Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Maybe she’s tired

On tiptoe, I can just reach the shelf where my mum put the spare key to the bedroom door. She often puts things where she thinks I can’t get them, but I can. She is very dopey, my mum. Dopey and thick. The teachers at school say I’m thick, but I’m miles smarter than my dumb mum. Who would lock some-one in a room and leave the key in, even if it is on a shelf?

My mum locks me in when she goes out. She goes out a lot. I had a talk with her a while ago, and I told her that she was doing it too often. It was about the fifty-thousandth time we have had that talk. My mum sighs and looks at the ceiling and just agrees with everything I’m saying. That is what really drives me mad. I wish she would stick up for herself and tell me what she is really thinking. I wish she would only agree to things if I ask her something she thinks she can stick to, but she agrees to everything. If I asked her not to go out so often and to bring me back a pink princess dress, she’d say yes to it, but there’s no way she could afford that. She’s always short of money, even when she’s been working. She never tells me what kind of job she does, but it seems to have something to do with going out late and getting drunk. She works for a man called Ali. He has ginger hair and a lot of tattoos. He hit my mum once. I hate him.

I need to work out whether my mum is in the house or not. If she is in the house, and if she has a man with her, and I come out of the bedroom, she will go mad with me, and the man probably will as well. When I say “go mad”, I mean absolutely mental. She’ll probably hit me and stomp around and start throwing things, even if she isn’t that drunk. So I need to listen carefully to see if I can hear anybody else in the house.

I can’t hear any music. I can’t hear anybody opening the cupboards in the kitchen. I can’t hear a TV programme. I’ve been asleep for a bit and so I may have missed her coming back. I don’t often sleep while she is away, because I like to listen for her so I know when she comes in, but I did fall asleep tonight, probably because it’s so cold. It has been colder than usual tonight.

I am going to have to go out. I don’t know if she is in or not, but I am going to have to take the chance.

I’m turning the key as quietly as possible. The hinges on this door used to creak like mad, but I stole a bottle of stuff from the hardware shop at the end of the road and they are really quiet now. I’ve put the stuff on all the doors upstairs, but I have left the ones downstairs creaking because it tells me when my mum is moving around.

I’m tip-toe-ing down the stairs. This this step I always step over, because it creaks as well, worse than the door used to.

I’m downstairs now. I’m peeping round the front room door. The door was open. I mustn’t touch the door, or move it, because it will make a noise. It’s dark, but I can’t turn any lights on. I’ve got my torch in my pocket. It is only a little one, but I’ll just shine it into the front room for a little while.

There’s some-one lying on the sofa. It’s my mum. I remember the red dress she put on before she went out.

There’s a load of messy things on the coffee table. I don’t know why we call it a coffee table, because it never has coffee on it.

There are two empty cider bottles and loads of cigarette-ends and little green and orange packets with those little bits of paper you make cigarettes out of. And there’s some spoons that are all burnt, and a hyperdummick shringe. My mum’s got a hyperdummick shringe still in her arm. It’s a good job she’s asleep, or that might be really painful.

“Mum. Mum. Mu-uum. Wake up. Wake up. What time did you come in? Can we go shopping soon? I’m hungry. Can we get some cola and some microwave chips and a pepperoni pizza?”

She must be tired. That’s it. She didn’t come in ’til late last night. She probably didn’t get to sleep until very late. She must be tired. I’ll get her some water. She might be thirsty.


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