Monday, April 02, 2007

Just Lily

In later years Lily would say that her legs looked like two pieces of string, dangling down from a dress that was too inadequate for the weather. At the time the legs didn’t notice and continued hanging loosely from the swing that she had not quite grown into, and probably never would.

The adults were whispering again, standing in the kitchen making those large-mouthed silent words in the hopes that she wouldn’t understand. They were also drinking grainy coffee and smoking the fags that made Julie, from next door, sound like Marge Simpson’s sister. Julie only appeared when there was oh-my-God trouble.

Lily stretched out her toe with every swing, trying to reach the stone that was embedded in the middle of the worn patch of grass below her. She knew that if she caught that iceberg rock it would mean blood. Blood, a plaster and a certain hanky produced from a pocket of mentholated sweets.

“You never cry. Brave girl.” grandma said once, dabbing at the nailess horror that appeared from under the bloodied white sock.

“I am saving them,” Lily said “someone else needs them more than me”.

“You’re an odd one,” grandma said, with a sort of smile “you need a brother or sister, you spend too much time on your own.”

Grandma was funny, but a brother, or sister, would be nice. Lily dreamed of having a Stella of her own, or an Alice, or heaven-forbid-a-Michael. Someone who could share her days and someone to keep her company behind the sofa when the shouting got louder than the television.

A Stella would be round and plump and look like aunty Mary’s Fat Louise. Mum said that Fat Louise had a head that was too big for her body but that she would grow into it. Lily didn’t quite understand, but she liked Louises' biscuit stuffed cheeks and the little girl was always smiling. That would be nice.
An Alice would read her stories. Lily liked stories. They took you to other places and let you play around without getting dirty. Mum fussed about the dirt, and bloody socks and messy books. Lily knew that she couldn’t have an older sister. That would be silly, but an Alice would be a clever thing and she would be able to reach those books that Lily wasn’t supposed to touch. Alice would be smarter than a smart thing, unlike heaven-forbid-a-Michael, who would, in fact, be thicker than shit.

Mum said that all men were thicker than shit, but that was before dad had broken her jaw again, because up until today mum hadn’t said much at all.

“And now it will be much better.” mum said, while the kitchen gang smoked another fag.

Lily had listened to the words that removed dad from her life, but the only words that counted were the ones that had stolen the dream.
Now there was never going to be a Stella, or an Alice, or heaven-forbid-a-Michael. It would always be just her.

Just Lily.


Shameless said...

I really liked this Minx! I was right there with her at this gathering. Moving. I must say though: Where are ya bleedin' commas inside the speech marks? Do you have a thing against them? Is it a Cornish thing?

Minx said...

What are you, the comma police? Keep yer hair on - the editor is on holiday, I am fending for myself!

Glad you liked.

Jan said...

Your style is easy yet elegant and I liked it very much.I was with your Lily all the way.

Minx said...

Thank you Jan, I have a liking for writing misery.

Canterbury Soul said...

I love this tale that moves me everytime I read it.

Thanks, Minx!

mutleythedog said...

I believed it.. surely thats good?

mutleythedog said...

Sorry - my comment sounded a bit silly. I mean I believed the story and the characters and the outcome... Im not good at making serious remarks.

Minx said...

You just did, Mut. People set too much store on trying to find the right words to say about something they have read. Nothing sounds silly, nothing at all. The fact that you have all read it gives me a kick. If you believed it, then that's even better - I feel as if I have done me job.

Now off to write a post about this.......

Atyllah said...

Oh wow, Minx - brilliant story. This is a wonderful piece - you hold the reader throughout and then pack a poignant punch at the end.

Shameless said...

I shall call myself that now, Minx: The comma police! I like it, gives me a sense of responsibility!

Minx said...

Atyllah, thank you, but which bit exactly was I holding?

Shameless - oh great, Chief Inspector Comma.

aminah said...

what a lovely piece!

Debi said...

Powerful stuff, Minxy. I knew there had to be a reason why a small child never cried. But because it's through the eyes of a child, the reason is almost a sub plot. The immediacy for Lily is the loss of a possible future.

Beautifully done.

BTW - did anyone say 'editor'?

I is here ...

Minx said...

Aminah....thank you, and welcome.

Debi, thank you also.
The reasons behind a child's behaviours are not always the ones we expect (as adults). We sometimes forget, or do not realise, that a child that grows in a violent household very often considers that life to be a 'normal' one.

david santos said...

Very good and very nice, thank you.
Have a good week.

Minx said...

You said that the last time Mr Santos - I am beginning to think you are human spam!

London Refugee said...

Dear Minx,

Excuse the fact that I've recently become interested in blogs....a lovely piece that I read 3 times. Very imaginative with a transatlantic feel to the style - careful you don't fall off the Cornish tip.
I also love the Gorey illustration above your moniker.
I think that I'll look in again.

I hope I've done this right.......

Minx said...

Thank you LR, you are welcome.