Good Friday

April 7, 2013

Rebecca sat looking at the teacher waiting for her to change her mind. ‘I’m a Jehovah’s Witness Miss I’m not allowed to be doing this’. ‘Just do as you’re told, you know the Easter story, now write it out and draw a picture of Jesus and the crucifixion ’. Rebecca turned away from the teacher with tears stinging her eyes and not knowing what else to do, did what all children who are brought up to be obedient did, she obeyed, and drew a picture of Jesus being crucified. As she drew she contained her anger and fear, anger at the teacher who didn’t listen and her growing fear that she was doing something horribly horribly wrong. The cross was wrong, Jesus died on the stake, “The Romans used stakes not crosses, it was simpler and less wood, the cross was illogical and a lie”. She was drawing a lie and God would see her lie, but worse than this; Dad may see her lie and he would be very angry. As she drew as she was instructed tears streamed from her eyes, the teacher ignored her.

Rebecca was used to being ignored. Every morning during assembly she sat in the cloakroom alone. During Christmas work or celebrations she sat in the cloakroom alone, so many hours spent in the cloakroom alone, pushed out ignored, it was ok though she had her books, she didn’t just read them she devoured them in her loneliness. But this new teacher instead of ejecting her like a problem she wasn’t interested in was doing something far far worse, as Rebecca drew the cross she knew that loud and angry trouble was heading her way and she longed for the solitude of the cloakroom.

Perhaps if Rebecca had told her parents that afternoon when she got home things might have gone easier, but to be honest that was a slim chance that Rebecca didn’t even consider, she wanted to forget the horror and fear that she felt when she was the disobedient daughter, so she kept silent. Rebecca was unaware for a while at least of the looming parents evening. All too soon there she was back in her classroom standing, breathing and watching yet numb as she watched her Dad read her book, waiting for him to turn to the incriminating page, hoping instead for a careless glance of a parent in a hurry, waiting for the anger, the shouting, waiting for the inevitable punishment. Of course Mum would always intervene but some crimes were unforgivable, she knew this one would carry a price. She knew he would notice the crime if nothing else.

Rebecca saw his face change as she watched him without looking at him, she saw his expression… she saw both her parents reading her work, the hope that she had clung to small as it was disappeared into a puff of smoke. Surprisingly however nothing was said, maybe she had got it wrong, maybe he hadn’t turned to that page and everything would be ok, just maybe she hoped. But of course she was wrong, as usual God pointed his finger at her and found her wanting, she was bad, a liar she would be punished. She was so afraid of her Dad who could be funny and clever one minute and so angry and nasty the next, he confused her and fascinated her; she was at once beguiled by and horrified and repulsed by him. If she had been older maybe she would have described it as a love hate relationship, but she hadn’t discovered hate yet.

She was standing at home in their bright blue kitchen when he turned to her and the shouting started. “Why did you write that Easter story?” “The teacher told me to do it.” “What do you mean she made you? Why didn’t you refuse? You should have said NO! You should have walked out of the classroom.” “The teacher made me.” Dad was in full midst of his fury by now and Rebecca’s head was full of confusion and fear, she didn’t understand what her Dad was saying, the teacher had made her, it was simple, a teacher tells you to do something and you do it, but he didn’t seem to understand what she was saying. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE MADE YOU?” Rebecca’s heart contracted in fear “she told me to do the work; I told her I wasn’t allowed and she told me I had to”. “That’s not making you! Did she take your hand and make you draw the cross?” Rebecca was frozen in that moment between truth and lies, between her Dads anger and fear of punishment. “WELL DID SHE?” “Yes she made me.” “She took your hand and forced you to draw the cross.” “Yes she made me.” “If she forced you say it.” “She took my hand and made me draw the cross.” Rebecca was loudly crying by this point, even though his anger had temporarily switched off. “Right I will go to the school again tomorrow and see what she says and if I find out you’ve been lying you’ll be sorry.”  Rebecca’s parents went to school the next day but when they came back no mention was made of the incident, in fact it was never mentioned again. The Easter holidays came and went and when Rebecca returned to school she was greeted by a new teacher, a teacher who listened and even seemed to like her. Rebecca did wonder what had happened to the other one and she did feel pangs of guilt that maybe she had been sacked because of her, but Dad had stopped being angry, she was safe and that was more important, more important than a teacher who had refused to listen to her.

So much happened in that following year, the divorce of her Mum and Dad which was immediately followed by the introduction of a step Mum, which in turn was followed by the arrival of her beautiful new baby sister. Throughout the pregnancy Rebecca had prayed for a sister and was overjoyed as her prayers were answered. She was allowed to dress her, feed her and change her nappy and of course to cuddle her, this dark haired little girl became an essential part of Rebecca’s life and she counted the days until she could visit her. The Easter holidays came round once again and Rebecca was dropped off at her Dads on Good Friday, she waltzed into the house immediately wanting to see her sister. “You get her bottle ready and I’ll fetch her” Rebecca went into the kitchen to warm the bottle up as she heard her Dad climb the stairs. That’s when she heard a funny sound “Dad” she called walking to the bottom of the stairs where she could clearly hear that the funny sound was coming from him. She stood frozen to the spot as her step mum climbed the stairs calling his name. Then Rebecca stood staring into space as her step mum began screaming and screaming. Rebecca couldn’t move she just stood there staring upwards knowing that the screaming meant her sister was dead. She stood there frozen for how long she never knew. Eventually her Dad came down to use the phone. “Tidy up” so Rebecca tidied, she answered the door to the police, she made tea, she answered the door to her step mums parents and then her Mum was there and she was taken home.

Numb day was followed by numb day, Maybe Rebecca cried, maybe she didn’t she couldn’t remember, she saw no one she spoke to no one and the rest of the holiday passed in a blur of nothingness. They asked her if she wanted to go to the funeral she said no, then suddenly she was back at school and life was back to normal, but it wasn’t nothing would ever be the same. Everything was gone, the pram, the cot, everything, every photo, all her clothes, Dad threw it all away. Rebecca’s sister it seemed no longer existed. No conversations, no gravestone; Just nightmares and a longing that never went away. All that lingered were a million questions and a fear of the dark. She was young and healthy and good, she was perfect like an angel whereas Rebecca was bad, a liar, Rebecca should have died. Why did God take the innocent sister and not Rebecca? Rebecca was evil. Night after night once alone in the dark Rebecca was tormented by her loss and her inability to cope with it. The God that she had accepted as part of her life remained silent. God was mentioned only once by her Step mum who insisted that she had died because she was un-christened and that she was going to hell because of it. Rebecca had wanted to tell her that all children went to Jesus because they were innocent but nobody was listening to her so she remained silent and eventually her silent God who took her sister disappeared. She was a victim of cot death, reasons unknown but call it natural causes.

Rebecca tried to talk about her sister but suddenly this little girl who she had been encouraged to welcome into her heart was referred to as only her half sister. Rebecca listened as her Step mum blamed Rebecca’s Dad; then blamed the whole world before coming back to Rebecca’s Dad, then she complained about his refusal to talk, his refusal to even acknowledge that his baby daughter had even existed in the first place, Rebecca listened what else could she do? Rebecca realised that her Step mum wasn’t really talking to her, she was just talking. She couldn’t help wonder though if she had known about Rebecca’s lies and what she had done to her teacher would she blame her too? One thing she knew with absolute certainty though even at age eleven, was that her sister wasn’t in hell because hell didn’t exist it didn’t need to when there were days like Good Friday.


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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy


Lady things, explained.


"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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