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 8rd November 2019 and I am using yesterday’s prompt to write the eighth chapter of my story
Today’s prompt is:
Marlie liked listening to peoples stories. She found other people's lives so much more interesting than watching television, or even reading books - although Marlie did really love reading books.
Phil had lived a full life. He had been a policeman for twenty-five years - Marlie had suppressed a smile when she saw Billy flinch when he heard that. Before that, he had been in the army. He had taken retirement almost fifteen years ago and had dreams of living by the sea in a little cottage with roses growing up the wall.
"Very chocolate box," he chuckled, although Marlie didn't get why it would look like a chocolate box. "But life sometimes throws you something that changes everything. When my wife's dementia came knocking at the door, we knew our dream life by the sea, as peaceful as it would be, wouldn't be possible."
“Why not?” Marlie asked
“Because we’d have been isolated. Lilly didn’t want me caring for her on my own. She wanted me to be supported by other people. She wanted friends to be able to come and visit her. And me too.”
Marlie thought it would be nice to visit friends who had a cottage by the sea. If she knew someone who lived by the see she would want to visit them every day. But thinking about friends made her think of Gabs. She wondered when she would be able to invite Gabs to stay with them.
Wherever it was they were headed. Marlie was a little annoyed with Billy about that. He had told her they were going to the Lake District, but they weren’t. He had delibrately not told her because he hadn’t trusted her not to tell anyone. The lack of trust, the lack of belief in her troubled her. And irritated her.
Okay, she had told Gabs they were going to the Lake District, when Billy had specifically told her not to. And that annoyed Marlie more. She couldn’t get on her high horse and be offended that he had lied to her, because if he asked her if she had told anyone she would have to admit that she had. Despite Billy’s nickname for her “Lie” it was one thing she seemed incapable of. And he would smile and say, “Well, I was right not to tell you where we were really going wasn’t I.”
But Gabs wasn’t just anyone. She was family.
No, she was better than family. Marlie’s experience of family was that they let you down. They shouted at you. They told you they never wanted you. They neglected you. They hit you. They left you.
Gabs did none of those things.
What was that saying? “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your Family.” Yeah, well Marlie had chosen Gabs as her family a long time ago.
Gabs’ family lived in the next street from Marlie. They had been friends since the first day of primary school and Marlie often went round to play at Gabs’ house. Gabs hardly ever came to Marlie’s house. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to come, it was that Marlie prefered her friends house.
Their houses backed on to each others, and Marlie had begged her father to put a gate in. He had laughed and told her to do it herself. At the age of six Marlie had attacked the fence with a saw, which slipped and cut her leg. She still bore the scar. Although it was not alone.
Marlie was delighted when, one morning after a particularly violent storm, Marlie awoke to find the fence had blown right down. Gab’s mother was less happy as it had landed on her flower bed, and knocked the heads right off the daffodils that were growing there.
Marlie could now just walk right up to Gabs’ back door and knock anytime she wanted to escape from her parents’ alcohol-driven fights.
Which was pretty much every day.
According to the deeds the fence belonged to Marlie’s parents. It was their responsibility to repair it. That was never going to happen. Marlie’s father didn’t know one end of a hammer from another and they couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it. After propping it up several times, using a bit of timber Marlie’s dad had found in a skip, he gave up and told Gab’s dad to “fucking do it yourself if you want it done so badly.” The two men stopped talking and, for a horrible three days, Marlie was told she wasn’t welcome at Gabs’ house. Issy, Gab’s kind hearted mother - who Marlie wished would adopt her - eventually managed to talk her husband around and Marlie once more was allowed to knock at the door, and enter the kitchen.
Marlie was always hungry - her parents would often forget to cook, and although from a young age Marlie had learned to fix her own meals, they sometimes forgot to shop. Izzy would welcome Marlie as she came into the kitchen with a warm hello and even warmer toast, often topped with an egg or baked beans and cheese.
Gabs, too, was an only child.
“You are the sister I always wanted,” Marlie said once, her mouth full of toast.
“I never wanted a sister,” Gabs said, her face serious. “I wanted a dog. But at least I don’t have to pick up your poo!”
Marlie threw her toast at Gabs who laughed and threw it back.
Issy told them not to play with their food, but Marlie could see that she was smiling.
Marlie’s mum died when she was thirteen. She fell down the stairs one night and banged her head on the table at the bottom of the stairs. Marlie’s dad was down the pub with the lads celebrating the retirement of a co-worker.
“Old Joe’s not coming,” Marlie’s dad told her mum at the kitchen table as his wife prepared his breakfast for what was to be the last time. His eyes sparkled and he winked at Marlie. “He retired last week. What can I say, the guy is an arsehole. We’re all glad to see the back of him.”
Marlie was woken up by her dad shouting. She came to the top of the stairs to see her mum on the floor and her dad cradling her in his arms. She thought at first that they’d had another one of their arguments.
Her dad shouted at her to “call a fucking ambulance”.
She had a brain haemorrhage and died three days later.
Her dad was questioned by the police, but it was obvious her mum had been lying there, her head bleeding, both internally and externally, for some time, and he had plenty of witnesses that verified he was in the pub until thirty minutes before the ambulance was called.
After the funeral things, went from bad to worse.
Her father spent even more time drinking and much less time working. At first, the packaging company where he worked were understanding and tried to help him. Gave him time off, offered him counselling. But her father wouldn’t be helped. He lost his job after storming into work waving a letter he been sent which told him his wages were being cut.
“Half pay!” he screamed at his manager. “What the fuck am I supposed to do with half my pay.”
Apparently, when his manager tried to take him into his office to “talk things through calmly”, her dad told him to fuck off and took a swing at him. He was drunk, slow and uncoordinated, and the manager stepped back. Her father then fell onto one of the packing machines then started kicking it. He was dragged off by two of his co-workers, one of them receiving a broken nose for his trouble.
After that, her father sat at home drinking even more. Her teachers started to notice she seemed to be more clumsy than usual, the bruises she had she said were caused by walking into doors and cupboards, a story she stuck by - even to Gabs - for years before she admitted they were from the fists and feet of her father.
They lost the house two years after her mother died, almost to the day. Her father hadn’t been paying the mortgage and he had been throwing the letters in the shoe cupboard (Gabs found them when she was helping Marlie pack, tears running down her face.)
They were put in emergency housing on the other side of the borough and although Marlie still saw Gabs at school the days of nipping round for egg on toast were over.
Her father died two years later.
The official verdict was “accidental death”. He had been drinking and slipped in front of a tube train. There were conflicting witness reports. One person claimed they saw him look at the train as it pulled into the station and step off the platform.
Marlie was seventeen and had no family left. Izzy insisted she come and live with them.
“We’ve got a spare bedroom, Marlie. We want you to live with us.”
Marlie had burst into tears and hugged Izzy until her shoulder was soaking wet with her tears.
Gabs went to university a year later. Marlie didn’t have the grades or the desire. She got a job in a supermarket. Izzy told her she could stay, but Marlie said it was time she left. She found a bedsit around the corner from the supermarket and it was a couple of months later that she met Billy.
They’d met at the club she used to go to every Friday night with the girls from work. Billy told her she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
“I’m going to marry you!” he yelled into her ear, battling against the booming sound from the speakers they stood next to. Later she told Billy she wasn’t sure whether to be freaked out or flattered.
She moved in with him a month before Gabs came back from university, one degree richer a few thousand pounds poorer.
It was clear Gabs didn’t like him from the moment they met, but she could see Marlie was happy.
“If you are happy, I’m happy,” she said, not looking at all happy. “I love you.”
I love you, too, Gabs, Marlie thought wiping a tear from her eye.
“Are you alright?” Phil was looking anxious. “Here,” he pulled out a neatly ironed handkerchief and gave it to her. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It wasn’t anything you said,” Marlie said, dabbing her eyes. “I was just thinking about my sister.”
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