I didnt think much of the prompt Chuck Wendig gave us this week, and I’m not sure I’m ready for really innovative new stories yet, so I’ve brought out the one I did for the 1st July, but instead posted my first postcard from Camp. The prompt was to write a 1000 word story about bad parents… so I have.
I sat at my bedroom window, watching the girls two doors up playing in their garden in the fading evening light. They were have a great time. I had no idea what the game was, a kind of tag with the cat that belonged to the old lady on the next street, the one our houses backed onto. They chased the cat, and at some predetermined signal, the cat chased them. It looked like fun. I never had fun. I wasn’t allowed fun. I’d been sent to my room for arguing with my brother. I hadn’t argued. He was the one who had argued. I got blamed for everything.
I sighed, and pulled myself away from the window. Might as well check the things for school tomorrow. Homework, check. Everything except reading the final chapter of Lord of the Flies and I’d do that on the train to school. School uniform, check, dress on the hanger, shoes polished and ready for tomorrow.
I sat on the bed and looked around my room. My one picture of my favourite pop group was carefully pinned to the pinboard my dad had made for me, to ‘save the walls’, he’d said. The picture of teen heartthrob Cary Finnegan was neatly framed and hung on the wall above my bed. There were some photos of my friends and me, and my family at the seaside on my chest of drawers, and all the drawers were closed for once, with nothing hanging out.
Mum called up the stairs, telling me it was time for bed, but to come down if I wanted a drink. I didn’t. I’d had enough milk for one day, and besides, I wasn’t sure if it was giving me spots. I gazed at my face in the mirror and wondered if my freckles would mask them. I suppose that’s the one good thing about freckles. I chucked off my shorts and t-shirt and struggled into my nightdress. I might as well go to bed. It was nearly exam time; each night my parents watched over me at the dining room table, to make sure I did all my study preparation, with a timetable for revision as well as my ordinary homework. They were slave drivers. I had to do well. Everyone in my family did well at school. I coudn’t bear to be different.
I lay down in bed listening to the girls still playing with the cat. Their peals of laughter mingled with the yowls of the cat. I hope they’d finish soon.
At last, the exams are done, the stupid play is performed and we can break up and have some freedom for a change. Well, I can’t have freedom, not like my friends. Susie invited me to a sleepover for her birthday tonight but I had to turn her down. My parents won’t let me because we’re going on holiday tomorrow. We won’t be back till the day before the exam results come out. A sleepover would have been great fun. A little childish maybe, but we’ll soon be too old for sleepovers and it’s just a last chance to do silly things together. I have to go to see some stupid temples and a volcano and maybe some art galleries in Italy instead. The pictures of the coast look amazing, but I’d rather be with Susie.
We’re back from the holidays. It was hot, and I got bored with the temples and stuff. The beaches were lovely and so were the ice creams, although we only had them on the first two days because my little sister got food poisoning and mum said it was from the ice cream.
Susie came round as soon as she saw us get back, and asked if she could help me unpack. Mum said she could, so we sat in my room and shared her MP3 while we sorted out washing from more or less clean things. When I’d given the washing to mum we shut the door and she told me the gossip. One of the girls up the road had been cautioned by the police for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. She’d gone to live with her aunt, because her mum had run away to live with another woman and her dad had been put in prison. Those boys who used to stay at their house, he’d been doing things with them. And his other daughter had been sent to a convent where girls had to work until they had a baby and then the baby went for adoption. I couldn’t believe it, but Susie said it was all true, it was in the papers.
Then Mum came in with a copy of the paper in her hand and asked if Susie had seen the news. She said yes, she’d just been telling me about it. Mum went white and I thought she was going to be really cross and ban Susie from ever seeing me again. Instead she told us to come and join them in the living room. We were all there, all the family and Susie. We talked about the people up the road and I asked why he’d gone to prison and dad shifted uncomfortably, but Mum said he’d been doing things with the boys that they took in as lodgers that he shouldn’t be. And Susie asked if anyone knew who the father of Ilona’s baby was, but my parents both shook their heads. Dad said he just hoped Ilona was safe and could make a good life for herself in the future. Then he lectured all of us on the importance of love and marriage. I suppose he’s right. They’re a bit old-fashioned my parents.
After I’d slept on it that night, I decided that maybe my parents weren’t so bad after all. Maybe it was the girls two doors up whose parents were bad. But my exam results arrived and we had other things to think about after that.
(c) J M Pett 2014