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At certain stages of my life, I’ve wanted to be something I wasn’t, i wanted to be a bass playing grunge goddess at one point, then, when i felt like i was the only human in a world of sheep, i wanted to dress in fur coats and wear metallic shoes, I was wrong about being the only human in a world of sheep, we are all humans, just very dull ones, who roam around, eat, sleep, make babies and eventually die. Now, i’m sure you’ve heard all of this self-indulgent crap before, but i’m just setting a mood, ok? My name is Ester, i’m 15 and never had a boyfriend, I like art, Lady Gaga and Eastenders. I don’t like… well, people.
I did have a friend once though, her name was Ella, she moved to my school half way through the year, I felt sorry for her more than anything, no one else would give her the time of day. She was pretty ordinary, which I liked, she had bark brown eyes and hair, skinny as hell and sometimes had waxy ears, but I never told her. One time she invited me over for a sleepover at hers. Recipe. For. Disaster. You see, I have a tendency to take things that aren’t mine, and the best part is, my dad doesn’t even care! He just laughs and calls me a ‘little magpie’
When I got to Ella’s house, it smelt like farts, which meant there were vegetables cooking, which meant we were having a roast, or something to that effect. Her wallpaper was a dirty looking mint green and there seamed to be newspapers everywhere! she didn’t have a dog thank god, I hate the dirty little rats! Then her mother sauntered in. Oh, Ella’s mother, where do I bloody start? A lank, lifeless, shell of a woman is the best description. She was pale, so pale, with sunken foggy green eyes, must have been in her late forties or early fifties, she had flecks of silver and white in her hair, which was the same dark brown as Ella’s and she wore a pair of faded boyfriend jeans with polka dot slippers, a cream knitted cardigan and a Little Miss Naughty T-shirt, which I doubt she was, she looked like she hadn’t left the house in months.
“Hi Ester.” she said with an empty smile. “It’s lovely to finally meet you.”
Now, this was weird as I had only known Ella for two weeks, so what could she have possibly have said to make her mother so eager to meet me
“It’s nice to meet you too” My voice was dry and squeaky. Oh God I hate it when that happens.
“Shall we go upstairs?” Ella suggested. she was so awkward, and it was rubbing off on me
“Yeah, sure.” I replied
“Tea will be in ten minuets girls, its Sunday roast.” Ella’s mum added, as she watched us until we got to the last step. As we sat in Ella’s cramped pink and white Hello Kitty room, I wanted to ask Ella what was wrong with her mum, why was she so…lifeless. but I stopped myself and said instead
“Your mum never told me her name”
“Gail” she replied sharply
I slipped a nice looking bow hair clip on the floor in my jeans pocket and We sat talking about school work and teachers for the next ten minuets, because our friendship was too premature for inside jokes and banter yet. I wanted to be at home really, by myself, where I was happiest. Gail called us down for tea. it was well… Sunday Roast. we chowed down, without talking to each other, obviously. Communication is so overrated. The one thing I did notice though, is that Ella and Gail, didn’t act like mother and daughter, but like they had never even met before. It was 9:00 and Gail came in to wish us both goodnight and Ella started to climb into bed.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked “It’s bedtime”
“Are you four or something? have you ever had a sleepover before?”
“Yes…I mean, well…um…No.”
“You’re meant to stay up until your eyes bleed!” Ella looked a little scared at this point.
“Joke!” I exclaimed
“Well, i’m really tired, sorry, how about we watch some films tomorrow?”
“Sure…” I said, holding back my frustration.
“….turn the light out will you?”
I flounced out of my sleeping bag, using my array of theatrics I have learned over the years and flicked the light switch
“Night.” She said
“Night.” I replied.
I laughed for the first time all night,I remember playing that game with my mum, she was much prettier than Gail. She died when I was seven.
I lay awake, I heard Gail saunter up to bed at 10 and…Oh my god. I can’t believe it! I didn’t notice, where was Ella’s dad? I was so used to a single parent family it had become normal to me, I wonder, did he leave? Did he die? Did he get mauled by a pack of rabid cats? No no, my brain doesn’t function properly around that time of night. He was probably away on business or something. before I knew it it was 1 in the morning and I was still wide awake. “F**k it” i thought, and got out of bed and ventured downstairs.
Stale, farty vegetables still filled the air and I nearly slipped several times on the old newspapers scattered, I thought the house looked nicer in the dark. I went into the magnolia living room which I had not seen yet, which was full of ornaments, magazines and junk, If they were going for a minimalism approach, they were out of luck. I rifled through all of the drawers in search of something worth having, I found a dusty tea set, a silver Christmas candle holder, an amethyst paperweight (Who even has those anymore?) and an obnoxious frog ornament. Next I crept into the dining room, where I found a small Yankee Candle, still unused, only downside was, it smelled like vomit from the seventh circle of hell, so I left it. I was about to look through their vast DVD collection when I heard a murmur, which stopped me in my tracks.
“Mark?” I froze like a rabbit in headlights.
“Mark, is that you?”
“Sh*t” I thought. My heart sank and I tried to find a place to hide, I hid behind a door.
It was Gail, she looked like Miss Havisham with her cream nighty, her hair ruffled, her eyes sunken into oblivion. she was about to give up and go back to bed, I started to feel some relief, until she caught my eye.
“Ester, why are you down here?” she sounded angry, but didn’t have enough energy to shout.
“Um…I..er…I couldn’t sleep” I replied sheepishly
“Get up off the floor.” I did as I was told
“Sit down Ester, please” I sat on the sofa and she sat across from me on the recliner chair.
“I’m really sorry I-”
“Its fine Ester, its fine”
We sat in silence for two minuets Finally she spoke.
“Mark is my husband, just so you know, he…he left not long ago. That’s why I am what you see now, a complete f*****g wreck. Pardon my French.”
“Its fine.” I said”He cheated” She continued “She was young, blued eyed, blonde, skinny, I lost him the moment he layed eyes on her”
“Well he’s an idiot then, if he chose her over his own wife”
She managed to crack a smile at that comment. I felt like I was having a conversation way beyond my years.
“So now, every bump in the night, every time the phone rings, every time there is a knock at the door, I think it’s him, because I can’t let go. isn’t that pathetic?”
“I don’t know what you want me to say.”It was at this point that she started sobbing.
“I don’t know why I’m here. What is the point of life, eh?”
I felt compelled to comfort her, so I moved over to where she was sitting and put my arm around her. Suddenly, she clutched me in a tight hug, which sent shivers down my spine, this is what I missed most about having a mum, the cuddles, so I sad with her until daylight came.
I decided it was time for me to go after that so at 6 in the morning I crept about getting my stuff as Ella slept, I came down the stairs to see Gail smiling, she thanked me for some reason and told me the front door was unlocked as she sauntered back into the kitchen. On my way out, I clocked a tenner on the table where the phone sits, and slipped it into my front pocket…