Am I living in hell or is hell living in me?

On coming of age.

The end of summer is traditional coming of age time. You finish Interrailing around Europe and go home. You now hate your best friend. You return and your boyfriend starts pretending not to know you. Your dog is dead. Your parents have replaced your playroom with a jacuzzi. Your bedroom with a sauna. They’ve turned one of their spare houses into an art gallery, and the other one is being lived in by a crow that they found wounded by a road. They say it’s the crow’s house now, and when it dies other crows will live there until you die, then the house will be handed over to a bird sanctuary. You move to a new town. You can’t find a job. Your parents agree that you can have a small allowance as long as they can monitor you at all times. You’re tagged, a painful microchip inserted into your cheek. They’ve sold your rights to an undisclosed international company. You’re no longer their responsibility. When you ask who is responsible for you, they say they can’t say, but encourage you to buy products that will please them. They refuse to say what products these are. Your allowance stops. You struggle to get by. You develop a hard edge. You find it hard to make friends with people who aren’t hustling like you. You receive no birthday presents or cards, except from your mother, who has not spoken to you in years. She’s sent you a large package and a note. She writes that with the money they received from your chip she has taken up robotics as a hobby. You open the box. Your dog is alive, but it moves funny and is incredibly aggressive. It’s also territorial. You have to move out. You tell your parents hoping they can get rid of the dog, but they have no idea what you’re talking about. They say the dog is buried in the backyard. You’re covered in dog bites. They want to know what’s got into you. “The Dog,” you tell them. “Aw, you used to love dogs, especially Molly,” they reply nostalgically. You tell them about the letter and the robot dog they sent you. They say they don’t know anything about any dogs. They sent a birthday card and a cheque with a bit of extra cash to get something nice. You tell them you’re scared the robot dog will follow your chip and do the same thing, again and again, rendering you homeless for ever. They tell you that your mother’s never done robotics, her hobbies include DJing and skateboarding and your dad tells you he’s considering taking up pole dancing to stay fit.

2019