The weather was the culprit. Thunderstorms stranded Ella’s date in Boston. Flooding in South Carolina kept her son’s girlfriend in Charleston. Ella’s planned evening of formal dress, fine dining, forgettable speeches, and priceless facetime with clients and potential clients was a must-attend event.
It was late afternoon when Margaret’s doctor told us that her condition was deteriorating, that it was time to talk options. Mom sat closest to Margaret’s bedside, with her back to the window. Dad and I hunched forward in taupe, plastic chairs positioned around the foot of the bed. Margaret’s doctor stood in his white lab coat opposite Mom, a clipboard resting on his waist.
I just don’t know! What’s this world coming to? A security guard who is nothing but a slip of a girl. It’s not right.
But no matter. It’s the shopping centre’s problem. I have to admit that it’s nice that they give me my breakfast. But in saying that I’m paying them enough. She does check on me, I’ll give her that. But surely that should be a man’s job?
Christ. Almighty. Aunt Nell. Aunt. Fucking. Nell.
Bloodshot, enflamed eyes – well, eye: the right one. Skin like crumpled autumn leaves. Fleshy folds beneath her chin, dangling down like an over-spill tray on a coffee machine. A red, bulbous nose, courtesy of the ‘bloody rosacea’ that plagued Aunt Nell her whole adult life and transformed her nose into a beetroot.
It had happened. The unthinkable. The thing that she had been dreading for four years since finding out. She was morphing into Aunt Nell. Weird, you might think, turning into her aunt; turning into her mother would be more like it. A natural progression. What happens. This was what she found out: Aunt Nell was her mother. More on that can-of-worms later.
June 1st 1990
Sharon walked into the office. She saw her workmate Jim staring into a half empty coffee cup. He looked up. His face was flush, his eyes tired and she could have sworn that there was another line on his forehead.
“Do you know what I caught that kid doing?”
She began to chuckle. Jim had been trying to keep his cool since wee David and his mother had moved in.
“We know that it is the spawn of Satan, but go on…Surprise me.”
Human Alarm Clock
‘Could you just leave me alone for an hour please? I need some sleep before school.’ I say and I close the bolt on my door. I jump into bed fully clothed. Know I won’t get any sleep and she won’t leave but I pull the blanket over my face regardless.
In her mind she kept repeating, ‘It’s something to share, it’s something to share…’
Gina didn’t let the whisper of guilt niggle at her. She’d been thinking on this for a few years but her conscience screamed, not any more.
Emma was pissed off. She hadn’t seen him since he got out of jail after doing a weekender. He’d been huckled for theft and fighting with the security guard who caught him. She knew Sean’s logic only too well. Getting done for the theft was fair enough but the fighting was the guards fault for catching him.
Hunger growled in him, clamoring for attention. The old man went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. There was one can of soup. Chicken noodle. A bowl and a spoon sat in the old man’s dish drain next to a small pot, the perfect size for heating soup. Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the leaves of a shady elm tree and filled the kitchen with dappled light.
I kept my older sister’s cat-eye glasses in a drawer after she was struck down by a train. Nancy’s Chevy Bel-Air was stalled, like a truly cliché song on the radio. She was only eighteen and it was 1961. Nancy said they made her look like a freak. A nerd. She was embarrassed that she needed glasses to read and see the world’s problems highlighted. She’d get rid of these glasses, go with contacts if she just had the money. A scarlet letter, a reminder of what Nancy didn’t have. There was so much my sister and I didn’t have. We lacked parents like Ward and June Cleaver, the opportunity simply to relax and watch the world move past. Vast objects that were all our own, the finest frocks and suits.