This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 814 words.
Little Emily’s days were numbered, but I had to be careful. Mum wasn’t working now, and wouldn’t go back until her angelic daughter started school. She never left me alone in the house with my sister either. Not because she was worried about what might happen, she just couldn’t bear to be parted from her.
My plan began by befriending Emily. Coming out of my room and playing with her. Letting her climb all over me, and pull my hair. I even gave her some of my treasured old toys, and faked laughter as she wrecked them. Over the space of a couple of weeks, mum started to relax, and even told me how nice it was to see me warming to my sister. “I can tell how much she loves her big brother. She wil look up to you one day, and count on you for protection”.
How wrong can you be?
Then one afternoon in the Easter holidays, mum came downstairs. “I have just settled Emily for her nap, and I’m going to make a Victoria sponge cake”. I was looking forward to some cake later, when mum reappeared from the kitchen. “Silly me, I’m out of jam. I’m just going up to the Londis shop, won’t be long”.
Now a reasonable person might wonder why she just didn’t give me the money, and ask me to go to the shop and get the jam. There was a reason. Both her and my dad were mean with money, and each of them was as tight as a duck’s arse. The truth was they never handed me any money to buy anything. They just didn’t trust me. Not even with the change from a jar of strawberry jam.
I could have been to that shop and back with the jam in less than ten minutes. But I knew my mum. She would chat to anyone she knew in there, and if there was nobody else in the shop, she would chat about nothing to the owner. I had my window of opportunity.
My sister was in her tiny bed with the sides up, to stop her climbing out. The toy panda was next to her, almost twice as big as she was. She was fast asleep on her back, making a bubbling sound. I picked up the stuffed panda and held it over her, pressing its fat belly area over her face gently, but hard enough. She didn’t struggle or cry, but her podgy little legs waved around a lot. When they stopped moving, I removed the panda, and watched her tiny chest. When it didn’t rise and fall for a count of one hundred in my head, I turned Emily on her side, and jammed the panda hard against the safety rails. Then I pushed her face hard into it, put the crochet blanket back over her, and went back downstairs.
When mum got back after being out for close to forty-five minutes, I was reading some comics in the living room. As well as the jam, she had been distracted enough to buy other stuff, and she went into the kitchen to unpack her shopping bag. Then I could hear her mixing the cake, humming a nameless tune as she worked.
Wiping her hands on a tea-towel, she walked past me. “The cake is in, I’m just going to wake up little madam and sort her out”. I looked up and smiled as she told me that.
The scream from upstairs could have shattered glass, and actually made me jump, even though I was expecting it. What happened after that hardly involved me, though it did involve a lot of frantic phone calls, a great deal of shouting and sobbing, and a totally pointless attempt at CPR on my sister by my hysterical mother. When the ambulance people arrived, mum rushed out with them without stopping to get her bag or her keys, and without bothering to even say one word to me.
The sirens sounded loud in the street as they drove off, and I sat in the same position until I couldn’t hear them any longer.
By the time mum and dad got home, it was dark. I had rubbed my eyes hard enough to make it look like I had been crying. Mum looked at me and shook her head. “She gone, Daniel. She’s gone”.
My dad’s face looked like a stone statue, and he had his arm around mum’s shoulders, almost holding her up. I expected something. Maybe a family cuddle, a shared exchange of grief. I had been practising for that all afternoon. By doing so I had forgotten to turn off the oven, so the cake was burned black.
What I didn’t expect was for my dad to take two paces forward and slap my face so hard, he drew blood from the corner of my mouth.