It's been a memory that always stuck with me; that free period at my old school in the summer of 2011. It was nothing special to remember, but now I know why I recall such an event...

It was the last time I was me.

I was with my friends in our year 5/6 shared classroom. We all grew up together, we rarely saw any new faces come to the remote country school, it was just us...and we had fun, I always had to be at the centre of it.

This free period our teacher was out of the classroom, and it was only inevitable that we would all become chaotic. There was a corner full of cushins, comfortable seating, plush toys, bean bags. A corner supposed used for reading, a corner we flung ourselves into at the speed of light without any hesitation. Our favourite way to do this was to push someone from the teacher's office chair, that person would fly into the air and try to strike a silly ridiculous pose with we filmed on our laptop webcams...

It was so childish, it was so freeing to be that stupidly fun around other people. And when you're the one to make others laugh, the class clown, the funny weird tomboy with the crazy-sounding laugh...school was fun.

And that's how it should have been, I should have been that young innocent whacky person, I wonder too much on where that person went and what it would have been like to grow up like her.

But that was the last time I was that person, for what came next was nothing.

A blankness, a spare gape where the sequences of my life should play out, balanced and consistent...not void. But there are flickers like an old movie reel; the fast silver four-wheel drive, the dark nights of anger where the speed dial continued to go up. The man in the front seat swearing, hitting the boy, my brother in the passenger seat. Shoving bottles of open alcohol into our hands so we could hide under our seats when there was a police check-point.

That speeding car through the hot Australian summer nights is the vessel that takes me to separate fragments of my memories, flickering, repeating over and over as if I could decypher any new information about the night it all went down. Then we crash into the destination, and I'm met with the face of my crying father.

He cried as he knocked over the wheelbarrow full of heavy bricks, he cried as he came into the house yelling at us, pointing his finger at my scared brother who had beforehand been at his fury. "It's all your fault!"
He cried as we ran away from him and into our mother's arms, huddling, fearing his next moves...he wailed, screamed when he locked us in the house and drove away in that cursed silver four-wheel drive, to the bar...to continue to drink his problems away as we looked for the spare keys before he came home.

I don't remember much before or after this, it might as well be my birthday. I don't remember much at all anymore, memory just comes and goes... I only recognise the pain, that prickly sickly creeping of anxiety warning me of a past I cannot recall.

My memory is still so broken to this day, it's all muddled like broken pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. One day the pieces are there but don't fit, the next none of them are there at all. I went from knowing who I was, knowing how to survive home life, knowing how to be myself through it all...only for it to slip away like the beer bottles we hid under the car seats.

The alcohol lingers on his breath. the memories are still there locked inside. the bottles are under the car seats. The truth lies with my parents.

"What was my dad like again? I can barely remember."

I can only remember that free period in the summer of 2011, the freedom of being myself, the mess of jumbled trauma, then nothing...nothing at all.