All entries for February 2005

February 11, 2005

Fiction

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November Rain.

The soft buzz of stationary engines is all around me as I stare at the never – changing scenery; CV43 GHY on the back of a pearly green Ford estate. It’s only five and already it’s dark, the street lamps giving off a dim, bronzy coloured light, that instead of making the road easier to see, just emphasises the blackness of the sky. We must be in an area of bad signal, as I can’t get through to my home phone to tell Jackie I’ll be late, and my radio keeps buzzing from one local station to another, as though it can’t make up its mind which would be best to torture me with. Jackie’s going to be furious – she wanted to go out tonight, and now I’m not going to be home for hours, and she hasn’t fixed a babysitter. I could ring Kate, see if she could do it, at least then Jacs would have less reason to fly off the handle… But then I remember that I have no signal, and as though blaming it, I jab the “Off” button on my radio a little too violently. “Hurrump… hurrump…” My windscreen wipers are talking to each other, and I watch the rain droplets fall down the window, egging each wiper to swipe it, destroy it, dragging it back across to the other side, before resting for a moment and then starting up again… Someone (I think it was my oldest son, Ben – he’s moving in with Anna tomorrow, isn’t he? She’s a lovely girl; brain like Albert Einstein, and a body like Kate Moss. Heaven. Lucky guy.) Yeah, anyway, someone once told me windscreen wipers were hypnotic, but I just scoffed. I don’t believe in such nonsense, especially when it includes me. Something about the light changes, but I can’t seem to register what; I’m so tired, and I feel my eyes closing… Silence. So much of it, this blessed silence. Only the sweep of the wipers, the tapping of the rain, and the buzz of cars…

  • * * * *
  • Mummy is crying. I don’t know why. I think she’s sad. I didn’t miss the toilet, and I ate all my tea – well, apart from those nasty, green round things, but Mummy knows I don’t like those. She’s even stopped putting them on my plate, but she forgot tonight, and used them to cover up Pooh’s face, when I was just wondering if he’d really got Eeyore a pot of honey for his birthday, and then eaten it. And now, I can’t ask him, because mummy’s crying. Her eyelashes are loosing their colour because it’s coming down her face. Maybe she has spares. But I don’t understand why she’s upset; I haven’t done anything wrong, have I? I check with Teddy, just to make sure, but he doesn’t say anything. Maybe he’s frightened of Mummy shouting. Or maybe that bit of paint that is stuck on his arm is hurting him.
    Ben came round earlier, but he ignored me, and just cuddled Mummy, and then went away again. He didn’t give me a marshmallow. I like marshmallows, especially when they go all gooey after I’ve played with them in my fingers, and then I see how far apart I can get my forefinger and thumb, before the marshmallow breaks…
    Mummy has thrown my plate in the sink, and Pooh’s broken in half. She’s crying even harder.
    “Mummy.”
    She’s not listening, so I cuddle Teddy and tell him not to worry. Daddy isn’t home yet. He usually gets home before I have my tea, and then he reads me a story about Mog the naughty cat before I go to sleep.
    “Where’s Daddy?” I ask, but Mummy is crying over Pooh’s dead body and she can’t hear me.

    • * * * *

    I didn’t see a flash of lightening when it happened, I didn’t feel a bit of me die, I didn’t happen to be looking at any old family photographs. Actually, I was sat in the lounge, out of the rain, watching the six o’clock news, with that pretty Fiona Bruce raising her eyebrows to tell us about the latest progress of American troops in Baghdad. They were showing a fairly useless map of Iraq with a wriggly red line, like the mark of a child’s crayon slipping across a piece of paper, when the phone rang. Last Christmas, Betty bought me a new house telephone and it has this ridiculous ring, like a cuckoo clock, but I haven’t the heart to ask her if we can change it; she thinks it makes it easier to hear it when it rings. Or more specifically, makes it easier for me to hear it, although I’m not half as death as she’d like to think I was – I play it up because it gets me out of some jobs. Like answering the phone. Philip can’t stand it either, rolling his eyes every time it rings whilst he’s round visiting. Betty said this morning how strange she’ll find it, not to see him leaning against the kitchen worktops every Sunday morning. But I don’t see that, at least not yet, I guess I might in time. His mug is still here, his favourite chair opposite mine, his school photos in the hall, still grinning cheekily every time I pass. I still get the impression there was a side to him that I never saw, except for the glimpse I see in those photos; was he popular at school? Was he the class joker? Did he have lots of friends?
    Bit late to be asking things like that, isn’t it?

    • * * * *

    Philip Jenkinson, aged 45, died yesterday evening in a motorway accident. Mr. Jenkinson had worked for twenty years as a journalist for “The Evening Herald”, a local newspaper for his hometown in West Yorkshire. He was the beloved husband of
    Jackie, 42, and father of Ben, 22, and Andrew, who is only 2 years old. His parents, Don and Betty of Harrogate, Yorkshire, are having a park bench built in his memory, and there will be a tree planted outside his workplace in order to commemorate his many years of hard work. Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends. The funeral shall take place on the 1st December, at St. Joseph’s church.

    Family Life.
    _- Missed me?
    -Sure.
    – Go away.
    – For God’s sake, not another little squirt!
    – Don’t be mean.
    – Err, excuse me, but I only want somewhere to sit.
    – There’s a whole house at your disposal. Go on, bugger off, this is my place.
    – I lived here first.
    – I’m bigger. Bugger off.
    – No. There’s plenty of room for both of us.
    – Move, or I’ll get nasty.
    – Yeah, right. You’d be too scared. What if someone shouted at you? Aww, poor little boy…
    – Right, you asked for it!
    – Get your nose out of there! Can’t you let a girl have any dignity?!
    -Erm, I’m trying to sleep here…
    – You always sleep. Look, are you going to move or not?
    – No._

    -Could you two please shut up?!

    This happens every evening. I’m quite often the last in, you see, and so by the time I arrive, all the decent seats in the lounge have been taken. I mean, sure, I could go and sit on one of the other seats, or go somewhere else in the house, as His Royal Highness suggested, but as the only girl in our family, I see it as my prerogative to assert my authority. Well, I don’t technically have any authority, as (arguably) that belongs to my two elder brothers. Although, they’re such scardy cats that they never have the guts to stop me bossing them. They’re odd creatures, my brothers – defiantly not what you’d describe as your average kind of guys. First off, they hate each other. Always have, ever since before I was born. They have a power complex thing going on, you see; my eldest brother is five years older than my other one, but he really is a bit pathetic, and his nerves are almost as fragile than my patience. I’d say that my middle brother is actually the most assertive out the two, but he just can’t be bothered with it all! Instead, he spends his time sleeping, and sleeping, and sleeping some more! Every now and then he’ll wake long enough to leer at me and try to mount me. Gross, isn’t it? In his excuse, he is only my adoptive brother, but still, I’m never even tempted to consider saying yes! Usually a good whack around the face does the trick. I’ve given up going to my eldest brother for help, it’s not like he’d do anything; when he’s not covering in a corner, he starts acting like the immature baby he really is.
    As you can probably tell, we aren’t exactly a close family. Well, us three aren’t anyway. My two younger brothers though, are inseparable – you never see one without the other! They even sleep in the same bed, for God’s sake. Sometimes it’s sweet, but often it’s just downright annoying ‘cause they take up so much space!

    – _You smell funny.
    – Well, get your nose off me then._ Honestly, how thick can you get?
    No. You go and sit somewhere else.

    This is my second to youngest brother, and there really is only one word to describe him; arrogant. He really does think he’s God’s gift to every man, woman, child, and indeed every living organism ever to have existed. Why? Because of his blessed heritage. Ok, so he is the only one of us who has an even slightly impressive ancestry, but he doesn’t need to rub our faces in it! He says that’s why he’s so good looking, but that’s nonsense – we’re all rather blessed in the looks department, even if I do say so myself! My eldest brother is a very exotic beauty, who holds himself like an expert ballet dancer, poised to scat immediately if someone suddenly makes a noise. The next brother is like Bottom from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’; he’s a bit of an idiot, slightly full of himself, but his heart is essentially in the right place. I like to think of myself as a mix between Lady Macbeth and a female Puck. I’m certainly the driving force of the family, a tad bloodthirsty and impatient, but I’ve also got a wicked sense of humour! Doesn’t always work in my favour, but still… My next brother down the line, is Tybalt, without a doubt, whilst the youngest is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern rolled into one, ‘cause he’s as thick as two short planks, cowers even when he hasn’t done anything wrong, but is fiercely loyal, and can be quite sweet sometimes!
    As you should know if you have any literary education at all, I can’t give you our real names, so this will have to do. Infact, that’s what makes us a family; we might have our differences, but we’re the only people in the whole world that know each other’s real names, and none of us would betray each other for anything. We see names as probably the most private thing about someone, as, for us, they’re the key to our personalities, even, some would argue, our souls.

    _- You’ve been eating, that’s what the smell is.
    – Well, if you could be bothered, you could eat too. But no, instead you just sit around waiting for food to appear under your nose.
    -Did you find a new shop, baby-girl?_ I hate it when they call me that. I’m not a bay anymore, but they don’t seem to have registered that fact.
    _- Yes. Near the one I found the other day.
    – Did you clear it out?
    – Of course. I grin, despite myself. I was peckish.
    -Are you lot going to be quiet and let me sleep?!_
    We all settle down, slightly crowded, and none of us managing to stay still for very long, but all comfortable after a long day. As I look at them all through half open eyes, I can’t help but feel at peace; us cats might have nine lives, but right now, this one’s just fine.


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