Snowcase #33 • 17 October 2007 • The SnowBlog
Alison Bacon left it until she was fifty to set about her ambition of writing a novel. 'Her Father's Daughter' is her second attempt. Her next ambition is to get published!
Who can save Ailsa, as her search for the truth about her father becomes a road to self-destruction? Her Father's Daughter
[My Mum keeps secrets and hurts people. She hurts me every morning when she tugs the hair off my face to make sure every strand's caught in the thick plait I wear to school. She hurts the ladies who come to the door then go into our front room where the curtain's are always drawn and there's a hot sweet smell. Sometimes the ladies laugh and Mum laughs with them, but other times they say 'Ouch!' loud enough for me to hear, so I know they are hurting too.
I think Mum hurts but in a different way, a hurt that comes from inside, and this hurt is because of my Dad. When I was four he went away and my Gran and my Auntie Moira came round together and sat in our living room and Gran said, 'Away and put the kettle on, Ailsa, we need a cup.'
And I did, though I'd only just learned how to warm the pot and make sure the water was boiling. Because there were visitors I used cups and saucers instead of mugs, and carried them in on a tray, really slowly, though the slower I went the more they seemed to wobble.
The talking stopped again when I got to the door.
'Yer a good girl, Ailsa,' Gran said.
I kept looking at the tea slopping from side to side, nearer and nearer to the rim of the cups, but it didn't spill over, not quite.
'You'll look after yer Mum, now, won't ye?' Gran said.
That's when I knew my Dad wasn't coming back.
Now Laura Patterson from school has invited me to tea. We play with her Barbie dolls and have sausages that taste funny. I eat them to be polite but they leave a taste of sick in my mouth. After tea we watch a video and Laura 's Dad comes in the sitting room. His name is Andy and Laura says he's not her Dad, because her Dad left and went to live in London. I say my Dad left too and Laura asks if he sends me stuff at Christmas like hers does, and I say no. Laura says my Dad probably sends money to my Mum. They have to send money. It's the law.
After that my tummy hurts and I ask to go to the toilet and then I sick up the sausages and Laura's Mum phones my Mum and says she'd better come to take me home.
When I'm ready for bed, Mum sits me on her knee and asks me if my tummy's better. I say yes, and she says it was probably the excitement of going to Laura's.
'Laura goes to see her Dad in the holidays,' I tell her.
Mum's undoing my plait but when she gets to a tuggy bit she untangles it without hurting. 'You're Dad won't come back. Ailsa, and you can't go to see him.'
'He's not in our family. Not any more.'
'Is he in someone else's family?'
'No. I don't think so. He was never really a family man.'
Next time Laura Patterson asks me about him I say Dad's gone somewhere I can't go to visit.
'You mean he's died?' says Laura.
And I say, 'Yeh, that's right. He left us, then he died.']
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Author: [Alison Bacon]
Email: [amrbacon [at] aol [dot] com.]