Deep

Evie doesn't know it yet, but she's a Banshee. A Siren. A lady of the theoretic water. A curse was cast on her ancestors hundred of years ago, passing down from generation to generation which can only be cured by sacrificing true love.

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2. The Bradleys

   I moped down the stairs in a melancholic rhythm as the warming aroma of toast floated up from the kitchen along with a familiar clutter of conversa

   I moped down the stairs in a melancholic rhythm as the warming aroma of toast floated up from the kitchen along with a familiar clutter of conversation. 

So there is life on this planet after all. 

   The Bradley’s live in a pretty average four-bed, semi in the suburbs of Horne, South Yorkshire.  The house is post World War II with creaks on every other floorboard but something about this place feels sturdy and reliable, a feeling I hadn’t realised I had begun to miss.  The ceilings are tall and the walls are solid and decorated with anaglyptic wallpaper in shades of beige and cream, the odd feature wall or chimney breast hung with a leafy pattern of pale greens and browns or painted a bold, statement colour like purple or black.  The house was garnished with sticks and vases, oak photo frames and candles, not cluttered but lived in.  I studied the picture frames descending the staircase wall, filled with unfamiliar, youthful faces until I stop at Michaels picture in the second from last frame.   The last frame was empty.

They can try…..

I rolled my eyes with a smile.  Ever since I had set foot in this house, Audrey and Scott have been tripping over themselves to make my feel welcome.  It was lovely, but I just wanted to be treated like a normal teenager.  That’s what my life was missing right now, normality.

I thought back to my first night here.  Scott had picked me up from the train station and we had driven in near silence through the suburban network of tree lined roads as dusk swept across the horizon. 

   Evie, this is Michael, he’s been with us for…eighteen months is it now?  Say ‘hello’ Michael.”  

Scott likes to answer his own questions, I thought as Michael and I stared significantly at each other.  I held my own, fixing my face in the cold, emotionless expression that comes so naturally to teenagers, like it’s something they have to learn when they turn thirteen, Michael did the same.  He was tall, taller than I, and skinnier than my too.  He had an ‘adam’s apple’ that looked more like a grapefruit.  His black hair was short and spikey.  He wore jeans about a thousand sizes too big and a black hoody with his hands pulling his pockets forwards, disfiguring his clothing.  He could have been twelve, he could  have been twenty two.

   As Scott ushered me past Michael - who stood in the doorframe leading the front hall into the living room - through the living room and into the kitchen,  Michael gave the signal, a minuscule lop sided half smile that only the trained eye could see.  The sign of teen acceptance.    I returned the sign.

 

“How old is he?  Michael?”  I asked Scott.

 

“He’s fourteen, he goes to the local secondary school with Austyn.  You’ll meet her soon.”

 

I looked up at Scott as he guided me onto the tiled floor, he was handsome, for an old person.  His dark hair was flecked with grey but his moustache was pure black, his skin was that lovely olive tone although it was on the weathered side.   His shoulders were broad, his chest defined.  His smile was bright and natural, very charming.  His face lit up as he lay eyes on the woman who stood with her head in the fridge.

 

 

“And you know Audrey…Audrey?”

“Oh!”  She cried as Scott crept up behind her to grab her waist.  “Scott, you made me jump you…sorry dear,” she  turned to face me, “it’s wonderful  to see you again, love.”   Audrey stood nervously fingering a tea towel.  Her amber eyes were wide and her smile a little too happy, but she was making an effort.

 

“You too.”  I replied.

 

“You know, this isn’t the first impression we wanted to give you of our home, woman in the kitchen while the man runs the errands.  You usually wear the apron in our house don’t you darling?”  She giggled as she slapped Scott on the behind with the towel.  I watched as the ‘happy couple’ danced around each other in the petite kitchen, wondering how long the  ‘show’ would last.

 

“That’s right, now leave me to it while you show Evie to her bedroom.  I’ll carry your cases up later on.”  Scott winked.

 

As they turned to leave, Scott tensed his muscles into a body builder pose and grunted.  I smiled as Audrey led my back into the hallway.

 

They stood outside a closed door on the upstairs landing.  A white, unthreatening, inoffensive, wooden door.  Audrey seemed quietly excited about showing me my new room.  I tried to imagine what was behind the door, pink frills, satanic shrines, I’d seen it all.  Opening this door and seeing the room inside would give me  a pretty good idea of life in the Bradley House.  They might try really hard to be young, too hard, and plaster my walls with posters and flags and teenage paraphernalia or they might be half arsed with tired, recycled décor from the last foster child to pass though.

“Well,” Audrey said with bubbling anticipation, “let’s get you settled in, love.”  I smiled hesitantly up at those eager, amber eyes.

 

Interfering.  She’s going to be interfering.  Damn it.

 

My smile never faltered.   Audrey removed a ribbon from her wrist which was tied to a key and she unlocked the door.

 

“Now,” She started as I peered inside “we don’t know what colours you like so we painted the walls white, I hope you don’t mind.”

 

I turned slowly, taking in the whole room.  There was a small, double bed pushed up against the right hand side of the wall with a TV hanging over the foot on a bracket and some shelves mounted on the wall underneath. 

 

There was a window directly opposite the door with wooden blinds and a chest of white drawers underneath.

 

In the left hand corner of the room, along side the door was a tall, white wardrobe, facing the bed, next to that was another chest of drawers and then a door.

“What’s through there?”  I had asked with hopeful curiosity.

 

“That’s your en suite.”

 

“En suite? Seriously?”  I asked as I walked over to the door.

 

“Well, there’s a toilet, a sink and a small shower, but it will certainly do.”

 

“Ah no way!”  I said as I stuck my head around the doorframe.

 

“So, is this OK?  I know it’s weird sleeping in a strange house.”

 

“No.  It’s brilliant, thank you.  It’s really lovely.”

 

“The furniture is all new.  So are the blinds, and we had the carpet cleaned.  The bathroom has been steamed and sterilised.”

 

I sat on my new bed, bouncing on the mattress and put my glasses on the chest.

 

“As for the rules,”

 

Rules?

 

“We don’t have many. We know you’re a young adult, and we respect your privacy, we really just ask that you respect ours, our home, and the people that live here.  You’ll have a key to lock your door, but so will we.  If we ever knock the door when you’re supposed to be in the house, and you don’t reply, we will use the key to check in.”

 

I smile to myself as I stand barefoot on the thick, fawn carpet.  I hadn’t slept at all that first night.  My second foster home in two years.  Eight weeks later and I was still ‘adjusting’, getting used to those little, ambient noises that become amplified in the silence of the night.  The rustling of the trees outside my window.  The glugging of the drains in my en suite.  Audrey’s snoring.  Austyn’s screams as the nightmares take hold of her, night after night. 

 

  I dropped from the tall first step, onto the wooden, hallway floor and turned back on myself as I followed the waft of toast to the kitchen at the back of the house.

 

   “You look nice.”  Audrey said suggestively as she stifled a grin. 

 

   Nice.  Great.  That’s exactly the look I was going for.  I scowled discreetly.

 

I had spent two hours the night before choosing an outfit that said both ‘please ignore me’, and ‘I don’t care about your opinion’.  Defence is the best form of attack.  Tight grey jeans, a black ‘v neck’ jumper and a white ‘T’ underneath.  I  completed the ensemble with a pair of black pumps.

 

  “Toast?”  Audrey asked.  My tummy said ‘yes, please God yes’ but I just scrunched my nose in disapproval. 

 

   “Jeez, cheer up!”  Michael said and I ignored him, loudly. 

 

   “I don’t suppose you heard anything…weird last night did you?”  I asked as I hopped up onto a stool next to Michael at the Breakfast Bar.  I directed my question to Audrey who stood against the kitchen counter with a mug off coffee in one hand and a half eaten slice of toast in the other.

 

   “Only you putting a load in the washing machine.  Now that was weird.” 

 

   Hilarious.

 

   “I think I sleepwalked.”  I said with a sense of distance, or detachment in my voice as I thought about my dream, and how I woke up.

 

   “Oh?”  Audrey asked, not too concerned.

 

    “Mmm.”  I replied with equal enthusiasm.  I shot a glance at Michael who seemed to be highly amused at my very existence this morning.  A smile, teetering on the edge.

 “And I spilled water on my bed this morning so I er, chucked my sheets in the wash.”

 

Michael scoffed and nearly sprayed his toast all over I.  I frowned in disgust, but he was obviously too entertained to care.

 

   “You mean you pissed yourself?”

 

   “How old are you again?”  I asked my foster brother, questioning his fourteen years. He swallowed the rest of his laughter and shook his head at me. 

 

   “Come on you two.”  Audrey said as I pottered over the sink. 

 

Great input.

 

“Are you sure I can’t persuade you to have some toast Darlin’?”  I spared my a smile and just said “I had some cereal earlier.”  I hadn’t.  Whilst I craved normality, I couldn’t deny the physical manifestation of my emotional imbalance.  I craved normality.  I craved hunger.  I craved pain. 

 

  Michael caught I’s gaze and his eyes held a tone of unbelieving.  The harshness was gone, replaced by concern but sooner than let my realise that he did care for my, Michael turned away and stalked off into the living room.  I hadn’t been living thee for long, and I am older than him, but Michael seems to have taken on a role of older brother, he worries about me.

 

   “Excited?”

 

   “Hmm?”  I turned back to face Audrey.

 

   “Excited about your first day?” 

 

I smiled.    “It’s not like my first day at school.  It’s Sixth Form.”

 

   “Yeah well, it’s something new, lot’s of new people to meet.  You get to wear your own clothes today, that’s, cool.”  I said ‘cool’ as though I was allergic to the word. 

 

   I nodded unenthusiastically and slid my glasses up the bridge of my nose. 

 

   “Yup.” 

 

      As the house fell into post breakfast chaos, I grabbed my bag and headed out the front door, across the cul de sac  and out onto the high street toward Chestnut Park, the shortcut from their house to Horne Sixth Form.  I shuffled along the dampened tarmac path which was fringed with loose, wet grass, fresh from a recent mow. I opened my lungs to the clean air surrounding my and the scent of rain lingered from the night.  A soothing chill tiptoed past, a welcome change from the thick summer atmosphere from the months before.  I indulged in these little pleasures to disguise the nagging doubt infiltrating my mind.

tion. 

So there is life on this planet after all. 

   The Bradley’s live in a pretty average four-bed, semi in the suburbs of Horne, South Yorkshire.  The house is post World War II with creaks on every other floorboard but something about this place feels sturdy and reliable, a feeling I hadn’t realised I had begun to miss.  The ceilings are tall and the walls are solid and decorated with anaglyptic wallpaper in shades of beige and cream, the odd feature wall or chimney breast hung with a leafy pattern of pale greens and browns or painted a bold, statement colour like purple or black.  The house was garnished with sticks and vases, oak photo frames and candles, not cluttered but lived in.  I studied the picture frames descending the staircase wall, filled with unfamiliar, youthful faces until I stop at Michaels picture in the second from last frame.   The last frame was empty.

They can try…..

I rolled my eyes with a smile.  Ever since I had set foot in this house, Audrey and Scott have been tripping over themselves to make my feel welcome.  It was lovely, but I just wanted to be treated like a normal teenager.  That’s what my life was missing right now, normality.

I thought back to my first night here.  Scott had picked me up from the train station and we had driven in near silence through the suburban network of tree lined roads as dusk swept across the horizon. 

   Evie, this is Michael, he’s been with us for…eighteen months is it now?  Say ‘hello’ Michael.”  

Scott likes to answer his own questions, I thought as Michael and I stared significantly at each other.  I held my own, fixing my face in the cold, emotionless expression that comes so naturally to teenagers, like it’s something they have to learn when they turn thirteen, Michael did the same.  He was tall, taller than I, and skinnier than my too.  He had an ‘adam’s apple’ that looked more like a grapefruit.  His black hair was short and spikey.  He wore jeans about a thousand sizes too big and a black hoody with his hands pulling his pockets forwards, disfiguring his clothing.  He could have been twelve, he could  have been twenty two.

   As Scott ushered me past Michael - who stood in the doorframe leading the front hall into the living room - through the living room and into the kitchen,  Michael gave the signal, a minuscule lop sided half smile that only the trained eye could see.  The sign of teen acceptance.    I returned the sign.

 

“How old is he?  Michael?”  I asked Scott.

 

“He’s fourteen, he goes to the local secondary school with Austyn.  You’ll meet her soon.”

 

I looked up at Scott as he guided me onto the tiled floor, he was handsome, for an old person.  His dark hair was flecked with grey but his moustache was pure black, his skin was that lovely olive tone although it was on the weathered side.   His shoulders were broad, his chest defined.  His smile was bright and natural, very charming.  His face lit up as he lay eyes on the woman who stood with her head in the fridge.

 

 

“And you know Audrey…Audrey?”

“Oh!”  She cried as Scott crept up behind her to grab her waist.  “Scott, you made me jump you…sorry dear,” she  turned to face me, “it’s wonderful  to see you again, love.”   Audrey stood nervously fingering a tea towel.  Her amber eyes were wide and her smile a little too happy, but she was making an effort.

 

“You too.”  I replied.

 

“You know, this isn’t the first impression we wanted to give you of our home, woman in the kitchen while the man runs the errands.  You usually wear the apron in our house don’t you darling?”  She giggled as she slapped Scott on the behind with the towel.  I watched as the ‘happy couple’ danced around each other in the petite kitchen, wondering how long the  ‘show’ would last.

 

“That’s right, now leave me to it while you show Evie to her bedroom.  I’ll carry your cases up later on.”  Scott winked.

 

As they turned to leave, Scott tensed his muscles into a body builder pose and grunted.  I smiled as Audrey led my back into the hallway.

 

They stood outside a closed door on the upstairs landing.  A white, unthreatening, inoffensive, wooden door.  Audrey seemed quietly excited about showing me my new room.  I tried to imagine what was behind the door, pink frills, satanic shrines, I’d seen it all.  Opening this door and seeing the room inside would give me  a pretty good idea of life in the Bradley House.  They might try really hard to be young, too hard, and plaster my walls with posters and flags and teenage paraphernalia or they might be half arsed with tired, recycled décor from the last foster child to pass though.

“Well,” Audrey said with bubbling anticipation, “let’s get you settled in, love.”  I smiled hesitantly up at those eager, amber eyes.

 

Interfering.  She’s going to be interfering.  Damn it.

 

My smile never faltered.   Audrey removed a ribbon from her wrist which was tied to a key and she unlocked the door.

 

“Now,” She started as I peered inside “we don’t know what colours you like so we painted the walls white, I hope you don’t mind.”

 

I turned slowly, taking in the whole room.  There was a small, double bed pushed up against the right hand side of the wall with a TV hanging over the foot on a bracket and some shelves mounted on the wall underneath. 

 

There was a window directly opposite the door with wooden blinds and a chest of white drawers underneath.

 

In the left hand corner of the room, along side the door was a tall, white wardrobe, facing the bed, next to that was another chest of drawers and then a door.

“What’s through there?”  I had asked with hopeful curiosity.

 

“That’s your en suite.”

 

“En suite? Seriously?”  I asked as I walked over to the door.

 

“Well, there’s a toilet, a sink and a small shower, but it will certainly do.”

 

“Ah no way!”  I said as I stuck my head around the doorframe.

 

“So, is this OK?  I know it’s weird sleeping in a strange house.”

 

“No.  It’s brilliant, thank you.  It’s really lovely.”

 

“The furniture is all new.  So are the blinds, and we had the carpet cleaned.  The bathroom has been steamed and sterilised.”

 

I sat on my new bed, bouncing on the mattress and put my glasses on the chest.

 

“As for the rules,”

 

Rules?

 

“We don’t have many. We know you’re a young adult, and we respect your privacy, we really just ask that you respect ours, our home, and the people that live here.  You’ll have a key to lock your door, but so will we.  If we ever knock the door when you’re supposed to be in the house, and you don’t reply, we will use the key to check in.”

 

I smile to myself as I stand barefoot on the thick, fawn carpet.  I hadn’t slept at all that first night.  My second foster home in two years.  Eight weeks later and I was still ‘adjusting’, getting used to those little, ambient noises that become amplified in the silence of the night.  The rustling of the trees outside my window.  The glugging of the drains in my en suite.  Audrey’s snoring.  Austyn’s screams as the nightmares take hold of her, night after night. 

 

  I dropped from the tall first step, onto the wooden, hallway floor and turned back on myself as I followed the waft of toast to the kitchen at the back of the house.

 

   “You look nice.”  Audrey said suggestively as she stifled a grin. 

 

   Nice.  Great.  That’s exactly the look I was going for.  I scowled discreetly.

 

I had spent two hours the night before choosing an outfit that said both ‘please ignore me’, and ‘I don’t care about your opinion’.  Defence is the best form of attack.  Tight grey jeans, a black ‘v neck’ jumper and a white ‘T’ underneath.  I  completed the ensemble with a pair of black pumps.

 

  “Toast?”  Audrey asked.  My tummy said ‘yes, please God yes’ but I just scrunched my nose in disapproval. 

 

   “Jeez, cheer up!”  Michael said and I ignored him, loudly. 

 

   “I don’t suppose you heard anything…weird last night did you?”  I asked as I hopped up onto a stool next to Michael at the Breakfast Bar.  I directed my question to Audrey who stood against the kitchen counter with a mug off coffee in one hand and a half eaten slice of toast in the other.

 

   “Only you putting a load in the washing machine.  Now that was weird.” 

 

   Hilarious.

 

   “I think I sleepwalked.”  I said with a sense of distance, or detachment in my voice as I thought about my dream, and how I woke up.

 

   “Oh?”  Audrey asked, not too concerned.

 

    “Mmm.”  I replied with equal enthusiasm.  I shot a glance at Michael who seemed to be highly amused at my very existence this morning.  A smile, teetering on the edge.

 “And I spilled water on my bed this morning so I er, chucked my sheets in the wash.”

 

Michael scoffed and nearly sprayed his toast all over I.  I frowned in disgust, but he was obviously too entertained to care.

 

   “You mean you pissed yourself?”

 

   “How old are you again?”  I asked my foster brother, questioning his fourteen years. He swallowed the rest of his laughter and shook his head at me. 

 

   “Come on you two.”  Audrey said as I pottered over the sink. 

 

Great input.

 

“Are you sure I can’t persuade you to have some toast Darlin’?”  I spared my a smile and just said “I had some cereal earlier.”  I hadn’t.  Whilst I craved normality, I couldn’t deny the physical manifestation of my emotional imbalance.  I craved normality.  I craved hunger.  I craved pain. 

 

  Michael caught I’s gaze and his eyes held a tone of unbelieving.  The harshness was gone, replaced by concern but sooner than let my realise that he did care for my, Michael turned away and stalked off into the living room.  I hadn’t been living thee for long, and I am older than him, but Michael seems to have taken on a role of older brother, he worries about me.

 

   “Excited?”

 

   “Hmm?”  I turned back to face Audrey.

 

   “Excited about your first day?” 

 

I smiled.    “It’s not like my first day at school.  It’s Sixth Form.”

 

   “Yeah well, it’s something new, lot’s of new people to meet.  You get to wear your own clothes today, that’s, cool.”  I said ‘cool’ as though I was allergic to the word. 

 

   I nodded unenthusiastically and slid my glasses up the bridge of my nose. 

 

   “Yup.” 

 

      As the house fell into post breakfast chaos, I grabbed my bag and headed out the front door, across the cul de sac  and out onto the high street toward Chestnut Park, the shortcut from their house to Horne Sixth Form.  I shuffled along the dampened tarmac path which was fringed with loose, wet grass, fresh from a recent mow. I opened my lungs to the clean air surrounding my and the scent of rain lingered from the night.  A soothing chill tiptoed past, a welcome change from the thick summer atmosphere from the months before.  I indulged in these little pleasures to disguise the nagging doubt infiltrating my mind.

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