FAO DEB, ANNE, IONEY and ANITA – SS3 Character Study

22 Feb

Ok, so for our group, I know we’re still trying to work out narrative before poetry at the moment, so I thought I’d do a rough prose character study of the voice of my piece in this situation we’ve started to create. I thought people could use it as they will for ideas and directions and ways to piece this mammoth together. . .

Alright so, we’ve just moved house, and it’s alright, it’s fine, it’s a new beginning, not too far from where we were but far enough. We can still visit dad but only if we get a lift off mum. She complains about this but I think it suits her down to the ground. The house is on an estate, on a hill off the main road and it’s just normal. It’s got four bedrooms, one for mum, one for my oldest sister, another for my other two sisters and the smallest for me. I didn’t like having the smallest room, there’s less space to play but mum made me a dream catcher out of wood and feathers she found on a walk by the canal and she hung it in my window and then sat by me on my bed. She told me, ‘that’ll keep the bad thoughts away. You’re the luckiest boy in the house now that’s there.’ I told her I was the only boy in the house and shrugged and then she hugged me for a bit too long.
We had a party with some family to celebrate or new house and our new life without dad, though he was there, for us I suppose – me and my sisters. We all sat in the kitchen, which is a bit gloomy – there’s this tree outside the window. It’s right in front of the kitchen and stretches up past mum’s room too. Mum keeps looking at it. I went to explore the garden and found some bits of old swing – a rotten wooden plank and some rope. I think it must have been attached to that tree at some point. I realise then that other people have lived in this house before us and I shudder, feeling alone and sad. I go back inside and watch TV.
You know when you get to that point in your life where you get to see your parents as people? I say ‘get to’ like it’s a good thing but I don’t think it is. It’s a revelation, but they were always better with the gold trim, do no wrong as long as they buy me stuff lining of parents without all the confusion of motives that adults don’t get rid of as they get older. Well, I got to this point much sooner than other people. In the old house, my room (which was much bigger than this one) overlooked the back yard, and sometimes I’d hear mum and dad talk. Sometimes they’d smoke. One night, I heard raised voices. I climbed out of bed, dragging my duvet with me and sat on the window seat in the big bay that looked onto the little yard below. I peeked through the curtains. That’s when I saw them break up. I was the first to know. It was a few days before they came clean and told us.
And see, I heard mum say then that dad was to keep the house and that she’d move, that she needed a release from memories. But still, she keeps staring out at that tree in the garden, the one that blocks the light, and she’s got that same sad look on her face, the one I noticed in between hearing the row and being told the inevitable news, sat beside my sisters on the sofa. It’s the same look. Which makes me think, why did we have to move? Nothing’s changed here.
I hear lots of things. They overlook me because I’m small and thin and young and a boy and they’re not and they’re all mixed up in their own worlds. I sit in Ioney’s room a lot, with a book or a gameboy. I sit on Deb’s bed, cause she isn’t here, she’s off at university doing writing or something. I know mum misses her but I think Ioney’s glad of the space. I sit in her room and she’ll say hello and then forget I’m there. She rings her friends and she talks about sex a lot. We’re not allowed to talk about sex in my house. Mum won’t hear a word of it. I think she’s trying to protect me but the thing is I think about sex so much more than if it was talked about. I know I’m too young but it’s taboo and it fascinates me. Anita’s even younger than Ioney and she had a miscarriage. Mum doesn’t think I know what this is and tells me that Anita’s just sad and misses dad but I know more than she knows I know. I read, and I listen and people don’t notice me.
I was out in the garden again this morning, looking at that old bit of wood. I had an idea. I went upstairs and knocked on mum’s door and asked if she’d help me build a swing on the tree in the garden. ‘There’s been one there before’ I said, ‘You can tell. And all we’d need is some wood and nails and maybe new rope.’ She looked at me dumbfounded and confused. I went to her window and threw the curtains apart and said, ‘Look! Look how big it is! Imagine the swing you could build.’ She looked at me again and without saying anything moved past me and downstairs. I followed to find her rummaging in the under-stair cupboard. She emerged with a big saw. ‘Where are you going with that?’ I asked.
Mum seems happier now the trees gone. She got rid of the old bit of wood and rope as well. She’s put a new kitchen in and now she’s painting the living room purple. I hate purple, but I don’t get a say because I’m too young. I don’t get a swing either. She seems happier though. I suppose I should be glad. I miss dad.

Any thoughts at all? I’d encourage you to have a go at this if you get a minute, it helped me put the group piece in a bit more perspective and see it as a collaboration

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One Response to “FAO DEB, ANNE, IONEY and ANITA – SS3 Character Study”

  1. Anne February 23, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    There’s a lot of stuff went on in that house that’s best left behind. So this new house may be smaller, tatty, but we can change that. If I dwell too much on those wasted years, I’m not going to be able to get on with the next ones. Best to put it behind me. The girls seem fine now, they pick themselves up after all. Women have to be strong, be fighters. That’s something I pass on to the girls, to be strong, to be soldiers! And Matty? He’s resilient, too clever for his own good sometimes, always playing the fool. He’ll be okay, boys have it easier anyway, there’ll always be someone to look out for him, but the girls? They need to be self reliant, like me. There isn’t a thing I can’t fix or mend in this house. This bloody house, with it’s grubby floors and tatty doors, over grown garden. What kind of people lived here before, to leave it in a state like this? God knows. He’s had a lot to answer lately, he’s stretched my faith to the limit, but in the end, without him, what do we have? The girls mock me I know, but he’s given me the strength to come this far. It was never meant to be easy. Sometimes I see Deborah give me that look, like she sees right through to my soul and Ioney, lingers as if something needs to be said… but I don’t have time for that. “Trust in Him,” I tell them. What more can we do? I was young like them, I’m not so old now! But life wears you down and more than that, you get to realise that all the strutting and the dancing and the singing and the joking gets you nowhere. I know too well. All those wasted years thinking everything was fine but feeling it was wrong. What took me so long? I’ve taken out that tree in the garden, it blocked out so much light, and it’s lifted my spirits! I didn’t even notice it until Matty mentioned how tall it was. He spends a lot of time sitting around, watching, listening to the goings on of his sisters. God knows how he’ll turn out! But it’s easier for boys.

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