Well, everyone is hiding something, don’t you think?
Everyone has at least one dark secret buried somewhere in their psyche. It helps to tell someone though doesn’t it, but telling a psychologist may just land me in prison, so I’ll just tell you my little bundle of joy. After all I did all this for you. The home I’d always dreamed of. 24 Cherry Tree Lane, even the address is perfect. But it wasn’t always like this. I still clearly remember the day our luck changed for the better.
It was a cold morning when I awoke on the concrete floor, the hessian bag providing little comfort, my back aching and stiff. The smell of paint and turpentine was overpowering. It irritated and burned my throat. It’s funny how the previous evening I hadn’t even noticed it, my body, so tired, so exhausted from all that running, that all I wanted to do was sleep.
Splinters of sunlight filtered through holes in the roof of the shed, exposing air laden with dust, just floating, hovering. That’s how I felt too, just floating about in life. I pulled myself up to a sitting position.
A new movement jolted me into reality. The shapeshifting mound beneath my fingers reminded me of the life growing within me. Yes, you, my baby. I was desperate. I knew things had to change. I was sick of this life, sick of running.
I looked around me. Tins of paint, gardening equipment, ladders, furniture stacked everywhere. I was startled when I stood up and caught sight of my reflection in a bevelled mirror, part of an antique dresser that had seen better days. It was cracked across the middle so my face looked kind of splintered. I couldn’t believe how dirty and dishevelled I looked and those dreadlocks!
All of a sudden, I was swamped with a fierce desire to see them go. That’s when I spied the secateurs. I picked them up and struggled to pull the blades apart, looking in the mirror as I cut the dreadlocks off. Well, it was more like rip. I grimaced as I pulled them across the blade. The dreadlocks fell to the ground, the remnants of my old life. I scratched at the tufts of what was left on my head- it looked weird but it felt so good.
I remembered what happened the day before, unzipped my backpack and pulled out the blue handbag. Oh, she had no idea. The good Samaritan thinking she was being helpful, giving me a lift. I’m surprised she pulled over what with my dreadlocks and all, but it’s amazing what people do when they see someone pregnant. Sure, she’d be a bit rattled but she should’ve known better than to leave her handbag on the back seat. Besides, I needed the money more than she did – fifty dollars is better than nothing. I emptied the contents of the handbag, a rosary, a handkerchief, a chequebook. Who carried a chequebook these days? Still it could prove useful, the licence was there with a signature. And even another twenty dollars folded neatly inside the licence holder. I scratched at my head again- how’d I’d kill for a hot shower somewhere.
‘Who’s there? Who’s in the shed?’ someone yelled outside. I froze. ‘Bloody possums, bloody possums…’
I moved gingerly to a crack in the wall and spied an old man tapping at the shed with his walking stick. ‘Bloody possums in the shed, Marg. Marg don’t worry, I’ll deal with ‘em. I’ll get them out…bloody pests, Marg.’ Where was Marg? He continued, talking out loud to himself it seemed, tapping things with his walking stick, ever so slowly making his way back to the house.
Gingerly I pushed open the shed door. The yard was an overgrown nightmare but there amongst it all were fruit trees. I picked at the overripe purple plums I could reach – it didn’t matter they had lumps or cracks or grubs- the glorious golden sweetness exploded in my mouth.
That’s when the idea hit me. Here was our chance, a chance for a new life for the both of us. Perhaps the old man had no-one. Maybe he lived alone, a widower. Surely a loving family wouldn’t have him live in a mess like this. I snuck up for a closer look through the windows of the house. Such squalor. He won’t mind a bit of company and well …old people die, don’t they? Of all sorts of things?
I washed my face at the outside tap, walked around to the front door and knocked very loudly, ‘Hello, it’s Marg!’
And the rest, well the rest is history as they say. Hush little baby don’t say a word…