Here I have selected another random extract in which Nina and her mother go on holiday during her first year in England:
Nina’s mother hires a car and they visit both Canterbury and Rochester Cathedrals, Hever and Dover castles – doing the touristy thing. In addition, they just drive, exploring the countryside, little villages and whatever interesting places take their fancy. They have a great time, which the photos that her mother takes, show.
What the photographs do not show are the fights.
Nothing between them has really changed – good times interspersed with daily, violent rows – violent only in terms of ferocity and decibel levels, never physical aggression – centred around knickers on the floor, not getting up, unmade beds, sinks not washed out after brushing teeth, crumbs left everywhere, not getting up, not turning the lights off to sleep, unfolded laundry and not getting up.
“If you don’t turn the lights off it’s no wonder you can’t get up in the morning!”
“I will put my stuff away when I’ve finished reading this chapter!”
“If you don’t put your dirty underwear in the hamper, I swear I will strangle you with it!”
“Why do you always have to be drunk?!”
“Will you put the food away when you’ve finished with it!”
“Why should I make the bed? I’ll just get back in it tonight anyway!”
“If you don’t get up, we might as well forget today as the day will be over!”
“No wonder you drove my father away! I hate you!”
Nina claps her hand over her mouth as soon as the words fall out.
Her mother is not blind drunk, but noticeably under the influence when that last accusation slams into the room about a week into their holiday.
Nina watches her go still and completely silent, pick up her wine glass and slam it against the wall opposite, lurch up, grab her coat and leave the room. She is as white as a sheet.
Nina bursts into tears, feeling tremendously guilty for what she has said and wishing she was at school, safe in the lab, protected in Lom’s company.
Two hours later, the mother returns, visibly calmer and sober. Her eyes are red-rimmed and she is still pale, much like her daughter.
She cleans up the shards of glass and tries to wash the wine stain off the wall. The room has typical English wall paper with large flowers and a clashing tan, yellow & brown, geometric-patterned carpet.
Nina does not dare move and counts repetitions of carpet pattern – 16 across, 18 along.
“We need to talk about your father, I think…” her mother starts.
She sits down at the little table under the window and motions for Nina to join her. Reluctantly, she gets up from the bed and takes a seat opposite her mother. She does not want to hear this, but she must.