Red Ivy

Red like the autumn leaves, fiery like the summer sun, orange as a fire blaze, sparkly, interesting, fun

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3. Jay

 

Over the years, I would wait by our wrought iron gate for hours, looking down the dirt track, waiting to see my Dad walking up that lane to find me. But he never did.

Later on that terrible day that my Dad just disappeared, we discovered that all his clothes were gone save a couple of shirts. India was gone from the field and while Mother reassured me that he would be back soon, I knew better. All those afternoons spent in the field with India and him had taught me that my Dad had had enough, and who could blame him? At the young, tender age of seven, I could not tell you what my future would hold, what with my Mother being an alcoholic and all. How I survived I cannot say but I had to age before my time, that’s for sure.

Snatches of the time I got to spend with my Mother were rare and she never really spoke to me. I had to grow up and learn to cook for myself, wash my own clothes and skip out on the ironing part. I don’t even think we owned an iron.

My Mother was having a hard time without my Dad and I’m surprised that no social workers came to take me away with my Mother’s background. She had an impossibly large amount of boyfriend’s after my Dad even though we both knew her heart still belonged to my Dad. All of her boyfriend’s hated me, one of the two things they all had in common. The other was that none of them could get through my Mother’s cold, hard exterior. She flirted like mad with all of them and slept with them to top it off but never could she like them long enough for them to stay more than a month, tops.

Then, when I was ten, my Mother got pregnant with a baby girl. I was devastated. I could barely look after myself, let alone a baby. Of course, Mother would never have been able to look after my little sister, neither would I, if Jay hadn’t come along. He was funny, kind and genuinely seemed to like me even though he was sometimes a little over the top.

But Jay cared for my Mother, loved her, and that was all she needed even though she didn’t love him. When my little sister was born he treated her like she was his own daughter even though Mother didn’t even know who her Dad was, she had shagged so many men in the last month before she became pregnant. My poor little sister, Gerry. She would never have survived without Jay.

Mother seemed happier, more relaxed, as Gerry got older and Jay showed no signs of leaving. She started to talk about their wedding and all too soon, the day came where I had to put on an ivory silk bridesmaid dress and put a wreath of the palest pink roses in my hair. I looked almost pretty and smiled at my reflection. I went through to Mother to find her giggling in her room with a load of her old friends. At the sight of them I shrank back into the shadows until my Mother spotted me.

She waved me over to her, giving me a very perfume-y hug, whispering into my ear that I looked beautiful. I blushed. It took a lot of effort to get a compliment like that out of my Mother. I stepped back to see that she had tears in her eyes. I felt like we connected for a moment there until one of her friends shrieked at her not to cry. They advanced on her all at once and she disappeared from my line of view.

I walked down the hallway to Gerry’s room where she sat in her armchair. It was time to dress her. I took her out of her all-in-one pyjama suit and changed her nappy, making sure that she didn’t smell. I had grown quite fond of my baby sister and I was sure we’d be good friends as adults.

Slipping her into the same dress as mine, I noticed she had nail makes down her arms. I wondered who had done it since Gerry’s nails were far too tiny and weak to make scars like that. I certainly wasn’t me, I would have noticed if I did something like that. I couldn’t have been Jay, he always bit his nails right down to the white part. That left only one option: Mother. She certainly had long enough nails for that. But why?

I forgot about it as the day progressed. The time came for Mother to climb into the limousine with her friends. I was to sit in the corner with Gerry and to pretend that I didn’t exist. This suited me just fine because I did not want to have anything to do with my Mother and her dirty-minded friends. They all talked about how many men they had shagged in a month and teased my Mother for not even having shagged one. She blushed a crimson red and promised she would soon. I did not like the sound of that.

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