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Can't Anyone Help Me by Jackie Holmes Toni Maguire

By Jackie Holmes Toni Maguire

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When, fearing I would hurt myself, the teachers had tried to restrain me, I had hit out furiously at them until my panic was spent. When I was picked up and carried to the headmistress’s office, I started to cry, that long, highpitched, desolate wailing, continuous and piercing. And even when I had calmed down there was, my parents were told, a detachment about me, as though I did not recognize either my surroundings or who was with me. There was talk then that maybe another school, one that catered for problem children in a residential environment, might be better for me.

Chubby is trapped for ever within the labyrinth of my bad memories. 9 That first time when my uncle returned and saw my pale, dry-eyed face – the shock had dried my tears before they had even fallen – he made the chubby man leave. ‘You shouldn’t have been so rough with her,’ I heard him say angrily. ‘She’ll be all right,’ said Chubby, dismissively. ’ My uncle picked me up, pushed a small tablet between my lips and held me as I dozed. As I slipped in and out of sleep, his voice kept murmuring how sorry he was.

Hola,’ they said, and my father smiled back as he greeted them in the same language. We stopped at the bakery and bought rolls, then walked on to another shop where my father piled his basket high with spicy chorizo sausage, thick slices of ham and a dozen freshly laid eggs. Then he took me to a small café. ‘We can have our morning coffee together, Jackie,’ he said, and I rewarded him with a sudden smile. ‘Dos café con leche, por favor,’ he said to the man who came out to greet us. ’ I asked. ‘Oh, nothing complicated,’ he said.

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