Caged

Careful Jessica.
Those words, the same ones I get told whatever I do. I know that it's only because she worries about me... But it doesn't change the fact that I hate those words with a passion.


***


Jessica has always been told to be careful, ever since her Dad disappeared the night she was born, when all he was doing was driving to the hospital. She understands it was bound to make her Mum cautious and paranoid...
But when you cage an animal it only makes it more determined to escape...

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2. Did I mention I hate Mondays?

My alarm beeps angrily at me from my bedside table, a fierce reminder of what today is. Monday. I open my eyes a crack, glaring at the offensive object as best I can through my sleep ridden eyes. Blinking a little, I reach over and slam down hard on the button labelled STOP, and collapse back against my pillows. Seven-thirty, the dial reads in an innocent green light as it finally shuts up. At night I'm wide awake, unable to settle for hours and simply staring at my ceiling or just laying there waiting for sleep to roll over me, but as soon as the morning light hits... I'm exhausted, bleary eyed and wishing for a few more hours in bed. I debate with myself what would happen if I simply stayed in bed for longer, but in the end I drag myself upright and, while I still have the willpower, step out of the warmth of my duvet and into the cold room of mine. I try not to look back at the tempting dent in my pillow where my head has been resting that night, and keep my momentum going on through to the bathroom. 

What if I simply skived school today? I only have P.E. and a few other unimportant lessons... If I remember correctly, we even have a sub teacher for Geography third lesson. I run through a load of reasons in my head as to why I should not go school today. Namely; I don't have any tests, I hate school and I clearly have period pains. Of course all of these reasons would be unacceptable reasons to ring in with, and I give up when I know that I already used period pains as an excuse last Monday when I had P.E. and asked if I could sit out. 

I stare at my reflection in the mirror as I brush my teeth in the bathroom. My face peers out at me, cracked lips, heavy eye lids and a tangle on my head which my Mother somehow calls hair. I rinse my mouth, and stick my tongue out at the reflection, grinning a little as I throw the cold water on my face. It feels good, in a painfully refreshing way anyway. After that I pull a brush through my hair, giving up when I have managed to get rid of most of the knots (the rest I give up on) before pulling it up into a bun instead so it's out of my way for now. This has been my bathroom routine for as long as I can remember. 

"Face, hair, teeth." My mum used to say these were the essentials in the morning, anything after that was an extra, an added bonus for the world if you like. A light sweep of foundation, a dusting of powder and a tiny amount of mascara is my extra effort. That little bonus that the world will probably never notice, but if it does one day I'm ready.

The uniform I pull on is the same as always too, freshly washed and pressed by my Mum. I blush slightly at this. I have tried to explain to mum before that most sixteen year old teenagers are capable of ironing their own things by now, but she doesn't want to hear it. People who visit my house always glare at me and say I should help out more around the home when they see how much mum does for me. I always flush red and mumble how I wish I could, but I'm not allowed. In an effort to make myself look better I once tried to make a cup of tea for my mum and and her friend Jackie when they came home from shopping together one day. I spilt water all over the cabinet and knocked the mugs, which I had filled precariously close to the top, which cause the boiling tea to slop over as well. I could of gotten away with it... If I hadn't used her best tea towel to wipe it up with. 

"It has tea in it's name! It's supposed to be for this!" I yelled when she came in and asked what the Hell I was doing. She told me it would stain, and I said of course it wouldn't... They were made for this, she simply snatched it out of my hand and threw it straight in the wash. Later on that week I saw the towel again. A great big dark brown stain in the centre covering the rose pattern. 

I shake my head as I pile my books into my bag for that day to clear the memory which randomly struck me. Heading downstairs, I spot my toast and tea waiting for me on the dining room table.

"Morning Mum." I call in the direction of the off tune singing in the kitchen. 

"Morning Jess love." She replies, before enquiring how I slept. 

"Pretty good." I lie, I can't be bothered reliving how long I stay up to, I'd only get a lecture from her anyway. She appears in the door frame of the kitchen, her hair in it's usual clasp and in her pink top that she wears when she is going out to the shops that day. I study her facial expression over the top of my mug which I'm currently taking a big gulp from. "How about you?" I ask tentatively, eyeing the tired eyes which match my own. She grins briefly, not reaching her eyes and leans against the frame now.

"I think were both terrible liars and should just admit that we stayed awake too late last night." she laughs, raising her eyebrows at me when I attempt to deny it.

"Alright... I was up till gone one, you?" I laugh along with her as she says two.

The time seems to go too quick before my Mum grabs her car keys and announces it's time for us to leave now. 

As we sit down in the car and she starts up the engine, I wonder why she insists on driving me everyday to wherever I need to be. She hates driving, that's clear to see by her vice grip on the wheel and the way she crawls along the roads at less than thirty, even though were in a forty zone. I guess it's because Dad disappeared when he was alone, and she would rather risk painful memories of dad through driving, than risk not knowing where I go too. The weather outside is cold today, I can see that much through the people I spot walking towards their destinations wrapped up in coats and by the parents who wait for buses with their children looking wrapped up and snug, complete with scarves and gloves. It's not so cold as it's frozen yet, the car windscreens prove this, but it's cold enough that you feel a chill and rub your hands together to try and generate heat for yourself. 

We pull into the school drop off area, and I open the door, allowing the air to blow in and all the warmth to leave. As I grab my bag and clamber out, mum calls me back.

"Be Careful Jessica."
Those words, the same ones I get told whatever I do. I know that it's only because she worries about me... But it doesn't change the fact that I hate those words with a passion.

I can't explain this to Mum though, she only says it because she loves me and worries. So instead I nod, wave goodbye and step out into the school ground and the scent of the cigarette smoke from the corner. 

Did I mention I hate Mondays?

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