Voices, whispers, taunting me as I returned to the one place I thought I'd never have to come back to. The one place I thought I'd left behind forever, but I was wrong. Now I was back and I could hear those echoes again.
"I thought I told you not to do that."
"What did you think you were doing?"
"You're so useless!"
"Honestly, do you never listen to what you're told?"
"I despair of you sometimes."
"I don't know what I'm going to do, I can't deal with this any more."
"Right--that's it. That's the end."
"You can't stay here."
The voices from my childhood followed me as I looked around the small room. Did I really live here for nine years? It was hard to believe that I had so few memories. Those that I did have, however, weren't ones I was keen to recall.
The room was pretty bare, but that was how I left it. The walls were still painted beige, with a few smears from my dirty, childish fingers. This wallpaper contrasted strongly with the midnight blue bed covers; the furniture, like the desk and the wardrobe and everything, was all white.
The floor was plain wood, with a nail or two sticking out. They'd been like that for years. I once cut my toes on one, but Mam didn't care. She said it served me right. I got that kind of thing a lot when I was a kid and by the time I reached seven or eight I was used to it. I did wonder, though, whether everyone got that. It couldn't be just me, could it?
And then when I was nine everything changed. In some ways it got a lot better. I didn't have to live with my parents any longer. The room was safe, colourful and well equipped. I wasn't neglected. But in some ways it got a lot worse.