Deep things are revealed.
I awoke when the sun was high in the sky and my shutters ripped open by my father.
‘Rise and shine my beautiful daughter. I have decided that you will go shopping with Chris next week but your grandmother is coming over. Is is also a b-e-a-utiful day because.’ He paused with his arms spread wide, ‘Drumroll please.’ I half heartedly patted my duvet in a drumroll. ‘General Mosebush, the swine, has been placed in Hotiz. Thank you. Thank you. I would like to thank you all my family for all their continued support and belief in me.’ He dabbed a few imaginary tears from his eyes. I threw him a dirty look.
‘Are you kidding?’ He shook his head.
‘Nope not kidding.’
The doorbell rang as I was putting all my things from breakfast away. Jane snatched them from my grasp.
‘Get upstairs. Now! Mary will get you changed.’ I nodded and ran up. Grandmother was a really big critique on what I wore and looked like. Even in private. She and my mother did not really get on well. Mother did not care if I looked presentable from time to time.
Mary pulled me into my room.
‘Okay. Okay. Okay. Lets see. Bad hair day. No time for a shower. No time to curl.’ She was running her hands through her hair. Jane came running in looking frantic.
‘Milkmaid braids. Anything. Quick quick!’ I stood in the middle of my room as they faffed around plaiting and then pinning my hair into place, putting clothes up in front of my pjs. Once my hair was done I turned towards the door. Mary was heating up the curling iron she had recently bought for some reason. Chris poked his head around the door. He flashed me a quick smile and handed me a newspaper.
‘Might want to read it later.’ He whispered. I nodded and placed it on my bed and forgot about it. Jane picked out finally a white shirt with a matching white cardigan and a mustard yellow skirt and a pair of wedge shoes. It was an okay outfit for a summers day and seeing the queen.
I was rushed down the cold stone stairs and into the living room below. My grandmother was sat with my back to me looking closely at Chris who looked slightly uncomfortable. I hoped to come in unnoticed but my father always had sharp eyes and had spotted me.
‘Taylor! Your grandmother is here!’ He said loudly. I gave a small sigh and straightened my posture. I had not seen my grandmother in months and she had changed so much. She was thinner, much thinner. You could see her cheekbones sticking out sharply against her face. Her lips were thinner than ever and her eyes sunken into her face with her hawk like nose becoming even more prominent.
‘Taylor.’ She rose gracefully off the sofa and towards me. She gave me an boney embrace which I returned. Chris gave me a small smile. The moment she pulled back I flashed her a dazzling smile.
‘How are you grandmother?’ I asked. My father nodded approvingly. He had been drilling it into me for years.
‘Oh. Well. I have been better and I am very tired the flight took a lot out of me. Anthony if I may borrow a room for a day or two that would be most kind.’ My father nodded.
‘I’ll show you the way.’ He left helping my grandmother up the stairs. I sat down on the edge of the sofa beside Chris.
‘What happened?’ I whispered.
‘Demeter was caught up in a rebellion from the Generals men. It shook her very badly. There is also was no food getting in or out of the country for weeks. The economy ground to a halt. She was of course blamed for the whole thing. There is a lot of stress on her.’ I sat back and looked around.
‘It is so unfair. Why can’t the world get on?’ Chris put an arm around me as I leaned into him being careful of my arm which had started to throb again.
‘Because the world does not work that way. It has good things and bad things and a mixture of both. If the scales of a country are unbalanced then everybody suffer.’ Chris helped me up when Father declared it was lunchtime as my grandmother rested.
Jane slammed the food down in front of me.
‘Sorry.’ She muttered.
‘It’s okay.’ I said back before realising my mistake. I clapped a hand to my mouth. Demeter glanced at me with her tired eyes.
‘Is everything okay Taylor?’ I nodded.
‘Yes. Everything is fine thank you grandmother.’ She gave me a worn smile and turned back to her son. Chris took my hand under the table and slipped a piece of paper into it. I felt the sharp edge cutting into my palm as I gripped it tightly. Mary went around collecting up the soup plates once we were done.
‘So Taylor. How is school?’ A male voice asked me. I glanced up to the speaker; It was my father.
‘Um. School is great. I am going into year eleven and starting my GCSE’s next year. Dad said he would let me stay a William James until sixth form and then I can choose where I will go.’ Titus butted his way into the conversation.
‘What are your GCSE’s?’ I felt confused. We had spoken about this when Chris had “died”.
‘History, triple science, french, music and graphics. With Maths and English literature and Language as well. Can’t get out of that one.’ He laughed.
‘Well. I must admit you can speak French very well. Along with Russian and German.’ I smiled in thanks.
I went up to bed very tired and craving sleep. But I had to read the note. Chris had gone for a walk outside. It was still light despite it being ten thirty. I unfolded the note and read Chris's long and thin writing.
“Come to the rose garden as soon as possible.” As much as I trusted Chris something was off. I grabbed my gun from my bedside table and placed it in the waistband of my skirt.
The rose garden was something my father had put up just after I was born as a present to my mother. Of course she despised it and demanded diamonds and sapphires. Dad had kept it in good condition though. It was right at the back of the garden. You had to walk through there to get to the orchard and from there into the open fields. Chris was sat on a bench which the climbing roses were covering. He stood up once he saw me.
‘What are you doing?’ I blurted out.
‘I wanted to tell you something private.’
‘Okay.’ I sat down on the bench. The barrel of my gun pushing into my thigh. He took a deep breath in of the scented air and exhaled. ‘Can this wait?’ He shook his head.
‘It can’t wait. Okay I am just going to come out and say this-’
‘Are you going to tell me you are gay?’ I asked feeling a shot of panic flood my veins.
‘What? No! Your dad knows about what happened with your mother.’ The anger that over rode my brain scared me a little.
‘You told him!’ I said as calmly as possible knowing it would infuriate him.
‘No! I would never!’ I got up off the bench.
‘So. My grandmother was right. I can’t trust anyone. Not even my best friend.’ I walked off feeling bad that I had said that but then the anger was still burning through my veins.’ Chris caught up with me.
‘You need to hit something. I know of a 24/7 gym. Come on.’ He lead me towards the path that lead around to the garage where he kept the mini.
I got into the passengers seat. I had my gun in my hands turning it over. Taking off the safety catch, putting it back on, taking it off. Chris put his hands over mine.
‘I am sorry. I never told your father. Your mother told him before she left. It was one of the reasons she left him. She never wanted a child.’ I felt my whole world turn and flip over. I was an accident. Never meant to be. Unwanted. I felt a prickle of tears on my cheeks.
‘I need time to think.’ I said taking some shaky breaths. The back of my throat was burning as I breathed. He nodded and turned the keys in the ignition. He always kept his car keys on him “Just in case” so he said.
We drove for the best part of an hour. I just sat there until we pulled into the carpark. The manager was at the desk. Chris flashed his royal card at him and we were ushered into a booth. I put on the ear protectors and aimed my gun at the piece of paper on the wall.
‘Aim carefully. And pull the trigger.’ Chris muttered. I nodded and followed his instructions. I felt such a release as the bullet exploded from the barrel of my gun. The manager looked impressed.
‘How old are you?’
‘I turned sixteen a couple of days back. I also am not meant to know how to shoot a gun.’ He looked at me closely.
‘Who are you? You look familiar. Two over here has talked a lot about you.’ I glanced at Chris.
‘He really does care about you you know.’
‘I am princess of Ethelburgesa. Only I don’t want to. I just want to be plain, simple Taylor who lives a normal life.’ The manager did not even bat an eyelid at who I really was.
‘We can’t always have what we want. I wanted to be rich and famous. I now just own a 24/7 shooting range and gym.’
‘But a princess is shooting here.’ Chris pointed out. He shrugged.
‘I am ignoring that fact. I just see a girl who is shooting a gun. Someone no different to me on the inside.’ I fired again. I kept my hands steady, my feet firmly planted and fired the third bullet. Nothing was getting rid of my anger, Chris put a hand on my shoulder.
‘You need to hit or break something. Do you still have the punch bag?’ The manager nodded.
‘Ladies training things as well.’ I got changed in the changing rooms ignoring all the women there staring at me. I had just come out of a dinner party with my hair all done up. The training clothes were grey and light. The shoes however were too big. I went out carrying them.
‘Too big. Do you have a three?’ The manager shook his head.
‘I’ll just put out lots of mats. Lets go.’ He lead me down to a fully equipped gym. There was loads of people running on treadmills, on bike machines, lifting weights and so on. A singular punch bag was hanging in the middle of the room.
‘Joe. Do you need help with the mats?’ Chris asked. Joe, the manager shook his head. He was lifting mats and placing the on the floor.
‘I’m good. I’m good.’ He grunted.
Once all the mats were out where Joe wanted them. Chris wound material around my hands.
‘Go get them tiger.’ He muttered. I walked over to the punch bag. I imagined all the people who I hated in the world and put their faces on it. I mainly saw my father. I punch the bag hard. I kept punching until I felt all the anger drain away and I felt exhaustion. My hair had come down and was in my face. I realised that the thudding of people running on the treadmills and cycling machines had stopped. I brushed my hair out of my eyes. They were all stood staring at me. I took a curtsy.
‘Thank you.’ And walked over to Chris who was holding two cups of coffee. He handed one to me.
‘That was amazing!’ I smiled.
‘Sorry for snapping at you. I was so angry.’
‘I know how you felt. Joe was going to give you a machine gun but I persuaded him to let you punch something. You had to break something. Thats the worst thing about pain. It demands to be felt until you punch it in the balls.’
‘Pains not a guy.’ I pointed out. Chris stopped looking philosophical.
‘It is called personification. Now I need to get you home before your father realises that you are gone and puts the police on red alert.’ I laughed and took a sip of my coffee. I felt some energy flow back into my tired limbs.