Imagine if you woke up one day and walked into the living room, and lying on your couch, eating your husband’s left over chocolate from the night before was a big green blob, with teeth. And a heaving chest and tears pouring down its blobby green face. You have no idea where this thing comes from but before you can throw it out the house it produces, from one of its blobby green folds, evidence that it is your parent. And this, it tells you, because sadly you understand the slurring, drippy words that come out of its mouth, is definitely, unavoidably true. It is your parent. It is what you have been denying for years. It is what you ran away from in the first place. It is the beginning of all the trouble and it is the chicken coming home to roost.

Suddenly, this blobby green thing is here to stay, and it needs looking after. It has taken up smoking, and needs you to buy it cigarettes. It needs food, from Woolworths, and it needs it to be prepared; this parent has never done things in a kitchen; not in the past, that you can remember, nor now in its new blobby state.

This green blobby parent is a totally dependent thing. It can’t be left on its own. It needs to be walked and bathed; but these things it must be forced to do. It is a hideous job. The green blobby thing is entirely ungrateful. It sees no value in what you do for it, but is ever and increasingly demanding. It thinks of new things it needs every day; it needs you to manage its accounts and expenses, your expenses, since it is your money; only it never says it is yours. It lies on the couch that you and your husband can’t use anymore and issues whining nagging “do you think you could just” instructions that you inexplicably cannot refuse.

One day your husband buys you a little gift; something precious and private; some trinket. You feel sick. You can’t wear the little thing around your neck because the green blobby parent with eyes in the back of its head will notice it and want to know where it came from, how much it cost, and what it is for. And while you innocently deserve it and love it and want it, you hide it away, because of the trouble it will cause, and how bad it will make you feel. Meanwhile the blob is eating chocolates, and smoking cigarettes and watching soap operas on TV and complaining about how lonely and depressed it is, and there is a tone in its voice that implies that somehow this is your entire fault.

And you make plans to leave. But it has listened on the phone. And you don’t go. And you try to run away, but your own guilt brings you back, and you pretend that it is not a green blob with teeth, but a helpless old lady sitting there, on your couch, eating your chocolates and needing, needing, needing and giving nothing but farts. And you tell yourself lies a hundred times a day, until suddenly, you remember when it arrived, that unexpected morning, that thing on the couch. And you go inside your own cupboard of memories and inside drawers of emotions. And it is not the same card. It is not the parent card. You have been cloud cuckolded. You have been conned. You have been taken advantage of to the highest degree. Just know this. You are the sucker if this has happened to you. You are the sucker. And it sucks.