Out at sea

Anna is a young girl who suffers from the loss of her father out at sea. She tries to cope with everyday life: helping her single mother and younger brother Benji to make the most of life, though it all gets too much. With the stress and anxiety of moving schools, Anna is anything but fine. Her long trips up to the beach are tiring, but they're worth it when she gets to look out and imagine her Dad beside her. But everything seems to result in tears, and Anna realises she's stayed strong for too long.


4. Dreams

I walk hand in hand with Benji in the moonlight as we walk back to the car. His messy blonde hair is scruffy and wet with sweat: he must have been terrified. I'm so glad he is ok though, allowed to be let out of hospital as he only had minor concussion, with no need of doctors help. I slide into the backseat of the car, Benji following behind me. We're silent, although Mum is humming quietely to herself. I want to just scream at her and tell her she shouldn't have left me alone with him at the start, but I know I'm lucky to have him here now anyway, and so I know it's going too far to go that little bit further and make a fuss.

"You ok back there?" My mother asks in a flat tone, and I tell her I am, whilst Benji nods. She turns the key, the engine awakening, and we set off, my Mother's hands firm on the wheel. She had walked all the way back home in order to get the car, so that Benji wouldn't have to walk home too. I think it's sweet of her, but I still feel like she's done the wrong thing. She's just gone out on her first date after Dad's death and she goes and gets drunk. And thinking about it, it may not be her first. You call that responsible? I don't think so. She is not setting Benji a good example, and I'm worried that his future will be stained.

When we pull up at the house, I immediately get out with Benji, the darkness wrapping around us like a blanket, but I notice my Mother stays silent and still, staring into space. I unlock the door with my key, letting Benji run inside and go to the toilet, and I leave the door on the latch, walking over to the kitchen counter to put down the keys and grab a snack. Still, 10 minutes later, I look through the window now streaked with tears, and see her still sitting there in the car, in the rain. She looks tired, worn out, so I slip on my welly boots and head out there.

It's freezing outside, and I somehow didn't notice it so much earlier, when I got out of the car. The rain is heavy, seeping down into my T-shirt, and my hands are wet. I walk over to the side of the car, and Mum doesn't seem to notice me until I pull open the door and she jumps in fright.

"Come inside," I say softly, tugging slightly at her sleeve. And she does.

I yawn and realise I should probably get some sleep, especially considering I have school tomorrow. Gently picking up Benji who has fallen asleep on the couch, I carry him up the stairs and tuck him into bed. Kissing him on the forehead and saying goodnight, I shut the door to his room behind me and walk over to my room to get changed for bed. Dressed in my pyjama top and shorts, I quietly slip down the stairs as to not wake Benji up. I hear a clink as glass meets wood, and turn to see my Mum by the kitchen table with a bottle resting on it, her hand still clutching the bottle tightly. The top cupboard overhead is open, revealing stacks over stacks of vodka bottles. Shivers rush down my spine. I innitially went down to suggest that she gets some sleep- but seeing this I rush back up the stairs, and tell myself I never saw it.

That night I think about how everything has changed. How only two months ago, Dad was here, tucking me into bed every night and stroking my hair until I fell asleep. Mum never does that, she never had. I miss that warm goodbye every night, and someone to be there pushing open my door in the morning to help wake me up. Mum never does that. She makes me put my alarm on. I liked the way Dad would wait at the dining room table with a newspaper, just when I'd be getting home from school, so he could be the first to say hello. Mum never does that either. She hides upstairs and probably wishes I never did come home. I hate her for that. She seems like she doesn't care. Maybe she does? But she doesn't show it, and that just makes me want Dad back even more. He'd sing me a lullaby every night, and just like that, my eyes would fall dreamily into sleep...


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