The Porcelain Doll

Photo by Thiago Matos on

A snippet from a novel I’m working on. It’s about a young woman struggling with depression and the cultural differences that can affect her treatment.


I made my mother cry yesterday.
I can chalk it down to another ‘bad day.’ But what exactly does that mean? Whenever I suffer through these ‘days,’ I want so desperately to scream ‘HELP’ at the top of my lungs, until someone comes running, scoops me up in their hand and carries me away. Far away.
But my family give me that look. The look that makes me cringe into my skin.
“What’s wrong with you now?” They ask, the exasperation seeping through their voice. I have to shrug.
“Nothing.” I respond. When actually, everything is wrong. It’s the same tonight. I sit on the kitchen floor, my back pressed against the dishwasher. There’s a knife – a vegetable one – sharper than a butter knife, too blunt for a fish knife. It was being twirled in my fingers, the tip of the blade dancing over my wrist.
I wasn’t actually going to do it.
Still, it didn’t stop my sister to run screaming for help. I just watched with a blank stare as my Mum wrestled the knife out of my – slack – grip. It was amusing actually.
“You know if you act like this, no man will want to stay with you.” Mum says, her tone softening in what she thinks is compassion, understanding.
But I can hear the threat injected in there.
Oh I can hear it, clear as thunder. What man would want a woman who cries for an hour and then sits in the kitchen with a knife.
But I wasn’t going to DO anything. That’s the point.
I curl my fingers into fists, but don’t reply. Instead I lean my head back, listening.
“And what about your children.” She continues, in that same, passive voice that makes me want to grab a handful of plates and hurl them against the wall, watching as they shatter into a million pieces and sprinkle to the floor. Hey there’s an idea… maybe I should take up plate smashing.
“If you behave like this – you might kill your children.”
You might kill your children.
Words every daughter wants to hear from their mother.
Just like that. My confidence to cope in this world is shattered. Broken. Like those plates I want to chuck.
Help me.
Two words. Just two words.
But I don’t know who I’m talking to.


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