Saturday 3 August, 2013:
I don’t want it to be hard. But let it be hard then, I don’t care, if that’s how it’s going to be.
All week, no, longer than that… since sometime in the holidays, I can see Tau’s been upset about something (or more than one thing, who really knows, with Tau?) If our paths cross unexpectedly, he says a brief hello and then does that slip-away thing, like a large cat vanishing into the shadows. When he really does have to talk to me (about WINZ, or something else practical), he just swallows and bears it. I can see the screen go down in his face. He does what he has to do, I guess.
It hurts me like nothing on earth, to the point where by Wednesday night I’m almost more shamed than I can bear. I feel flattened, everywhere, just like someone has their hand pressed down upon my head and is squashing me, squashing me… right down against the floor. Honestly, I feel like I’m creeping like a cockroach around my own home. No-one else is inside, and I still can’t raise my head. I feel my breath stifled and smothered. When I go to bed, I’m so grateful to be invisible that I can’t even cry one tear.
I want, many times, to just cry, or shout at Tau, “What have I done? I haven’t done anything!” But instead, I just speak to him normally, as if nothing’s wrong. Oh how I suffer through each encounter, with that feeling of shame in my heart.
On Thursday morning I get up and go to school, and sit in the car for a moment before walking in. Everything feels so still. I say a few words aloud, half to myself and half to Tau, I think. I try saying, “It’s not too hard… it’s not too hard for me,” and then I feel a couple of tears just trickle out, and I want to flee. I think – I can’t do this today. But where would I go? There’s nowhere to go, and it’s too late to sort it out with anyway, so I just go teach my classes.
Lucky I have 11 History, so I kind of rally a little bit. And I see Slade at break times, which is probably the only thing all day to soothe me.
I’m on my way home again when my phone ring – it’s Tau. He sounds upset and out of breath, asks if I can please come get him and Leroi, they’re walking up Rangitikei Rd.
I see them before they see me. Walking along the road, carrying cans in a plastic bag. As soon as they get into the car I can see they’re drunk. They tell me that they’ve been drinking with Sheree’s uncle, until he punched Leroi in the head. Tau retaliated, and then someone called the cops. So the boys took off.
They’re both quiet and hyped. Tau asks if they can finish the cans at mine, and I say a dubious yes, adding, “But I don’t want all the boys around to drink.”
Tau says, “I already know that, Miss. You’ve told me like how many times. You only have to say it once.” His voice comes out agitated and throaty, as if he’s trying to stop himself from yelling at me.
I just reply, “Yup, ok Tau. I don’t wanna argue with you about it.”
Inside, I’m angry too. I know they’re upset, but this shit happens all the damn time, and I’m expected to be… what? I’m expected to just wear it, huh. Because it’s not happening to me? But it is, or in a way it is. You can’t say it’s not happening to me. The fallout is all around me, and I have to pick my way through it, not knowing where to move next, treading on eggshells with Tau, putting up with his arrogant ways and his resentment at the entire situation, which he lays at my door.
When we get back home, Tau shuts the door of the sleepout, firmly. I don’t even get a thank you, for bringing them back. And it not like I was actually expecting one… but you know, I’m so tired of being ignored and feeling like I’m an obstacle to Tau’s freedom.
There’s so few people in the world I would even do any of this stuff for. And he just takes it for granted, that’s what I think. He’s come to take it entirely for granted, at the same time as he resents where he finds himself. And on both counts, I absorb all the energy that emanates from him. The imperious manner of a king. And the driving resentment of a slave.
The silence… Tau’s silence just gets me to the point where I want to cry my eyes out. I can’t bear this anymore. And I don’t even want to write about it because I’m going to start crying, and then where will my day go… and I want to do something ‘nice’, honestly. Just something nice, to take away this pain feeling that never really leaves me.
Leroi comes in and talks to me later on. There’s a bruise on his right temple, and he looks very subdued. He tells me more about what happened. Everyone was drinking all day, Sheree’s uncle had made Leroi use his last 50 dollars to buy more alcohol. Then he told the boys to fuck off – that’s when Leroi got punched in the head.
Leroi speaks to me quite freely, he puts it like this: “Tau tells the boys off for wanting to come and drink. He says you blow him up for it, and it makes him angry, so then he gets angry with them.”
“Blow him up,” I repeat. “That’s not quite how it is, aye.”
“I know, Miss,” sighs Leroi. “But… that’s Tau.”
Sure is. And man, it’s pissing me off, to bite my tongue all the time. I feel like my tail’s lashing, quietly. And yet I don’t want to get real mad with Tau, because I know that strategy’s so counter-productive. It’s just burning bridges, to do it that way. And I don’t want Tau to run out of options, I really don’t.
Leroi has a long shower, then. He takes a million years in the bathroom, which is ok, but all the same… it’s just one more thing. I don’t say much, just tell him to go easy on the water.
This morning Tau emerges from the shed. He and Leroi are standing in the sunshine, eating pies from the dairy. When he sees me, he says, “Morning, Miss…”
“Yup, hey Tau” is all I say, as I go past to the washing line. I feel a big surge of resentment in my chest, which won’t go away. The Lord and Master, eating his frickin pie, won’t touch the dinner I made last night. I just feel like: oh, whatever, Tau. What. Ev. Er. And don’t buy me a pie or anything, hell no, don’t waste your two dollars man.
I’ve never felt like this about Tau before. It hurts my soul to feel this way. If I try to talk to him, he’ll just clam up or stride away. If I don’t try talk to him, he’ll just keep thinking he can run the show. And meanwhile Leroi uses up all the hot water, and then goes back to perching in the sleepout, under Tau’s command.
I don’t have a clue what to do next. And this could continue for some time, honestly and truly. I don’t see how it won’t.
And I promised, and I meant it, and I still mean it. Only… there must be a way to do it, so that it doesn’t hurt this much, and make me feel this tired, and unhappy.
If I knew what that way was, I’d surely try to find it.
Monday 5 August:
I give up, temporarily, and go to bed tired and resentful and wondering what the fuckin fuck I’m even doing. Boys over, out in the sleepout: Raphael, Michael, couple of others I think. They order pizzas, run up and down the drive, doing nothing wrong (unless you call smoking weed wrong, which obviously I don’t). But they stay up for hours and hours, and keep coming out of the sleepout and talking and going back in. They’re not drinking of course, but hell, they got nowhere to be in the morning, no reason to go to bed. And I have to work. So some time after midnight I go out there and ask them to keep the noise down. I say it nicely, and they’re like: ohh shit, sorry miss – because only in that moment do they realize that it’s an issue, or even that I’m ‘present’.
And that’s the problem, I think. They don’t hardly notice I’m there. I feel like I might as well be there or not there or doing any frickin thing, for all that anyone cares about it. If I cook, Tau and Leroi don’t come eat anymore. They used to, but now they’ll just go find the leftovers the next day, because there’s always boys over in the evening, oh it’s just a few at any one time, but I can’t be the house mother and I don’t want to be! And it feels like I’m… nothing. Tau and Leroi hardly come inside. And it really breaks my heart, because just a few months ago, before all this stuff happened, Tau still used to come over, and come in, and sit and talk, and just kick it a bit, in his quiet way. Now, it feels like he doesn’t care.
It’s just… different, with the both of them there. It’s not Leroi’s fault, but it’s different now. I feel like I’m invisible, or maybe I’m just a kind of on-and-off presence that annoys them. I think that all they want is a dosshouse, and a base for their chaotic days. And Tau used to come in, and eat, and jam the laptop, and make a lil feed, get a drink… now it’s just him and Leroi against the world, or some shit, I don’t know.
I’m so tired, and I’m unhappy, and it’s haaaaaaaaaard, and how long can it go on like this? I don’t know, I don’t know. Sheree isn’t doing shit to help with anything, and Scott’s locked up, and meanwhile, I somehow have to cope with the fallout of their family dramas. And teach school, fuck that stupid place.
Oh Tau, Tau… how can you not care about me anymore? Because that’s what it feels like. I’m laid very low by the thought.