Okay. I didn't make time to do Kat's TicTocc challenge last week, I didn't even read it. But I felt guilty, so last night I had a look, decided I was too tired to bother, and promised myself I'd make an extra effort with this week's. But having (mis-)read the task, my brain summonned up this story, which I think is worth sharing. The brief was to write or paint about something unexpected turning up in a laundry basket. As you will see, I didn't quite do this. And although I did write the story in the allotted time of twenty minutes, I'd had plenty of time to think about it. But hey, today I can say I'm a rule-breaker, and embrace my inner-rebel. Hope you enjoy the outcome.
Out of the Undergrowth
It is, as my mother would say, a beautiful day for drying. I’m just hoping she’s going to notice, and say something nice, something appreciative when she gets home and sees that I’ve actually pegged it out for her. I want a lift into town later. Maybe she’ll be so pleased with me, she won’t moan. Usually it’s “Oh Celia, don’t you know how much petrol costs these days? Can’t you use your bike? Can’t Melanie’s parents pick you up?” And that old cliché, “Do you think I’m a bloody taxi service?” It’s so lame when she says that. I roll my eyes, and groan at her from behind my ironed fringe. But there will be none of that today, oh no. Today I will be top dog, the golden girl. I’ve even remembered to peg everything upside down, the way she likes, even though there’s no sane reason for this weird foible.
I am pegging the last thing, my brother’s rugby shirt, when sudden sound startles me. There is a rustle in the wilderness beyond the mowed lawn. I teeter forwards, and peer into the melee of overgrown privet and wild honeysuckle. Maybe it’s the cat. He has a nasty line in baby rabbits. I look for something to fend him off, so I can rescue this latest victim. But the lack of squealing means it’s probably too late.
“Marmalade, is that you?” I duck and weave, searching dark green for a hint of orange. Instead, my brother’s face bursts out of the undergrowth. I yelp and jump backwards, my heart hammering in alarm.
“Justin! What are you doing in there? Why aren’t you at work?”
“Shut-up Celia,” He hisses, his head darting this way and that. “Keep your bloody voice down, will you?” He moves forwards, still looking around, and I notice his shoulders are bare. His chest is bare. His waist is bare. I gawp, mouth hanging.
“Don’t just bloody-well stand there like that,” Justin squeaks, shooing me with his hand as though I'm an annoying fly. “Someone’ll see.”
“See what?” I recover some of my kid-sister attitude. “What are you doing in there anyway? Why aren’t you at work?”
“Why are you alive?” He retaliates, and then softens. “Celia, is Mum in?”
“She’s at work,” I shrug. He knows that.
“What about Dad? Is Dad here?”
“No.” I stuff my hands on my hips as though this was the most ridiculous question in the universe. Justin sighs.
“Thank god for that.”
My brother steps out of the bushes as naked as the day he was born. He covers his willy with his hands, and growls at me as though it were perfectly normal for him to appear from the bushes at this time of day, completely starkers. I look round for the hose pipe as he makes a run for the house, but I am too slow. Before I reach the tap, he has dashed inside.
There is a scream from indoors, and the sound of breaking crockery. I smirk. I should have told him really. But he was in such a hurry, he didn’t think to ask if Grandma was indoors.