1. Read book in car when father drives you to ballet class. Do not respond when he tells you he has not had sex with your mother for six years, other than by perhaps stonily turning a page.
2. Move to a far away university. Do not tell either of them about your essay marks, your newly orientated sexuality, that you lost your house keys (which you no longer need because you will never go back), about your STDs or your homesickness. Do not respond to news of your mother’s affair.
3. Stop taking their money as soon as you graduate. Work yourself to the bone. Take drugs, see cyclists die under buses, have break downs, eat only frozen things and powdered things for lunch and dinner. Don’t bother with breakfast. Your mother always said it was the most important meal of the day.
4. Move to another country. Tell anyone who listens that your parents fucked you up. Refuse to take any claim for your own fucked-up-ness. Work up the courage to tell your parents that they fucked you up. Try at the annual Christmas reunion, and fuck it up. Tell anyone who listens that you can’t believe how understanding and kind they have become since you left, especially towards one another, and how this fucks you up.
5. Stop attending annual Christmas reunions. Who cares about the Christmas Eve pork pie with Coleman’s mustard? Tradition is so last decade.
6. Learn and speak (only) a language alien to your parents. Pretend you even dream in this language. They don’t care about your dreams anyway.
7. Have your parents send you all the belongings left in your childhood room to your new country. This includes your teenage diaries, which are hidden in a secret place you reveal in a WhatsApp message to the family group. Do not be impressed that they used google translate to encode your communications. Do not care if your parents read your teenage diaries. They deserve to know the biro-scribbled agonies of truth. Upon arrival of parcel, burn diaries without reading.
8. Change inherited body shape, and in doing so superficially manipulate the genes forced upon you, by attending body pump classes at the gym. Develop bicep muscles never seen on your mother. Know you have triumphed over biology, and then keep it up. Forever.
9. Comment on pictures of parents eating sushi one last time, then leave family WhatsApp group.
10. Create nom de plume: they will never find you now.
Congratulations: they have given up!
Charlotte Wührer is a Berlin-based writer and MA student. She has a piece coming up in Berlin Unspoken and hopefully elsewhere, and was shortlisted for the Exberliner / The Reader Berlin Short Story Competition 2016. She has only very recently signed up to twitter: @charliewuehrer