If you said my life was a black hole which I couldn't climb out of you'd be right. Exactly right. In fact I am a black hole. That's what I am. That's the definition of...
ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME...

Talitha told me about black holes:

...How they used to be stars. (So did I.)

...How they grew old and lost the energy that kept them bright and big. (That's how I feel , tho' I'm only 13.)

...How they collapsed in on themselves. (That happened to me exactly two months ago.)

...How they got so squeezed down inside themselves no light or other radiation could escape. (You'll get nothing from me, no matter how much you beg and plead.)

...How you can't see them or even prove that they exist. (Sometimes I wonder if I really exist at all--or whether my life is just someone else's dream, or nightmare.)

...And anything that gets too close to them is sucked in and will never come out again. When the thing that's being sucked in gets close to the black hole it's ripped apart by tidal forces. When it finally gets inside the black hole it's squashed down into absolutely nothing. (No comment.)

...Tho' Talitha said there is a faint possibility that things that get sucked into black holes might somehow, somewhere, some-when-else in the universe reappear in a brilliant white burst of energy. (So there's a pin prick of hope for people who get too close to me, tho' I don't believe it personally.)

The sad thing is, as things fall into a black hole time slows down for them. So for them, they never actually get right inside.

But the rest of us (observers) know different.

I've seen it happen to all my friends.

They take one look at how thin I've become since September and they don't know what to say. Or do. So they walk away with some excuse like they'll see me later. But they never do.

Soneka asked me in August if I'd like to go with her family to Sydney in the holidays. Then I never heard another thing about it.

She's been to Sydney and come back again and not said a word.

Mind you, I wouldn't want to talk to myself if I had a good look at myself. I mean, I know I've got a bit thin. But that's not my fault. I just never feel hungry. And if you don't feel hungry then why bother to eat?

Manty's nightmare mother

My mother's always pestering me about eating and wearing more clothes. A black cotton dress and bare feet is all I need. Sometimes I wear my favourite pair of black cotton undies, and sometimes I don't. But I don't need anything else. I never feel the cold so my uniform lasts me all year round.

I can't stand those white cotton undies that creep up and wedge in your backside. But my mother says she won't buy me any new ones till I've proved that I'm going to wear them. I mean, is that logical? How can I wear them if she doesn't buy them for me?

It's like my dad. He stuffs his dinner into his face while he watches a soccer video and complains about his labourers. (He's a builder who is mostly a bricklayer...but he can build with practically anything.) As soon as I open my mouth to say something he says, 'Don't talk with your mouth open, Manty.'

Or else he snaps at me with taramasalata dribbling down his chin: 'Don't eat with your mouth full!'

God, I can't stand it.

I mean, I know it's only a phase I'm going that I've discovered that my parents aren't perfect. (Well that's normal at my age, isn't it?) I mean, once I did think they were perfect. I used to love my dad. I thought he'd do anything for me. I can remember when I was little and he tried to teach me soccer. He'd start off real gentle, dribbling the ball past me then giving me a tiny sideways kick that I could then boot into the goal that he had painted on the back of the garage. But he soon got impatient and had to show off his fancy footwork.

After a few months he gave up. If I'd been a boy it would have been different. When I was younger he was always going on about the next one would be a boy. He would teach the boy this and that. The boy would be like him. I mean, I can't help it if I'm a girl. Who ever heard of a Greek family with only one girl in it and no boys? I know there's nothing wrong with Mum, but Dad refuses to have the tests done to see if there's anything wrong with him.

Tho' I don't think Mum minds. It means she can finish her degree without Dad pressuring her to have another child.

Sometimes I can't feel parts of my right leg. But that's no big deal. Tho' the doctor said I've got the circulation of a 70-year old. But if that's the case how come I can walk round town all day and never feel tired?

Of course I go to school when I feel like it. Actually I hardly ever miss school, even when I'm sick. It's like paradise compared with home. And it's not as though I don't work hard. Like, earlier this year I busted my gut working on my version of Shakespeare's play Macbeth. I wrote it as a descriptive video. It took me 4 weeks, 3 hours, 9 minutes and 22 seconds.

My parents didn't even look at it when I'd finished.

Stuff them.

Perhaps it's a good thing they didn't look at it anyway. They wouldn't have known what it was about. Tho' I suppose Mum might have. I mean she's got a brain. She's not just a bricklayer.

No, that's not fair. It must take brains to be a bricklayer. I mean, have you ever tried it? I did once and it's so hard to make everything straight. The cement mustn't be too sloppy or too stiff. You've got to get just the right amount of cement on the hod. And you've got to use a plumbline to make sure the walls are vertical. And a square to make sure the corners are right angles.

And that's just the basic stuff. I mean, I've seen Dad make a wall that had three different curves in it. You wouldn't know it was made out of bricks. I mean, the bricks actually seem to be curved themselves. Tho' if you look closely you can see that they're not. It's just an illusion.

Sometimes I feel as tho' I'm an illusion. I swear one day I looked in the mirror and I wasn't there.

That's when I began to wonder if I was a witch. I mean, have you heard of any one apart from a witch who couldn't be seen in a mirror. It scared the hell out of me. So to speak.

After that I didn't dare look in the mirror for days. When I finally did, of course, I could see myself again. And I began to wonder if I had been imagining it. If I had been smarter, I would have used a camera. Taken a photo. That would have proved it one way or the other.

After the mirror problem I started to get fascinated by knifes. It didn't last for long, but while it did I felt quite powerful. Really. I even wrote a poem about using knifes to kill people, etc. It was inspired by Lady Macbeth, I suppose. My heroine in all things evil.

Tho' when I read Macbeth (for the tenth time!) I began to feel sorry for Lady Macbeth (and Macbeth). If they had had children they probably wouldn't have taken the big risks they did. Maybe they really wanted children and couldn't have them. And that made them go a bit crazy. A bit like my dad who can only have one child (a stupid girl) and wants a boy.

Anyway, I found this old knife that my dad had had when he was a kid. I used his grinder in the workshop to grind it down on both sides so it was a dagger. A stiletto, I found out when I looked up daggers in the library. Reminds me of the old-fashioned stiletto heels which are becoming trendy again, now. Ms Rubenach wore them to school for a while. She said they built up her calves but were bad for her back.

I planned to use this stiletto in a murder or something (I mean, I knew I wouldn't really do it, I was only fantasising...) There was this girl who had been bugging me about my boyfriend (Taylor, in case you don't know). I mean, at first I thought Taylor was a dag, too. But when you get to know him you realise that he is very sweet, sensitive and gloomy. Which is just how I like males. The exact opposite of my father, who is sour, thick and too damned breezy and brash for words.

The only thing that quietens my father down is ouso and beer. Why ouso I don't know. Every Friday night he gets practically paralysed. But he'll be up at 6.30 the next morning ready for a morning's bricklaying before football (soccer) in the afternoon. I don't know how he does it. If I had his energy I'd be the Queen of Darkness for the whole of Australia.

Mind you, I should have inherited plenty of energy. Mum never stops doing things. She never sits still. I mean, most normal families watch the telly or a video or something in the evening and just veg out. But not my darling parents. Dad's wheeling and dealing on the phone, or off to the Greek club to talk football and business (and other men's stuff, I suppose). And Mum's always doing an assignment that has to be handed in tomorrow or she's preparing lessons or something. So I don't get very much attention.

Except from Taylor. My dark, pimply stranger boy.

I love closing my eyes and running my hands over his face to feel the roughness of his pimples.

And squeezing the ripe zits hard and seeing the pus spurt out. It should make me sick but it doesn't. It makes me feel cold and strong inside. I even fantasise about licking the pus but even Taylor would draw the line at that. He hates his zits and can't wait to get rid of them.

I have talked to no one about this except to Ian Zochling who said, 'Yeah, I dream about that sort of thing.' But he wouldn't tell me what any of his dreams were.

Oh, well.

Tho' Ian did seem to know a lot about acne and how to cure it.

Oh, yes. I forgot. The knife. The stiletto. I was going to stick it into the girl who was trying to steal Taylor from me. I had it all worked out. In the crush at Café Zumthink I would slip it in her side and then walk straight past, pretending not to notice when she fell to the floor, writhing in agony. I planned this for three weeks. I knew how I would get rid of the weapon (in a gravel pit behind the shed where Dad keeps his trucks and things). I knew how I would appear so sorry when I found out that she was wounded. (Don't get me wrong--I wasn't going to kill her or anything. Just stick it in her side a bit. I mean she was a bit blubbery, it would've only been a flesh wound as they say in the newspaper reports.)

And she wouldn't have got infected or anything because I was going to sterilise the stiletto dagger first by boiling it for 20 minutes.

I had thought all this through. But then, the day before, she fell sick with appendicitis and had to be rushed to hospital.

That was a good decision.

Since then I have lost interest in violence and blades and things. And Taylor has lost interest in her. Although I was not impressed when he visited her at St Vincent's when she was recovering.

Although I was pleased he made her laugh and it hurt her stitches.

It must have been the spell I cast.