Hello, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. (I guess it should be called InaNoWriMo as it is now International!) The idea is to write a novel length story (at least 50000 words) in one month (so at least 1667 words a day for 30 days). Last year I took part and “won” (ie I wrote over 50k in a month). This year I am going to give it another go.
As I did last year I will use @MarianneWest’s daily freewrite prompt as a starting point (so each day I will use themostdangerouswritingapp.com and write for 5 minutes with @mariannewest’s prompt in mind. I will then write another 1500 odd words and publish it on the blockchain so you can see what crap I come up with!
Today is 3rd November 2019 and I am using all three of the #Weekendfreewrite prompts yesterday’s prompt to write the third chapter of my story
Her mother knew what she could do. The first time she really lost her temper Abbie had ripped the bookshelves from the walls, causing - her mother told her much later - almost a thousand pounds worth of damage.
Abbie had been three at the time.
She had spent a large portion of her young life visiting therapists, psychiatrists, people who pretended to listen, pretended to care. But none of them did.
Okay, Abbie thought as she marched through the dark London streets, her head down, maybe there was one person who had cared.
For a short time, anyway.
Alex was her first - and only - speech therapist. And Abbie’s first crush. She was ten, maybe eleven. Alex was the kind of person that oozed good vibes. And Abbie could pick up on vibes. She could tell within three seconds of meeting people if they were going to screw her over or not. She immediately felt safe with Alex. Immediately trusted her.
Alex taught her techniques, different ways to use her voice, even had her singing answers to her questions. During one session - that Abbie remembered very well as much for what happened after it as what occurred during it - Alex handed her a book.
“Read to me,” she said. Abbie looked at her. She hated reading aloud. At school, they laughed at her - even the teachers. No, Abbie thought, especially the teachers. The other children took their lead from those who stood at the front of the class. But Abbie knew that Alex would not laugh. Even if she fumbled and stuttered and mumbled her words. She took the book.
The cover was plain. It was white with the just the name of the author M.A. West in small, but clear, typeface underneath the title. “The House”. It didn’t look very inspiring. She turned to the first page and took a deep breath.
"There were too many compromises to be made,” she began. Her voice sounded shaky, but the words were clear. Alex was nodding. Encouraged, Abbie continued. “He even had to change his name and hated that."
"Good," Alex said, "Do you understand how by slowing everything down you can speak more clearly?"
Abbie shook her head and put the book down.
"I don't want to. It's boring. The story is stupid."
"You’ve only read two lines! How on earth can you even know what it is about? That story is written by one of my favourite authors, did you know that? You won’t think it is boring if you read past the first page." She glanced up at the clock at the wall, and Abbie's heart sank. "Well, it's time to call it a day, anyway."
Abbie picked the book back up and tried to give it to Alex.
"No. Keep it. Try reading it at home and let me know next week if you still think that it is boring."
Abbie nodded and clutched the book to her chest, she dragged her feet, reluctant to leave Alex's office.
Her hand on the doorknob, Abbie took a deep breath, filling her nose with the scent of tangerines. Alex had an oil burner and always put three or four drops in the top of the burner when Abbie entered the room.
"It helps calm the mind," she had said when Abbie asked her why on her second or third visit. Whether it was the tangerine oil or Alex's aura Abbie always felt at peace in that room. She felt safe.
"What is it?" Alex asked.
"I don't want to go," Abbie said. "I just want to stay in this room forever and ever with you."
Alex laughed, but when Abbie turned to look at her, she saw that her expression was serious, caring.
"You wouldn’t want to stay with me forever, Abbie. I'd make you read that boring book until you were begging me to leave. Is there something happening at home that makes you not want to go?"
Abbie paused. And for a moment she almost told the truth. But then Alex's phone buzzed on the desk - probably, Alex thought to remind her she had overrun and that another patient was waiting to be seen. The moment passed.
"No," she said. "Everything is just fine."
Outside, in the waiting room, Helen - Abbie had always called her mother by her first name - sat flicking through a magazine. She wasn’t reading it. Abbie would have been surprised if she could focus on the words. Silently, Abbie stood in the doorway, playing the game she often played: how long before Helen noticed she was there? After a moment, or two her mother looked at her watch, then looked up, a smile forming on her lips when she saw her daughter.
“Ah, there you are, darling. Everything alright?” Abbie nodded, not giving Helen the satisfaction of hearing how her speech therapy was progressing. She watched as her mother stood up. At this time of the day you had to look very closely to see the influence of the alcohol on her coordination. But if you knew what to look for you could see it.
Abbie stood at Helen’s side as the appointment was made for the following week, watching her mother enter the date and time into her phone. The perfume she wore was chosen deliberately, Abbie thought, it had a hints of juniper and citrus. Perfectly disguising the odour of gin that oozed from her pores.
Abbie wondered if other people were fooled. Greg had been. For a while at least.
Greg was the only boyfriend Helen had that Abbie had liked. Well, maybe liked was a strong word. Let’s just say, she hadn’t disliked him.
Greg didn’t tell her to “spit it out, girl!” when she was struggling to speak, like Tom had done, he didn’t tell her to “shut the fuck up!” when she was practicing singing to help with her speech, like Ray had done. He didn’t get drunk and hit her when Arsenal lost a game, like Kev had done. Or wait until Helen had drunk herself to sleep and then tried to force himself on Abbie like Mick had done.
In fact, Greg was so normal that Abbie thought that proved there must be something wrong with him.
Like most of her mother’s boyfriends, they had met in a pub. Only this time it wasn’t The Nag’s Head at the end of their road, a boozer that most decent people avoided. Abbie had heard people say that only the drunk and the desperate went in The Nags Head. And, more often than not, Abbie’s mother was both.
The Nag’s Head’s head had a bad reputation. Even Ike, the unfortunate landlord of the public house, had told Abbie to stay away, and had told Helen if he found her in there one more time he would bar her. Ike was one of the few people in the pub that Abbie’s mother hadn’t slept with, but Abbie was fairly sure that - even though Ike was gay - her mother had probably tried to fix that.
“But I ain’t got no choice,” Helen told Ike, her voice whiny as if she were younger than Abbie. She through Abbie a look. “She’s been expelled again, and the social worker told me I can’t leave her at home on her own. That nosy bitch in number 432 has grassed me up before now. You don’t want her being taken into care, now do you?” Abbie could almost read Ike’s mind. Perhaps, it would be for the best. But Abbie had been taken into care once before, when her mother had been hospitalised that time. She wasn’t going to go back. She told her mother she’d rather die than go back into care.
“Please Mr Ike,” Abbie said, putting on her best good little girl voice. “I won’t be no trouble. I’ll just sit here, quiet like. Doing my colouring in.” She held up the blue biro pen, she’d found on the floor of the pub and the colouring book she had “found” at Jessica Robert’s house. Jessica wouldn’t notice it was missing. She had so much stuff, she didn’t know what to do with it. She’d told Abbie that once. Abbie didn’t know whether to laugh or punch her in the face. Apparently, she made the wrong choice and had been banned from visiting Jessica’s house for a couple of months, after that. Eventually, they had made up and Jessica had persuaded her mother that it had all been a misunderstanding. That she had slipped and fallen. Jessica still had a small scar on the side of her forehead, from where she banged her head on the desk after Abbie had hit her.
Ike hesitated and then shook his head.
“No love, sorry. I can’t have kids in here. For fuck’s sake Helen,” he stopped himself and looked at Abbie. “Excuse my french, love.”
Abbie smiled, sweetly and said, “Oh that’s alright, Mr Ike. I’m learning French at school. I’m always happy to learn new words.”
Ike looked at Abbie for a moment, clearly wondering if she was taking the piss. He smiled. “I like you. You’re a bright kid. But you should be in school, not in my pub. This pub is no place for a kid. Out!”
Abbie’s mother had taken her to The Crown, a pub a short walk away. This one had a beer garden, and although it wasn’t very warm, it wasn’t raining, so Abbie was happy to be left alone while her mother went inside. The Crown was an altogether different kind of place, with a different kind of clientele. It was there Abbie’s mother met Greg.
When she wasn’t legless Helen could be funny, charming and witty. The last time Abbie had seen her grandmother she had called her mother a witch. Helen had told her that was rich and they had thrown insults at each other for half an hour, until one of the neighbours told them “If you don’t shut the fuck up I’ll call the police.” Then they’d both turned on her.
As much as Abbie didn’t like her grandmother, she thought the old bag wasn’t wrong: Helen was a witch. When she worked her magic on a man they quickly fell under her spell. The magic rarely lasted very long, though.
Greg was a freelance accountant. He worked from home. He was a social drinker, liked a pint at lunchtime and another one, or two or - at a push - three in the evenings. He thought at first that Helen was just a social drinker too. Like all functional alcoholics - Abbie had looked that up on the internet at the library - her mother was good at convincing everyone (including herself) that she didn’t drink nearly as much as she did.
It all came crashing down when Greg took Helen out to a party. It was the first time he introduced her to his friends. Abbie was home, alone. Helen had told Greg she had organised a babysitter, but that was a lie. At ten years old Abbie was more than capable in looking after herself. She’d been doing it for years.
At about eleven o’clock the phone rang. It was Greg.
“Ah, Abbie,” he said. His voice sounded weird. Worried. Stressed. In the background Abbie could hear the sounds of people talking. “Can I speak to the babysitter?”
“Er…” Abbie said, thinking quickly. “She’s in the toilet. She has IBS. So she might be some time. Why do you want to speak to her?”
There was a silence. Then, “I need to ask if she’ll stay with you for a little bit longer than planned.” He coughed. “Look, I don’t want to worry you, but your mother has had some kind of funny turn. She’s in hospital.” He spoke quickly. “She’s going to be fine. Please don’t worry.”
Abbie wasn’t worried. Not about her mother’s health anyway. She was worried she might be taken into care again, if her mother had to stay in hospital for a while and people told her she was on her own.
“It’s okay,” she said. “My babysitter happens to be my cousin.” Once you start lying, Abbie thought, it becomes much easier. Sometimes her lies were so good, she even believed them herself. “If Mum can’t come home tonight, I can go and stay with her and my aunt. They’ll have me as long as they need to.”
That had been three years ago. During Helen’s brief hospital admission, Greg had discovered the extent of her alcohol problem. In the weeks that followed he had tried to help, but had failed to understand she really didn’t want help. Eventually, he gave up and left.
Abbie wondered if her mother would be taken to the same hospital tonight. The ambulance driver wouldn’t tell her. Told her she should wait for the police. But Abbie didn’t want to talk to the police. She didn’t want to get put into care.
Her mother knew what she was capable of. But she still pushed her. And, in the end, Helen had looked surprised.
The bus station was ahead of her. Even at this time of night it was busy. She had some money. Not a lot, but enough to get her to where she wanted to go. The bus she wanted, The Slow Coach, was idling at the stop, the last passenger boarding as she approached. The doors began to close so she picked up the pace, running and then banging on the doors. The driver looked at her, hesitated and then, to Abbie’s relief, the doors hissed open.
Abbie climbed the stairs, clutching the small bag - just big enough to hold a change of clothes and her favourite book, given to her by one of the few people she had ever really trusted - and gave the driver her phone so he could scan the ticket.
Proud member of two GREAT houses:
Do your posts need some more luv? Come and meet @theluvbug!
Resteems, and upvotes for quality posts!