Powerhouse

Chiquititta Elodie Circe (11) lives in a lean-to in Kensington, Philadelphia in 1929, soon to meet her best friend Domino Sayer (7) who grew up with no left foot and autism. Both of them, with their annoying habitats and always-at-each-other mums, living in Philly has never been more difficult. And what will bring it all to an end.

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1. baby Aimee

Marlow bowed her head over her full-figured stomach, her face blank like a wax-built dummy in a drug store window selling extra handbags or Sunday bests. The walls were a seedy red-yellow, wasting away. The windows were screened with water stains and dirt. Nurse Montana had mother under her thumb, driving her mad as a March hare. Lory and Jen had their faces hidden behind their long woolen jumper sleeves, afraid of something.
"Is she going to be alright?" Mother scowled rather impatiently at Nurse Montana. Nurse Montana coughed into her wristwatch.
"You are driving me out of the building. I've told you one hundred times, Ms Circe will be fine. You stop your worrying and sit down before you bruise yourself."
"Don't tell me what to do nurse. She's my daughter, I deserve to know what's going on."
Nurse Montana stuck a gloved finger up at mother with such disrespect.
"If you don't shut that mouth of yours the bloody belfry will crumble and you'll pay the expenses. Now sit down. Be quiet or else I'll whip you til you do."
Nurse Montana grinned a flash of yellow before patting Marlow's back and breathing with her.
This was Marlow's fifth baby. I hid behind Lory's knee, holding a bunch of her dress in my fist. I'd been to every other one of Marlow's births, not one as horrifying as this. I cowered into Lory's back-knee, pressing my nose deep into her skin. She slapped me around the neck I think because it hurt her.
Marlow screamed, the veins in her neck hiked up to her jawline started appearing in the well-lit room. Mother was in her calf-length church skirt and dad's sports coat with the missing button, leaning over, trying to comfort Marlow.  
The baby weighed 3.7 and cried so loud my ears went numb with the sound of it.
Jen picked me up from beneath my arms which hurt a bit but I didn't care. She took me over to Marlow and I kissed the baby on the eye, trying to get it on the cheek but Jen shifted in her slippers and socks.

 

 

"Pick up this mess. Marlow tell Eric to pick up his mess and Lory, take Aimee to her basinette." Mother flicked a matchbox car off the kitchen table and called everyone to the table. "I've made your favourite."
"What's my favourite?"

Mother's eyes twinkled.
"Tomato soup. Honestly Domino, if I have to keep reminding you..."
"I was just making sure. Ah! Don't eat cookies before dinner."
"But I'll eat tomato soup..."
"Don't eat cookies before dinner, Domino. You know the rules and I'm sick of reminding you. Eric, pick up your mess."
"Naaaannaaa!"  Eric screeched.
"Now, or I'll tell mummy - Marlow?"
Marlow came in, scuffing her naked feet along the floor.
"Why are you upsetting Nanna, Eric." 
"Sorry Nanna." Eric made a face and pulled on his ears.
"Don't do that, Eric. Where's Aimee mum?"
"She's sleeping in the upstairs room. Lory put her down for a nap."
"No worries." Marlow looked for the clock with the roman numerals I couldn't read. Mother huffed.
"Is Oscar joining us for tea?"
"He said he would come."
"Mummy! Mummy! I've broken my toe!"
Marlow rolled her eyes at Jesse who was crying through each little scream.
"Let's have a look."
While Marlow was feeling Jesse's pink little piggy, Oscar walked through the door.
"Where's my princess?" He called. Marlow shouted.
"In here! You haven't broken your toe Jesse."
"Will it need to be am-mm-ent-at-zed-d."
"You mean amputated?"
Jesse gave a little boy cry.
"No, Jesse. Set the table for Nanna, you'll be fine." 
Oscar threw a briefcase on the dining and kissed Marlow full on the lips.
"Smells great, Nanna. What'd ya make?"
"Tomato soup."
"Aaah," Oscar grinned through a blonde rhombus moustache. "My favourite."
He and I had that in common.
"Domino!" Oscar threw his hairy spider arms at me. His sleeves were rolled above his elbows like a secretary working a night shift. His chin was covered in black stubble and bright red pimples. "How's my favourite sister-in-law?"
"Thanks!" Jen scolded with her hands on her hip. She kissed Oscar's left hand stubble.
"C'mon!" Oscar shouted. "You're all my favourites. You especially."
He grabbed Marlow around the waist and hugged her tight.
"Save the lovey-dovey and let's bowl some soup." Mother laughed.
 

Dinner brought up many fascinating conversation subjects. But tonight was pretty tame.
"That nurse was a bitch."
"Nanna!" Marlow shouted. "Don't talk like that in front of the children."
Mother shrugged an apologetic shrug. "Sorry Eric, Aimee, Jesse, Domino, Arthur, Evelyn, Kenneth..."
"Don't be cheeky." Marlow giggled.

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