This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 733 words.
After my dad hit me, I ran upstairs and hid in my room. I could hear him screaming at my mum in the living room.
“How could you? How could you leave little Emily with that waste of space, and expect him to watch her?” I don’t think he hit her, but I was sure he wanted to batter her until she was unconscious.
After that night, everything changed.
Mum stayed in the bedroom, mostly crying day and night. My dad didn’t speak to me unless he had to, then only aggressively, and just giving orders or instructions. I hardly got anything to eat, and when I did it was just fish and chips from the shop, or something dumped in the microwave. My dad wasn’t the kind of man who adapted well to taking control of domestic things. I had to go to school with unironed clothes, always feeling hungry and unloved.
Emily’s funeral was a sight to see. My dad carrying a tiny white coffin, my mum in such a state that my granny called a taxi and took her to hospital. I kept out of the way as much as possible after that. I stole whatever money was left in my mum’s purse that I found in the kitchen, and bought extra food and drinks to keep me going. No comics, no watching telly, it was like living in a graveyard.
Not long after that, dad packed my stuff and told me to get in the car. Without saying a word all the way, he took me to his mum’s house, on the other side of town. When we got there, he threw all my stuff onto her front path and looked at me like he wanted to beat me to death.
“You’re living here now. I never want to see you again”.
That suited me just fine. Granny was always nice to me, and she fed me until I felt I would burst. Although I had to take two buses to get to school, I didn’t mind. Uncle Brian lived with her, and after the panda toy, nobody was talking to him either. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be long before he made his move on me, and when it happened, I wasn’t surprised.
To be honest, I quite liked the affection. And when his guilt kicked in, he bought me stuff, took me to the cinema, and then onto a burger bar or pizza place. I didn’t even mind the sex, as he was so caring and gentle. But we had to be quiet, in case granny heard anything downstairs.
Then granny took bad. She had to go into hospital for tests, and she never came out. My dad didn’t even come to his own mother’s funeral. He didn’t want to see me, or Uncle Brian.
Six weeks later, mum took an overdose of sleeping pills and anti-depressants. I wasn’t told about her funeral, and my dad has never spoken to me since.
Uncle Brian was ready to take care of me. In many ways, they were my golden years. I could wear what I liked, watch anything I wanted on TV, and add my favourite foods to the shopping list. I had to move into his room, and into his double bed. But I couldn’t have cared less about that. I finally felt free. Long before I ever realised about husbands and wives, I worked out that Uncle Brian considered me to be his underage wife, and I just went with the flow.
Things were not so good for me at school. I had started secondary school close to granny’s house, and I found it hard to make friends. Paul Carpenter started off by picking on me, thinking himself to be a tough guy. His mum was a fan of the books by Danielle Steele, so he thought it was funny to call me ‘Danielle’, instead of Daniel. I cannot recall how many times he would stand in front of his gang of admirers and ask me, “Isn’t your name Danielle? I think you are a girl, Danielle”.
I played along of course. Smiles, and false laughter. Educationally, he was a moron, but he more or less controlled the first year at secondary school. So I played the fool, and got into his little gang, if only to make him sure I was an easy target.
He would come to regret that.