Ch9: Stolen May 17th
By lisa h
I wake late, check the aga in a fluster and chuck some coal on the fire before it goes out. I wonder if I should divvy the coal up into fourteen packages. Ian gave me a rough idea about how much to put on each day, but I’ve already forgotten and I don’t want to end up short.
I move the sofa out the way and open the door. Looks like a clear day, at least for now. The wind is up, coming from the east, over the hill. Being on the leeside, it only really hits at the bay. I can see the grass struggling. Then there are those surprise gusts really blasting at the island from the north mostly, but some sweep around and come from the south. If I go out walking today I think I’ll stick to dodging rabbit holes and just go to the lake. No need to risk the cliffs, no matter how beautiful the views.
After a breakfast of cereal and a quick shower, I decide to explore all the rest of the nooks and crannies of the cottage. Not that there is much here. It’s very basic. In the wardrobe I find a fishing rod and a tackle box. I wonder if I should give fishing a go. That loch looked so full I’m sure even I could catch something. For now, I leave the gear at the back of the wardrobe, untouched.
Today is the day I need to actually write in my diary. I need to work out my emotions. I’m delaying though, finding surfaces to dust, walking to the bay and back. Then after a light lunch of a cheese sandwich, I stroll to the lock and stare at all the birds, amazed at the variety. I wish I’d brought along that book I’d been looking at last night, when I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Making a promise to do so tomorrow, weather allowing, I arrive back at the house just before a squall hits.
Avoiding the bookshelves, I get out my notebook. The last thing I wrote was particularly bleak: The anger well has yet to run dry. I love you. I hate you. I want you. I miss you. I wish I’d never met you. Just when I think there are no more tears to cry, I’m flooding again. How could you leave me like that?
I don’t feel like that today. The island seems to have a healing property and I feel lighter today, like a weight has begun to lift from my mind. But I need to work out my issues. That’s why I’m here. I decide to start before the big event, the one that brought my world down. I start almost two years ago, when I was only eighteen. It was the day I first took Chris home to meet Mum and Dad.
They smile and shake hands with Chris when they met him. He was dressed in his work clothes, that blue Tesco’s uniform, as he’d only just come off shift. He’s training to be a butcher and loving it. He has plans to work his way up the company. We’ve been together for nearly three months and I already know that I love him. Chris nips off to the loo and changes into jeans and a button down plaid shirt that shows off his fit build.
But Dad’s reaction in particular bothers me. His eyes go cold at the sight of Chris. I don’t get it at first. Chris has no tattoos, has a short haircut, has a decent fulltime job in a virtually jobless market, even has a scooter (low on costs, safe to drive, Chris always tells me). He even bought a helmet especially for me and is saving up for one of those jackets that will protect me just in case we get in an accident.
Chris says all the right things, asking Dad about his job at the garage, even asking if he could bring the scooter in for a check over. Dad makes a noise that suggests, I suppose so, but doesn’t say yes. I’m getting cross. He has no reason to be cold to Chris.
Mum on the other hand is falling over herself to make up for Dad’s rude behaviour. She’s kicked him under the table a few times now. I see him flinch then give her a sideways glance, but it hasn’t helped. When she serves up, she gives Chris the best portions, a large chicken leg and heaps of potato and veg. He struggles to finish, I watch him push the cut beans about, before getting them down. He pushes back from the table and pats his stomach.
“Best dinner I’ve had in a long time. That chicken was done to perfection.”
Mum beams at him, but Dad’s scowling makes me feel like kicking him as well.
Chris and I are getting ready to leave the table when Mum appears with a beautifully decorated chocolate cake. No store-bought, mass produced concoction for us. Mum’s been busy in the kitchen. There’s no refusing a slice. Mum give Dad a sideways glance then cuts the largest slice and passes it to Chris. I sense there will be words spoken between the two of them after Chris leaves. I think I know why and it makes me so sad.
We sit in the living room afterwards. Awkward small talk is bantered back and forth. Then Chris makes his excuses and leaves before nine. I know he’s got an early shift at Tesco’s, but he’s leaving early because of my dad. I kiss him goodbye on the doorstep and watch as he gets his cream scooter started and zips off down the street.
“What’s your problem, Dad?” I don’t wait for the subject to come up. From the look of it, even Mum hasn’t started in on him yet.
“No problem here.” He shifts around on the sofa looking uncomfortable. He should do, I am beyond pissed off.
“You treated Chris like dirt, Dad. All evening you made him uncomfortable.”
“I did not. I did the fatherly bit and made him understand that you’re my little girl and you come first.”
“Bullshit.” I wait for mum to reprimand me, but her eyes remain on Dad and are full of fiery anger.
“Do you really think he’s the right one for you?”
“Why, Dad? Is his job not good enough for the daughter of a mechanic? Or is it his scooter, do you think him too patsy diving one? Is he too neat and tidy for you? Should he smoke like you did at his age? Or be down the pub all the time? He’s a good guy, Dad, and he treats me perfectly.”
“I’m sure he will… for now. He’s reeling you in. The change will happen, he’ll treat you like dirt eventually. His kind always do…”
“I knew it!” I yell. “Just needed you to come out with it to my face.”
“He’s black, Emily,” Dad says in a little voice. “That sort always end up being trouble.”
“He’s half cast, Dad, hell, with his hair short he looks like a tanned white guy, not that I care. And you have a problem with that?”
Mum sits there, her face white, barely holding her temper in. “I don’t believe you, Don.”
I can’t write any more. Dragging the memories up takes more out of me that I realised it would. It’s raining, but only a light drizzle. I pluck my rain coat from the back of the door and put it on. I picked the red one at the shop, and its brightness lifts my spirits a little. I walk out to the end of the pier, sit down and watch Mainland for a while. I wonder if they can see me from there, a red dot at the edge of the bay.