My father used to say that my mother was beautiful, but I remember her to be plain: brown hair and blue eyes – perfectly average looking. There were no prominent characteristics or anything that truly made her extraordinary – not even a particularly large nose, or protruding ears. Her entire face was constructed of averages, of being just-well proportioned and nothing, nothing at all, that would make you look twice.
He used to say that she was wonderful, amazing, perfect... but she wasn't. She was just an average person; an average run-of-the-mill wife and mother. That was, until she died. Then all his memories twisted her into something she wasn't. Then all of a sudden she was stunning and wonderful, and he would stare into the fire and come out with some romantic mush I'd never believe.
He never used to think that she was special when she was alive. It was always yell, yell, yell, argue, argue, argue when I was growing up. A never ending cycle of arguing, making up and arguing again; biting words, sarcasm and swearwords muffled by closed doors. Sometimes my little brother and I would sit the other side of the door, straining to hear snatches of something that could help us to understand why they argued so much. Eventually, I found out.
They did always make-up, probably because they knew their time was running out. Running out, and fast. They never let the sun set on an argument but the snatches of domestic bliss never lasted. That was just the way things were. I didn't know that most families weren't like that; I just knew that I hated it. I can blame it on stress and pressure and loss now, but back then I thought it was because they hated each other.
I was a daddy's girl, in those days. I hated the arguments, so I played-up – every child's natural fallback – which only made them argue more. I didn't understand, but now I do. Now I understand perfectly.
My life tends to steer around clarity, rather than getting to a point where I can begin to understand. I usually feel like I'm standing on the wrong side of the glass, trying to make sense of it all, yet never seeing the full picture. I suppose that's what life is, a glance of the present, and the future obscured from view - just out of reach. You never understand the context until it is too late.
I found out when I was nine. I had been looking for my Christmas presents - I was never one to abide by rules - and I found a letter from my Aunty May. I was a bright child, and I soon worked out what no one had bothered to tell me. Mummy was dying. And then I knew.
I was so angry that they hadn't told me, that they'd hidden it from me. I yelled at them, screamed, threw a tantrum and didn't talk to my dad for a whole week (and, being the daddy's girl that I was – a week was a very long time).
I didn't talk to my mum for much longer than that, simply because although mummy and daddy always made up, me and mummy didn't.
That Christmas eve she died. Before I had the chance to forgive her, she was gone, just like that.
I didn't cry at the funeral. I was in shock. I had thought that she would die slowly; in a few months, years even, but no. One morning I woke up and she didn't. She was gone. She couldn't come back, not for me, not for anyone, even though I begged her too in my head... screaming at her for just a few more hours so I could talk to her one last time.
But she was well past the point of no return when the grief set in.
Slowly, everyone forgot about her. They employed someone else in her job at the restaurant. Dad got re-married and even Johnny, my little brother, calls our new step-mother, mum now.
She was average. She was never special.
My mother was inescapably average: average looks; average job; average personality and an average death. That's why everyone forgot her - averageness. Anyone can be average, and anyone can replace average.
That's what I'm most scared of; slipping away in the night before making an impact on the world. I'm scared that no one will remember me when I'm gone.
I'm scared that I'll just be average.
Average life, average looks, average death, just like my mother.
That's why I dyed my hair, not to annoy Karen like Dad thinks (that's simply an added bonus), but so that I stand out, so that I look different. Purple hair isn't average. I know it isn't much – it's verging on pathetic – but that purple hair dye is my last chance.
My time in this world is running out and I want it to be, no, I need it to be more than average.
One thing's for sure. I won't be forgotten.