This is a short excerpt that I wrote while scribbling and crossing out various words. I am thinking about producing this as a short novella for Nanowrimo but it is something that’s in the air at the moment. I hope you enjoy reading this. 🙂
Somewhere, in the bible it states that whenever someone closes the door, the Lord opens up a window. A line that was so elegantly dropped into the script for The Sound of Music. A film which my little sister, Casey was quietly engrossed in. She was sat in front of the television, her small button nose just centimetres away from the screen.
That statement makes no sense to me whatsoever. How can you climb through a window? It would be easy if it was low down, like the front room window of our Victorian house. But what if it was higher up? And what if there was no other way to move on, but that of a tiny window?
There was no one else home apart from Casey and me. Our mother had went out, not saying where she was going or what time she’d be back. She’d simply slipped the DVD into the player and ordered me to keep an eye on her. And then she’d left. The large, white glossed door slammed behind her, the sound of her heels which belonged to her Gucci black stilettos echoed off the grey, cracked pavement.
We were used to her wanderings. That was all she ever did. Apart from sleeping and eating that is, but when it came down to us we were left to fend for ourselves. Sometimes we’d be glad that we were alone, and thankful that we had each other. Other times we’d long for her to spend time with us. Even if it was just for a few hours, that would be enough to satisfy us.
I turned the page of my crumpled, tea stained copy of Romeo and Juliet. Mr Roteberry, my young and articulate English teacher had warned all of us Year Tens that he would be putting together a small quiz on Wednesday. Studying wasn’t one of my favourite things. I hated reading, especially books that Shakespeare had written. The text was old fashioned and the words had no meaning to me because of that.
A movement was heard from near the television, then the pounding of footsteps followed on the red, concrete floor. I could hear Casey’s breathing, fast and furious, like a hundred birds flapping their wings in unison. The shadow of her small, thin body lingered over the book I’d been mulling over.
‘The dance is about to start.’ She said. My eyes met her large, blue eyes, they were brighter than any stars I’d ever seen. Even if she was only six and three quarters of age.
‘Come and learn me.’ I sighed heavily.
‘Not now Casey, I have to read this.’ She stuck out her pink bottom lip, her eyes faced the floor. ‘Don’t look like that, your face will stay that way.’ She didn’t take any notice of me. I focused my attention back to the book. I was up to the part where Romeo seeks Juliet at the Capulet’s Mansion when, from the corner of my right eye, I saw her kneel down.
‘I. Said. Not. Now.”
‘I promise I’ll be good. I won’t mess about.’
‘It’s not about that. I need to this right now.’ She ran her fingers through her long, blonde tufty hair. Her shoulders slumped forward as the music began, it was too late now. I looked at her again. ‘It’s started now. You’d best go and watch the rest of it.’ Her eyes didn’t blink as her left hand traced invisible patterns on the floor.
‘Don’t want to.’ She snapped. ‘I want mum!’ I slammed the book shut.
‘Well, mum’s not here so you’ll have to put up with me for now.’ One big, fat but tiny tear rolled down her left, rosy red cheek followed by another. And another. And another. They kept on coming as she began wailing.
This was how it usually went when she wasn’t happy with time on our hands. An hour or so into our mother being absent and Casey would beg for her. This was the hardest part. Consoling a child who wanted to see her mum. But the devastating truth was that our mum just didn’t care enough.
I hauled her onto my lap, placing my arms around her shoulders I gently rocked her. The sun appeared from behind the dark, grey and fluffy clouds which after five minutes broke apart and a patch of brilliant blue sky was visible. The ground was brown from the rain, large puddles were formed by the side of the curbs and on the pavements. Maybe… Casey’s head tilted backwards.
‘Can I play outside?’
‘What about the film?’ Her shoulders raised then fell.
‘Don’t want to watch it now.’
‘Are you sure?’ She gave a nod. ‘It won’t be going back on mind if you go outside.’
‘We’ve got to save the electricity. We don’t know when mum is coming back.’ Casey leapt off my knees and ran out of the lounge. Within seconds she was back with her Peppa Pig wellies.
‘I’m going to jump in the biggest puddle and make such a splash.’ She declared as she slipped her left foot into the correct Wellington. ‘Are you going to jump with me?’ It shouldn’t have been something I’d have to think about. And the rain was the only reason I’d got the book out in the first place. I smiled at her.
‘Yes. Would you get my Wellingtons?’ As soon as her right foot was in she bounded off and minutes later there was a huge clatter. I hurried out of the door and there was Casey. Her body jerking about frantically and blood bubbled from her mouth like a fountain.
‘Shut the hell up Pearson!’ Came an angry, female voice from the next room. Why was she yelling at me? I wasn’t causing any noise. Oh wait. Yes I was. I was shrieking. I clamped my mouth shut, my heart was beating so fast that it was making it hard for me to breathe. I should have apologised but I couldn’t locate the word in my brain. Besides, she should have been used to it by now.
The nightmares were getting worse. A lot more vivid and distressing. They would happen every time I’d close my eyes. There’d be an overwhelming darkness and then these small, dot like pixels put themselves together. And then I’d see her. Young, happy but most importantly alive.
‘Ignore her.’ Said another. ‘She’ll just be attention seeking. Always is that one.’ I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. I’d never get back to sleep now. Not that I’d want to. Seeing Casey was enough to make me suffer from insomnia. And some nights that was exactly what I had. But no one in this place gave a toss. Especially about me. After what I’d done who could blame them?
With my palms planted firmly on the bed I managed to haul myself up, my back straight against the white headboard. The light green sheets were crinkled as a result of my frantic movements. I must have been tossing and turning a lot. Half of it was hanging off the bed.
There was a clear bright light from outside the large, thick white door which was reduced to a dull glow. The only sign that morning had officially broken. A part of me wondered what time it was. Six? Seven? Maybe even eight? What did it matter? Mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights were all the same to me now. Nothing was how it should have been.
Being cooped up in here was like being in the zoo. Only difference was that there was no audience and there were no iron bars surrounding us.
‘She does not attention seek Jean. She knows much better than to do that.’ A wave of calmness swept over me, Casey disappeared further into my mind, my pulse had quickened, blood swooped through my veins as my over sensitive eardrums picked up the sound of a bunch of keys jangling merrily.
I drew my knees in to my chest and rested my chin on top of them. There was no chance that I’d believe anything that was said today. Even if I wanted to there was no way. I’d be lying to myself as well as lying to them. I was way past help now. There was no hope of ever getting out.
The sound of keys made me jump a mile. I quickly brushed the loose strands of hair behind my small ears and tried my best to look happy. The now unlocked door opened and there he stood. Frank, thirty five, was my knight in shining armour. My answer to my Romeo. The yin to my yang. But as usual there was a problem. He was married.
He stood by the door, the light from outside burning my eyes. Seconds later he slammed it shut.
‘Frank! What are you doing? Frank!”
‘It’s all right. She’s not going to try anything.’
‘Er, and how do you know?’ His blue eyes glanced over at me and I felt myself going pink. Good job it was dark in here.
‘I don’t. But I know I trust her. And she trusts me.’ Jean gave a sigh as she made her way further down the corridor. I heard Frank shut the door. I didn’t move, not even when the mattress springs creaked, and I sank into it.
Male staff aren’t supposed to enter girls’ rooms. Some of them had been known to try it on. And when they turned them down it got rather messy. There’s been five attempted suicides here. Two succeeded. One happened in this room. The three girls have since recovered and have left. They are free to live their lives, dream their own dreams and be who they want to be and never look back. I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be ready for that.
‘Everything all right Kim?’ He asked, his head tilted sideways.
‘Yes. I’m fine now.’ I smiled weakly. ‘I’ve got it all out of my system.’
‘That’s great. It’s never good to bottle things up. You’ve got to get those thoughts and emotions out there.’ I lifted my chin from my knees and shrugged. Why did he have to be so nice? Why did I have to be in here? ‘Today isn’t going to be a good day for you, but everybody has their moments.’ He gave a short chuckle which echoed off the washed out grey walls. ‘I have to say I’ve had mine.’ My mind drifted off somewhere outside the walls that were enclosing me, over the black golden pointed gates and over the lush green hills it continued to go. It was with Casey now. Beneath the soil and into the pine spotless coffin it went.
‘That’s all I seem to be doing right now.’ His bushy brown eyebrows narrowed. ‘Having moments.’ He nodded, his right hand patted my right knee gently.
‘It’s bound to affect you, you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t.’
‘Yes but not every day surely.’
‘Grieving takes its toll honey, it’s all about waiting for it to get easier.’ I rubbed my sweaty hands onto the bed sheets as the room grew silent. I didn’t know what to say to him. It was a known fact that I could talk to him about anything but I wasn’t keen on talking about myself, especially to him.
‘I.-’ We both laughed at our choice to speak at the same time. ‘You go.’
‘You’re going to struggle with what I’m about to say, but you could surprise me.’ Pause. ‘Your mum’s coming to see you today.’ I leapt off the bed, taking the covers with me. So now she was ready.
‘Well you can tell her not to bother.’
‘Kim please let me.-”
‘No. She left me out in the cold Frank. No way.’ He heaved a sigh.
‘Kim, hold your horses!’ Another pause. ‘She’s dying.’ I looked at him properly to see whether he was just kidding around. But he wasn’t. I sat back onto the bed and folded my arms. ‘She doesn’t blame you Kim. She never has.’ Another creak, this time it was the springs releasing him. ‘Think about seeing her.’ A few steps later and he was gone.