“The Ballerina and the Revolutionary” is a tale about a teenager who is forced to return to their childhood home and face those demons they’d hoped to leave behind forever. It’s a story about rebellion, gender-identity, non-conformity, mental illness, child-abuse and forgiveness.
This is an excerpt from the novel. “The Ballerina and the Revolutionary” is due to be published in April 2014.
‘I have to bring you home. Mum needs to see you.’
‘When Mum woke up…she asked for you. She’s desperate to see you, to apologise. She never meant to hurt you.’
Anger made my arms shake. Trying to steady them, I reached out and squeezed my brother’s wrist.
He pulled away. ‘Giz, for Christ’s sake, it’s been six years. Isn’t that punishment enough? You know, Mum’s life wasn’t easy either.’
‘It’s Crow, and don’t do that, you bastard! Don’t you stand up for her. Yeah, maybe she loves you now, but she’s never loved me. I was always too clumsy, too ugly, too angry…’
‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t… it’s just… come with me. Do this for me, please.’
Around his eyes, I saw lines of pain, like spiders’ webs, etched across his skin. ‘I don’t know.’ I sighed. My shoulders dropped in resignation. I did know.
‘Just for a couple of days, please,’ he begged.
Attempting to light my cigarette with shaking hands, I stared into his watery eyes. Listening to his pleas, I remembered how fiercely I shielded my big brother while we were growing up. He was always the sensitive one, too easily hurt. Watching him now, I realised how much he still needed me.
‘I’ll try,’ I whispered, shuddering.
Packing to leave the squat involved no more than picking up my backpack from beside my pile of blankets. My khaki rucksack had, for years now, contained my life: my clothes, my belongings, even my dreams – stored for travel, small and easy to transport.
I kissed Chrissie’s cheek and placed a note, beside her sleeping body, to explain where I had gone. I left the blankets where they were; I would be back in a couple of days.