The International Writers Magazine: New Fiction in Dreamscapes
The coldness crept up Frankies legs and torso
as she lay, repulsed, on her hard lumpy old mattress. Each creak
of her mothers bed came scraping down the corridor intending
to scratch off her skin and burrow into her veins, determined
to pollute Frankie further. Her icy defences thickened in response;
her blood congealed. The coldness reached her head and made her
feel dizzy, like when she ate ice-cream and it made her back teeth
She preferred this smothered state.
Only once had it
frightened her, that first night when shed heard the noises and
understood them. From then on, Frankie dreaded nightfall for reasons
other children werent even aware of. She had longed to believe
in monsters under the bed, or the bogeyman, or other childish creations
of fear existing homicidally in the shadows. She had sat up and stared
for an hour into the gloom, picturing the most horrific creature she
could, trying to instil a new, normal terror into her young heart.
But the creaking shattered all. It warped Frankies imagination,
bringing the adult world crashing in on her innocence. Only internal,
nightly numbness stopped the sounds from her mothers bedroom twisting
Frankie into adolescent madness.
As she walked slowly now out of her room and into the painful artificial
brightness of the corridor, a dark blend of wrath and jealousy spurred
her towards her mothers open door. A street lights garish
beams spilled out from that bedrooms window towards where Frankie
stood, unhidden, uncaring, in the doorway.
She waited until her eyes had accustomed to the striped gloom, and then
blatantly watched the two figures punishing the mattress. One was her
mother, Ms. Singleton, barely visible beneath the giant stranger between
her legs. His shoulders swarmed with hair, as did his buttocks, which
slammed into Ms. Singleton again and again as if she were a stubborn
nail in a plank of wood. With one hand, he was holding her jaw. The
other gripped, squeezed and molested breast, thigh and stomach. Sometimes
he chewed and sucked, roughly, angrily, dragged his tongue, ignoring
Ms. Singletons yelps.
The giants vocals were roars of effort escaping from unloving
lips which shook each of Frankies vertebrae in turn. However it
was the lusty, crude grunts of Ms. Singleton that caused her daughters
fists to clench. She felt a sudden swarthy churning in her belly. Being
only thirteen, Frankie ran to the bathroom and vomited.
The morning came. Frankie began her day clearing up in the kitchen,
putting empty Chinese takeaway containers and wine bottles into a bin
bag so that she had room to make herself some breakfast. When she checked
the cupboards, she found no cereal, bread or milk. One of the chairs
squeaked sharply behind her and she whirled round from the fridge. The
giant from her mothers bedroom was doing up the buttons of his
oversized, food-splattered shirt as he fixed Frankie with a stare.
"Morning sweetheart." He said. He was much younger than Frankie
had expected, unshaven, curls of hair creeping up from the neck of his
shirt, dark eyes like plates which seemed to work like tractor beams
on the girl before him. She closed the fridge door and gawked back at
him. He grinned, and reached under the table to pick up a slim suitcase
which Frankie hadnt noticed. He opened it and rifled through various
papers, as if checking everything was there, and then pulled out a leather
wallet from his back pocket.
"Shouldnt you be at school baby girl?" He asked as he
counted out a handful of notes.
"No," Frankie answered, injecting as much confidence as she
could muster into her voice, "I dont go to school."
The giant locked his inhuman eyes on her again. "You dont
go? What, are you old enough to have left?"
"You have to pull the door hard behind you when you leave, it doesnt
always shut properly." Frankie turned her back on him and opened
up the fridge again, bathing her face in its buzzing light. Its chill
seeped into her body through the pores of her face. She shut her eyes
as she heard the man approaching the door on her left. But instead of
leaving, he bent to peer into the yellow depths of the fridge just as
she was doing. Frankie could smell her mother on him, her cigarette
smoke, a stale, nauseating odour of sleep, sweat and wine, he had blobs
of sleep-crust in the corners of his eyes and faint scratch marks on
"Not going to make yourself much of a breakfast from this lot."
"How old are you then?"
She glanced at him, shivering, gripping the fridge door so hard her
nails bent. He was looking at her immature chest.
In seconds, Frankie had leapt backwards and simultaneously yanked the
fridge door, catching the giants jaw right where shed wanted.
Eggs fell, beer bottles screamed, plastic and metal smacked flesh and
bone with a ludicrously loud thump and the giant barked out a surprised
yelp as Frankie stepped back and surveyed the damage, an unearthly smile
on her lips.
"You fucking little sh
you little shit!"
"Get out! Get out of my house and away from my family!"
"Smashing my face in the fridge, what the fucks wrong you
" The giant wasnt stunned for long. He
flung himself at Frankie as he spat his insults, she screamed as he
wrapped his awful frame round her and whirled her hard back against
the fridge. Her neck snapped backwards and her head cracked, she screamed
again and he called her a bitch again and fought off her scratching
hands and kicking legs.
"House of fucked up women dont you ever think you can make
a fucking fool out of me!"
"Mum! Mum, mummy! Mum! Mum please!"
Frankie yelled for her mother as the giant rammed her onto the mucky,
peeling lino of the kitchen floor. She kept calling out to her, her
voice dying down eventually to a beaten, broken whisper as her young
body was violated and her spirit murdered. Even as the giant recollected
his money and suitcase and left the house, Ms. Singletons name
danced over her daughters mouth, until she looked down and felt
the blood on her thighs, and then she fell silent.
Frankie was in the overgrown murkiness of the back garden, watching
the makeshift bonfire she had made burn her adolescent clothing into
oblivion. The smoke was heavy and thick, billowing up and away from
the house over the tall weeds and bushes.
She stayed out there, skin goosebumped, abdomen throbbing, until the
moon was high and full in the night sky. With the waft of the breeze,
she thought she heard the sound of a woman crying floating upon it.
It spilled over her and then drifted away in sad, dream-like waves,
and she wondered if it was her, hearing herself grieving, but when she
touched her eyes she felt no tears.
The fire still glowed but she couldnt feel anything anymore. She
wandered back into the house, bare feet crunching over and ignoring
the jabs of stones, thistles and glass. As she walked zombie-like through
the patio door and through the living-room into the hall, the sobbing
noises got louder, and louder still as she walked down the long corridor
past her mothers bedroom, the spare room, her own bedroom.
The crying was faint, pathetic even, coming in between gasping for air,
from the bathroom. Frankie had heard men sobbing in here before in the
middle of the night, after the creaking had stopped. Shed never
known what could possibly be making them so unhappy. Curiosity rather
than care made her push open the door.
Frankie hadnt seen her mother yet that day until now. Ms. Singleton
was in the bathtub, topless, her sagging breasts bruised, soaking in
a shallow pool of pungent white wine which was discolouring the blood
oozing from large, messy gashes dug into her wrists and upper arms.
Two demolished halves of a wine bottle were placed, somewhat strangely,
on a pair of fluffy pink slippers beside the bath. Ms. Singletons
mobile phone was precariously placed on the sink next to her.
" She gasped out at her daughter from
her self-inflicted scene of guilt, disgust, hate and desperation. With
surprising strength, she lifted her abused right arm and waved it towards
the sink, and the phone.
The coldness had flooded Frankie like a tsunami the minute she saw her
mothers blood draining down the sides of the bath. She wasnt
in shock, she wasnt frightened. Instead, her young mind perversely
found amusement in the fact that both of them had bled that day.
call help. Call
So she didnt want to die after all? She wasnt actually that
full of hate? Shed chickened out, shed had enough of the
agony, she wanted to carry on living the life shed made for herself
and her daughter?
"Tough. Thats just tough Mummy."
Shed made her bed. Now she would have to lie in it.
A bed creaking somewhere, nowhere, filled Frankies icy head as
she picked up her mothers mobile phone and dropped it into the
bath of skin, glass, bubbles and blobs. It thundered, echoed, determined
to disturb Frankies sleep for one final night. As she pulled the
bathroom door shut behind her, Frankie smiled. Tomorrow would bring
a morning with no night to fear.
© Lauren Almey October 2005
Lauren is a final year English/Media student at the University of Portsmouth
See also Ebb
Fiction in Dreamscapes
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