. And who am I to say it shouldn’t be so? All the same, I fear for him. He’s got strength and courage, but he doesn’t know how things join up – and there are a whole heap of what ifs and conditions that he’s never even thought of.

If only I could protect him against all harm. But I can’t, and what’s more, I know I can’t. So instead, I just try to get him through a few gaps, wherever I can see them up ahead. And I try to let him know he’s not alone.

I can write about all this and feel it’s not so hard to understand. It’s almost a relief to think: well, there it is. I can breathe again, if you see what I mean. I can say – this is a place I can breathe in, and move round in, after all.


Later I ask Leroi, “Is Tau selling?”

“Yes,” Leroi confirms straight away.

“Where does he get the stuff from?” I ask.

“From one of Shae’s relations, I think,” says Leroi.

“Okay – and is he making any money?”

“Quite a lot,” Leroi says. “I’ve seen him with hundred dollar notes.”

“And where does he put the money – in his safe?”

“Yup, in his safe.”

Oh… ok,” I say, and then, “Well, Leroi, I just hope he takes care,” and Leroi smiles at me.


Tuesday 19 October:

It’s hard to explain – but I’ll try. I feel like all this isn’t quite enough anymore. There’s a whole new configuration coming.

I’m not ‘just’ an observer anymore. I already knew that. And now I need to go further in. But it scares me a little bit. There’s more to this world than what I see.

And yet I’m also scared that if I let this feeling go, one day there’ll be a ‘too late’ – for I think that this same configuration might never come again.

It’s kind of a weird sensation.


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