NANOWRIMO Novel – Cuttings – Day 24

It dawns on her,as she surfaces and then only because the salty, oilyness of the pizza has made her wake suddenly, desperately thirsty, stomach still full of food, her only thought that she must get a drink of water.

It dawns on her, as she pads into the kitchen, still fully dressed, having slept in her clothes, all her attention focussed on tap, water, glass, drink.

It dawns on her as she peers bleary eyed out of the window, surprised  to see daylight, no idea of what time it is, how long she has slept, even what day it is.

it dawns on her that she is living some kind of teenage life, not the teenage life she remembers, but something far more akin to the lives of the children she teaches.

They talk casually about spending whole weekends in their pyjamas, casually ordering food to be delivered, paid for on parents’ credit cards, friends arriving in onesies, clutching bottles of wine liberated from their middle class parents pine wine racks and it would seem never missed.

Their weekends bear no relation to the weekends she remembers at their age, makes her feel old and when, in the staff room, her younger colleagues discuss weekends that sound almost exactly like their students, she feels not old, but ancient.

She was a dutiful daughter, with no brothers or sisters to deflect from her parents’ attention.

Weekends meant homework, helping her mother with the chores, church on Sunday and then Sunday lunch and unless the weather was truly appalling, a family walk afterwards.

Her only tiny burst of rebellion came after tea, Radio 1, top 40, the last of her homework and the weekly conversation with her father

“Terrible din” he would say, turning down the volume on the radio ” Mind it doesn’t distract you from your studying” and then he would wander off, to do his only domestic task, the washing up of Sunday lunch and Sunday tea pots and she would turn the volume up and bend her head, dutifully, towards her green maths exercise book.

2 glasses of water gulped down, she begins to feel better, wonders if actually she has been missing something all these years with her weekends of chores and marking and projects.

She wanders back to the sofa, absently moves the pizza box and discovering 2 uneaten pieces, perches on the arm and eats them and finds them delicious. It is, she thinks, the most unhealthy breakfast she has allowed herself in years.

For a moment, she thinks about her usual weekends, up by 8 am at the latest, Radio 4 on, pot of real coffee, muesli, fresh fruit and a plan for the day sketched out in front of her, a list of things to do.

Moving the pizza box has unearthed her notebook and because she is lolly gagging, putting off the real list of chores she must achieve today, she begins to flick through it, reading and re-reading what she has written and then she is brought up short.

The latest story, the tale of the quads that weren’t is in her hand, her careful, teacher trained legible handwriting, but, she has no memory of writing it. Reading it is like reading something written by someone else. The story makes her sad, it is such an awful description of someone stuck in a life which is so far away from hers. If she had read it in a collection of short stories, she might have been tempted to skip through it, say it was too depressing, too like real life, too like a Mike Leigh film.

And she has no idea when she wrote it, knows that she has not found a newspaper clipping with this story. It is a complete mystery, the only solution she can come up with and she knows it sounds, actually is, a little mad, a little far-fetched,is that somehow, she has written this in  her sleep.

She sits very still for a moment and then, very carefully, she leans into her bag, pulls out her phone and checks the time and day. It suddenly seems very important to know this, to root herself back in the everyday, the normal.

Wednesday, she thinks, its Wednesday, it’s 8.37 am. On Friday the house clearance people are coming to move the big furniture and the for sale sign will go up and I will go home.

She needs to say this several times before the words actually have meaning, before they become comforting, give a shape to the next few days.

I need to get a grip, she thinks, I am running out of time, but still she sits, absently finishing off the final crumbs of cold pizza although she knows that she is not hungry, does not need this food.

It takes a huge effort of will to lever herself off the sofa, leave the warm comfort of the duvet and actually get on, get on with the plan.

As she walks up the stairs, she finds herself talking out loud

” I will finish my bedroom, take bags to the charity shop, get out of the house, label furniture, ” She wants to stop already, this list feels overwhelming, the lure of sleep is so strong that she almost takes a step down, back toward the sofa, her notebook, but, she pulls herself together and takes a deep breath.

Her bedroom is both less and more sorted, piles of books, clothes, blankets have been piled haphazardly on the single bed.

There is no sign of any sorting, any organisation, she sighs and bends down to pick up yet another roll of black bin bags and starts stuffing objects, not even looking at what she is placing in the bags, it is enough to see things vanish into the black plastic.


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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