This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 958 words.
Marjorie sat on her bed and checked her phone again. No messages. She had updated her status when she got home from school, but nothing back from her contacts so far. It was her sixteenth birthday next month, and as far as she could tell, it was in danger of passing unnoticed.
Thomas Calder wasn’t her real Dad, though he had adopted her, and given her his name. He had done it to please Mum of course, not because he wanted a daughter. Mum had been lucky to snare him, Marjorie appreciated that. A single parent with a three year-old daughter, working long haul as a stewardess in first class. Granny had brought up the baby Marjorie, with Mum always away flying somewhere. But she had caught the eye of the wealthy businessman at just the right time, and kept him at arm’s length long enough to get him to propose marriage. The timing couldn’t have been better. The wedding was in the May, and granny died shortly after that. Mum didn’t need to work anymore, and the pair of them treated the luxurious house like a playground.
As CEO of a huge tech support company, Calder was rich in the extreme, but he had to keep working to hold onto that wealth. Always out at meetings or functions, flying across oceans to do deals, Mum soon became lonely. The lunchtime Martini soon turned into three, and then turned into breakfast, lunch and dinner. Marta was hired to run the house and look after the toddler Marjorie. The Polish woman was good at her job, but there was little or nothing maternal about her. To compensate, they gave her almost anything she wanted. But by her tenth birthday, she was savvy enough to see the rot setting in. They slept in separate rooms, argued all the time, and most days Mum was so drunk, she could hardly stand. One night, she heard Tom say that the drink would kill her. But it wasn’t the drink.
The diagnosis was cervical cancer. Too advanced to treat, so terminal. Marjorie spent her twelfth birthday alone in her room, and didn’t even bother to open any presents. The next morning, Tom told her Mum had died during the night.
She had always thought that he might marry again, but as the years passed, he didn’t. He hardly spoke to her though, and let Marta assume the role of surrogate parent. She spent all of her free time alone, sometimes chatting to George, the nice old guy who worked in the garden and managed the pool. Marta made sure she went to school, showered, wore clean clothes, and ate her breakfast and dinner. On her fourteenth birthday, she got a horse as a present. But Tom forgot she couldn’t ride, and neglected to include any riding lessons or suitable clothing. She never asked for anything, so just petted the horse now and then, and watched it as George walked it around the paddock. One day merged into another as she did well enough at school, but failed to make any real friends.
By ordinary standards, she was rich. But she had little or no money of her own, and the other girls at the exclusive school were even richer. It was all relative, she knew that. The ten bedroom house felt like living in a museum, when the public had gone home. In good weather, she could enjoy the pool, but she mostly watched TV, wrote in her diary, and wondered what the hell was going to happen to her later on.
Oh how she longed for something exciting to happen. Perhaps find a guy who wanted her, someone who asked her to run off with him and live in the middle of nowhere. Or they could do something cool and exciting, like go and watch the sunset in Thailand, or trek across India. But she didn’t even have a passport. Besides, she was on the big side, and her wiry hair was impossible to do anything with. Maybe not ugly, but not in the league of the girls who the boys whistled at. And the big black-rimmed glasses didn’t suit her at all, but she had never been able to tolerate the contacts. She would look at old photos of Mum, slender, beautiful, flowing fair hair, and wonder where she had come from, to end up so different. She knew nothing about her biological father, but guessed he must have been overweight, with wiry black hair like a chimney brush.
Life wasn’t bad, she knew that. She got enough to eat, too much most days. She wasn’t bullied at school, and she had a lovely home, with all that she needed. But nothing ever happened, and she was lonely. The holidays were the worst, with all the girls talking about beach holidays in the Seychelles, or skiing in Switzerland. She wanted to lie, to say that she was going off to somewhere wonderful with her adoptive Dad. But there was no point, as they all knew better.
Sixteen. That had to mean something, didn’t it? Marta told her that ‘Mr Thomas’ had asked her to see what she wanted as a gift. But she couldn’t think of anything she really wanted. The woman shrugged and said, “I will tell him jewellery then. He will let me get you something nice. Maybe you can come and choose it?” She had nodded agreement, but her heart wasn’t in it. Looking out the widow, she saw George walking along the driveway, heading home. She flopped back onto the bed, and raised both legs into the air, letting out a big sigh.
If only something would happen.