Not Perfect Part 4 Ainsley Kate

Fiction By Maddi // 12/18/2013

I slumped on the old, green, tattered and completely need-to-throw-out arm chair. I picked up the bunch of bills that were sitting on the coffee table. Unpaid. I sighed in frustration. How could there be so many in such little time?

Just then, the phone rang. “Kristen?” No answer. I clambered off the easy chair like a graceful elephant. Elephants aren't graceful.

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this Mrs Richards?”

“Yes, it is.”

“This is Fred Filby from L J Hooker Real Estate, how are you today?”

“Good, thanks.” I murmured, wondering what on earth he could be ringing for.

“That’s good. Listen, this is a curtesy call to tell you that the mortgage on your house, er, hasn’t been completely paid off.”

“What are you talking about? It was paid off years ago.”

“I’m sorry, but the record here says…” I heard the flipping of pages. “That the last deposit was paid 11 years ago, 5th of May.”

“Oh.” Eleven years ago…too painful to think about.

“Um, sorry about that. I will make sure a deposit is paid soon.”

“I’d make it sooner than later, if I were you. Anyway, you have a good day and a Merry Christmas. Bye!”

“Bye.” I said into the beeping receiver, since he’d already hung up.

Christmas. Crikey, that was coming up too. And the mortgage? Why had that come up now?

Kristen emerged from her room and hopped down the few steps we had leading to the bedrooms.

The phone started to ring again. I snatched it up to my ear.

“Hello?”

“Hello, am I speaking to the holder of the house?”

“You are.”

“I am Hugh Brisley from Bell Electricity, how are you doing today?”

“Just. Fine.” I bit my tongue to stop some nastier words from taking a walk.

“This is a curtesy call to remind you that your electricity bills are two months overdue, and you will be billed extra if not paid.”

“WHAT?” I screamed.

“Yes, I’m sorry, but that’s our policy.” His voice sounded a little shaken. “If it is inconvenient at this time—”

“Oh, you bet it’s inconvenient.” I snapped.

“Ermm…if it is inconvenient, then I can assure St. George bank will be willing to extend a loan.”

“What, and get me in debt for the next five million years? Don’t think so. Look, I will pay the bills. Soon. So get off my back. Bye.”

I slammed the receiver down. Ooh, how I hated those calls. Always wanting your money and annoying the living daylights out of me.

I turned around to see Kristen staring at me, concerned.

“Mum, are you okay?”

“Perfectly.” I grinned. “Haven’t had a crack at them in years.”

“Then…are we going broke?”

“No! Seriously, it’s okay. Go back to painting your nails, dear.”

She half-smiled, and then spun around on her heel and up the stairs.

I slapped myself on the forehead. No use telling her and making her worry her pretty little head off, but the cold reality was there, still. I didn’t have any money in the account, and was waiting for next week’s pay day to do the simple grocery shopping.

I racked my brain for ideas on how to get more cash.

I needed it, fast.

***

I typed on the keys, the letters appearing quickly on the screen. A couple more touch-ups and this resume would be ready.

Dale stuck his head between the doorway and my ajar door.

“Are you going for the new position?”

“Absolutely!”

“…AND you took up the extra journaling from the Sydney office?”

I poked my pointer finger at him in a joking manner. “You have a problem with that?”

He shrugged. “No. But I was just thinking about…don’t you have a kid?”

“One, yes.”

He shrugged again. “I’ve got three at home, and…well…it’s just that they seem to need heaps of time spent with them. That’s all I’m saying. See you later.” His head disappeared.

I felt a little frustration boil up inside me and emit some steam at the top of my head.

“Well, I’m just keeping mine alive on a one-income salary,” I muttered over my shoulder.

Besides, Kristen was older now. She could take care of herself. She didn’t need me to play legos, or go out for icecream treats.

“It’s okay,” I reassured myself out loud in my empty office. “She’s perfectly capable of looking after herself.”

I hit the print button.

***

I rubbed my sore, screen addicted eyes. Maybe I needed glasses. But I didn’t have time to get any because of this extra workload I accepted. Stupidly.

I heard a door close, and, a moment later, saw Kristen waltzing down the stairs into the kitchen.

“Morning, mum.”

I stifled a yawn and stretched instead. “Hey.”

I watched her lively form as she bustled around the kitchen. Something struck me as odd.

“Honey, don’t you have school today?”

She gave me a strange glance. “Mum, it’s Saturday.”

“Oh. Sorry, forgot.”

She placed her bowl of cornflakes on the bench top. “And you do know that I finished school last week, right?”

“No…?”

“I told you, remember, last Friday I was making cupcakes to take for the last day. Remember?”

“Yeah…” I said, even though I really didn’t.

“They were blueberry, with chocolate chips.”

I nodded absently. “What are you doing today?”

“Christmas shopping.” She licked her spoon. An odd habit, I thought, since there was nothing on it.

“Christmas shopping…” I repeated. “Okay.”

“It’s next week, you know.”

“What is?”

“Christmas, duh.”

“Next week?!”

“Mum, you seem to forget a lot these days.”

“Not really. I just get a bit distracted, sometimes.”

“Sure.”

An awkward silence followed. Kristen cleared her throat loudly.

“Well, I better go. My friends are waiting.”

“Ok.” She gave me a peck on the cheek.

“Bye, mum.”

“Don’t forget to lock the door!”

“I won’t.” The door slammed a bit too hard, making me cringe. Was it just me, or did she seem a little…annoyed or something?

I got up off the kitchen bench stool and started my ritual coffee making. I peered into Kristen’s bowl and was surprised to see it practically full.

She had taken one bite.

***

There he stood, arms open wide. I ran to him, the tears streaming down my face.

“He was like my best friend,” I sobbed.

He quietly shushed me and hugged me tighter.

“And the first man I ever loved.” I buried my face deeper into his chest.

He rocked me from side to side, side to side.

***

I heard a tiny step behind me. “Mummy, where’s Grandpa gone?”

I fought a sob rising in the back of my throat. “Away for a while.”

She sucked her little thumb. “But where?”

He opened the door, shouting: “People, I’m home! Where’s my girls?”

She ran to him, giggling. He snatched her up, throwing her in the air. “Darling, look what a cute puppy I’ve caught!”

***

He took a sip from my mug. I shook my head at him.

“Naughty, naughty.”

“But I thought you wouldn’t mind!” His face lit up cheekily.

A smile played about my face. “I don’t.”

***

“Mum? Mum, I’m home…”

I started, realising I had drifted off to sleep.

Kristen paused in my doorway, laden with plastic shopping bags.

“Oh…sorry, were you asleep?”

“I was. Accidentally.”

I scrambled off my queen-sized bed, messing up the sheets.

“Do you need something to eat?” I asked her, ignoring the tumbled bedding and made my way to the kitchen.

“Nah, I had it ages ago.” She dumped the bags on the floor.

I took a glance at our red clock, three hours past noon. “Wow, I slept for an eternity.”

Kristen opened the fridge door. “Drink?”

“No, thanks. You know what I feel like? A beetroot hamburger.”

“That’s…interesting. I think we do have some beetroot somewhere.” She poured herself a glass of chilled water.

I found a tin of the beetroot and pathetically attempted to open it. I handed it to Kristen.

“I fail at this, can you do it?”

“Yeah.” She patiently wound the blade around the tin and handed it back to me triumphantly.

“Mum?”

“Yes?”

“When are you knocking off work?”

The question caught me by surprise. “Do I have to?”

“Well, you can’t work on Christmas Day, obviously.”

“I suppose.”

“Soooo…Monday night is the carols.”

“What carols?”

“The carols. That everybody goes to, that happens every year that almost every time we go.”

“Of course, I remember now.”

“Could you come with me?”

“Maybe. I've accepted an extra workload from the Sydney Times, so depends.”

“You accepted…more?”

“They pay well.” I offered.

“Oh.”

I felt a bit guilty. I didn’t want to let her down. We went almost every year. “But, you’d have friends to go with, right?”

“Sure, but I wanted you to come.”

“We’ll see, then.”

Kristen swished water around in her mouth.

“Can you teach me to drive soon, please?”

“Are you old enough?” I took a bite of my delicious bread roll with the beetroot inside, making the juice drip slowly down my chin.

“Yes. Besides, everyone else in my class has their P’s.”

“That’s because they’re all a year older.”

“I know. But I haven’t even got my L’s, let alone learnt the basics.”

I scratched my head. When would I get the time to do that?

“Okay, I don’t promise anything, but hopefully I can take you soon.”

She shrugged. “I just…yeah. Do you want to see what I bought today?”

“No, not now. I really should finish this column. Sorry.” I turned around to face my laptop.

I heard her sigh as she carried the bags to her room, making the plastic rustle and crinkle.

“That’s fine.”

Comments

I really like this. The

I really like this. The dialogue was amazingly realistic in the phone call bill part. I don't know if it was supposed to be funny or not, but the entire scene made me laugh [WHAT?! it is NOT convenient and the billion dollar bills! part].

This: "I clambered off the easy chair like an elephant trying to jump through hoops to answer the phone." I get what you're trying to do...but this was a little strange. An elephant does not answer telephones. I think you may have misplaced clauses here. You probably should have put it this way, "I clambered off the easy chair to answer the phone like an elephant..." but then that doesn't work either. Cause an elephant doesn't pick up calls! So just get rid of that "to answer the phone" clause because it's quite obvious she's getting off the chair to answer the phone. Obvious.

I seriously think you need to describe more. This entire thing was mostly just dialogue. I think you need to remember that stories are also interesting without dialogue. You know all those classic books like Anne of Green Gables and stuff? They have alot of descriptions, and I don't even miss the dialogue! Descriptions tell volumes more and show writing skills. I don't mean not to put dialogue, but dialogue isn't the entire world of writing, and to improve this, you could narrate this more. This is already the fourth chapter and the conflict isn't as tangled up as it should be.

Other than that, you did a good job with the realistic part!

Lucy Anne | Thu, 12/19/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm really enjoying this! You

I'm really enjoying this! You could use a little more description, but that has not been missed in previous chapters. And the dialogue is great. I look forward to your next chapter!

Hannah D. | Thu, 12/19/2013

"Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." - G. K. Chesterton

:D

@ Megan: Thankyou! It was meant to be on the funny side, but also really realistic at the same time...
Oh, okay. I'll change it.

Alright, I'll try to describe more. And do you really think there isn't enough conflict??

@ Hannah D. Thanks! I feel honoured that you've been reading this...
So, looks like I need to describe alot more. Thanks girls!!

Maddi | Sat, 12/21/2013

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

Sorry I'm just now

Sorry I'm just now commenting! Read it a while ago and meant to. Thank you for posting these chapters! I'm enjoying this story.

I clambered off the easy chair like an elephant trying to jump through hoops to answer the phone.

I agree with--I think it was Lucy Anne--that the analogy is a bit out of a place here. It's a little bit long as well. A way to clean this up while keeping it along the same lines would be: I clambered off the easy chair with about as much grace as an elephant in my rush to answer the phone. That's just a kind of basis, though. You could spin it any way you want, or take the analogy out completely.

I understand the humor you were trying to go for with the bank call, but the mortgage thing seemed a little too dramatic and unbelievable. Perhaps if it was a series of people calling about small bills? Water, electric, so on and so forth? That's not entirely impossible, and if you spread the calls out through the chapter--one in the beginning, one after she talks to Kristen, one towards the end...that might even make the comical effect better. :) Just a suggestion! I hope you don't mind my critiques.

No use telling her and making her worry her pretty little head off, but the cold reality was there, still.

I really like this line. It just jumps out at me, for whatever reason. And I love the phrase cold reality. :)

Also, I really like reading the conversations between Ainsley-Kate and Kristen. They're really casual, realistic...you're doing a great job with that. I adore all your descriptions too! The conversation where Kristen has come back from shopping is extremely well done. I'm really big on conversation--it's my #1 thing to keep in mind when I write--so I love love love yours. It's not stiff at all. My only critique within that part would be this bit:

“Maybe. I have accepted an extra workload from the Sydney Times, so depends.”

The "I have" interrupts the flow. You might want to replace it with "I've" or italicize the "have".

Also, the "can you teach me to drive soon" seemed abrupt. Maybe she should be less frank about it. Like she's working up to asking? That might also help the flow.

This was a really good chapter! One of my favorites so far! Great job!

Madeline | Mon, 01/13/2014

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

:)

Thanks for reading, I always appreciate your feedback.
I fixed that line quickly, I thought I had done it when Megan mentioned it, but obviously not. It'll do for now.

I love your critiques! Give them to me openly.
Now that you mention it, it would have been better to do smaller bills. It wasn't exactly meant to humorous, but you know how characters write the stories themselves sometimes? Yeah, it happened.
Thank you!!
I'll fix that bit too. And thanks for the idea about the driving thing.

Maddi | Wed, 01/15/2014

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

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