Have you seen this girl ?- On the night bus 9 – part 2


and apologies to anyone who was waiting for the second section of this story, it’s taken a little while to pull it together

There’ll be a list she thinks, probably a chart, maps, color coding, there’s always been a fucking list and even as she thinks about it, thinks about her mother and her bloody lists, her hands curl into fists and she lights another cigarette, smokes it defiantly with the windows closed.

Jasmine knows that what she is doing is cruel, beyond cruel and knows that she can fix it with a simple phone call, but the longer this goes on, the harder it is to simply pick up the phone.

Every morning, she wakes up, determined that today she will do it and every day some memory of home and her mother and the lists and the planning and the organising, surfaces and she doesn’t make the call.

Jasmine remembers her childhood, school timetable on fridge, color coded by her mother so that PE kit, cooking equipment, violin were never forgotten. She can see the family calendar, blue for her brother, pink for her, green for Dad, lists of Brownies, Scouts, music lessons, ballet, Karate, over-time and darts matches. Each one of them reduced to a series of coloured blocks, a catologue of busyness.

Her brother, her father simply bowed down to the tyranny of the lists, put their dirty washing in the separate baskets ready for washing on Tuesdays, stripped their beds on Fridays, hung up their ironed clothes on Wednesday nights.

Her brother tidied his bedroom on Saturday afternoons, having dropped his Karate suit into the special wash basket reserved for sporting kit and then collected his football kit, clean, ironed on Sunday mornings.

Her father washed the car on Sundays, consulted the home maintenance, gardening and DIY lists according to the season, month and day and plans his free time accordingly.

Jasmine fought against it, tiny rebellions, dropped her shoes, unpaired, in the porch and came home one day to find her mother had color coded the shoe racks, little pink, blue and green stars to indicate the proper home for footwear.

She tried to leave things behind,but her mother,eyes truly in the back of her head, always quick to notice a forgotten bag, a cooking box pushed into the far corners of the back seat of the car, would call her back, eye brows raised and a sorrow-ful shake of the head and the errant object pressed firmly into her hands before a hasty exit and a quick reminder of the evenings’ schedule.

Holidays were the worst, planned months in advance, researched, googled, every day an agenda of activity, goals, targets.
Breakfast at 8am, in the hire car by 9 and always a bloody list.

Jasmines’ greatest victory to date, before this one, the really big one, was to fail her A levels so dramatically that her mothers’ lists of universities, even the bottom 5, the really only worth looking at in an emergency, became irrelevant and Jasmine, joyfully, went to work in a hairdressers that operates a no appointment system and took delight in telling her mother, every day, that she had no idea what time she would finish work and sometimes, it was even true.

Jasmine hasn’t run away, Jasmine isn’t lost, Jasmine is having a lovely time, living in a flat with the gay boys, watching the dirty dishes mount up, building a fully functioning floordrobe and not worrying when they run out of tea-spoons.

When Jasmine thinks about it, which she is training herself not to do, not too often, she imagines herself existing on many data bases, web sites, super lists. She can see her mother, lips pursed, pen in hand, ticking off another activity, another avenue to explore and her finger, close, so close to pressing the green call button, retreats and she puts it off for another day.

It was Greggs’ fault really, this, this thing she is doing. His niceness, his politeness to her mother. He fitted right in, invited round for tea, barbe-ques and she could feel her mother measuring him against some other list and watching him and her dad on ladder, de-gunking the guttering, second week in April and a neat green tick and the date in her mothers’ writing against the task.

And Jasmine could see the next list, the folder, venues, flowers, ring designers, mood boards and she in the middle of another mother project, so, when Liam and Dan said they had new jobs in London, needed a third person to share the flat, she made her own list – Reasons to stay and reasons to go and then she read it carefully, went home in her lunch break, Wednesday, optimum clean ironed clothes day and packed and left.

She still has the list, folded up very small, tucked in the back of her purse, she takes it out sometimes, reads it and nothing has changed.

She is seriously considering posting it to her mother, maybe writing it out more neatly first, perhaps some color coding.

She hopes her mother will understand.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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