I am Marjorie Millinchip; I’m trying to be a better more tolerant person as instructed by my niece Nellie. But it’s hard I tell you. Every news flash makes my blood boil, every book open to my critique. Why is it I ask, that sport is news? Does it really belong with proper news? And do I care who’s in the Big Brother house and does it matter which egotistical idiot they’ve commissioned for this season? I think not. Kids, don’t get me started. Nellie, she’s a dear but her ghastly man friend, I think not. I tell her every time, “You’re a clever, educated young woman with your whole life ahead of you. Don’t let him knock you up and control your life, before you know it, you’ll be like the rest of your stupid friends, chained to the sink. And he’s foreign”
I recall her look as she replied, “Aryan is wonderful to me, he’s not like that Aunt Marjorie”
Anyway, she hasn’t visited me for several months since she got knocked up, that’s her out of my will; and that takes me back to kids! I’ll be expected to be nice at Christmas, talk to the brat in nauseating kiddie talk and God forbid go to the park. I tell her I like my life, I like moaning and my age has given me the right to moan as I see fit. I don’t have to like people, I like my cat and that will do. Catkin never does anything to anger me, just sits, sleeps and defecates; in all the right places may I add.
Needs must, time to go shopping and face the moronic human race that resides around me. Bread, milk and some cat nibbles. I brush the ‘stray greys’ off the back of my coat before slipping it on. I detest hair on the back of coats. Checking my reflection I look out for other strays, I do get my fair share now. Unable to focus properly I put my glasses on, I hate them but I’ll wear them anyway, I have no bleeding choice, I’m blind otherwise. Square rimmed, Nellie said they were fashionable when she chose them for me, I think I look like a prat. I told her “I’m not fifty anymore, I can’t get away with things like this” She tells me I look beautiful, “Stupid girl” I tell her, “I haven’t looked beautiful since nineteen fifty two”.
The sun shines too bright so I pull my dark green velour curtains in order to protect the settee. Already tainted by sunlight and after all it cost, roll on winter. When it’s dark the sun doesn’t shine, besides I get sunstroke and prickly heat. Leaving the apartment I walk along the corridor to the lift. “I know your name?” No one about but I definitely heard a voice. I haven’t lost my marbles yet I remind myself.
“Who’s speaking” I sternly ask as I push my glasses further up my nose which extensively improves my sight.
“Me, I’m not coming out though. My Mum say’s I’m not allowed to talk to you. She said you’re a witch” replies the voice.
“I beg to differ. I’m much worse”, I say, “I haven’t time for stupid childish games so show yourself” I detect the voice coming from just around the side of the lift. I could walk over and look but I won’t. Refuse to give anyone; a child at that, the upper hand. They can come to me. The lift opens to let me in, curious I stay put. The lift door closes and it goes back down. Angrily, I slam my hand in to the buttons and call the lift again. “You stupid child, you made me miss the lift”
“I didn’t make you miss it, you chose not to take it” the little voice giggled.
“You insolent little git”, I shout as I walk around the corner, bag in hand, ready to strike. But, there’s no-one there, the door to the fire exit swings. “That’s where you went. You just wait!” I say under my breath as the lift arrives. I get in and head to the shop.
That afternoon, I pick up the magazines that Nellie left several months ago. Christmas Specials, that’s brilliant; I have six magazines all telling me the same thing. How to cook a turkey, make a knitted snowman and decorate a Christmas cake. ‘Christ mas av known that Christmas would be a naff day for all’ I laugh.
Knock. How dare anyone knock so loud; it must be loud as I’m not even wearing my hearing aid today. I walk over to the door and peer through the spyhole. No-one, I bet it’s that bloody kid. I return to my chair, Catkin next to me purring softly. We don’t like visitors, charities, religious callers, well wishers or sales people. We like peace and isolation. I stare at the wall, pictures of my mother, Nellie and my Sister before she died. They hang in their original silver rimmed frames, old like me.
Knock. Temper flaring up I stomp to the door and open it quickly. In the distance I see a door swinging. That damn kid! “I’ll get you, you little git. Roll on the end of the school holidays. They should ban school holidays – Bloody lazy teachers!” I shout as I catch a glimpse of something the floor. I adjust my focus. A cupcake on a paper plate, a note written on the paper next to the cake. I bend down slowly and pick it up. ‘I made this for you. I don’t think you’re a witch but you shout a lot. Leo’.
I shout a lot because of brats like you who terrorise the neighbourhood. I smell the cake, it looks nice, and it’s blue with edible sparkles on top. Not neat, it’s obvious the child made it. Walking to my kitchen, I place the cake in the bread bin. After staring at it for a moment, I decide it can’t stay there as it doesn’t belong. Removing it I throw it hard to the bottom of the bin. “I bet the brat has put laxatives in it” I say as I slam the bins lid.
Wonderful Bloody Wednesday
After dressing and washing I get up to wonderful Wednesday. Wonderful not so exciting waste of time Wednesday! It rains outside. I hear the post slip through the door. Almost tripping over the corner of my rug I steady myself against the sideboard. Grabbing my glasses I put them on. Three items; the electric bill, I open it up; even the bloody winter fuel allowance didn’t make much of a dent in this one. “I hope the shareholders all suffer long and painful lives and slow, excruciating deaths, leprosy sounds ideal. The fattest cats could endure some flesh eating bug, from the stomach outwards” I shout as I throw the four hundred pound bill down knowing I would have to dip into my life savings to pay it. Not that I should worry I have enough to last me but I resent paying them, the layabouts. “Next” I shout as pick up a flyer, BOGOF on pizza with this voucher. Food of evil, cheese makes me vomit, that was a waste of paper. Screwing it up I throw it into the wastepaper bin. Lastly a white envelope; on it, no stamp or address. A circular I expect. As open the envelope, a folded up piece of paper falls out. Unfolding it, I see a picture. A picture of a park drawn by the hand of a child who I guess is about eight. I see a slide, a swing, something that resembles a duck but it couldn’t be. Why would a duck sit next to a swing? It’s very colourful though. Signed Leo. That brat just doesn’t know when to stop. I stand and stomp through to the kitchen bin dropping the picture onto the cup cake that was still there from yesterday. Closing the lid I wander over to the kettle, a cup of strong coffee is what’s needed; I change my mind, I need tea. After pouring the hot water over my bag, I lift it out and sling into the bin, it lands straight onto the picture. I see the pictures colours run into one another. Felt tips I imagine he used for the outline. I pull the picture out of the bin. Slightly ruined but still looks like a park I think to myself as I stick it to my fridge with a magnet. I suppose if the boy has gone to the effort and it doesn’t mess my kitchen up too much, I could leave it there for a bit.
It’s now Wednesday lunchtime. Bored, bored and bored. I even wish Catkin would buzz off, the purring is so annoying and her fur keeps getting stuck to my cardigan. Brown fur stuck to cream wool, not pleasant.
Lunch, a sardine sandwich, Catkin had the dregs. The telephone rings, I always give it four rings before I answer.
“Hello” I pause, no answer, “Hello. No, I don’t want to change my phone supplier to you” I listen, “I don’t give a stuff if you’re cheaper. Go boil your head” I shout as I slam the phone down. Heart racing, I’m pleased with the way I handle these callers. A twinge, indigestion. I pop a couple of Rennies’ into my mouth; maybe I’ll go to the shop in a bit I think as I doze off in my chair.
Stiff neck, I can’t believe how long I slept for. Turning on my table lamp I look at the time, eleven. I walk in a sleepy haze to the kitchen to put the kettle on and pull the cupcake out of the bin and feed some to Catkin. I sit and watch. She seems alright. Maybe it wasn’t poisoned after all. Wonder if that Leo has given up bothering me now. A witch his mother calls me, even told him to keep away. She has a bit of a nerve labelling me a witch, who the hell does she think she is? Pre-judging like that; she doesn’t even know me. I don’t care though; the irresponsible cow can go to hell. At least I always know where Catkin is.
Baby Hell Day
After welcoming the coming of Thursday, all night long, I’m bored. Bored with all night telly, bored with not being able to sleep. The phone rings, I wait and answer, “If you’re going to try to sell me something, you can sod off!” I shout.
“I’m downstairs Auntie, I was just passing”
“Bleeding hell, I mean are you well?” I reply as I walk to the door and buzz her in. She’s a fussy cow, only wants organic milk and fair trade tea; she gets what she’s given when she comes here. I’ve ran out of tea and there’s cheap coffee. I wished I’d kept that cupcake now, could’ve even told her I made it.
I quickly run a duster over the coffee table and side board and flick it across the telly, all looks okay I think. The door knocks. I check it’s safe to open, it is, I see Nellie through the spy hole. She looks as if she is carrying something, then I hear it, a cry. She has brought the……, I struggle to say it even in my head but eventually I manage, the baby. Hesitating, I lean up against the door, a screaming, smelly baby is the last thing me and Catkin need. I now wished I hadn’t answered the phone, she knocks again, I have to answer.
As I open the door, she greets me with a packet of biscuits and some more rubbish magazines. “Hello Aunt Marjorie. Sorry its short notice but we were in the area. Don’t know where the time has gone since having Amy” she said as she placed the baby down in the portable car seat. The child was red faced and chewing hard on its scratch mitt covered hands. I don’t know what the appeal is; they smell; they take up all your time and they keep you awake. As I sit I put Catkin on my lap, that way she won’t offer me the baby.
“So how are you and” I pause, “That person you’re with” I know his name but I can’t bear to say it.
“Aryan, we’re doing fine. The little one keeps us busy; we’re also planning our wedding”
“In my day we had weddings before babies. Not that I did either” I say. It’s not that I want to upset her but I want her to know that her behaviour isn’t acceptable.
“It’s 2012 Auntie not 1950. People are cool about these things now. I’m really happy to have Amy. Besides, I’m forty two on my next Birthday, time was running out” Nellie replied with a smile. However hard I criticised she would never take offence, just brushed off my comments without a care. She’s so nice, it almost makes me sick.
“And that Aryan, he’d better not leave you. You’ll have no rights you know not being married” She laughs at me. The baby bawls, she picks up the child and holds it close to her chest and rocks her back and forth.
“She’s tired. I’ve brought some pictures for you, she’s three months now. You can keep the album I made it for you; I’ve written little comments next to them so you know who everyone is” she said as she rocked the pink bundle.
I don’t want to talk anymore so I turn the television on. Countdown; or should I say a re-run on free view. We watch Countdown together, I hate Countdown but I don’t wish to make small talk about houses and babies and boring things like that. I had a career, not a baby; had been a business woman not a mother. Motherhood would’ve bored me to death, the boardroom excited me. My company eventually bored her to death. After she refused my non fair trade coffee she left, I had them both here for nearly an hour and a half.
“Bye, I’ll see you soon” not sure if I meant it but it seemed appropriate to say. I leave the album untouched on the side board. Sitting on my chair with Catkin, I nod off for a while.
Knock! “Can I come in?” I heard a child shout and then giggle. I hear footsteps run off down the landing. I getup quickly and feel slightly dizzy but I managed to stumble to the door. Opening it, all I see is that annoying swinging door down the corridor.
“I’ll tan your bony hide when I catch you” I shout. I had to find out where that kid lives; when I do I’ll give his incompetent mother hell. “Ouch” I cry; indigestion again. I stagger back to my chair and watch rubbish on the telly.
Not feeling so well, I’ve been up since seven thirty; at least I slept through. Fridays; a summary, rubbish on the telly and all I have is cheap coffee. Angrily I pour a horrible coffee. I sit and look through the window. Maybe I’ll start a new book today or do some puzzles from those rubbish Christmas magazines.
Still feeling bad, I take a cap full of Pepto Bismol; Rennies’ were certainly a waste of time. I know I shouldn’t have had fried eggs for breakfast, they always give me indigestion but I like them. I belch to try and ease the build up but it doesn’t help.
I gaze across the room and remember the album, suppose I should look; it may even help me forget about my indigestion. Next time Nellie comes whenever that may be she’ll ask me what I thought and if I don’t look she’ll know. Placing the photo book on my lap, Catkin curls up beside me.
Pictures, anecdotes. Nellie this, Aryan and Amy that. Why do I care? I flick even faster until I reach the end; bored now.
My indigestion strike again making me feel hot and sick; I undo my top button and pick up a magazine. The door knocks, “Can I can I come in?” it called.
“Bugger off” I shout feeling too ill to race to the door, “I’ll be having words with your mother!” I hear laughter then a thud against my door. I think the child has sat down outside my door. I will leave him there, he obviously loves the fact that I go to the door when he knocks. No more; I’ll ignore him. He’ll soon get bored.
I start a Sudoku puzzle. It’s rather easy I think, and then I remind myself that these magazines were created for imbeciles. I move onto the next one. An intense stabbing pain shoots though my chest and up my arm, causing me to lose my breath. I gasp as best I can. Catkin looks at me; ignoring my distress she continues to purr. The boy! I remember, he’s outside the door. Pulling myself up, I stumble to the centre of the room where I collapse in a heap. I drag myself across the carpet, every movement met by another sharp stab. Trying to shout, my voice fails. Eventually I reach the door, can’t breath. I slump to the floor.
Opening my eyes I see white everywhere. Feeling numb, vacant and overwhelmed by the brightness, “Where am I?” I whisper.
“Miss” I call out, “I’ve never been a Mrs”
“Sorry Miss Millinchip. I’m Doctor Allen. You’ve had a heart attack”. I’m sure he continued to speak but I don’t listen. Then I panic, not even Nellie would know I was here and I was worried that Catkin would starve. I hear the Doctor leave; I am alone in this room.
Knock! “Can I come in?” That dratted voice again, the voice had followed me.
Feeling defeated I whisper, “I suppose so”.
The door flew open. “I knew you weren’t a witch” he shouted excitedly. “Witches don’t get ill. They create spells to keep themselves well, you do have a cat though; witches have cats, not usually ginger ones. They have black cats. What’s your cat called?”
“That’s enough Leo, Mrs Millinchip needs her rest” calls a woman. I couldn’t be bothered to correct her. I’m not a Mrs, I thought.
“Sorry Mum” Leo replies.
So this is the woman who brands me a witch! I shift my body up to a slumped upright position. There’s plenty I want to say to her about the insults to my person, the continuous harassment from the brat and her being bloody alive. As I open my mouth to shout, she places some flowers on my bed.
“I’m sorry about Leo, he gets very excited” she laughs. “We’re feeding you cat, hope you don’t mind. We also had to look through your ‘diary’ to find your relatives”. She emphasised the word diary. “Your Niece will be here soon”. Realising I keep all my thoughts on a daily basis in that diary, I feel ashamed. She must have read all my rants, about her, Leo, the other neighbours. These people I detested so much had saved my life; come to the hospital; were feeding my cat and had phoned my Niece.
I watch Leo; being quiet as told to by his mother. “Maybe Leo, when I’m out you’d like to come over for cake, so that I can thank you” There, I managed to be nice without nearly choking on my words and surprisingly it felt good. Maybe this brush with death had turned me soft. The boy nodded and waved as his Mother stood and led him to the door. Lying there I knew I had so much making up to do, didn’t want everyone to think I was deep down , that miserable person in my diary. I’m misunderstood, I decide; and I would prove that to everyone. Thankful at having another chance to put everything right, I felt warm and fuzzy. For a change I’m excited that Nellie is coming to see me; It is a feeling I haven’t felt for years, approximately thirty at a guess. I think I’m ready to embrace little Amy and a life of meaning and maybe even Leo.
Suddenly, my heart pounds as if it’s bursting out of my chest. Pain stabs hard and fast up my arm. How could this be? The worst is over, isn’t it? I open my mouth to scream and my last breath escapes. Now I will never get the chance to put things right, how bloody ironic. Enlightened at the most useless time of my life, the end!
To everyone I know I’ll always be Miserable Marjorie Millinchip instead of Misunderstood Marjorie Millinchip. Which one I truly am, I’ll never know. My chance has passed. Hearing the machine flat line, I knew it was my end. Too late.
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