20 thoughts on living your life


Don't stop laughing. Even if your lips are chapped and bloody, even if your throat is raw, even if your laugh sits in your lungs and refuses to come out, don’t you ever stop laughing.

Poetry / Other
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Cruella de Vil, Cruella de Vil
If she doesn't scare you
No evil thing will
To see her is to take a sudden chill
Look out for Cruella de Vil

1) You're blonde. It's such a bright shade that it almost seems white and your hair is feather light and oh-so-thin. Your father says it makes you pretty and you flash him a bright smile.
You start brushing it several times a day.

2) Your mommy is a painter, her clothes are always stained red and she smiles at you, all white teeth and soothing eyes. She only works at night and her paint is brown when it's dried. You want to ask her about it, but you get distracted by your father's old persian cat and forget it as you chase the old grumpy thing around the house, trying to catch it, trying to pet it. When you catch it, it scratches you. The wounds bleed and your mommy bandages them, wraps a white cloth around it and kisses your wrist whenever you wince. As soon as the red stains on the cloth are dried and brown, you forget them and start looking for your father’s cat again.

3) You steal a pair of long gloves from your mother's drawer and hide it in your cushions. The silky fabric smells like her perfume and you fall asleep faster than ever, dreaming of lullabies and candy and your mother’s laugh. You couldn’t know what it sounds like, your mother’s laugh, you’ve never seen it. But in your dream it’s soft and warm and affectionate and you wish you didn’t have to make it up.
Your brother sleeps next to you, snoring softly and you nuzzle into his nightshirt. He is warm.

4) Your mother doesn’t laugh. Instead, she screams and your brother slams the door shut. It doesn’t help.
Learn to cover your ears and hide your face in your brother's nightshirt, learn to close your eyes and unsee your father hitting your mother in the stomach with a glass bottle, don't hear the sick sound of breaking skin and spilling red paint. Cry and sob and scream, but don't scream out loud, learn to hide it behind laughter.
It was never paint, you realise as you start laughing and goosebumbs run down your spine.

5) You're ten when your father starts touching you in ways no father should ever touch his daughter, fingers lingering just above your thighs, and your laughter grows even louder.
You don't tell your mother and you don't tell your brother, you don’t want to bother them, it’s just in your imagination, are you even sure you remember it right? You're a good girl, you keep your mouth shut as his hands glide under your skirt. He’ll stop, one day. He’s your father, after all, he would never do this to you.
He never stops.

6) How to survive your father:
Learn to stay small and delicate and little. Learn to stay a child because god forbid that you ever grow up and grow up to be a woman with red lips and rosy cheeks and delicious curves. Your father whispers things in your ears, his breath reeks of alcohol and you lie beneath him, petrified, terrified, and you pray to god every night before you go to sleep.

7) You lose your faith when you're twelve and start getting curves. There’s fat on your hips and on your chest and you stand in front of the mirror, a pair of scissors in your right hand. The scissors are sharp and peaked and you barely manage to muffle your screams. You become a woman, your mother says, eyes fixed on her plate, and your father doesn't hide his glances anymore.
Your brother marries and moves out and you laugh for the whole night.
It's the first time you skip dinner.

8) Hide the bruises on your arms, cover up the cuts on your face and learn to pretend like your mother does, learn to make a web of lies. Always wear your red gloves, the ones that once protected your mother and now protect you, silky fabric cool and smooth against your skin, don't show him that you're scared.
Start smoking. Savour the taste of nicotine that tingles your palate, learn to love the feeling of sharp smoke in your lungs. It will stay there for hours, numbing your tongue. Your kisses will taste foul and he'll loathe touching your lips. He’ll put his hand over your mouth instead, muffling screams that never leave your throat.

9) You’re thin, positively meagre, you can count your ribs, can feel your bones without pressing hard and there are always bruises on your skin.
You feel cold, even in summer and you always light a fire because you're freezing, but by god, don't show it. Don’t show just how near you want to sit by the fireplace, don’t show just how much you crave warmth. You ignite fires in every single fireplace there is in that big house your family lives in and while your father and your mother sit in their chairs, beads of sweat on their foreheads, you freeze.
Wear gloves and coats and long dresses. They will cloak your figure. They will shield you from your father’s eyes and your mother’s questions, your mother’s worries. I’m fine, you say and put another log into the fire. I’m fine.
Discover fur. Discover how soft it is and how warm and learn to steal fur coats whenever you get the chance. Wear them, day in and day out, wear them like a second skin, wear them like an armour against his touches.

10) Run away. Take everything you posess and put it in the biggest trunk your family owns. It's so heavy that you almost can't carry it and you wake up your mother who stands in the doorway like a ghost, pale and tired and dead and she stares at you with big eyes.
She takes a step aside, hands trembling, red paint dropping on the floor. Run, my darling, she says. Run, and promise me you’ll never come back.

11) Find an abandoned manor in the countryside, covered in snow, roof porous and broken, walls crumbling. It's big and cold and empty and you feel so lonely, you can hear your own voice resounding with the thin walls, but it's the first time in what feels like forever that you can sleep in silence. You dream of your father, of his hands, of his lips, of his voice, the way he smells. When you wake up, panting, eyes wide, cold air burning in your lungs, all you can see is darkness.
You name it Hell Hall.

12) Buy a car. Buy it with the money you stole from your father, buy the most expensive one you can find. It’s big and shiny and uncomfortable, but it fills you with satisfaction because it’s your father’s money you spend. You think about his eyes, about his prominent jaw, think about what he would say if he could see what you’re doing. Your finger tips tingle and you smile, red lips and cold eyes.
While you drive back to the big intimidating house that you now call your own you see a Dalmatian. It’s big and elegant and lean and it holds ist head up in the air as if it owns the world. The fur looks warm and soft and you feel cold and hard. You clench onto the wheel and decide that you need a white coat with black spots.

13) At the age of seventeen you wear heels for the first time. You found them somewhere in that big house and they're bright red and as you learn to walk on them, coat swinging around your bony legs, you feel powerful.
The clicking sound of heels on your stone floor that might be marble echoes through every room and fills your cheeks with warmth for the first time in years. You spin and the heavy coat twirls around you.

14) Dye half of your hair black. Look into the mirror, contour your sharp cheekbones, paint your face until you can't see your own skin anymore. It’s dirty and scarred and every time you lift the brush, a little bit of yourself disappears.
Walk into your old home, smile a fake smile and shake your father’s hand. He stares at you, eyes wide, teeth clenched and his hand shivers. His old cat nestles up against his legs and glares at you. You ignore it and it scratches you. Your mother sits at the table, eyes on her plate, hands resting against her thighs. Welcome, she says. Do you want to dine with us, madam?
Your hair matches your favourite coat.

15) At the age of twenty three you own ninety nine Dalmatian puppies. You bought a few of them and stole most of them. 15 of those puppies belonged to an old school friend who was never a friend because she was afraid of your laugh and afraid of the glistening madness in your eyes and you found it oh-so-funny to call her darling and scare her until all she could do was keeping silent and sipping her tea because she didn’t know what else to do.
Sometimes you think you could really like her, sweet, simple Anita with that good-for-nothing husband who kept the puppies from you as if they were a treasure.
I want the job done tonight, you scream at Jaspar and Horace.

16) The puppies escape. The men you hired to look after them, to steal them, sit in the cold room and are busy getting drunk while the dogs figure out how to open doors.
One hundred and one Dalmatians run away from Hell Hall in a cold night in December and you're freezing.

17) You drive after them in your expensive car and the dogs are too smart and they trick you into crashing your car into your minion's. It’s cold and you’re hurt and defeated and broken and they complain and the dogs run away, run away from you, run away with the promise of warmth and security you’ve held onto for years.
Your coat is torn and you scream and you laugh and you've never felt so insane, but you just can't stop because all you want is to feel warm again, to eat again, to feel alive again.

18) You haven't brushed your hair ever since you turned ten. It’s matted and dirty and stringy and as the officers lead you into your cell, padded with gigantic orange cushions, you think about your father and about his hands and about his voice, about what he would say if he could see his daughter, eyes glooming with madness, thin fingers clutched around an old clutted fur coat, sitting in court.
You think about your mother and about her stained dresses, about her trembling voice that used to sing you to sleep and about the silence at the family dinner table.

19) Don't stop laughing. Even if your lips are chapped and bloody, even if your throat is raw, even if your laugh sits in your lungs and refuses to come out, don’t you ever stop laughing.
The cushions in your cell are soft and the sleeves of your jacket are sewn together, keeping your arms close to your body, close to your waist that’s too small and too thin and there’s just not enough of you because you’ve starved yourself away.

20) The doctors say you’re getting better. You know you don’t.
You know you still don’t eat enough, you still wear too much make up, you still long for fur coats, you still crave a cigarette more than anything else.
The doctors say you’re getting better. You know you don’t.

This vampire bat, this inhuman beast
She ought to be locked down and never released
The world was such a wholesome place until
Cruella, Cruella de Vil

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