When I was seven, my mother and I moved in with my step dad and his daughter.
It was a difficult time for all of us, adjusting to living together. My new step sister was particularly unimpressed and it took a year or two to smooth things over. I didn’t have my own room then, so I slept on a camp bed in the study. It suited me quite nicely for the most part, I could stay up reading late into the night without having a bedtime enforced and my step dad’s study was filled with books on mythology and animals and other things I thought were fascinating at the time. Sleeping so low to the ground was a worry to me, after I woke to find a large huntsman spider crawling over my face, so when my step sister was away, I was allowed to sleep in her bed. I don’t think she was ever asked if she minded.
One afternoon, on returning from school, my mother and I discovered that someone had broken into the house. We went inside to find my step dad’s ex-wife smashing anything she could get her hands on. My step dad collected decorative plates and hand religious memorabilia from Poland in display cabinets all over the house, as well as his father’s pipe.
On finding this strange woman in our house smashing things, my mother did not call the police.
She dragged her out by her hair.
Kicking and screaming down the front path to the gate.
When I remind her of this now, there is a glint in her eye that makes me a little uncomfortable.
I am the daughter of a hair puller.