Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Chapter 3

It came as quite a shock to the system, it really did. I didn’t see it coming. They made me not expect it. And it wasn’t just me. Phil said later that nobody would’ve thought it of my mum and dad because they were so steady and careful. We were the sort of family that just plods along quite nicely.
Mum and Dad had always been the quiet kind so I didn’t notice any atmospheres or anything like that to begin with. I say quiet, of course they talked to each other but mostly it was day to day things. It used to be nice, sitting in the kitchen listening to the same conversations coming round again. Comfortable. Like the way the front gate always squeaked, or the way Dad always wound his watch after tea.
You never used to hear a raised voice in our house. Even with me when I was little, I never needed a ticking off. Then when I was in the fourth year they started going out separately. They’d never gone out much before and when they did it was always together; parents’ evenings, the Christmas social with Dad’s work.
Dad was first. I don’t know for certain where he used to go, but he was out a lot, and he always took the car. Then Mum started going out to loads of church things. Just to get even, Dad said later.
Then the arguments started. Once Mum smashed all the plates in the house; just stood there smashing them on the floor, one after the other. Afterwards they sent me out for fish and chips.
Around then was the only time I ever heard Dad swear. They were arguing because Dad had come home late and left the cheese out of the fridge all night. Terrible the things he shouted at Mum. I went to my room and put a pillow over my head.
At the start of that really scorching summer things seemed to be getting better because they started going out together once a week. I thought they must be off somewhere nice because they always went out done up quite smart. It turned out later they were going down the Marriage Guidance.
One day towards the end of summer term I came home and found Mum in the lounge, having a bit of a cry. She told me Dad had left. Gone to Bristol with the Saturday girl, Elaine. Just like that. It knocked me for six to be honest. Out of the blue like that.
Nothing was the same after. One minute we didn’t know anybody who’d have that sort of thing happen, then suddenly we were those sort of people. Mum got herself a little job at the sorting office. She could’ve done better for herself really. A shop job or something.
All the way along nobody sat me down and explained anything. All the time things were going wrong I wanted there to be something I could do to fix things. I’ve tried not to dwell on it all. Doesn’t bear thinking about.