One fun thing about moving is that as you’re packing up your (ridiculous amounts of) stuff, you happen upon things you hadn’t remembered existed. The following is a story I wrote for English in year 10, for which I scored 100% (a mark which seems a little too enthusiastic – the story’s certainly not perfect – but still makes me happy nonetheless). With great difficulty – for one thing, this was written back in the day when I thought “a lot” was one word – I’ve refrained from editing it, so you can see my writing in its full, dramatic, 16-year-old glory. No, really: you’re welcome.
If I was ever asked to pick the worst day I’ve ever had, it wouldn’t be a hard decision for me.
My mum was a social woman, and if there was a club or group that she could possibly be part of, she was the president of it. She was known by everyone in town and if there was anyone in our neighbourhood who hadn’t been invited to one of our many famous barbecues, I’d be surprised.
My father didn’t seem to mind Mum’s get-togethers. He loved his barbecuing and would wander around everyone with his ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron on and listen to the talk about his perfect sausages with a smile on his face, looking like there was nothing in the world that would make him happier.
My sister, Anna, and I got used to having people at our house all the time – it became strange when there wasn’t anyone over!
Although we didn’t spend alot of time alone together, our family was close. Besides occasional arguments between Mum and Dad about the way Dad acted around Nina, our household was relatively fight-free and happy. Nina was Mum’s best friend, and the most frequent guest at our house. Nina’s daughter, Rachel, was my best friend, so I didn’t mind much. Nina was quite nice. She had been divorced for three years and tended to flirt a bit with Dad. Mum would laugh along with their playfulness, but her smiles were all put on. She would make some excuse about a meal in the oven or the kettle having boiled, walk out and often just stand outside the lounge room door with her face in her hands.
This particular Saturday evening was a typical one: Dad out at the barbecue chatting with Nina, Mum’s P&C friends mingling in our courtyard and Mum in the kitchen tossing a salad and making up some dressing. Rachel hadn’t come this time, so Anna and I were in the kitchen, picking at different foods and commenting on Mum’s guests.
“Oooh, Haley. Look at her! Man, if I ever get that fat you have to promise to tell me.”
“Anna, I think you’d figure it out for yourself once you couldn’t fit through doorways. WOW, look at her!”
“Girls, stop it. That’s awful! Anna! Get your fingers out of the salad. NOW!” Mum smacked Anna’s hand playfully and glanced out the window at her guests. Her eyes paused on Dad and Nina and the smile disappeared from her face. She cleared her throat and went back to her preparation of the foods. I watched her, not knowing whether to say anything.
The dinner went normally outside but instead of hanging around the adults. Laughing at stupid adult jokes, Anna and I went inside to clean up. Then the phone rang.
“Hello, this is Haley?”
“Hi Haley, it’s Rachel. How is the barbecue going?”
“It’s slowly drawing to a close. Why?”
“Oh, Mum promised she’d help me finish the painting in the spare room tonight. I was wondering when she’d be home. Can you just tell mum I called, and I’ll be really sad if she breaks her promise this time!”
“Sure, Rach. I’ll go find her now.”
“Thankyou. See you later.”
I put the phone down and went outside, but I couldn’t see Nina anywhere. This was surprising because Nina is hard to miss. She had curly blonde hair and was very tall. I usually spot her by standing on my tip-toes and looking for her head above the rest of the crowd. Tonight this was done in vain.
I wandered around the sitting people, but she wasn’t with them either. I found Mum and asked her if she’d seen Nina around anywhere. And looking around and realising that Dad was nowhere to be seen either, I understood the reason for Mum’s sudden panic. I watched her race inside, anger all over her face like a mask, and I followed her into the kitchen where she took a jug of cold water from the fridge and then stormed up the stairs.
Anna gave me a puzzled look and I stood next to her with my finger on my lips and pointed to the roof.
After a YELP! and alot of yelling from above us, Anna and I watched as Mum came down the stairs with the empty jug in her hand, and a triumphant look on her face. She marched past the two of us in the kitchen, slammed the jug into the sink, put her face in her hands and cried.
I closed the kitchen curtains to cut the view from the courtyard and then filled up the kettle to make Mum a cup of tea, while Anna held her and tried to calm her down.
Nina came down the stairs with Dad following, and I’m not a violent person but when I saw them I wanted to slap both of them.
I was completely shocked. For the 16 years I’d known my father I had always had a great amount of respect for him. In an hour, that night, every bit of respect I had for him was gone.
Dad slept on the lunge that night, He came into my room early the next morning to say goodbye, but I turned over in bed and pretended to snore. I heard him leave after about five minutes. I even smiled when I heard him sobbing outside my door.
I hope he went through every bit of hell that he put Mum, Anna and I through. I hope he often thinks about what we once had before he ruined it.
I never used to cry alot.
If I had to pick the worst day I’ve ever had, it would not be a hard decision for me.
It was the day Mum forgave my father and he moved back into our house.