Login   Sign Up 


Double History - Chapter 2

by Deborah 

Posted: 17 August 2009
Word Count: 2324
Summary: Bit more if anyone has time to read... thanks x Oh... just to say that MC's name has changed from Cassie to Maddie - seemed to be a lot of Cassie's about recently.
Related Works: Double History -Chapter 1 • 

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


There’s no point in mentioning it. I’d either get told I’m being ridiculous, that I’m tired or that I’m making things up just to get attention. I’ve had all that before. I can’t be bothered with it right now. There’s enough other crap going on without having to try to convince my parents that I’ve seen something “weird” on the landing.

And anyway now I think back to it, it was probably only something like the wind coming through that draughty, chipped old window and flapping the curtain at the top of the stairs. Even though it’s summer and there’s not really much air at all - I’ve seen enough programmes about airstream movements and sudden gusts of unexplained currents of wind to tell me not to bother giving it any more headspace than I already have. And I’m not one of those stupid, dippy girls who get spooked by the slightest shadow anyway. I’m made of stronger stuff than that. There’s always a rational explanation for anything that happens. I’m a Capricorn, for Christ’s sake – I deal with it, I don’t dwell on it. Hell, I’m not even scared of spiders. Er…how much bigger than a spider am I? Du-uh? – do the math!

‘Could you start Davey off for me tonight, lovey?’ mum asks as she’s clearing away the bags and plastic forks from the fish and chip supper we’ve just had. It’s nearly nine o’clock and it’s just getting dusky outside. It’s still warm but there’s that hint of evening drawing in and usually I love this time of the day. Usually – there’s no usually any more now, is there? Now it’s all unusual. When I lived at home I mean - our ‘proper home’ in Juniper Gardens. Jeez, we haven’t even got a real garden here, it’s just a patch of dried out grass – yellow grass too, like some dog’s been peeing on it or something – at our proper home we had a gazebo with decking and six-seater swing chair that I could sit on and listen to my music under the moonlight. I didn’t realise before just how much I loved our home. Now it’s gone. I don’t do tears much either. Unless they’re really necessary.

‘Yeah, alright,’ I say and pass her my polystyrene chip holder to bin. I know I don’t sound enthusiastic. I don’t feel it. Why try and be what I’m not? Surely I don’t have to pretend like dad’s doing, do I? Wouldn’t that be suppressing my inner person or something? And anyway it’s probably bad for you.

‘You don’t have to sound so keen, young lady,’ my dad says as he wipes a piece of bread around his carton. ‘Your mother’s had a hard old day.’ I open my mouth to remind him that haven’t we bloody well all but he puts his hand up to stop me before I’ve had the chance. ‘We all have, I know,’ he says. ‘But we’ve all got to start pulling together a bit more now we’re…. now we’ve… now we’re here.’ He waves his hand about over the kitchen table, clears his throat and looks away, concentrating on the last of his ketchup.

‘In this shit hole,’ I help.

‘Madeline,’ my mum turns on me from the pedal bin. ‘There’s no need for language like that.’

‘Well I think there is,’ I tell her defiantly.
‘Not now, Maddie, not this evening,’ my dad says wearily. ‘Let’s all try and just get through tonight without picking each other to pieces, eh? It’s been a long day. Give your mother a hand, will you?’

I sigh deeply and with dramatic effect before taking Davey by his ketchup-stained chubby hand and pulling him off his chair and towards the stairs. He’s chuckling away to himself and waving a chip in the air like it’s a bloody sword. God, to be five years old again and not a care in the world – not the slightest idea that crap is happening before your very eyes. I wish I’d made the most of it when I could. If somebody had had the intelligence to have warned me that my life was going to go down the toilet in ten years time, I’m bloody sure I could have made something work out better for us before this happened. I could have told my dad to buy shares in Google or something – or told him to leave the bank he was working at – to get out there and join Bill Gates in his golden kingdom of Microsoft – I wish I’d seen something coming. Jeez, where’s the Tardis when you bloody well need it?

Of course, I think, as I wait for Davey to stop rubbing ketchup into the handrail and follow me up the stairs, that’s what parents were invented for. To keep their children safe and happy and secure. They’re the ones who’re supposed to keep a watch out and make sure nothing bad happens to their offspring. Them and the Prime Minister. Gordon fucking Brown. My fish and chip supper feels like it’s bubbling in a stomach of angry acid… oh God what I could say to him right now!

‘What?’ Davey chomps beneath me. ‘What do you say?’

My heart leaps into my mouth and skips a beat or two as I try to digest what I’ve just heard Davey say. Either he’s turned into a mind reader or my thoughts are way louder than I thought they were. I swivel down to face him and see him slumped on a stair about halfway up, still holding onto a fat, soggy chip and waving it in front of him like he’s teasing an invisible puppy. His face is all crinkled in a chubby grin and he’s repeating it over and over:

‘What do you say?’ he says again. And then he pulls the chip back towards his chest. ‘What do you say?’ he gently holds it out a little further and then tugs it back, giggling. ‘No. You have to say “please”’ he says and chortles. I am riveted. Then I am curious. Then I am actually a bit pissed off when I realise that perhaps my stupid kid brother has got an invisible bloody friend. Great. That’s all I sodding well need. A nutter for a brother. So much happy stuff to look forward to.

Now all I need is for my soul mate, best, truest and dearest friend Amber to hear about this, or even see this happening for herself, and I’m going to be even more of a saddo than I already know I’ll be on Monday morning. This just couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I cannot begin to imagine the seventeen kinds of hell I’m going to be put through come Monday. It was bad enough having to explain everything else away – let alone try to begin to describe why it is my brother has invented a see-through playmate. Everyone’ll think it’s genetic. They’ll think we’re all nutters. Me too.

First my dad loses the safest, most sensible job in the world, then we have to sell the biggest, nicest, happiest house in town and then we have to move to the slummiest, skankiest side of the town into an ex-council house because it was the only one we could afford. Oh my God the shame – I could die. Literally. Of shame. Can you really die of shame? I think one of Shakespeare’s heroines did – or was that the Lady of Shallot? I always get her muddled up with King Arthur’s wife and Romeo’s Juliet. They all wore the same kind of dresses anyway. Does it matter? Or maybe I could be really ill on Monday and not go in till Tuesday. Or would that make it worse come Tuesday? If I’m not there on Monday then everyone will be talking about me. And it’s not only Amber I’ve got to convince that I’m perfectly normal, I’ve still got the huge task of persuading Ed Loake that I even bloody well exist outside of extended wet break. My chest deflates with the weight of my woes but thankfully Brother Nutter has made it to the landing in one piece and not a chip in sight.

‘In here.’ I tell him as I drag myself heavily to the top step. He lurches towards the room I know is mum and dad’s. ‘No, Davey – in here… here. See?’ I walk past him and open his bedroom door. ‘See? This is your lovely new bedroom…. Come and have a look. Here.’ I push the door wide open and watch as he totters through the gap and on inside.

‘There – this is great, isn’t it?’ I enthuse as he leaps energetically straight onto his bed and starts to bounce. Great. Really great. It’s all just a new and exciting adventure for Davey, isn’t it? I wonder if I had this much ignorance at his age? I wonder if nothing much bothered me then either?

‘Maddie?!’ dad’s voice echoes up the stairs. I leave Davey to his bouncing and go to the landing to see what is required of me now and wait. He’s standing with his hand on the banister rail and he looks very tired round the eyes. Although it could be the darkness.

‘What?’ I say huffily.

‘Don’t let Davey get too excited after he’s eaten, Maddie – that’s all. There’s every chance that after the upheaval of today and everything, that he might...’

Just then there is a strangulated croaking sound and something that vaguely resembles water rushing over rocks and a splashing noise and I roll my eyes into the back of my head. Great. The day just got better.

Dad smiles knowingly, sighs and turns slowly back in the direction of the kitchen. Then I hear a tap running downstairs and sense the thick heavy smell of vomit upstairs even before Davey meets me tearfully on the landing.

‘I sicked up,’ he says sadly.

‘I know, kid,’ I smile, ruffling his hair. ‘Let’s get you in the bathroom, eh?’

He smiles back up at me and takes my hand just as mum and dad meet us on the landing armed with dishcloths, a bowl of disinfectant and fresh sheets. I smile at them and wonder if today has been as shitty for them as it has been for me.

‘I sicked up,’ Davey repeats to his parents.

Dad ruffles his hair the way I just did and mum sighs heavily, heading for his bedroom. Dad can’t stand the smell of sick, it makes him want to vomit too and mum just puts up with it. She says someone has to do it. It’s usually her. I don’t think I could be a mum if that’s what they always end up doing – all the shitty, stinky, smelly jobs. I couldn’t work as a nurse or as a playgroup teacher or in a nursing home – all those horrible smells and stuff – I’d spend all day in the toilet sicking up like Davey just did.

After I’ve made sure Davey’s face is cleaned, I watch him pull his pyjamas on, clean his teeth and open his mouth for me to check he’s done them properly.
‘See?’ he asks eagerly. I nod.

‘They’re good,’ I tell him. ‘Now let’s get you into bed, eh?’
I pull the fresh covers over him and mum and dad kiss him goodnight and leave. I sit on the edge beside him then he slaps me with his hand.
‘Hey!’ I say. ‘What was that for?’

‘Me ah… sitting there,’ he smiles.

‘You...ah not, silly!’ I say back. ‘Me are sitting here!’ I bang his mattress.

Davey slaps me again. ‘Not you, silly-Maddie… Mee ah… Mee ah…Mee ah…she’s sitting there… see?’

He’s annoying me a bit now but I shuffle over towards the end of the bed just to humour him. What the hell is he jabbering on about? Has he got his pretend friend in bed with him now then or something?

‘Oops…’ I try to laugh breezily, ‘I don’t want to sit on…Mi-a, now do I?’ I play along. ‘Hello Mia,’ I say to thin air. ‘How are you? I’m Davey’s sister.’

Davey starts to giggle and rolls over in bed, pulling his pillow over his head and laughing madly. What now? What the f…?
‘Maddie silly now!’ he laughs, showing me his beaming, rosy face. ‘Mia gone away again – see? She gone again… Maddie talking to nobody… Maddie talking to nobody…. Maddie talk….’ He starts chanting in a stupid singy-songy voice that’s really irritating and I want to slap him right across his stupid annoying laughing face.

‘Alright! Alright! Shut up!’ I scream. ‘I get it! Your stupid little pretend friend is gone – so bloody what?!’
Davey’s face stills and his mouth falls open in an ‘o’ shape.
‘Uhhh-mmmmmm……’ he moans. ‘Maddie said a swear word….Maddie said a swear word… mummy? Mummy!’ his voice gets louder. ‘Maddie said a swear word!’

It’s no good, I have to stop his stupid, whining, singing, irritating annoying voice and so I slap my hand over his mouth to stop his chant then twist my neck round to the door to make sure mum or dad haven’t crept into the room without me hearing and are witnessing the silencing of their lamb.
‘Maddie said a swear word.’ I hear chanted again and I spin my head back round to see how the hell he managed to say that whilst my hand is still firmly clamped over his mouth.
I gulp, realising he couldn’t possibly have said anything without a few years training in ventriloquism and as my hand moves away from his mouth, he grins broadly and points to the doorway, and the freeze I felt earlier begins to flow through my body once more.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 08:44 on 23 August 2009  Report this post
Now I'm really intruiged! So there are two Davey's and only Davey can see them?

I just spotted one tiny thing that stopped me in my tracks.

My chest deflates with the weight of my woes but thankfully Brother Nutter has made it to the landing in one piece and not a chip in sight.

It took me out of present for a moment, not sure how but there seems to be a slight change of tense, or is it me?!

Well, Debs, just great. I'm dying to read more, looking forward to the next chapter to find out just what is going on in that house!

j x

Deborah at 10:44 on 23 August 2009  Report this post
Thanks Jacquie!
Glad you like it - I'm so enjoying writing it - teenagers can get away with almost anything can't they? I feel all unfettered and floaty!
D x

Skippoo at 22:47 on 27 October 2009  Report this post
Hi Deborah,

I haven't read chapter 1 (and I sense by Karris' comments I must have missed some important stuff!), but the protagonists's voice is lively, immediate and feisty, which pulled me into this straight away.

I thought all the descriptions of Davey, with his ketchup stains, chubby grins and soggy chips were great. He really came alive for me. I'm not sure you see that so much with toddlers in fiction!

I'd like to see more description like that for Maddie's parents, actually, as they seemed a bit like stereotypes and I guess I wanted them to seem more alive too. I apologise if you've done this in chapter 1!

On a similar note, I think there could have been a little more showing, as opposed to telling, at certain points. For example, could you show us Dad is weary (where he says 'Not now, Maddie', rather than telling us?

I also really like the scene after Davey is sick and everyone mucks in to help! Unlikely, but in a clever and subtle way, it seems you made this scene one where the family suddenly share a moment of understanding, empathy and love for each other. The mood here is slightly different than the rest of the chapter in a good way - as it shows the real complexities of family relationships.

Sometimes I thought Maddie's voice sounded a bit American, with her saying 'math', as opposed to 'maths' and 'Jeez'. I guess I have heard Brit teenagers saying 'Jeez', though, just not where I live!

There were also a few sentences that I thought were a bit long and could be made into a few shorter ones. This is sometimes because you use dashes where a full-stop might be better. For example:
Jeez, we haven’t even got a real garden here, it’s just a patch of dried out grass – yellow grass too, like some dog’s been peeing on it or something – at our proper home we had a gazebo with decking and six-seater swing chair that I could sit on and listen to my music under the moonlight.

Anyway, I hope some of that is helpful. I will have to read chapter 1 and I look forward to chapter 3!



p.s. That winking smiley was an accident!

Deborah at 22:55 on 27 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks so much for reading and taking time to make such great comments!
This is in the final stages of a total re-write after some very positive feedback from an enthusiastic agent (hope she still is afterwards!).
Thanks again,
p.s. All three first chapters are posted in the First Three Chapters Group if you really did want to read the next one. It isn't restricted to group members - anyone in WW can read.

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .