Not Perfect -- Part 2
-- So, I know this was a really belated chapter. And, I also know I could have worked a lot more on it. And put more description in. BUT I just wanted to post it because I haven't posted anything in a while. :) So enjoy, and critique please! --
She had brown, silky hair, with little blonde streaks running through it. She often curled it, though I had always said it looked pretty in natural waves. One, silver piercing brightened her left ear, two went through her right.
Long ago, Alice Springs Highschool had abandoned their traditional dress code. Kristen always dressed so pretty, way more than I did at her age. But she cleaned the house and never forgot to make my coffee in the mornings. She made it just the way I liked it; strong and sweet. All the other parents at the office complained about their lazy teenagers, so I had no idea what made Kristen so…so enthused. I smiled. She was the best kind of daughter.
And yet…she insisted on having these “boyfriends”. What drove her too it, I had no idea. I recalled the first time she brought home her “boyfriend”. She was only thirteen. I remember shouting at the kid to get lost, and telling Kristen she wasn’t allowed any more of them. She lost her fiery little temper after that, screaming that I didn’t love her. She stormed up the stairs and bolted the lock on her door. She didn’t come out for hours. I tried coaxing her out with food, but to no avail.
When she finally came out, she gave me the silent treatment until I couldn’t take it any longer. I apologised and promised I wouldn’t do anything like it again. She became my happy little daughter again. But at a cost.
So when I walked into the living room to see her and another foreign male sitting at the kitchen bench, I held my tongue. A promise is a promise.
I cleared my throat loudly to announce my presence. They both stopped sipping at their cans of coke and swivelled around to face me. Kristen smiled, the sight of her white dazzling smile just a bit too bright for my work-strained eyes.
“Oh, hey mum.”
“Hi.” I went to make myself a coffee.
“Mum? This is Brett. He walked me home from school today.”
Brett waved his sun-browned fingers. “Hey.”
I gave him a cold stare. “I…see.”
“Mum…” Kristen loosened her clasp on Brett’s hand, and swung down off the stool to follow me around the kitchen.
“I invited Brett to have dinner with us. Is that okay?”
Suddenly, I wasn’t hungry anymore.
“Um. There’s cold chicken in the fridge. I’m going to bed.”
Kristen looked disappointed. “Oh…okay. We’ll just eat by ourselves,…then?”
I climbed up the few steps that led to the bedrooms. I felt a tinge of guilt. Kristen cherished our evening meal times, unlike any other teenager I knew.
As a flopped down on the bed, work clothes and all, I realised I’d forgotten to thank Kristen for cleaning up the house. Good thing there was always tomorrow.
My alarm clock went off at 7 o’clock. I rolled over, remembering it was Wednesday. Ah, how I loved Wednesdays. I just always had this extra burst of energy on Wednesdays.
My breath stank and my mascara from yesterday was smudged all over my face. Time for a shower. I turned the faucet on and let the cold droplets of water run over my head. Cold showers always made me feel refreshed, and were a nice start to the 40 degree days. I grabbed the pink backscratcher that hung on the tiled wall and proceeded to give my back a vigorous rub.
I heard a knock on the door. “Muuu—m!” I could hear Kristen’s voice, but had no idea what she was saying.
“Speak up, I’m in the shower!”
“GOOD MORNING. THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING. I HOPE YOU ARE ENJOYING YOUR FLIGHT WITH AUSTRALIAN AIRWAYS.”
“Kristen!” I heard giggles.
“Sorry, mum. I just wanted to know where you put the strawberries. They’re not in the fridge.”
“The STRAWBERRIES, mum. WHERE are they?”
“Oh.” I stopped massaging my scalp with the shampoo and set the bottle down, trying to think where I had left the strawberries. “I think…the cupboard. Yeah, the cupboard.”
“Thanks. Btw, your coffee will be ready in 3 minutes flat.”
“Thanks sweetie!” I grinned. She never failed.
During the blistering summer months, the newspaper department allowed everyone to wear cool, casual clothes to the office. Darlene even wore shorts when it was over 40 degrees. Today I pulled on a skirt, a formal-ish white blouse and slipped on my red flats.
I hopped down the stairs, smelling the scent of my awaiting coffee.
“Morning, darling,” I said to Kristen, who was decked out in yellow sundress. I gave her a peck on the cheek.
“Stylish,” she commented on my outfit.
“Yes.” I glanced down at my flats. “You don’t look bad yourself.”
Kristen blushed at the compliment. “Gee, thanks mum. Um, here’s your coffee.”
“Thankyou.” I sipped at the brown frothy stuff. “Sorry about last night. I was just really tired.”
“That’s okay. I think Brett liked the chicken. He’s really understanding, you know? And cute.”
I wondered when she would learn, after being dumped so many times.
“Now dear, today I have lots of work at the office. Big article, you know.”
“Oh.” Kristen stopped pouring cornflakes into a bowl. “I thought that, well…um, you could stay home today?”
I blinked. “What?”
“It’s the teacher pupil-free day thing. I was thinking we could spend some time around the house?” Her big, soft brown eyes pleaded with mine.
“Honey…as I said, I just have this thing to do at work.”
“But you work all the time! We could go to the movies, or do puzzles, remember? Please, mum?”
Years ago, I remembered, we had done a 5,000 piece puzzle. We had glued it onto the wall. It had looked stunning.
I lifted up her chin with my finger. “Maybe another day. I promise.”
“Mum…fine.” Her shoulders sagged.
“Oh, sweetie. I love you, remember that.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Her peppy ponytail didn’t look so peppy now.
I put my cup in the sink and grabbed my leather bag.
“Be a good girl, okay? Gotta go,” I blew a kiss Kristen’s direction. “Bye!”
I had remembered to take the ipod with me so I could listen to something other than newsreels on my way to work. With some country-band music blaring through the speakers, I took my usual route to the office. I drove past the church, with its big cross outside the front. There was something going on, I could tell, by the cars parked all along the street.
I saw the words ‘Save the Orphans’ on a big white banner. Huh. A charity fair…goody-goody Christians. Think they can save the world, pfft. There was enough saving to do around here already.
Like there was a god up there anyway. If there was, he wouldn’t have let my husband die.