Zedlist – Part Ten
Entering the house, Amy removed her boots and socks, hung the lead up and poured Harrison some water. As she went into the living room she noticed that all the windows had been left open again. Slouched in an armchair was her father Colin, his ruby cheeks quivering as he let out each unruly snore. He had been diagnosed with hypertension and insisted on turning the heating off and opening the windows in an attempt to cool down. This was bearable in the summer, but in the winter months left Amy and her mother Madeline faced with the bitter cold. Amy closed the windows, the room was full of crane flies – allured by false light. After removing her boots and socks, she started stomping her feet on the ground and swatting madly with her hands, knocking the unsuspecting Tipulidae out of the air and crushing every single one with her bare feet. There were insect remains everywhere. It was utter carnage, tiny limbs and wings littered the floor, survivors crawling around in tiny circles. It looked like the scene after a bomb going off in a busy city centre. Colin opened his eyes to his daughter doing what he thought looked very much like the Hakka, a traditional Maori dance of war he had seen once on the discovery channel.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing?” He shouted.
Amy stood frozen in a pose with her legs bent and wide apart, and her hands in the air, one last crane fly caught between her fingers and wriggling to get free. She didn’t respond to her father, as she realised that there was no answer she could give that would satisfy him. She just stood there, her eyes widening. Colin got up from the sofa and looked down at the miniature war-zone on the carpet before him.
“Well don’t just bloody stand there, clean this mess up,” he bellowed.
Amy knew there was no point in arguing with him. As she went to get a dust pan and brush she heard her father say, “I can’t get a moment of peace in this nut-house.” Right on cue, Mad passed the door, face vacant. “It won’t be long now, it’s coming, the darkness, I can feel it.”
“Your mum’s forgotten to take her meds.” Colin said, “She’s talking nonsense again.”
Sweeping up the little pieces of crane fly, Amy disposed of them in the kitchen bin.
This was normal life in the Reed household. Amy took herself away from the chaos and went to her room. She had lived with this now for over five years. It hadn’t always been this way, her mother used to be very different. Five years ago almost to the day Amy’s brother Paul had died in a motor bike accident. A van had pulled out in front of him. He collided, head first, into the side of the vehicle, breaking his neck on impact. Ever since then a cocktail of antidepressants, sleeping pills and anxiety tablets had transformed Madeline, Mad for short, from a keenly perceptive and intuitive person into nothing more than a walking lamp-post.
Colin had buried himself in work, transfixed to the television screen from when he arrived home until he went to bed. From the age of fifteen Amy had been what can only be described as a single parent to the emotionally distant and dysfunctional duo.
She was using Facebook to chat with one of her many pen-friends, Amy had been writing to Loveness from Zimbabwe since she started at Ryland Secondary school in Chelmsford. Amy only really had pen friends. The girls at school had called her all kinds of names, “Troll”, “gorilla in the mist”, “lesbian”. They all looked like wannabe Katie Prize lookalikes, with scraped back hair and a whole vat of slap on their faces.
She viewed her concerns to her English teacher Mr. Norman on one occasion after a lesson, expressing her frustrations she had concerning her classmates. She told him just how much she hated their hostile attitude towards her for not looking like them. The teacher responded with saying that he thought Amy was a feminist and referred her to Emily Dickington, Sylvia Platt and Shermaine Greer.
“I think you’ll find you are not alone in this way of thinking,” the teacher said in an effort to comfort her.
This just pissed her off even more. It was annoying that she should be pigeon holed as something just for her wanting to live the way that she considered normal, without being harassed for it. Also, if a black student had gone to the teacher complaining of racial abuse would the teacher have labelled them as a black freedom fighter, pointing them towards Martin X and Malcolm Luther King? She doubted it.
Amy heard a thud coming from her parent’s room, she went to the door and knocked twice, there was no response. Upon opening the door, she found her mother on floor of her en suite bathroom, face down on the blue pastel tiles. Amy quickly checked for a pulse and to her relief she found one, although it was quite faint. She checked her mother’s breathing and that nothing was blocking her airways. “Mum”, she said loudly “Mum! Can you hear me?”. There was no response, Amy turned Mad onto her side and brought her chin forward slightly. By this time Colin was by the bedroom door, panting and ruddy faced, “What the bloody hell is going on?” he shouted.
Photograph by Jeff Sheldon