Posted: 30 August 2022
Word Count: 998
Summary: For latest FF challenge by Felix
It’s raining, typical. They say it’s bad luck when it rains on a wedding day but apparently, it’s good luck when it rains on a funeral day. Well, I doubt things can get much worse, you’re already dead who cares about the sodding weather. I suppose no one wants to be stood around a freshly dug grave when it’s pissing down but I can’t see how it can be in any way lucky.
The weather is making the traffic even worse, people can’t seem to drive in the rain, and you’d have thought living in this country they’d make it compulsory training when you do your driving lessons. Make learners drive around for half an hour with the teacher hosing the car down till they get the hang of it.
There won’t be many there though, just me and the two girls who looked after her in the home. My sister Katy couldn’t make it; well, she didn’t want to come that’s the truth of the matter. She lives in Canada now, got her own life, and hadn’t seen Mum in years. That sounds like I was the angel but as it happens, I hadn’t seen her in years either.
When the home got in touch and told me she didn’t have long I didn’t expect to feel the way I did, but it’s the shock. You forget about all the bad stuff and start remembering the good days. Her perfume, flowery and sweet, that scratchy denim skirt she seemed to live in no matter the season, the feel of her silky hair, bleached nearly white but always with dark roots peeping through as a reminder of her poverty.
I found the old photo in a drawer next to her bed, typical the only one she’s got of us and I’m wearing that bloody stupid little tartan suit. I look like a miniature Bay City Roller who’s got lost on the way to a gig. Just wandering across the downs in search of a stage, but at the time I thought I was the business. Dave, the bloke she was seeing got it off his market stall it wasn’t selling very well, and he had loads he needed rid of.
Oh, Dave, ain’t it smart, oh he’ll look such a little gentleman in this.
Then she wrapped her body around his and kissed his sweaty neck, he kissed her on the mouth, and she shooed us from the room.
Dave didn’t last long and to be honest, I can’t remember all their names. I think Dave was Katy’s dad but I’m not sure.
I’ll ask her to do one of those Ancestry tests online, you never know, Dave might be minted now, if he’s still alive and he certainly owes her, if he is her dad that is.
We were on our way to a birthday party in the photo; one of our aunty Jean’s kids. She wasn’t related just a friend of mums, but we called her aunty.
She had a flat in the tower block by the Downs, one bed, three people. We sat around the tiny living room cross-legged on the floor, a table laden with crisps and dolly mixtures and soggy white bread ham sandwiches. Olivia Newton-John screeched Let’s get Physical as we passed a parcel that shrank with each unwrapping. A Russian doll of old newspaper eventually unleashed a small packet of coloured pencils as the ultimate prize.
Aunty Jean and Mum stood on the balcony smoking while we jumped about inside with a sugar high. Mum looked like she was crying, she saw me staring and turned away, I think it was about the time that the bloke after Dave and before Ian told her he was leaving, he wasn’t very memorable, but he meant something to her. He took this photo of us, followed us as we walked to Aunty Jean’s, Mum quickened her pace and I had to run to keep up.
We took a present for the kid, Billy I think he was, a colouring in book from the market stowed away in the space under Katy’s buggy, poor Billy got about five of them, seems everyone had the same idea which would explain the pass the parcel prize.
We stayed much later than we should have, it had started raining in the afternoon and Aunty Jean and Mum were drinking lemonade and gin and neither ate the soggy sandwiches or cake.
He was there when we finally got back, the bloke between Dave and Ian. He was sat too quietly at the kitchen table, an uneven row of beer bottles before him, like a domestic bowling lane.
What time do you call this? He bellowed.
We were put to bed; I was still in my tartan suit and our sugar high permitted witness to the evening brawl.
The next morning, he was gone, and her face was bruised, she was in a stinking mood and there was no milk for our cereal. She slammed the front door and raced to the corner shop for a packet of 10 silk cuts; she said she felt more relaxed when inhaling nicotine.
I left home when I was 16, Katy a few years later and Mum moved away from the area. I saw her a few times at first then hardly at all then today before they put her in the car.
So small and shrunken, a little doll in an oversized cot. Her hair was grey and short, cut crooked by the nursing assistant. No jewellery on show, gone were all her pretend wedding rings and no watch on her wrist.
I can tell the time from the sun, she always said.
Not at night, I shouted back, she slapped me across the face for my cheek.
There’s an old saying, do not despise your mother when she’s old and I don’t, not at all, but I think for a while, I did despise her when she was young.
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