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Brood

93

Brood

By R.W. Redwillow

Shakespir Edition
copyright 2017, R.W. Redwillow

Shakespir Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Contents

Part 1

1. Amber’s Story: The Beginning

2. 1996: Amber’s Story Continued

3. Hello Dolly

4. Kylie’s story

5. Amber’s story continues

6. Companions on a Journey

7. Edmund’s Story

8. Kylie’s Story Continued

9. Amber’s Story Continues

10. Edmund’s story continues

11. Kylie’s story Continues

12. Amber’s Story Continued

13. Edmund’s Story Continues

14. Kylie’s story continues

15. Amber’s Story Continued

16. Edmund’s story continued

17. Kylie’s Story Continues

18. Amber’s Story Continues

Part 2

1. Edmunds Story

2. Kylie’s Story Continued

3. Amber’s story continued

4. Harley has his say

5. Amber’s story continues

6. Kylie’s story continues

7. Amber’s story continues

8. The private Investigators Story

9. Edmund’s Story Continues

10. Amber’s Story. The End.

11. Kylie Signs Off

Amber’s Story: The Beginning

Part 1

Chapter 1

1992

The whiplash of lightening preceded the boom of the rolling thunder, as I raced down the dark hallway into the spare room, looking frantically for a place to hide. Seeing a wide and sturdy cupboard directly in front of me, I threw open its doors. Then, as my mind finally registered what I was actually seeing, a blue looking, not breathing, human baby, a cuckoo clock began chiming stupidly somewhere in a nearby room. Then the scrape of slippers hit my ears, as Karen, Vanessa and Joanne burst through the doorway and began jabbing me with their bony elbows, before becoming very still, as they too, stared at the forsaken, lifeless newborn.

Silence strummed in my ears, and then, there was a violent crack of thunder, like the world was splitting in two. The walls seemed to close in dangerously and I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, and my mind was a roaring vacuum.

Abruptly the cupboard door whooshed closed, slammed, and we all turned around like automatons, to see sharp, green eyes upon us; her thin lips parted in what I suppose was a type of smile.

‘Come on, the game’s finished. We’re having a séance, now’.

The others ran off gleefully, while I faced Kylie, who had an ‘I dare you’ face, trained on me. My mouth opened and then closed again. The moment passed and I knew that I had failed some personal test.

I thought of those words that my English teacher had said at assembly, for reasons I didn’t understand, before she resigned, and just before she got the hell out of that stifling room, where eyes had been trained on her like a sniper’s gun: ‘The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.’ Later, I looked these words up at the library and I found that they belonged to Albert Einstein, and suddenly, I knew what they meant and that I was guilty.

Until that moment, I had been drifting along. Certainly I had been perplexed with life and not quite sure of all the social machinations that others seemed to understand so easily, but I had been puzzled and passive. Now the ground had shifted under me and I was flummoxed by this turn of events. I was shocked out of my skin and I knew I had to do something about it.

When I got back to Kylie’s bedroom the séance was underway. And as I stepped into the stuffy room, which smelt of fermenting old socks and cheap perfume, the light was switched off. I could hardly see a thing. It was steamy and airless in the room and black as the inside of a witch’s hat. I felt tense and nervy, as the other girls tittered all around me, like feeding birds at dusk.

Someone pushed me down roughly onto a stool with a fluffy top, and I heard the hard drumming of rain on the roof; then the chanting began, as Vanessa lit an old hurricane lantern, which swiftly set forth a nauseating vapour.

‘Oh spirits come to us if you can hear us’. Over and over again their monotone voices chanted, as the thunder boomed and cracked and the rain pelted down; soon, my brain was turning into baby food, and I was feeling very heavy, dull and tired. In this hypnotic state, I don’t think that seeing a ghost, would have surprised me.

It wasn’t scary at all, the séance, but my mind kept throbbing with the flashing image of that inanimate, bluish baby, and I found that I couldn’t move. I felt pinned down, and yet, inside me there existed a vortex of confusion, of apathy and shock, and the feeling that life as I knew it had gone off road. The rain too, was a real cacophony now: an orchestra of clashing sounds, which seemed to be beating and pummelling at the house.

A blaze of light zigzagged across the room, as someone opened and slipped out of the door, and still, I sat just there, trying to decide how I, a meek nerd lacking in confidence, should deal with this bizarre and disturbing situation. My head pulsed to the rhythm of doubt and indecision, and sweat trickled down my back, as the room became even more suffocating.

Finally after about an hour, or maybe five minutes, someone switched the lights back on, and as I blinked and buzzed in the florescent glow, I noticed that Joanne was clopping about the room, weeping and wringing her hands. She looked pale, almost greenish.

‘We haven’t done it for long enough. We’ve got to keep trying’, she cried.

As I sat and watched Joanne tripping about the crowded room, I became spellbound by a rip in her thin, washed-out nightie, which had been mended with tiny, red stiches. I kept staring at those red stiches, as though mesmerised; as though, those red stiches might impart answers, or might have the power to spirit me away.

Outside the downpour continued, but harder and heavier now and I pictured the heart of a giant monster, about to explode.

‘We’re finished’, Kylie stated, from where she stood leaning beside the now open door, with her lip curled in a mix of glee and distain and the backlight from the kitchen lending her a weird, blue radiance.

I looked back at Joanne, who was still going about the room, and wringing her hands. Joanne’s father had died a couple of years ago, and she was always taking about him, and working a story about him into any conversation. It was obvious that Joanne really missed her father and that she hadn’t got over his death. That is, if you ever really get over the death of someone you love. Perhaps we just anesthetise our pain, the best way we can, and then, we return, zombie-like, onto the treadmill of life. Anyway, I remembered now, how, Kylie had said, more than once, when Joanne wasn’t about, that Joanne’s father was a drunk, and that he had been in jail for something really bad. I didn’t think that this was true, because my dad had worked with Joanne’s dad, and he’d gone to his funeral. Joanne’s dad, he said, had been sick for a very long time. That’s what I knew.

I found myself standing up then, and before I knew it, I’d blurted out, ‘we found a dead baby in the cupboard’. Just like that. I looked at Karen, Vanessa and Joanne. They looked blank, and then, their eyes in unison, flicked over to where Kylie stood, dressed in an oversized man’s t-shirt, with her head on the side, and arms crossed. Kylie said nothing, but her eyes were hard as gun metal.

I heard the wind whipping up now, lashing the rain at the windows and bellowing madly about the eaves and the chimney pot.

‘You’re so full of it’, snarled Karen, as she bared her teeth at me. I felt like I’d been hit with a bullet. Karen had seen the baby and I could feel the bruise on my side, where her elbow had jabbed me, like a knife.

‘Let’s see this….er…dead baby then’, purred the golden haired Stephanie, who was parading around in silky, pink, baby doll pyjamas, which showed how physically developed she was compared to the rest of us 14 year olds.

So with me in the lead, we matched off, all ten of us, into the spare room, and as the other girls crowded around like a football scrum, I slowly opened the heavy, timber, cupboard door, which smelt of mothballs and mildew.

Abruptly, the rain stopped and all I could hear was the low wailing of the wind.

But there was nothing there. Not a sheet, not a towel and certainly no dead baby. And from that moment on, I became a pariah. This was to be the first and last sleepover party of my teenage years, and the start of me wondering if I was really crazy, and if that dead baby had been a creation of my own warped imagination.

In reality, I had only been invited to Kylie’s sleepover because I was friends with Vanessa. Vanessa and I had gone to primary school together, and when we started high school, we had naturally clung together, in those early scary days, when the older and bigger kids would shove newbies’ heads down toilets and lob water filled condoms at us, from the upper levels near the science labs.

I remember too, that during those first frightening weeks of high school, I felt like I had been hurled into a dystopian Mad Max world. I was shocked, I was fearful, and I was outraged. But after a time, I habituated to my new reality. You have to, if you don’t have the power to change things. And so, without really thinking about it, this world became normal to me, which is very warped and disturbing, when you think about it.

Vanessa, though, lately, had gravitated toward Kylie’s group, and I had just drifted along, hanging about on the fringes, the merest thread of friendship holding Vanessa and I together. Since that sleepover and ‘the baby incident’, as I called it in my head, that thread had snapped, and I spent lonely lunch hours in the library, or reading books on a shady bench, that no one else seemed to want to sit on.

The bench sat underneath this sweet gum tree, which dropped these spiky, grenade-like balls down every autumn. And every time it rained, stinking puddles of water would build up under the bench, surrounded by mud. In truth, it was kind-of-a-hazard to sit there. But nobody ever came and asked me to join their group, and when I had tried to join some other groups’ of girls, they had simply tightened their circles, and pushed me out. I felt sometimes like I didn’t exist at all. I could speak to people, but mostly, they didn’t answer me, and if they did, their eyes were always looking over my shoulder, avoiding eye contact, avoiding the knowledge that I was there in front of them.

High school passed pretty much in this sad and lonely way, except when Kylie toyed with me every now and again, and I would somehow be at the centre of some new outrage. Kylie liked drama.

There was that time, one grey, very humid day, without even a breath of air, when Kylie pretended to be friends with me again, when no one else was around. She had sidled up to me with a smile and then began chatting happily about the movie, ‘Muriel’s Wedding’, which funnily enough, I had just watched on video the night before. Kylie asked me what I thought about the mother in the film killing herself. I said naively, OK stupidly, that I liked how the mother had rebelled and set the backyard on fire, but I didn’t understand why she had just ‘checked out of the world’, like that. But at the same time, as I was talking, I was asking myself if Kylie had actually been outside my lounge room window last night, watching me, watching the movie.

Kylie just smiled and I remember looking at her tiny, pointed, white teeth and then the bell rang for maths.

In maths, I thought that we would continue our conversation about the movie, and without thinking, I sat down next to Kylie, until Karen tipped me out of the hard, wooden seat, onto the dusty linoleum floor. Kylie said not a word, as a smile flickered across her moist lips. I remember just looking up at Kylie and noticing how cold and dead her eyes were, and feeling scared. And stupid.

Later, I thought again about that dead baby in the cupboard, which was actually fading a bit in my mind’s eye now, and I wondered, yet again, if I was mad. A dead baby in a cupboard! Really? Except that I remembered the poor thing, how it looked and how I felt when I saw it. The shock of it. But I was acting mad. I mean, how could I be friendly with Kylie after everything that had happened? All I can say in my defence, is that, Kylie can be so likable when she wants to be, and I was so hurt and hungry for friendship.

When I was about 16, this fanciable looking new boy came to our high school, and all the other girls had a big crush on him; but to my horror, it was me that he asked to the school’s end of year social. This caused my alarm bells to really go off, and made my head even more of a mess, as I had been putting most of my energy into avoiding the spotlight and keeping a low profile.

Suddenly the other girls were looking at me: me who was despised, and they got angry and I would find my lunch smashed on the floor in the science lab. Or, my sport’s uniform covered in red paint, like blood and violence had occurred. And other things too.

Kylie was also outraged that I, the un-person, had attracted this hot, new boy, and I knew that I would be punished even further. Soon enough, the rumours began circulating that I was a ‘moll’, ‘a bush pig’ and the ‘town bike’; and a member of a devil worshipping cult. Needless to say, that coveted invitation to the school social was hastily withdrawn, and once rumours like that circulate, you can never really shake them off. It didn’t matter that I had never been out with any boy, and that I wasn’t interested in any gods or devils. Hell! I even went to a Catholic school.

I couldn’t tell my parents about any of this stuff, because they were too busy fighting with each other, and the only time they appeared to know that I existed, was when they could bring me in as a weapon or a pawn in one of their fights. I stayed in my room a lot in those years, and if I try, I can still call up the memory of that dusty room, the sickness of loneliness, and the way hours seemed to go on for days.

I may have been an outcast, but I was no longer so naïve. I began to watch the way others around me acted, and I tried to learn and understand. Now, I noticed how Kylie had power over others and how she could coerce and intimidate the other girls with her passive aggressive behaviour, but with the teachers, she was charming, confident, helpful, and appeared caring. The teachers without exception, were fooled, and thought Kylie was wonderful, and destined for great things. I noted all this, as I sat there quietly, and I despised them all.

Though, if I am honest, I have to admit that Kylie did have lots of abilities and skills. She was like an army leader in action, as she could bring her troops into line with a word; a slight compliment would bring smiles of delight and her censure would elicit tears and distress. Thinking about it, I’m sure that Kylie brought those girls a sense of order, as she was so self-assured. And ruthless.

As for me, as I said, I was generally disregarded. The teachers’ eyes would mostly slide over the top of me and many never seemed to remember my name. One teacher, though, seemed to twig that I was held in contempt by her favourites: Kylie and Karen. And one very hot summer day, when the classroom was like the inside of an oven, I was trying to open a window before the lesson began, when that teacher walked into the room, and said, ‘only open that window if you are going to jump out.’ The casual callousness of this rocked me, it really did.

I remember Kylie smiling at me, her eyes full of venom. Then her expression had transformed to one of gloating satisfaction, as she became aware that the rest of the class was laughing, as though they had heard a great joke.

But while Kylie’s followers and flunkies may have been laughing now, they were not spared her malice, because Kylie often punished her acolytes to keep them in line, or for some perceived transgression. And from what I could tell, they accepted their punishment, and then later, they were accepted back into the fold, suitably cowered and contrite.

But sometimes, things were not so simple. For example, golden haired Stephanie was beautiful, curvaceous and blonde (she of the pink, baby doll pyjamas) and she received lots of attention from the boys. I could tell that Kylie was jealous and infuriated by Stephanie’s carnal superiority, but Kylie also recognised that Stephanie had her own brand of power and so she was wary.

Swirling gossip surrounded Stephanie in those high school years and I believe that Kylie was behind it. Kylie was subtle, and she was careful, and she spilt Stephanie’s secrets about in such a way that the leaks were never pinned to her. Someone else always got the blame. But I knew Kylie was behind the campaign, because there were a few times, that I overheard, or saw her in action.

One time, I was on my way to catch the bus to the tennis courts for school sport, when I found that I had forgotten my tennis racket in the girls’ change rooms. I raced back. The place was empty. I walked in, and as the dampness invaded my nostrils, the echoing, empty quality of the place made me quieter than usual, so that my tennis shoes made no sound on the polished, concrete floor. But as I was about to push open the door of the stall, where I had changed my clothes, I heard voices ringing out, further along in another stall. One of them was Kylie’s.

‘Brett told me that Stephanie gave him crabs and that she stunk like a skunk’.

‘Really!’ cried the other voice; then there was some low murmuring. ‘No of course I won’t tell anyone’.

I got the hell out of there without my racket. In fact, I never saw my racket again in one piece; it was gone when I came back for it the next day. But about a month later, I found the handle of that racket, broken off from its head, impaling the old scarecrow, which stood dejectedly in our backyard, overlooking the forgotten vegetable garden, and the cage where my pet rabbit, Foxy, lived.

Another time, I was making my way to English class, from my far-flung spot in the playground; it was really icy weather, in the middle of winter, and I remember that a violent wind had gusted up suddenly, causing the trees around me to groan deeply and the chain fence next-to me, to rattle and bang against the wooden posts. As I passed from the classroom window, I saw Kylie, slipping something into Stephanie’s bag, so that it was half hanging out. Surreptitiously, I kept watching. Then this guy, Jesse Candle, blasted through the classroom door and lurched toward his desk, all sweat and raging hormones. But he stopped next to Stephanie, looked down, and grabbed that thing out of her bag and held it up. It was a stained, old pair of crotchless undies.

Stephanie protested, ‘They’re not mine!’ But no one believed her. Soon after that, Stephanie was mostly referred to, by the nickname, ‘Pro’.

In the Shakespearian play ‘Hamlet’, which we learnt in English class in my last year of school, you will find the words:

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable!’

But as I read this, I was thinking about Karen, the person closet to Kylie, and how she was actually a nasty piece of work. Yet, strangely, despite her venomous nature, Karen appeared to be popular with the boys at school, and with most of the teachers. But to me, one of the most noticeable things about Karen was the fact that she couldn’t really smile. It was more of a grimace, that thing she did with her mouth and teeth. And her eyes always had this predatory, reptilian gaze.

Karen took her job as Kylie’s sidekick very seriously. And she also seemed to really love Kylie in some warped kind of way. Kylie was menacing, but it was Karen who actively excluded others, threw out vicious insults, intimidated those who got in her way, and worked a room in seconds for potential alliances. Karen would also routinely tell lies, and those around her would agree upon these lies, and then, these lies would become truth. I also remember how the form master of our year, Mr Cocking, seemed to adore Karen, and this gave her an air of untouchability: that she could get away with almost anything.

Vanessa, Joanne and Stephanie, I suspected, were mostly loyal to Kylie out of fear. Fear of being bullied and humiliated and becoming an outcast. Though, of course, they also liked to be allied with Kylie’s power. Karen, though, she was simply from another planet.

A few times a week, in rain, storm or snow, Karen walked her dog past my house and I would see her treating that dog, a tiny, ball of white fluff, in the cruellest manner and yanking its lead really hard, so that it would almost choke. Then she would go down to the corner of the road, wrapping the dog’s lead tightly around a telegraph post, where she’d smoke a cigarette, and play with her lighter. In winter, when night fell early, I would see the flame of that lighter in the dark, go on and off, on and off, on and off. As I watched the orange blaze from my bedroom window, the thought of a lighthouse would come to my mind and the warning that there were jagged rocks ahead.

Karen to me was frightening. She appeared to derive pleasure from the pain of others and I avoided her; though, I had to admit that she seemed to have real feelings of friendship for Kylie. As to Kylie, believe it or not, despite the dead baby and all that she had done to me, I, for some reason, actually felt genuinely sorry for her, as she looked a lot like a person who is unable, due to some missing part of her being, to feel real remorse, or compassion, or even love.

Chapter 2

1996

Amber’s Story Continued

I really wanted to get the hell out of the house in which I lived. So when I started my last year of high school, I decided I would really knuckle down and study, so that I could get a good high school diploma, which I thought would be my best hope of escaping from Kylie, my parents, and this town.

Thankfully, things improved for me when Kylie dropped out of school near the beginning of the year. It was when I was in the line for the canteen, at lunchtime, that I overheard Vanessa saying that Kylie was learning Japanese and ceramics at a vocational college, which I found very hard to imagine. But after Kylie left school, some of the other girls started to talk to me occasionally, and as Karen was madly obsessed with her hard-faced, bikie boyfriend, she seemed to have less interest in bullying others, and so, I was able to relax a bit, and I let out a long sigh.

My parents were still going at it hammer and tongs, but they were leaving me out of their fights a lot more. Of course, it was still stressful at home, as some innocuous question or response to a question could be interpreted as an insult or challenge, which my mother would report to my father, and then, I’d be in disgrace for days. But overall, there was an improvement on both fronts, and for this I was grateful.

But still, a few things happened that year, which disturbed me. The first incident occurred late at night in March, when I was returning home, after working a shift at McDonalds.

It was a windy night of shaking windows and rattling doors, as I walked along the deserted, quiet suburban streets toward home, my footsteps sounding loud and lonely to my ears. As was usual, when I was out alone at night, I was hyperaware of my surrounding and ready to run at any sign of danger. But on this night, I was distracted by the racing clouds and the strange, purple light around the full moon. It was just so beautiful and somehow wild. There was also the heavy fragrance of lavender in the air, stirred up by the whispering wind, which was calming me and sedating me, in some essential way.

Then my eyes became aware of something like a large, black tube, lying right across the footpath in front of me. I was trying to make sense of the thing, when it jumped up, and I saw a person wearing a black outfit, topped by a Freddy Krueger mask.

Immediately I was hurled out of my stupor. I seemed to spring into the air, and I shot off running as hard as I could. I knew that that person was behind me, pursuing me, but they couldn’t compete with the blast of adrenaline which had entered my body.

I was seriously freaked out by this experience, but my parents were already in bed by the time I crashed through the front door, and I don’t suppose that I would have told them anything about it, if they had been up. It simply wouldn’t be worth it. I knew from long, hard experience, that after a bit of uproar, they would both decide that I had brought the whole episode onto myself. But I did tell my boss, Bruno, the next day, and he was really concerned. After that, when I worked at night, there was always someone to drive me home.

Perhaps that person in the Freddy Kruger mask was just a random practical joker, wanting to scare someone. But in such a quiet street, in a suburb where the doors seal shut after dark, as televisions come on, a person could wait in vain, to meet another person on the road, the whole night. No, I thought that it was more likely that Kylie was behind the whole thing. She was just reminding me that she was still out there, that she hadn’t forgotten me.

Not long after this, a strange radio campaign began, directed at me.

As I mentioned before, I spent lots of time alone in my room, but I didn’t feel entirely alone, as the independent radio station I listened to, run by volunteers, made me feel like I was part of something. It provided company and a sense of belonging. But around the end of March, someone started sending in love song dedication requests, aimed at me, with my name, in fact. Except that the songs chosen were seriously creepy.

The first time I heard the DJ mention my name, Amber Malone, and a request from a ‘secret admirer’, it had just gone ten at night. Then the song by ‘The Police’ – ‘Every Breath You Take’, began to play, and for the first time, I listened to the words. Really listened to the words, and my skin began to creep.

These ‘love song dedications’, directed at me, went on all year at regular intervals; with songs like, ‘One Way or Another’, by ‘Blondie’, and a song that was really big in that year, 1996, ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’, by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue.

Another strange…..well, it wasn’t an incident, exactly, occurred a few weeks before I was to sit for my end of year exams: the exams which would determine my future. I’d taken the bus, as was my habit these past two years, to visit my grandmother, who was living in an aged care facility.

Gran, who was dad’s mother, and I, had always been close; she’d been my champion and my rock since I was young. But in the last five years or so, she’d started to act odd; forgetting things, misplacing stuff, using the wrong words and even forgetting how to make a pot of tea. So mum and dad had stuck her in Golden Gardens Nursing Home. It was an awful place, but Gran didn’t seem to mind that much.

Anyway, this particular Saturday, I sat down next to Gran in the large common room area, which smelt of peed pants and boiled cabbage, and as usual, I handed her the box of butterscotch lollies, that she loved. She smiled at me and I smiled back.

Gran, she still knew who I was, but she often got confused. Like she thought I was 39 years old the last time I was here, and that I’d been divorced three times. Another time, she asked me how George was going. I don’t know anyone called George.

So I had just finished asking Gran how her week had been, and if she’d been out anywhere, when she said, ‘that interesting friend of yours was here on Thursday’. Gran always used the word ‘interesting’ when she didn’t like someone.

‘Which friend?’ I asked, puzzled. I didn’t have any friends.

‘Oh, the one with the baby’, she replied happily.

‘Gran, I don’t have any friends with a baby’.

‘You shouldn’t forget the baby, Amber’, Gran said sternly.

I was flummoxed by this whole conversation, wondering what I should read into it. Then lunch arrived and The Matron roared at me in her usual sensitive way, that I better get going, that I was ‘interrupting lunch’ and ‘annoying everyone’, as she made shooing motions with her hands.

I could say that The Matron was a real old dragon, but that would be an insult to dragons. Not only was The Matron frightening to look at, as she had this bright orange, 1960s style wig, and a face like a horse’s backside, but with red lipstick and toxic green eye shadow; but even worse, was the fact that, she hated to see anyone enjoying themselves.

As I dragged myself home on the bus, I kept thinking of Gran, and feeling sad for Gran, and in between, I wondered again, as I had done so often before, how people like The Matron were given such important jobs. Jobs that dealt with vulnerable, elderly people and their worried and stressed family: Jobs that demanded sensitivity and empathy. It was a mystery to me, it really was.

A few days later, I was in maths again, when I heard Vanessa talking in the back row. Vanessa had one of those megaphone voices, that is so loud and booming that you wouldn’t be surprised if it carried to the next country. I must say too, that Vanessa and most of Kylie’s former gang members had improved since Kylie had left; which, when I thought about it, made me think that Kylie’s presence had acted like a kind of magnet, magnifying and drawing out other peoples’ nastier aspects. Anyway, Vanessa was telling Joanne, that she had visited the beach a few weeks before, in the school holidays, with her cousin Doula, and they’d set up a little tent in behind some boulders, at a generally deserted part of the beach, as they both felt that they needed to lose weight before being seen in public in their bikinis.

‘So we’d just got the tent set up all cosy, when I look down near the water’s edge and I see Kylie, If you can believe it!’ Vanessa kind-of whispered Kylie’s name, like she was scared that Kylie might actually hear her, and then, she continued in her normal megaphone style: ‘She was with this mean looking guy with a huge tattoo of a snake on his back. Anyway, Kylie stands up and tears off that orange sarong that she was wearing…..and……she looked like she was about to have a baby!’

The strange thing is that, after this, even though I kept my ears open, nobody mentioned and there were no rumours that, Kylie had given birth, or that she was looking after a child. In fact, I would often see Kylie in the distance when I was going to my night job at McDonalds; she would be hanging around outside this pub called, The Exchange, which had a bad reputation as a drug den. One time too, I was cleaning the tables out the front of McDonalds, when Kylie went past, with this weaselly pop-eyed bloke, who was driving a gold Mercedes, which had a big open sunroof and a comically huge back spoiler. A single thought filtered thought my brain: dirty money.

As my exams drew nearer, I really started to hit the books, but Karen was rarely coming to school now. Supposedly, she had moved in with her bikie boyfriend and she was working casual hour’s at the most popular clothes shop in town; a place which sold surf t-shirts in the same design, year after year: a place at which I couldn’t afford to shop. But I did see her sometimes, walking down the main road, with her mean, blue eyes, looking straight ahead, and those big boobs of hers, thrown out-in-front, like a shelf.

I was never likely to run into Karen, thank goodness, as I bought all my clothes from op-shops. Firstly, because I didn’t have much money, and secondly, because I believe that there is just too much waste in this world. I’d decided this a few years ago, because sometimes, I walk home from school the long way, around the local rubbish dump, and it never fails to amaze and appal me, what people have bought and then throw away so thoughtlessly. It seemed to me, that most of us had the idea that we could just keep on buying stuff, as long as we hid all our waste out of the way, where we couldn’t see it.

Vanessa, who now seemed to think that she and I were friends again, when it suited her, was oscillating in her moods in these last school weeks before exams. Sometimes, she would grab my arm hard and plead with me to come over to her house after school, and help her study, because she was so ‘disorganised and unmotivated’. At other times, she would float into her classes with this strange Zen-like attitude, repeating the fatalistic saying, ‘whatever will be, will be’, when asked how her studies were progressing, or when faced by the exam panic of others around her. On the last day of school before our exams started though, she stayed in the girls’ toilets all day, just looking in the mirror, and brushing her hair, and crying.

As for Joanne, she seemed excited that our school days were almost at an end. I would watch her from where I sat studying on the top floor of the library, as she dashed past with huge piles of books and an almost crazy look on her pallid, black-eyed face; her brown hair sweeping out behind her.

Then, it was the night before exams. I made my dinner early: an omelette, some toast and an apple (My dad ate at the local club and mum would heat up a box of Skinny Cuisine (or five) and eat in front of the TV). After that, I had a long and relaxing bath. Before I went to bed, I went over my notes for the last time, with the hope that all the information would be sinking into my brain really well overnight, and then, would be ready to extract easily tomorrow.

***

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Brood

The whiplash of lightening preceded the boom of the rolling thunder, as I raced down the dark hallway into the spare room, looking frantically for a place to hide. Seeing a wide and sturdy cupboard directly in front of me, I threw open its doors. Then, as my mind finally registered what I was actually seeing, a blue looking, not breathing, human baby, a cuckoo clock began chiming stupidly somewhere in a nearby room. Then the scrape of slippers hit my ears, as Karen, Vanessa and Joanne burst through the doorway and began jabbing me with their bony elbows, before becoming very still, as they too, stared at the forsaken, lifeless newborn.

  • ISBN: 9781370268016
  • Author: R.W. Redwillow
  • Published: 2017-03-29 05:50:08
  • Words: 36369
Brood Brood