Login   Sign Up 


Untitled - as yet

by CP 

Posted: 22 April 2004
Word Count: 3854
Summary: 20 house moves in alot less years...memorable stories of youth!

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Caroline Proudly, Rose Cottage, Bilton, Fitchestershire
My mother’s community spirit meant that she had the Fitchester Echo delivered five days a week. She, in fact, had every local paper delivered. Her logic was, from the newspapers producers right down to the village paperboy, she was supporting the local economy. Consideration for the environment didn’t come in to the equation. On the rare occasions when my brother’s cricket team had won a match, he would flick hopefully through the sports section to see if he had got a mention. On Valentine’s Day, after diner, my father would read out the sloppy ‘love announcements’ in a stupid voice. I only picked up the local papers to move them from the porch to the fireplace and my mother, only to start the fire on cold evenings.

As a precautionary measure, in case one of my bother’s chickens were ill, my mother flooded the kitchen, my father ran over a pheasant on the way home from work or I remembered to put my riding boots out to dry off, about 3 days worth of papers were always stored in the fire place.

My pleas to be allowed to apply for the lucrative role as the village papergirl were denied by my parents on the grounds that my homework was more important than pocket money. I wasn’t like my friends; I didn’t want money to buy the latest ‘Cure’ or ‘Simple Minds’ album. I needed money for something far more important. Although I frequently made it clear that I had not inherited my mother sentimental feelings for the ‘our community’, neither of my parents fully appreciated the magnitude of my desire to get away from it. Driven to lowly behaviour, I started stealing my brother’s egg money, which he kept in a stack of clay pigeons until he had enough to bank. In an attempt to maintain some dignity, I worked on a strategy of never taking anything larger than a 50p pence and on any given day not to take more than the total of 50 pence. By the end of a couple weeks my brother’s meticulous accounts were in turmoil and in order to concentrate on finding the discrepancies, he employed me to feed the chickens and deliver the eggs. My job and the higher than agreed salary situation continued until I was caught ‘with my hand in clay pigeon’.

I wanted out. I needed out and I was determined get out. Suddenly I was delighted that Mother thought more about supporting the community rather than the woodland that surrounded us. The subliminal effect of years of briefly being exposed to the Fitchester Echo weekly boasting of a property section, gave me the opportunity. My stealing, chicken feeding, egg delivering and the sudden discovery that my mother had for years been paying £10 a month in to an account for me, gave me the means.

Desperation made the days seem like years. Finally the designated property section day came around. As it wasn’t Valentine’s Day and it wasn’t the cricket season, I was confident that the missing pages would go unnoticed. Even so I was terrified at my parent’s reaction of their ‘little goose’ flying the nest and I remember discretely tearing out the extensive property section, which to my excitement spanned half a page. Sitting on the floor in my bedroom with my back against the door, I had a forbidden cigarette and studied the adverts. I highlighted a couple of two bedroom flats in nice locations before I noticed the rent. Quickly I skipped down to the more reasonably priced house share section and convinced myself that living all alone would have been too lonely anyway. I made a list of questions that I needed to ask and with the list and adverts up my sleeve, I went back down stairs. As I went though in to the sitting room rhetorically asked if I could use the telephone.

That evening was a typical after diner scenario. My farther was sitting at the dinning room table reading the Telegraph and munching on an apple, my brother was studying in his room and my mother was washing up to Radio 4’s ‘Brain of Britain’. When I came back out of the sitting room, noting that it was the shortest call that I had made in his living memory, my father asked whom I had called. With out realising it, he had set the scene perfectly for a dramatic justification of why, after 16 years, I could no longer bare to be at Rose Cottage. I exploded with a barrage of accusations: they spied on me, I had no privacy, no liberty, no rights, the very life in me was being sucked dry by the mundane life they forced me to lead!

As my mother came in to the dinning room I was announcing with excessive volume and excitement that as a result of all of that I was moving out. My father’s response was that he would be glad to see the back of me. My mother’s was to burst in to tears and threaten to call the police, as legally I still needed parental consent to move out. As a row broke out between them I was stuck in the middle of shouts of ‘Well, I will not be spoke to in that manner. As far as I am concerned, I am throwing her out!’ and ‘If you do, I will never forgive you and I will pack my bags too!’ The shouting was redirected in my direction, “And how do you think you are going to pay the rent, you won’t be able to live off a Saturday job!”

“Actually, now I’m not going to school any more, I can get a full-time job.”

There was a moment of horrified silence as my parents tried to take in what I had said. Helpfully I add, “I haven’t been all week, I did pop in on Tuesday, but only to tell the headmaster of my decision…” The reaction to my revelation was enormously loud.

The commotion brought my brother down from his room and as he stood at the bottom of the stairs to access the situation, he screamed at me, “You’re always causing trouble…how am I supposed to study with you causing trouble and upsetting everyone all the time?!!’

Glaring at him, I calmly assured him that it would be the last time, “I leaving…going…forever and I mean FOREVER!” I shrieked as pushed past him and ran up to my room.

Caroline Proudly, 55 Peer Road, Fitchester, Fitchestershire
The frosty effect of the row lingered in the air. Daddy hadn’t been lying when he had said that he would be glad to see the back of me, however he didn’t physical throw me out. Not one to go back on his word, the next day I had a mumble explanation that he was asking me to leave but would show compassion as long as I moved out as quickly as possible. My mother didn’t call the police or pack her bags, but according to my brother’s account of things, she didn’t talk to my father for some time after the row.

I don’t remember going to see the house but I do remember approaching my father and explaining that only with his help could I physically move. A mixture of wanting to get rid of me and wanting it to seem like he was throwing me out created a small logistical contradiction in his mind. He over came that by helping me move, but by being stubbornly unhelpful in the process. He sat in the car as I loaded everything in. He drove his over packed car to Fitchester and then sat in the drivers seat pretending to be asleep whilst I hauled full black dustbin liners up the stairs to my new bedroom. When I slammed the boot close, he started the engine and drove off without a word. I have a lasting memory of be left on the pavement, outside number 55 Peer Road, holding a huge yucca plant and gulping hard at a lump in my throat.

I sat on my bed still clutching the plant like a security blanket until the lump in my throat subsided and the anticipated excitement of feeling final free filled me. Having gently posed the Yucca in the only suitable place, I ripped open the black bags and unpacked.

To people who didn’t know where Peer Road was, I described it as Sacville. To those who might of, I phrased as ‘Near Sacville but on the right side of Rodden.’ The second description was nearer the truth. Peer Road fell just beyond the niceness of Sacville and whilst it wasn’t officially in Rodden, it may as well have been. The street blew with sweet wrappers and the only feature that distinguished one house from the next was the number and very occasionally a vulgarly coloured front door. Otherwise the grey facades were depressingly identical and characterless.

One of the first afternoons after I had moved in, I heard a huge commotion in the street outside. Terrified, I crept over to the sitting room window and discreetly peeked through the gap between the net curtain and the window frame. To my relief it was nothing more than a rabble of unruly school kids making their way home. As I watched them pass, cross over the main road and finally disappear in to Rodden, for the first time, I noticed that a large strip of brown parcel tape held the windowpane together. As I mused over the bizarre fact that I hadn’t noticed it before I realised that, as a result of the over grown excuse of a front garden, it wouldn’t be visible from the outside. Inside, the smoke stained net curtain hid it from view. That strip of brown tape caused a general awareness with regards to my new surroundings. The sitting room smelt of an unpleasant mixture of damp and dirty socks. The kitchen had seen better days even before it had suffered from a small fire. The backdoor was charred and clutched only half successfully at the dirty glass. A flap of a Walker’s crisps box wedged in between the two, prevented the gales from blowing in but caused a eirry whistling when the wind blow in a certain direction. No matter when I entered the kitchen, sitting on the counter, there always seemed to be a plate with the congealed remains of beans on toast.

Although I had been rudely awoken from naivety by the unforeseen damage deposit and advance rent situation of renting, my mood was kept light by my newfound freedom. My pleasures were limited to the smaller things in life. I revelled in the ability to be able to eat when I was hungry rather than when it was the set time to eat, even if it meant that it was a bowl of pasta with melted butter that I had to cook myself. I savoured openly enjoying a cigarette, even if my budgeted packet of 10 every two days meant that I couldn’t actually have one as often as I would have like to.

The deposit and advanced rent had also reduced my calculated jobless existence from three months down to two. Three months had seemed like ample time to find gainful employment; two months didn’t seem very long at all and the weeks seemed to pass with frightening speed. The reoccurring vision of my father driving off with out a word, too much pride to allow myself to run back to ‘mummy’ even in a crisis and just one month to find a job, caused panic. The days seemed like years as again I waited in desperation for the appropriate day when the Fitchester Echo’s could help me. Finally ‘Job Day’ came around and without any work experience and certain no intention of entering in to the plumbing or electrical trade, I contacted a couple of shops that were advertising for sales consultants. With the interviews under my belt and a job offer, I waited impatiently for the nice shoe shop in Ronsellier, offering the best salary, to call me back. Desperate not to loose out on the other offer I decided to call the shoe shop. With an ‘incoming calls only’ phone at the house, I went to the nearest phone box with a pound worth of 10p pieces. Over the deafening noise of the traffic, I diplomatically explained my situation and that I would like establish if I was still being considered for the job at their shoe shop. To my extreme delight, there and then, on the spot as I stood nervously on the end of the phone, they took me on. With the remaining 10p pieces I called the other shop and politely declined their offer. The relief that I had been saved from a potential life on the streets caused me to practically skip back to number 55. On the way, I popped into the corner shop and lavishly bought a ‘Happy Shopper’ pot of pasta sauce and a packet of 20 Silkcut.

The lack of heating and the long dark winter evenings drove me to hibernate in my room. The furniture in my bedroom consisted of a single bed and an uneven make shift desk. The sloping piece of MDF was propped up against a window, which was inadequately covered by a much too small, dark green velour curtain. There was no room for a chair but the beds close proximity to ‘the desk’, overcame the real need for one. My Yucca’s leaves fought against the corner walls that restricted it and my clothes hung in a wardrobe outside on the landing. A redundant wire hung from the middle of the ceiling and the light switch, which assumable had once operated it, had a piece of sellotape over it to prevent the switch itself from being flicked on or off. The tipped up head of my small reading light projected, what I thought was, an ambient glow. With a limited selection of music, I spent hours repetitively playing Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen.

With my first pay packet from the shoe shop I invested in a second duvet and another hot water bottle. I came across a discount bookshop and with my second pay packet I frizzlelessly bought myself the complete works of Oscar Wilde, Jane Austin and Thomas Hardy. After a few months, I had enough money to start going out, but there was no bus that went anywhere helpful, and I certainly hadn’t enough beer money to waste on taking taxis. An evening of calculating brought me to the conclusion that to invest in a bike would be the solution. The result was a 20th hand ‘sit up and beg’ bike that I bought from a shop at the top of Ronsellier. Delighted with my purchase, nervously I started to wobble my way back to Peer Road. I tried to convince myself that with practice the horrible feeling of vulnerability, which every passing car caused, would diminish. As I negotiated the first and only roundabout on the way back home, car horns deafened me as I cut through their paths. Shaken, I pushed my bike the rest of the way home. It remained chained to the front garden’s railings until someone nicked it.

My next strategy was to initiate an entertaining at home programme. My invitations included bring a bottle of red and a warm jumper. My regular guest was Jonathan, an adorable black boy whom I had known for a long time. The frequent evenings spent together moved our friendship in to a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. After a romantic dinner on the end of my bed by the ambient light of the flipped up reading lamp, there was knock on my bedroom door. I opened it to find my brother standing on the brightly lit landing peering in to the gloom at us. The moment of pleasure that a family member had come to visit me was ruined when without a greeting he screamed at me, “I‘ve been banging on the front door for five minutes! I’ve just walked straight in to the house and you don’t hear a thing! I could’ve been anyone one…I could’ve done anything…I don’t know…stolen your crockery or something!” I could see his point but the idea of being the victim of a menacing attack by a crockery thief amused me. Jonathan knew my brother from the pub, but had clearly never seen his protective brotherly side and so looked petrified as result of his out burst. For Jonathon’s sake I over rode my desire to point out that I had a strong man to protect me in any possible event of the house being under attack. After a serious promise to increase my security conciseness, my brother calmed down. The reason he had popped by was to see if I wanted to go of a drink. Glancing discretely at the second bottle of red that was close to full, I declined his offer on ‘our behalf’.

Jonathan and I were sound asleep when the sound of banging woke us. Throwing on a dressing gown, I ran down to the front door. As I opened it, Sid my allusive housemate, who I thankfully rarely saw, was throwing up in bushes next to the front door. Although I was furious, his paralytic state meant that there was clearly no point in expressing my displeasure at having been woken. As I crawled back in to bed and was getting comfortable, I realised that Jonathan was gone. I hissed his name in the dark and waited for an answer. Turning on my lamp, I hissed his name again. Wondering if maybe he had gone in to the bathroom, I went out on to the unlit landing to check the status of the bathroom door. It was open and the bathroom was in darkness. The wardrobe door creaked open and all I saw was the whites of two terrified eyes staring back at me from between my hanging clothes. As I dragged him back in to bed I couldn’t contain my laughter. All he kept repeating was, “…if that had been your brother, he would have killed me! I know he would have done…I saw him earlier… you’re his baby sister…he would have killed me if that had been him and he had found me in bed with you… dead, that’s what I would be!”
We did continue to see each other after that night when Jonathon had hidden from my brother in the wardrobe, but it was never the same and finally we split up.

In an attempt to focus on something other than my failed relationship I looked forward to spring and concentrated on taming the front garden. After an afternoon of hacking away, I woke the next morning with an arm that throbbed painfully. Scarlet veins ran up the inside of my forearm and my middle finger was the size of a juicy sausage. My fears that I would shortly die of tetanus were allayed after a 2 hour wait at Fitchester Hospital’s A&E. I left lanced, bandaged and clutching a prescription for a weeks worth of antibiotics.

The fact that 55 Peer Road didn’t have a TV became too much for my housemate, Sid. Proudly announcing that he was going to live at the YMCA, he boasted about the screen size of the TV that they had in place and of the merits of not needing to pay for a TV licence. I can only put it down to my failed relationship with Jonathon, but when the landlord came to say good-bye to Sid and find a new tenant, I suddenly noticed that he was divine! The baked bean remains in the kitchen and the stench of dirty soaks in the sitting room left with Sid and his packed bags. The only thing that he left behind was a number of Playboy magazines that he had forgotten to remove from under his mattress.

To my delighted the landlord found it hard to find anyone desperate enough to move in to the house. As the days passed, my flirtation caused our landlord tenant relationship to move on to a foolish mixture of business and pleasure where there was a lot more ‘going on than the rent’. My infatuation was wicked crushed after I had taken him out to show him off to my girl friends and we discovered that he fancied one of them, not me as he had initially thought.

The replacement housemate was a tall lanky boy. He spoke so infrequently that apart from working out he was Antipodean I wasn’t sure if he was from South Africa or Australia. As he seemed to have nothing interesting to say and an accent that annoyed me, I was glad that he was so quiet. However, very quickly, I wished that I at least could have heard his footsteps. He moved about the house silently and was always where I didn’t expect to see him. It took me weeks to get used to the coincidence that he was always ‘quickly just passing’ the bathroom as I came out of it. Apart from his silent movements and the fact that he regularly left bleeding steaks lying directly on the grilled shelves of the fridge, to all intense purposes he was an easy housemate to have.

At the end of a lazy Sunday afternoon and with no newspaper, except the Motoring section, left unread, I fell asleep the sofa in the sitting room. I was horrified when his slobbering lips on my neck woke me. He was almost as surprised as I was when I leapt up, grabbed him by the throat and brought him to the ground with a thud. As I pinned him to the ground and screamed life-ending consequences if he ever came near me again, he tearfully apologised. I assumed that my action would have restricted the episode to a one off. However, only a few days later whilst I was in bed reading, I noticed a shadow on the landing under the crack of the door. Having already taken the liberty of filling the keyholes, through out the house, with cotton wool, I feared nothing. As he opened my door I looked up from my book. “I’m cold and I was wondering if I could get in to bed with you.” He said as he stood in the doorway wearing nothing but a pair of brown stripy pyjama bottoms. Staring at his bear, puny and anaemically white chest, I roared with laugher at the very idea. Finally as I got my breath back and wiped the tears from my cheeks I managed to tell him to fuck off and leave me in peace.

The ruining of my relationship with Jonathan, my briefly broken heart and unreturned love of the landlord, the nearly fateful rose thorn incident and my pervy housemate, meant that I decided to move from 55 Peer Road.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Becca at 07:15 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Hi CP. I felt a lot of empathy for your MC, moving out of home for the first time is something almost everyone must remember and have a story about. The account comes across as an authentic experience.
I guess this is a short story rather than a novel? If so, I felt that there were several stories in it, for example, one story could be the MC's relationship with his/her father, another the MC's relationship with one or both of the housemates...
It's an account of a series of problems, and so no single one of them comes up as the nub of the matter.
I could see the rented house vividly, and there are some lovely descriptions, I liked in particular the parcel tape and your description of the MC's bedroom. It's all too real.
There are a lot of typos in it though, missed ends of words,.. 'my mother sentimental' would be one. 'frizzlelessly' is a fantastic word, but what does it mean?
At times I got a bit puzzled by some of the sentence structure, I knew what you were getting at, but if you were to write it more simply it would be much easier to read. I think the content of the story(s), is powerful enough to allow you to write it in a straighforward way.
It could be quite hard to sort out what is a good central theme for the story, but here you touch on several relationships but don't dwell on any for long. The kind of atmosphere you're working to evoke in the story would still be there if you had less in the way of different incidents. A single sentence, say the one about the packing tape on the window, by itself tells the reader an enormous amount. You have to trust that the reader 'gets it', and they will.
There's some really good material in here.

tamsinr at 00:27 on 26 April 2004  Report this post
Hi CP,

I cannot really add much to Becca's perceptive comments except to say that again I feel you have a talent for description, for evoking a place and that you should use this as a plan for a novel because it has too many themes without a narrative force to work as a short story. Give the character a central dilemma, however, or put a body under the floorboards, and you could weave these incidents into the plot and develop them.


halfwayharry at 22:08 on 26 April 2004  Report this post

I really enjoyed reading this. Picking up on the feedback that you have already had I feel that you are guilty of the same 'crime' as me. You tell the story rather than show it by using more dialogue.

Having said that I was caught up in it and curious about what was going to happen.

CP at 18:57 on 02 May 2004  Report this post
Thanks for the constructive feedback. Maybe it would have been helpful if I had explained what I was trying to achieve when I posted the work.
“The MC is still officially a minor when she decided that her perfectly normal home life is absolutely intolerable. Sometimes as a result of her choices and others because of circumstances, the MC moves 19 times only to find her 20th move takes her back to the home she left 12 or so years before. For the MC, the passing calendar years have no significance, but each place acts as a time marker and backdrop for her experiences.”

Therefore, I suppose I am ‘telling the stories’…my aim was to see if I could use different ‘houses’ as a means to set the scene for a light hearted look at the MC experiences. Hopefully (???) there is enough to keep the reader wanting to know what the MC’s next address will have install.

I hoped to take the reader back to remember their own experience and perhaps make them think about how quickly priorities change with circumstances. There is also the ‘where is home?’ question…
I like the idea of a dead body under the floorboard, but I think it is more likely to be a rotting fish…always a good trick when you’ve fallen out with the landlord - weeks after you have cashed your deposit they are still looking for the source of the smell!!!

The sentence structure problem is probably a result of me rambling without acknowledging it. Unfortunately, the ‘typos’ are harder to remedy - I am horribly dyslexic and whilst tools like spell check make it almost readable, it doesn’t find everything (and I read what it should say not what is written!) In the future I might see if I can find a patient friend to have a read through, but in the meantime here is the next chapter.

CP at 19:01 on 02 May 2004  Report this post
The next chapter is up if you are still interested!

Becca at 07:19 on 03 May 2004  Report this post
Hi again CP.
So is it a novel or a story?
I like the idea of using the houses as vehicles so to speak, but think maybe each different house experience could be identified by it's own peculiarities and other characters living there. It's quite a tough call. If you were able to bring out the essence of each house and how it was different from the last, it would be a good read.

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .