I have a new brick. Bricks. Whoop-diddly-doo. Oh happy, happy me. Yes, well, you’ll see why I’m not over the moon when you get to the end of this. And I’m a bit (a lot) terrified as I’m writing so forgive me if I’m not as with-it as I normally am. Fear of the unknown does that to you.
In the end I didn’t have to go into the garden to get my brick because just as I was putting on my brassards and vambraces the phone rang. I let it go to the answerphone as usual but when I realised it was Lottie (my sister) droning on, I ran to pick up the receiver. I don’t ever do that, I can’t stand the cow, but at that moment she was the lesser of the two evils (garden? sister? garden? sister? – no contest, I know the dangers of my sister, I didn’t know what was out there in the garden) and if I could talk her into coming round to see me there was a slim chance of conning her into getting me a brick. I told her I was having a series of panic attacks (true). I told her I couldn’t cope any more (true). I told her I was going up onto the roof, a little white lie that she would have spotted if she ever bothered to listen to me – I CAN’T GO OUT OF THE HOUSE, YOU THICK BINT, HOW I AM GOING TO GET ONTO THE ROOF?
Anyway, she came. And, although she said she wouldn’t, she brought THE BERSERKERS with her. I was taking off my chain mail when I heard them coming down the front path (they only live two streets away) and I had another panic attack at the sound of them, during which one of the chain mail rings got caught on my earring and almost ripped it out of my lobe.
Knock, knock, knock at the door.
Bang, bang, bang on the door.
‘I said I’m coming.’
‘Stop it, you’re going to kick the panel in!’
‘Come on, Auntie Dotty, we’re cold. It’s snowing again. Let us in.’ Fucking hooligans.
‘I will in a minute, girls, I need a wee.’
I dropped the chain mail where I stood then ran upstairs and had a lie down on the bathroom floor. Why had she brought them? She KNOWS I can’t cope with their screeching and bawling and their devious antics, why bring them round when her reason for being here was to keep me away from the roof? What sort of mother puts their children through the trauma of watching their auntie fling herself to her death? I should ring Social Services and get the brats taken off her, mental cruelty is just as bad as the other sort. I checked my earlobe for blood. There wasn’t any, no thanks to Lottie. I could hear her shouting ‘Dotty, answer the door or we’re going home.’ Typical Lottie, leave me here to kill myself then, that’ll prove to everyone what a heartless cow you REALLY are, not Saint Lottie the Saviour, Saint Lottie the Good Sister, you’re Saint Lottie the BITCH who won’t lift a finger to keep her own sister alive, fuck off home then and take your delinquent spawn with you.
Then I remembered why she had really come. My brick. I went into my bedroom and opened the window. Lottie and THE BERSERKERS looked up at me. Lottie shouted, ‘Oh god, she’s serious. Come here, girls, don’t look. Dotty, please don’t climb out.’
Dim cow. I threw the front door keys down to her. ‘Let yourself in. I’ll be down in a minute.’
INTERLUDE – (Are interludes allowed in blog posts? Hmm.)
Twenty minutes later and THE BERSERKERS had dried off and warmed up and were sitting in front of my telly waiting for Casualty to come on, blowing bubbles into their cups of milk. Their soggy hats and mittens were steaming on the radiator, stinking out the room. It was odd to see them sitting still and being quiet. Unnerving.
Lottie and I were on the sofa and all the things that had previously been on the sofa, organised in neat piles, were now on the floor, unorganised in messy heaps. She had no consideration or respect for my collections. She looked at me with that disapproving sister-shrivelling face of hers as the Casualty tune started up. ‘Dotty, the girls are too young to watch this. Can I put a DVD on for them?’
‘I’ve just bought the third series of Dexter. Have they seen it yet?’
‘Why are you being like this? You asked us to come round.’
I hadn’t got my brick yet so I thought it wise not to say I’d only asked HER to come round so I said, ‘Sorry. It’s been a really bad day.’
She asked what had happened and I told her about the local teenagers vandalising all the gardens in the area, writing rude words on the garden sheds, stealing forks and spades and bricks and windchimes and gnomes, hanging all the neighbourhood cats from washing lines, putting petrol bombs in the compost heaps.
‘Stop lying, Dotty. Why did you really want me to come?’
Before I could think of a plausible answer that would get me my brick, THE BERSERKERS started whispering to each other. They both put their cups down on the floor and looked round at me and Lottie. I did that thing with my fingers and eyes – I’m. Watching. You. – and they started giggling. One of them jumped up and, fast as a fly, got up on my lap and clamped her pudgy little arms around my neck. She smelled like marshmallows. I tried to look round her to see what the other one was doing but this one’s stupid curls were too big and bouncy and she was wriggling like a big worm, kissing me all over my face, and I only caught a glimpse of the other one’s socks as she crawled towards my extensive, catalogued DVD collection. Why? What was she going to do? I couldn’t get away from the arms and the lips and the curls and the smell and – ‘GET IT OFF ME,’ I shouted.
‘Get Shrek,’ the one that was on me shouted.
‘NOOOO!!!.’ The little witches! Not my Limited Edition Director’s Cut Shrek with silver edging round the case and Extra Features that aren’t on the plebby version. NOBODY touches that, not even ME.
I heard the crash of my DVD stacks toppling over. THE BERSERKER that was on me leapt off and skipped over to where her sister was kneeling in the carnage, rooting through my films. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe.
Finally Lottie said in her controlled, sing-song I’m-a-textbook-mother-but-I-haven’t-reached-the-How-To-Control-My-Kids-Chapter voice, ‘Be careful, girls. Try not to mess up Auntie Dotty’s DVDs.’
TRY NOT TO MESS UP AUNTIE DOTTY’S DVDS? TRY NOT TO MESS THEM UP?
My heart was beating faster than a rapper on speed. Panic attack coming on. I took four beta-blockers out of my beta-blocker pocket and ate them and just as I swallowed the last one THE BERSERKERS suddenly screamed and screamed, screams more horrible than the screams of spiralling angels, chill screams of terror and fright, and they were back on the sofa clinging onto Lottie, sobbing, before that last sour pill had gone down my throat.
I looked at the DVD carnage. In the middle of it, on top of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? was a big mean beast of a spider, the biggest, blackest, hairiest, ugliest fucker I’d ever seen. Its legs were thick and meaty. It’s body was the size of an orange. A Jaffa. I could see its eyes. And its fangs. It was looking at us. I screamed and yanked my feet up onto the sofa. All the while Lottie was saying ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ until the littlest BERSERKER sobbed out ‘Big thpider,’ and pointed to where it was waiting. ‘Wow,’ went Lottie, ‘that is a big one. Stop crying, girls, it won’t hurt you, it’s more frightened of you than you are of it.’
I knew she was stupid but not that stupid. At that moment I felt sorry for THE BERSERKERS, a rare occurence, but I’ll admit it wasn’t the first time I’d pitied them for having Lottie as their mother.
‘Let me up and I’ll catch it,’ she said. She untangled herself and THE BERSERKERS wrapped themselves around ME instead while she went off into the kitchen.
‘Don’t you dare use my cup. Or my glass. Or anything.’
‘What can I use then?’
‘A BRICK. Go and get a brick. Three bricks. Hurry up, it’s getting ready to run.’
She came back with a tea towel, an empty bean tin and the front of an old Crunchy Nut Cornflakes box I was saving for … something useful. Quick as a flash, she threw the teatowel over the spider and waited with the tin and the front of the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes box (at this point I’d have been smashing the thing with a sweeping brush) until it showed one of its legs, like a Can-Can dancer from behind a stage curtain, and then she had it in the tin and went to the door and released it to breed more huge monsters just like it that would lie in wait for me in my garden. Where my bricks are.
ANOTHER INTERLUDE – (Tough-titty if interludes are just for plays, they aren’t any more, I’ve liberated them)
My Limited Edition Director’s Cut Shrek was on the telly and THE BERSERKERS were curled up on the sofa, asleep. No, I didn’t melt at the sight of them, I was just glad they were unconscious. My DVD collection was stacked up again, neatly but not in order. My earlobe was still throbbing and I felt a bit woozy from all the stress. The impossibility of getting a new brick was fogging my thoughts, a pea-souper of futility and hopelessness.
‘Wayne’s coming here after work to collect us. I rang him when you went to the loo,’ Lottie said.
‘Why didn’t you tell me you wanted a brick?’
‘What? I don’t know.’ Could it be because you’re a patronising cow and you’d have given me yet another lecture about how I could stop being this way if I really put my mind to it?
‘Where are they?’
‘Where are the bricks?’
‘Round the parsnip bed. I was about to go and get one when you rang.’
Then she did something that completely gobsmacked me. She went out into the garden, into the snow, and I watched from the window as she dug up the brick edging around the parsnip bed. Then she went into my shed and found some log roll that I didn’t know I had and she set it all round the parsnip bed, no gaps. THEN she scrubbed and hosed the 14 bricks she’d dug up and put them to dry on my kitchen floor on some old towels she found at the back of the airing cupboard. And when Wayne arrived and they’d wrapped THE BERSERKERS in my fleecey blankets and carried them, still sleeping, into the car, and Lottie came back and hugged me before I could leap away from her and whispered, ‘Dear dead Daddy needed his bricks, too, Dotty. Do you remember?’ I managed to stay stoic, I don’t know how, but I did.
After they’d gone and I’d shut and locked and bolted the front door, I picked up my chain mail, my brassards, my vambraces and the rest of my armour and took it all upstairs. And then I laid on my bed and cried until morning came.
I’m frightened. Because of my sister being nice to me I have enough bricks to last me for ages AND the parsnips remain securely detained in their bed. But WHY was she nice to me? What is she concocting? Is she going to have me sectioned again? Or try and make me get rid of my collections? She’s up to something bad, I know it. It’s all turned out worse than I thought it would. And better. But I don’t know what to think about the better, it’s unnatural, unknown for Lottie to show any understanding, there has to be an ulterior motive behind her niceness.
I am VERY frightened.