Over the last year or so, I have subjected my Writer’s Group to snippets from my first attempt at a novel. It is about the challenging relationship between a narcissist mother and her daughter. Last week I read them this short story which is also about the lack of a relationship between a mother and daughter. So, my Writers Group are convinced I am suffering from some sort of Mother Complex. Maybe I am but one does tend to write about the things they are familiar with…
A SHORT STORY BY
If she saw us out and about together, she would whisper in my ear, loudly enough for him to hear, slumming it again tonight are we, Ellen? She once asked him if he bought his clothes from the same shop as Sid Vicious? If she’d ever looked closely at the poster boys in my bedroom, she would have known Sid, wearing anything, was my number one idol.
My Mother’s repeated tirades about how both she and my Father were so disappointed in me were really getting me down. I was the daughter of a bank manager and PA to a MD. Johnny was just not out of the right sort drawer. I was so incensed by the constant barrage belittling Johnny, I not only stuck with him, but I married him four years later. Which was just as well as I was already pregnant with Karen.
We started our married life in my old bedroom. It was either that or living in a squat and in hindsight, two nineteen-year-olds and a baby living in harmony under the same roof as my mother was doomed from the start.
Johnny turned out to be rotten anyway. He joined the Merchant Navy and we never used to see him for months on end. When I found out he had a girl in every port, we divorced and by that time, my mother’s stock phrase, I told you so, had really worn me down.
It was hard on my own at first, until Karen went to school. I used to look at my single mum friends whose mothers happily stepped in to look after their grandchildren whilst they were at work and remember thinking how lucky they were. I don’t remember my mother looking after Karen ever. She and my Father were either working or on holiday, cruising around the Mediterranean or walking the Pennine Way.
Then I married Arthur Coolie, a widower, with a child at the same school as Karen’s. He had his own house, so it seemed like a good idea at the time until I realised he was an alcoholic. His alcoholism was triggered by the death of his first wife and, even after he married me he carried on drowning his sorrows. Which was when my mother started reminding me that marriage was for better or for worse.
Yes, I was bitter, especially when I started having health problems in my early forties and there was my mother freewheeling towards seventy without any aches and pains. Even now, careering towards ninety, she is still a way off using a Zimmer frame.
She lives in the bungalow she bought after dad died with her sixty-five-year-old toy boy who she refers to as my fountain of youth. I really don’t want to dwell on how or why her fountain of youth appeared from nowhere to help her come to terms with my father’s death. Then there was me with MS, two failed marriages behind me. A daughter from each marriage, who had both decided to seek better lives in Australia.
I adopted a ginger tom, Alouishus, from the local animal shelter to keep me company after alcoholic Arthur went off with the barmaid from the Cat and Custard Pot. Arthur and the tart made the perfect pair, as they were always on the same inebriated wavelength until the doctor told Arthur if he didn’t stop drinking, he’d be dead in three years. Credit to them, they both stopped. Supporting each other through Alcoholics Anonymous. They are still together, so they were meant to be.
Then, Al the cat left me too. He wasn’t meant to be. He got bored with the supermarket food I was buying him and moved in with the woman at number 29 who served her cats proper fish out of a tin. She didn’t seem to have a problem with Al sneaking the odd pilchard, so it didn’t take him long to get his paws under her table.
Al was my last resort on the companionship front. Even my mother had stopped saying things like so-and-so is not good enough for you, her stock phrase having become the chance of you meeting Right at your age and state of health is very slim. I was only forty-five then and she’d obviously forgotten that she cradle snatched a sixty-five-year-old when she was nearly 80.
When my mother announced she had changed her will and would be leaving everything, including her bungalow to her fountain of youth, I was devastated. I am her only child, even if she’s always driven me round the twist.
Maybe it was karma, but it was shortly after that I won £20 Million on the National Lottery. My mother, can you believe it, assumed I would be buying a mansion for us both and her toy boy. It was time I was honest with her and I didn’t hold back. I told her I preferred my own company to that of my two ex-husbands, herself, her fountain of youth and the cat.
Much to my mother’s pique, I moved to Australia, reminding her before I left that she had the fountain of her youth to look after her in her bungalow. I bought a winery in Victoria and I live in what used to be the manager’s cottage. Karen and my other daughter split the enormous colonial-style house, into two and moved in with their families. They all do their bit to make Ellen’s Estate Wines a successful family business.
They’ve got six children between them… at the moment… and I am happy to look after them anytime.