Ada stared at the gathering darkness beneath her bed, a miserable clump of black that seemed to cloak the objects underneath. With a sigh, she forced herself and stretched for the old torch on her table. It was ancient and the light flickered constantly, but it was still useful. She made a mental note to herself: stop putting things underneath the bed.
Turning the torch on, the juddering light illuminated underneath the wooden frame supporting her mattress. The way the yellow scared away the black reminded Ada of bats flapping away at the sight of something. A small smile played on her lips as she slid her self a little underneath. With one hand tight on the torch, she used the other to feel. Broken toys refusing to work, ripped books with pages missing and torn spines and, aha! The Rule Book.
Wiggling herself from out underneath, she flicked off the torch and turned on the light next to her bed side. A soft glow crawled along the walls, weak and feeble, but just enough to see the scribbled words tattooed onto the pages.
The Rule Book announced Ada quietly to herself, stroking the leather fabric on the front page, and opening the book up.
RULE NUMBER 1: Do not be hypocritical.
RULE BROKEN: Mama told me that eating all the crisps in the cupboard was naughty. The next day, I watched her eat all the crisps in the cupboard, all the chocolate bars and drink all the beer. After I asked her what she was doing, she said that she was a little hungry and proceeded to munch on some Salt and Vinegar Pringles.
Ada smiled a little more. She remembered her stomach growling as Mama had shoved her face with every single packet of crisps in the cupboard. When Ada had ate all the packets, there was three in there. When Mama ate all the packets, there was nineteen plus three tubes of Pringles.
RULE NUMBER 2: Do not inflict pain purposely.
RULE BROKEN: Mama slapped me today after I said I was too busy writing to fetch her some more beer. I asked her if her hand slipped accidentally and she said that it was purposeful and that my pain made her smile. Afterwards, I got her the beer and went to put some frozen peas on my cheek.
Ada rubbed her left cheek softly, remembering the purple bruise that had occurred the day after. She swore there was still a faint blue tinge, but it was probably her mind tricking her. Mama said that Ada's mind was messed up, and so it was probably just that.
RULE NUMBER 3: Do not be violent.
RULE BROKEN: Mama got annoyed that her favourite person on Strictly Come Dancing was voted out. She heaved herself up, smashed the five beer bottles on the table, chucked several cushions at the TV, flipped over the table, then hit me twice. Once on the arm and once on my cheek. I was told to clean up the glass as she yelled swear words at the top of her lungs and smashed the mirror too.
Ada's toes, tucked beneath the duvet, curled at this memory. There was still a fragment of glass buried in the skin of her third toe and she'd sometimes get a shock of pain when she walked. Her arm was bright red when Mama had hit her, and she could still feel the burning sensation. With a shudder, Ada looked at the next rule.
RULE NUMBER 4: Do not stereotype.
RULE BROKEN: Mama saw some boys walking past the window. They had these gold chains around their necks and their trousers so low, you could see their red underwear. Mama started acting ridiculous, putting on a low voice and pretending she was dumb and taking drugs. She also said that they were irresponsible, stupid, infantile boys that were part of some drug-dealing gang and had guns in their pockets.
Mama also tended to put on Indian accents, Russian accents and Essex accents when certain people appeared on TV. Ada remembered laughing and being told off for finding it funny.
RULE NUMBER 5: Do not do anything against the law.
RULE BROKEN: Mama told me the story of how she hacked the lock to a barn with her friends and all took 'magic mushrooms'. She said that they then stole some beer from a local shop and was arrested by the police. They were bailed out by their mothers and weren't allowed out ever again.
Mama had pulled a fist at the last line when she said it, and Ada could tell she hated that she was never allowed out again. Although, Ada had presumed she had snuck out several times and had never been caught afterwards.
RULE NUMBER 6: Do not be selfish.
RULE BROKEN: Every day.
Ada could not remember a single day when Mama had not been selfish. Whether it be that she got the last burger or she could not be bothered to pass Ada the pencil right next to her hand because she was too lazy, there was always someway she would be selfish. It seemed to have grown to be Mama's iconic trait.
RULE NUMBER 7: Do not be obscene.
RULE BROKEN: Mama decided it was too hot so she took all of her clothes off and lay on the couch stark naked. Unfortunately, she decided it was too hot every single summer day.
The postman had decided to drop off a parcel one day and nearly fainted when Mama opened the door with no clothes on. He had to cover his eyes and wave the box in the air until Mama snatched it off him, then ran away, shuddering with every step. She had complained, saying that her body was natural and beautiful, but Ada didn't agree. The constant beer and crisps were having a dramatic effect on Mama's weight. She had to roll off the couch, drop onto her knees and haul herself up with a loud grunt. That is the rare time she actually shifted herself from the couch.
RULE NUMBER 8: Do not lie.
Ada hesitated. So far, Mama had lied a lot. Yet there didn't seem anything so catastrophically horrific that would top all the other lies. Not just yet anyways. Ada knew where that lie was hidden. Not in the charcoal shadows or gliding along the wind like she wished they would be. It seemed so poetic and beautiful for a lie to be hidden somewhere like that. However the lie was behind closed doors, literally.
In Mama's room, shoved against the dirt-stained beige walls, was the cupboard. Just not any normal cupboard full of clothes. Oh no, this was too special for such measly things like tops or trousers. This kept the biggest secret ever.
This was the crying cupboard.