Outside: Part Thirty-Two

This is the thirty-second part of a fiction serial, in 764 words.

He was rough with her that night. Turning her onto her front and not being very nice at all. Gillian was crying the whole time, and still crying when he left her and went back downstairs. And she was hungry too, with nothing to eat since breakfast.

Thomas sat on the sofa, restless and not at all sleepy. He had been angry at her, and hadn’t enjoyed what had happened. He wanted to give affection, and receive it back. But they didn’t understand, they never did. All they had to do was let him look after them, and everything would be okay. He poured himself a large Remy Martin, and sat contemplating his life.

Mrs Halloran had not been expecting to have a baby so late in life. Her daughter was already grown up, and had moved away when she was eighteen. A long way away. Kathleen Halloran didn’t blame Maggie for leaving though. Brendan was a hard man. Hard on her, and hard on his children too. Having a daughter had turned out to be a disaster, as he controlled Maggie the same way he had always done with her.

Violence followed by affection. Anger followed by laughter and gifts. No nights out, no friends in the house, other family members ignored untl they stopped bothering. A joint bank account so she had no personal control over any money, and Brendan taking her to work and picking her up after. Same with Maggie, doing the school run there and back, making sure she wasn’t talking to any boys and had no friends to walk home with.

He was free to do as he pleased. As a self employed carpenter, he could pick and choose the hours he worked in the large workshop at the end of the garden. Kathleen had become so sick of the smell of wood around him, she didn’t even like to have any wooden furniture. But she had no choice, as he made it all himself.

Once she was old enough by his estimation, Brendan started to go upstairs at night to ‘tuck Maggie in’. She screamed at first, and Kathleen sat with cushions over her ears to drown out the noise. The neighbours probably thought it was some sort of hysterical argument, as they never mentioned it.

But it wasn’t long before she stopped screaming and just accepted the inevitable. The day after her eighteenth birthday she packed a small case, and moved to the other end of the country after finding a live-in job in a hotel. She didn’t tell them where she was, and they never heard from her again. Then Brendan turned his attention back to his wife, and a year later she had Thomas.

Brendan saw his son as a protoge. Another male to be educated in the way of the world according to Brendan Halloran. Kathleen was sidelined as Brendan spent hours with him in the workshop, teaching him everything about crafting wood. And he was teaching him other things too. Awful things.

As she found out one night when Brendan brought him up to the bedroom, and left him alone with her.

After that, she rarely went out. Her employer got tired of her absences and fired her by letter. She started to eat for comfort, and had soon doubled in size. She hoped being so fat would put them off, but if anything it made things worse, especially with Thomas. It turned out he had a thing for fat women.

So Kathleen did the opposite, and began to starve herself. Living on sips of tea and cigarettes, she lost so much weight over the next two years, she no longer had the energy to keep the house tidy, or go shopping.

Then one morning, Thomas found his father dead in the workshop. The post mortem result was a brain haemorrhage. Kathleen was disappointed that he hadn’t suffered more. But it was her chance to escape, so she went to visit her married sister, and never came home. Thomas was alone at the age of nineteen, and about to embark on a series of events that would eventually lead him to Gillian’s house.

His dad had been a good teacher. He had told him exactly what to do, and how best to do it. As far as Thomas was concerned, he had been the best dad in the world.

Gillian was sleeping soundly by the time he went back up to the bedroom. He lay down gently on the bed next to her and stroked her hair as she slept.