Featured image: IgorShubin
You’re nodding off as I drive us to your parents’ place. Through the solid blackness. Derry to Dunfanaghy.
I don’t want to go, you know that, but they’re old and don’t need to know you’ve been banned for drink driving. You keep asking why I’m a bit ‘off.’ You really don’t know? Firstly, I’m totally pissed off, not just a bit out of sorts. You barely register that I’m sandwiched between a trio of lazy moody teenagers who don’t rinse a cup or wash their own fucking clothes, who stand there like Oliver Twist with their hands out (‘Please mum, can I have some more?’), and a trio of incontinent pensioners. Give, give. give. At least my mother is dead. One down, three to go.
That’s my life, not yours. If you could just see yourself now, drooling and twitching like the pissed-up git you are. When does a cucumber become a pickle?
The road is pitch black, so I drive with my headlights on. You burp loudly and I smell your sour Guinness breath as I weave in and out of miles and pounds to euros and kilometres. I’m balancing us along lanes like a knitter dragging wool from knit to pearl. The kids will be wrecking our house while your parents piss all over theirs and moan and grumble, despite my efforts and martyrdom in getting you here. They have always made it obvious they only want to see you. They tolerate me, the non-Catholic English outsider. How I would love to tell mammy your latest misdemeanour; that might tilt the balance. But we need the inheritance and if you’re naughty it will all go to your sister, so here we are. Oncoming headlights find your saggy face and a drooling bloodhound, and I wonder about driving us into a tree, but I couldn’t do that to the dog. I’d slow down, let him out, then jam the accelerator down and dive out myself. Start a new life incognito. Without you. You snoring lump.
I crank up Van the Man. His arrangements swerve and dip as they follow the lyrics and this never-ending fucking road. You wake up as we drive through another shit hole of a town and demand I turn the music down.
Fuck off, I will not.
You mutter and turn away from me. The dog or maybe you has farted, and I open the window. A damp mist eases in. I am tired.
The greyness of this place depresses me even in the daylight, so you must know that I’m not happy to be swallowed by it in the night. The delay on the fucking ferry, the dog being sea sick, the stench of diesel, vomit, you. The kids wrecking my house when I don’t even want to be away from it.
Decrepit parents and bastard kids.
Fucking hell, a sheep in the road. I’ve half a mind to ram the damn thing. The sat nav, which I can barely read without my glasses, I think says we’ll be there in fifteen minutes. I should know the way after all these years. The window’s still open and now I smell the sea. We swoop then fly over the ridge of that hill that used to ‘tickle’ the kids’ tummies. I worry the dog will chunder again or worse, you. No, you grunt and scratch your balls. God, I wish I could kick you out and turn around. But duty calls.
Jane Ashworth has recently gained an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. Although writing her first novel is all consuming, she sees herself as a wild seed bomber, an apprentice stained glass artist, a hockey player and a devotee of Van Morrison.
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