Given enough time, you can get used to anything.
You accept, adapt, survive.
Given enough time, balance returns, and though things aren’t the same, they become manageable again.
Denial is a form of adaptation.
It’s been long enough after the last visit from the loan sharks that my neighbours have begun to settle into a kind of comfort zone. What began as evasive action has become routine. They come home late, they leave early.
And unconsciously, their pattern, their complacency, became ours.
The loan sharks have given up.
Everything would be ok.
Then the red paint returned.
Their roof was covered in it.
Their garden was covered in it.
Their walls and the porch looked like the scene of a massacre.
I suspect the thugs come in the afternoon, when the guards don’t keep to their rounds as strictly and the entry of cars is less likely to be questioned.
My neighbours tried to hide their shock, and just scurried into the house. They sneaked out in the middle of the night, scrubbing furiously attempting to remove the paint. But it was no good.
The next morning, the rest of the neighbours saw everything. The red paint made the house look like the site of a slashing, but the scrubbing made it look like a botched cover-up – which it was.
In the end, my neighbours called someone in to paint over the red streaks on the walls. Maybe the painter didn’t have time to find a match, so the result was patches of off-white against light beige. None of which hides the red, which now appears as dark shadows under the hastily, unevenly applied coat of new paint.
But worse of all is the red paint they tried to wash away has settled into the tarmac just in front of my house. It stains the entrance.
The red looks at me every time I step over it to get into my car.
Trouble is at my door.
And it is no metaphor.
I hate that their siege is becoming mine.
I hate that I now share their terror.
Yet not the comfort of their denial.