I’m crying. I’m lying on a bed that isn’t mine, in a room I’ve never seen before. I’m wearing borrowed clothes and I’m crying.


I can’t stop.

And now Shakespeare is scolding me from the back of my mind: Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, And therefore I forbid my tears.

This is awful. I didn’t cry when Daddy died. I didn’t cry when I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t cry when Ma threw me out and took my baby, whose name I still do not know. I didn’t cry when I walked in on Romario wearing another woman – literally. I didn’t even shed a tear when those jerks attacked me, trying to strip off my clothes, ruining my shirt.

But a little kindness from a stranger and I’m a wet, snotty mess.

I don’t even know why I told that woman everything. I usually keep my business as my business. We all have problems; why add mine to everybody else’s own load? Maybe it was seeing that knife. Realising I’d been fighting and kicking armed men. And yet she and those two guys saved my butt. Just because. And then they wanted to call the police (no way!) and were cleaning up my scratches, and finding me fresh clothes, and asking me where I lived and why I was out walking alone, and the whole sorry story of my life since falling pregnant came tumbling out. And next thing I knew, she was putting me in this upstairs room, telling me not to be scared, that one of the guys lived here and he wouldn’t let anybody hurt me.

Just like that.

And it made me feel lonely. How’s that?

Now I’m crying for my sister, wishing I was in our old bedroom, Shakespeare quotes and all. When Tazmin was sad, I used to cross over and tuck myself in next to her. I’d hold her while she sobbed, letting out all her pain, especially after Daddy drowned at sea. I loved her so much. Still do. Need to send her another postcard soon.

But as much as I loved her, as much as it felt right to be holding her as she cried, I always had a bit of envy for her tears. That she could just let it out, scrub her insides clean of worry and hurt.

Mine stay bottled up and then I have to move. Got to go. Got to be alive. Got to feel. And feel I did, right into the arms of a Mister Self-centred: “Whoops, I must have slipped off the condom right at the end. My bad, babe, but don’t call me if you end up pregnant. That’s all on you. I just like to have a good time. So, bye.”

Yet, now that the tears are here, I don’t want them anymore. They’re scooping me out, making me hollow and empty, more than even the day my baby abandoned my womb. My head is achy, my nose is raw and my abs are tight, and the more I cry, the more there seems to be to cry about. It’s like Shakespeare said, But I am bound upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears do scald like molten lead.

It hurts. These blasted tears hurt.


Tell us what you think: A bit of kindness left Justine feeling lonely and tearful. Why would that be? Has that ever happened to you?