"The wind was howlng at me, pushing me towards the place I was forbidden to go.
The big white building in the middle of town.
At least that would be my excuse anyway.
Smoke, that was all I could see after coming out of there, delirious and broke from gambling. It was only from my cigarette.
You mean the fag that burned down the bakery, you mean?
Yeah that one."
I was used to mum telling these horror stories to me before bed time. Yes, they scared me, because I was only ten years old but afterwards she would always hug me and tell me everything was ok and that they were just stories. Dad would come in with Albie and we would then read the picture book he had chosen and I would be fine after that.
"I was driving along a long winding country lane, alone, just me. On one side is the cliff face, and on the other is a big quarry. There's nothing protecting the road from them. One little twist, or flaw in driving will send the car helixing down into the abyss or tumbling down into the spiky rocks.
My steering wheel lost control; it suddenly got a mind of its own and...
As the car smashed to the rocks and exploded, the driver died, and nobody knew."
That was the night before one of mums stories really came true.
My mum is amazing. She is a professional chef for one of the most prestigious restaurants in the United Kingdom. It's known for immaculate dinners, and my mother is usually responsible for that. She usually goes on TV shows, so she's more or less famous. She gets called to go to a special recording studio in Sussex. That's where she was going today.
Mum stepped out of her bedroom with her bright blonde hair piled glamorously on top of her head. She had a pearl necklace strung around her neck and she was wearing her chefs uniform. Black 40 denier tights, a mini skirt which was above the knee, a crisp white shirt and a short black apron which she had tied round her waist.
Compared to her, in my PJ's and with my bright blonde hair messed up and trailing down my back in a dishevelled mess, I looked really untidy. I felt a bit embarrassed about that so I went back in my room and made an effort to tidy my hair up.
Albie (my 8 year old brother) traipsed out of his room with one half of his hair sticking up and the other side normal. I couldn't help but snigger at him.
"What?" He said, obviously unaware of his ridiculous hair style.
"Nothing." I said.
We went to say goodbye to mum.
"Bye bye sweethearts." She said to Albie and me. "Be good!"
"We will mum." We said in the most unconvincing way. Albie scowled at me and I scowled at Albie.
Mum kissed dad goodbye and then she got in the silver fiat and drove off.
I had no clue that that would be the last time we ever saw her.
"Oh Albert, you're hairs all sticking up," dad said. I started laughing.
"Amy..." Dad said warningly.
"Sorreeee." I said. Not sorry.
Dad started flattening Albdies hair.
"Aww, I preferred you with sticky up hair." I sniggered.
"Amy!" Dad said sharply in his not-trying-to-get-angry voice. "Don't ruin a perfectly nice day."
"Whatever." I muttered. Only Albie heard me.
"Dad! Dad! Amy said whatever!" He squealed, desperate to get me into trouble.
“Shush you silly snitch!” I said crossly.
Albie gasped as if I’d just murdered someone on the spot.
Dad didn’t hear.
I gave him a satisfied smile and walked off into the kitchen.
Albie was giving me the death stare. I could feel his brown eyes boring into my back. It’s a talent he’s had for years. I just don’t know how he does it without cracking up.
I turned round.
He gave me puppy eyes, and my heart melted.
I hugged him and we were friends again.
Our cat, Lilia, slunk round the corner smugly with something in her mouth. I spied a little rat tail poking out of the clutches of her tiny jaws. I grimaced.
“Ew Lilia. That’s gross.” I said and she purred, and ate the rat tail like a noodle or a piece of spaghetti.
But, yeah, that’s my cat Lilia for you.
One of mums stories was actually based on her journey to the recording studio. The way it was described; it really was that treacherous. I’d done that journey before. The road was just a bit wider than the car. You had to drive through it really slowly and really accurately. On either side there are flimsy hedges and then a plummeting drop down to the sea. I’d been on the journey once before and it made dad a really anxious driver.
After mum left I’d always go into the kitchen and find dad.
“Do you think mum is going to be ok?” I had asked worriedly.
“She’ll be fine.” He then replied carelessly.
“Touchwood.” I had muttered touching the kitchen table (which was wood).
After that, it was an ongoing habit. And mum always came back from the recording studio fine.
That day though, I went into the kitchen and asked dad the same question.
“Do you think mum will be ok.”
“She’ll be fine.” Dad replied distractedly (as he had his I pad on his lap). “Now go and get dressed.”
I was cross that he was always so careless about mum being out so I stormed from the room to get dressed in a huff, in the process forgetting to touch the kitchen table.
“And don’t stomp off, how many times Amy!” Dad hollered after me.
I sighed angrily, and it took all my strength not to yell back at dad. I knew best not to. He then said something like:
“Honestly we should send her to live in a cow field.”
I tried not to snigger.
It was really annoying how dad would always make me laugh straight after I’d just got cross with him. It was so annoying because I still hadn’t really forgiven him for what he’d said and I still wanted to stay cross with him.
As I went up to my room, I realised, with a flash of panic that I had forgotten to touch wood. I raced down to the kitchen and hurriedly slammed my hand against the kitchen table. It made a huge bang.
“Amy!” Dad said angrily.
“Touchwood!” I muttered.
“Amy! You jogged me!” Moaned Albie who was doing a dot to dot book.
“Sorry Albie.” I said
“I think your gorilla looks better with the squiggly eye. A circle eye just looks a bit demented.” I said.
“It’s not a gorilla!” Albie shrieked. “It’s an orangutang!”
“Oh, well, what’s the difference?” I replied carelessly.
“A gorilla’s black. It has a big head and a short neck. An orangutang is orange. An orangutang has long hair with long arms and hooked hands.” He replied, looking smug at this load of information he had just shot at me. It had exploded my tiny brain but I didn’t let it show.
“Whatever.” I said. As cool as a cucumber. “Least I’m not monkeying around doing stupid dot to dots. I wouldn’t waste your life if I were you, Albie.” I said, and then I laughed at my own joke.
Albie pursed his lips, said nothing and went upstairs with his pen and dot to dot book. I could tell he was upset and annoyed.
“Amy, do you feel any better now you’ve just made your brother go to his room for no reason?” Dad enquired crossly.
“No.” I said.
‘Yes.’ I thought.
“Exactly, now you can go to your room. Tell Albie to come down. At that moment, Albie appeared in the doorway.
I shoved past him and upstairs.
“Amy!” Dad hollered.
“Sorry!” I called back.
Sitting up in my room, with nothing but my stuff for company, I really didn’t feel any better.
That night I went to bed feeling very sorry for myself. But there was this light feeling in my head and I knew that my Touchwood had worked perfectly because mum was ok. Then dark clouds floated into my mind and I wondered if I had spoken too soon...
The next day I woke up in the morning and put my purple glasses on. My brown eyes, hidden behind those purple glasses, looked round the room and my blonde hair was tangly from bed.
Mum was ok. I couldn’t stop thinking about her though. I touched wood just in case and hoped that I hadn’t jinxed it...
The day went along perfectly. Dad took Albie and me to the new park in the nearby village. We then went into the high street and had ice creams. Albie got a screwball ice cream and I got a birds nest ice cream. All in all it was a great day.
Anyway, it was early evening, about 7:00 and Albie and I were supposed to be doing our teeth but instead we were making a music video to the song Power by Little Mix (my choice) on my iPhone. Albie was pretending to be the rapper and we were both in fits of laughter. He could really be hilarious when he wanted to be.
Then the phone rang which kind of ruined the music video so we paused it and waited for dad to pick it up.
At last we heard him coming from the lounge and we could hear him muttering
“What idiot rings at this time of night?”
But he picked it up anyway.
“Hello?” He said.
The person on the other end was obviously speaking.
There then came a strange sound. Albie and I were straining our ears by this point. I gasped because I realised what that sound was. Muffled sobs.
Albie had obviously realised what the sound was too.
“Oh no.” He muttered partly to himself and then he thundered down the stairs.
I raced down after him.
We rushed into the kitchen where dad had his head in his hands and his shoulders were heaving. He was definitely upset about something.
Albie immediately burst into tears even though he didn’t even know what was wrong, but he just hated people crying. I felt a bright white shock of panic rush through me. Mum. Was it mum?
Dad nodded. I immediately collapsed on the floor crying and wailing. My heart felt like it had been ripped in two. My gut felt empty. I didn’t feel safe. I wanted mum. A desperate longing feeling clawed at my insides, ripping out my happiness and hope.
Dad put the phone on speaker.
“So, she swerved on the narrow cliff road to avoid an animal in the road and her car dodged but fell off the cliff. We found it smashed up and burned at the bottom of the cliff. She was lying near it with incurable wounds all over her. We tried to take her to the nearest hospital but by the time we got there it was too late. Goodnight Mr Ball.” The policeman said and he hung up.
I couldn’t believe she’d really gone. I thought only those things happened in horror stories or disaster fiction books. After that dad comforted us, having regained his composure but he still had a box of tissues by his side just in case. Albie and I were still crying our eyes out. Dad was hugging us but we didn’t want to be hugged by him. We wanted a hug from mum. But mum wasn’t here. So dad had to hug us. Vicious circle.
At 10:00 we finally went to bed and I remembered something. Before mum left I had told mum to:
“If you see any animals in the road, swerve so you don’t run over them.”
That was why mum had died. She had been following my instructions. It wasn’t exactly murder, but it wasn’t just by fluke either. I had been trying to word this right but I couldn’t think of any other way to put it.
I had killed my own mother.
I had killed my own mother.
I HAD KILLED MY OWN MOTHER.