When her mother warns her about the fire in her eyes, Luci cannot possibly comprehend the implications. As undiagnosed bipolar disorder turns Luci's life upside down, she wonders if she can ever be truly happy.
The Fire in Your Eyes - Chipmunka Publishing
‘There is fire in your eyes, and it frightens me.’
At the age of twelve, Luci cannot possibly comprehend what her mother means by those words – and her mother’s suicide just hours later means she cannot ask. But the words will come to haunt Luci in the years to come as she battles with the highs and lows of undiagnosed manic-depression.
The tragic death of her twin brother at the age of seventeen marks the beginning of a rollercoaster ride of intense emotion that pushes Luci to the very limits of her endurance. Her manic recklessness has far-reaching consequences, for both Luci and her extended family, and the accompanying episodes of depression leave Luci teetering on the thin line between life and death.
When Luci meets Ben, she actually dares to hope that he might be the one person who can keep her on an almost even keel. But when tragedy steals Ben from her just weeks before their wedding day, Luci is left despairing of ever being happy as her tempestuous moods spiral once again out of control.
Luci’s hopes of happiness are rekindled when she finds love in an unexpected quarter, but as the rollercoaster ride becomes ever more extreme, an episode of psychotic mania threatens everything Luci holds dear, culminating in her hospitalisation and diagnosis with bipolar affective disorder (manic depression).
By turns funny and tragic, The Fire in Your Eyes thrusts the reader deep into the tumult that is untreated manic-depression, a real rollercoaster of a ride.
What mother wouldn’t lay down her life for the sake of her children? Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Elvina Rushden gazed dispassionately at her reflection. Her cheeks were sallow and stained with tears, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy. She turned her head sharply away before she could look into her own eyes, always afraid of what she might see there. Kneeling, she reached to the back of the cupboard and retrieved the small bottle of vodka she kept hidden for emergencies. If discovering that her husband had been having an affair with her best friend wasn’t an emergency, then nothing was. Returning to the bedroom, Elvina lay down on the bed, next to the massacred pillow she’d slashed wishing it were Jack instead, and lifted the bottle to her cracked lips. The first swallow burned down her throat like a familiar friend. The only friend she had left now. She shuddered, drinking deeply. She needed courage, and her own had abandoned her.
Hearing her mother’s bedroom door close, Luci stood up and dragged her chair across the kitchen to the cupboard next to the oven. Small for her twelve years, she had to stand on tiptoes on the chair to reach the bottle of vodka hidden behind packets of tea and biscuits. Climbing down, she put the bottle at the bottom of her school bag with a triumphant grin. She was sitting innocently at the kitchen table with her English homework in front of her when her twin brother emerged from the pantry with two more bottles. Luke wasn’t smiling. ‘She’ll kill us, Luce,’ he said grimly, sitting down opposite his sister. ‘You know what she’s like when she needs a drink.’ ‘Wants, you mean, not needs,’ Luci retorted. ‘We’re doing this for her, Luke. If she hadn’t started drinking, Dad would never have had an affair with Ruth, and Mum wouldn’t have thrown him out last night.’ Luke propped his chin up on his hand. ‘D’you think this is it? That they’ve split for good?’ he asked. His violet-blue eyes were serious. Luci shrugged, tying her long chestnut curls back into a ponytail. ‘If it is,’ she said, ‘then I’m living with Dad. It’s nearly two o’clock and she hasn’t even been down to see if we’re all right. Left with her all the time, we’d probably starve to death.’ ‘Don’t be so melodramatic,’ Luke said, laughing. ‘There’s tons of food in the house.’
‘Which our mother is too drunk to prepare for us,’ Luci shot back, her eyes flashing. ‘I wish we had a normal mother – one who though more of us than she did a bottle of vodka!’ She bit her lip to stop it trembling, looking down quickly so Luke wouldn’t see the tears swimming in her eyes. She didn’t want to admit, not even to her twin, that she was scared that their family was falling apart right in front of them and neither of their parents cared enough to think about her and Luke.
Luke got up and came around the table, hugging Luci from behind. He rested his chin on top of her head. Their father sometimes complained that they were too close, that their relationship wasn’t healthy. He hadn’t liked the way Elvina had let them share the same bed until they were seven, and had taken them to a speech therapist when their ‘twin language’ had interfered with their proper language development. Over the years, he’d tried all manner of ways of keeping them apart, sending them to Brownie and Cub Scout camps, and even enrolling Luke in football coaching programmes during holidays, but none of his schemes had managed to break the bond between them. Nothing could come between that.
‘It’ll be okay, Luce,’ Luke murmured. ‘Dad’ll come back for us, when he’s… I don’t know, sorted himself out or something.’ ‘But what if he doesn’t come back for us? What if he only wants one of us?’ Luci replied tremulously. ‘What if this is how he gets to separate us once and for all?’ ‘Over my dead body,’ Luke retorted. ‘I won’t let him. We come as a pair. If he can’t stand that, then… then we just have to take our chances with Mum.’ The twins both started as heavy footsteps sounded on the stairs. Luke slipped back into his seat and pretended to be working on his French homework, whilst Luci dashed her tears away and picked up her pen. Under the table, Luke put his feet on top of Luci’s, pressing down with his toes. Neither dared to look at the other.
There wasn’t enough courage to be found in one small bottle of vodka. Elvina could feel the desperate need clutching her heart as she made her way unsteadily down the stairs. The twins didn’t so much as look up at her when she walked into the kitchen. Elvina felt a pang of guilt for virtually abandoning them. She wasn’t a fit mother, she knew that. She knew that she embarrassed them, and they deserved better. That was why she needed more courage, or she could never find the strength to go through with what she planned. She went automatically to the cupboard where she had a bottle hidden – only the bottle wasn’t there. Elvina stiffened, turning around slowly. Luci and Luke looked the picture of innocence, but Elvina knew the bottle had been there yesterday, because she’d only replaced it then. And Jack had left the house with nothing more than the clothes he stood up in, which left only two possible culprits. ‘Where is it?’ Elvina snapped. ‘What have you done with it?’ ‘With what?’ Luci asked.