The girl who could move everything
She had been sitting opposite this woman who was meant to know more than her, who was waiting to scoop all her words up and turn them into something digestible, something kinder to bear.
At her first appointment, Dani said, “you don’t know me.” And this woman had nodded, hadn’t seemed put off by the spikiness or the rough, jagged lines she protected herself with.
Sometimes Dani tried to hurt the woman by telling her things that she had done, bad things, the things that kept her awake at night.
But it was always her that ended up crying. And the woman would slowly pass her the tissues and say, “I want you to stay with some of these feelings, try writing them down for next week. Be kind to yourself Dani, remember this is your journey.”
Dani would walk down the hill from the old house to the sea, out along the Newhaven Pier, waves licking the soles of her trainers as she found herself time travelling. It was easier to cry there, the harsh cold of the coast’s edge painful on her face, stealing tears from the dark clouds that hung above her head.
Back at home, bare feet on bare floorboards, she played her music like it would push all of her wounds back together, danced in circles alone in her living room, to songs that held her tighter than arms ever had. She could feel the city keeping her composed until she let herself remember who she used to be.
She moved the room about with her mind, all the furniture hovering way above her head. She opened the kitchen drawers using only her thoughts; knives and forks paraded around the bare bulb on the ceiling.
The fairy lights that snaked across the wall broke free and wrote haikus on the window, keeping the night out.
It didn’t matter what that woman said, Dani knew she was magic, more so than the scar tissue knotted in twists of silver skin across her heart. Beyond a patronising sentiment about survival she had a secret.
Her powers were harnessed by the fear she kept in boxes, unreliable structures that disintegrated over the years. And now it seemed everything was unravelling, making it harder for her to control the magic flooding her veins.
In the days between counselling Dani worked in Tesco, trying to resist turning it into rubble. In her head she saw the flowers of her potential wilting, the pain of his words like blades cutting the heads off sunflowers, their faces still turned toward the sun.
The woman had summoned him back from years of going. Battles Dani thought she’d won were turning into abandoned games of chess. He was the coat on the back of her bedroom door at 3am, standing over her as she slept, stealing her breath, hands squeezing her dreams like he still wanted her dead.
She would wake choking. Sure he was there. All of her childhood things creating a kind of circus, she borrowed stars, pulling them in through her window and letting them light the corners of her room until she knew she was safe. Till she knew she was still alone.
“All these things kept you safe and alive in a difficult situation but you’re not there anymore,” the woman had said. “These tools are no longer helpful to your life. This week try to be present in your life. Allow yourself to exist.”
Dani told her that she was made of magic and that her mind could move almost anything. The woman used words like disassociation and talked about trauma, the kind that starts when your body is too small to escape. She tried to move the woman’s scarf into her mouth and choke her to prove a point but felt to tired and nothing happened.
That afternoon felt too painful to bear. She wanted to call someone but who would answer? So she climbed to the top of Calton Hill and sat with her legs lost in long grass. The edges of her world a mound, like the hunched back of someone carrying their love long after it has gone… From there she could trace the roads down to the Forth, like lines drawn on a page.
She tried to move the lines about to make the streets look like graceful loops of words. She tried to move everything she knew, like she always did, like she could rewrite the city that had always known her.
She wanted to make the earth beneath her a letter. But carrying the city felt too heavy. She let the streets fall back into their normal lines and grids. Then for the first time she noticed her feet, solid on the soil under them. Everything in her life had always seemed better up in the air.
Dani let her mind be still. The cold air tried to take the curls of her hair with it. She scraped it back off her face, tied it tightly. The grass felt good in her hands. She saw the world properly, felt it holding her weight, possibilities everywhere she looked. She was sitting on top of the earth, which was suddenly just there.
And for the very first time, so was she.