Posted 28 April 2012 - 09:51 PM
Things had been different back then, they were young.
And little Mary had believed in fairytales, the stories of beautiful princesses, chivalrous knights and terrifying dragons.
She laid in her bed, taking off her plastic tiara and prepared to go to sleep. It had been a busy day, she was now six years, thirteen hours, twelve minutes and thirty seconds old. And as befitting a girl of such advanced years, she had been showered in gifts. A new dress in her favourite shade of pink, a video of Cinderella, but her favourite was now sat in the back garden of their modest, three bedroom house.
It was a tricycle, in her favourite colour of course. It was so new it almost shined, and as she rode it around the street outside their home, she rang the little bell and laughed with joy as the sparkling tassels on the handlebars fluttered in the wind.
Her father had been keeping up with her every step of the way, laughing and encouraging her.
Go on, sweetheart! Keep it up, keep peddling!
Her new mother, a drowned and miserable looking thing, had tried to muster a smile. But mostly stayed silent throughout the whole day, her eyes constantly darting towards her fat, beastly son.
She didn't care for either of them, they were usurpers, they had waltzed in to her life and been absolutely insufferable. Forever trying to get between her and her father, rivals for his affection. He had been lonely since the divorce and latched on to the first woman he had seen.
Mary was too young to really remember her runaway mother, she imagined a pretty and glamorous woman, the kind with a melodious voice and hair like spun gold. What she got was a woman in her forties with bags under her eyes and a foul, sweaty odour. But what was worse was her son.
Her son, who was standing in her doorway.
"Goodnight." Mary said pleasantly, preparing to turn over.
"Enjoy your birthday?" He said in a low croak, offering a greasy little smile.
"Yeah, it was great." She grinned. "Thanks for your present."
He walked a little closer towards her and she noticed that he had a bottle in his hand, it was one of the fancy glass bottles her dad kept in the cabinet behind their sofa.
"Mum and Dad have went out for a few hours." He said, matter-of-factly, running a hand through a mop of black hair. "They put me in charge."
Usually she would have disputed this, but she had heard the door slam and was in no mood for an argument.
"Okay," she shrugged, "I'm going to sleep now."
He considered her for a moment and looked around the room, as if making sure no one else was there. His eyes fell on Mary and for the first time she noticed that he had been crying, they were red and puffy, and despite her better judgement she couldn't help but feel sorry for him.
He sat on the edge of the bed with a thump and let out a pained moan.
"What's wrong?" She asked.
"My stomach," he whined, "all day I've had this pain in my stomach, I get it a lot at school, you know. I think there's something in there, Mum and Dad want to send me to the doctors."
His head turned around with deceptive speed and again he was looking at her, but now all the tears in the world couldn't disguise the anger in those eyes.
"Your Dad, your precious Daddy. He wants to send me away, the doctor will lock me up, I've heard them talking, they want me gone."
He never raised his voice, but she saw that massive wads of spittle were starting to form around his mouth. But at that age, she didn't register fear, all she saw was a disgusting slob, the same boy who used his hands to ram food into his mouth at dinner.
"My Dad wouldn't do that." She said proudly.
He spat out a mirthless chuckle and took a small swig on the bottle, coughing a little.
"My Dad! My Dad! My Dad!" He shrieked. "That's the point, he's your Dad. Not mine. He doesn't love me, not really. I'm just baggage, something that came bundled along with my mother."
"He loves us both." Mary affirmed.
Her brothers anger seemed to subside, he put one chubby hand out and stroked her hair, making bizarre snuffling and snorting sounds that reminded Mary of a pig.
"And you?" He asked quietly. "Do you love me? Could you love me? If you knew more about me?"
Something about him was dirty, unpleasant. She couldn't pinpoint what it was that disgusted her, but she knew enough to pull her head away.
"What do you mean?" She asked sharply.
He stood up and began to pace around the room, the hideous stinking drink dropping onto the carpet in thick splatters.
Mary suddenly smiled, of course she remembered Banjo! He was her best friend, a spry and affectionate little tabby cat. She hadn't seen him in a few weeks, her father said it was the nature of cats and that he'd return in his own time.
"Have you seen him?" She beamed. "Where is he?"
He grimaced a little and loosened the collar of his plaid shirt, wincing and smiling at the same time. Without giving an answer he walked to her window, opened it and leaned out. Mary saw his whole girth rise up and down in quick movements, was he out of breath?
"Banjo's fine." He said flatly, not looking at her. "Just fine, I just thought I saw him the other day, that's all."
He turned around but didn't make eye contact with her, he was sweating and heaving, one hand clawed at his stomach, taking hold of the rolls of flab and squeezing them together.
"Sleep well, Mary." He said, waddling out of her room like an agitated penguin. "I don't feel too good, may as well go to bed too."
"Goodnight, Barty." She called after him, but he had already ran out her room and didn't look back.
As he stood in the alley, the memories of that next year seemed so real and firm that he could almost touch them, as close to him as the disembowelled rat who lay on the grubby concrete floor.
She had never suspected what befell Banjo, just like she had never known who had taken a baseball bat to her prized tricycle. She had cried and cried, tugging on his trousers and weeping hysterically.
"It's not faaair." She wailed, looking over the bent handlebars and the warped wheels.
No, he supposed, it wasn't. But neither was life. Nothing was fair, all he ever wanted was a family. Yet by the time he was fourteen, he had known two stepfathers and a string of boyfriends. All the same, all slimy green skin and black hole eyes.
And they all resented him, all of them. Because he had the gall to stand between them and his mothers vagina.
He wondered if they lamented their fate too, in whatever sleazy hotel room they had scuttled off too he wondered if they remembered him. He wondered if they ever read the newspapers, how would they feel if they knew it was him?
He giggled behind his mask and continued to wait.