Bystander: A Horror Story.
Negotiating the minefield of saucers of souring milk, Megan mumbled to herself that the damn cat had been dead for years. Stepping into the back room, she looked around at the fading floral wallpaper, marked out with bright squares where pictures had once made the place a home. Back then Lilly had been very keen to present to the world a well maintained home, with everything in its place. However, that was a long time ago, now the house was practically an empty shell. The front room was the only place in the house that was barely hanging on to its former memories.
Megan had had the room converted into a bed-sit after her mother had suffered a small stroke and could no longer manage the stairs. That day had been a test of everyone’s patience; with her younger sister, Gloria complaining that she had little time to spare, as she still hadn’t found the perfect outfit for Charle’s and Di’s wedding. The fact that she would be sitting at home watching the event on the television did not seem absurd to her at all. In the end, Gloria got her husband Nigel to help shift the furniture around downstairs to accommodate a single bed. Lilly had wanted her double bed, but even she had to agree it would leave little room for her wing-backed armchair and precious sideboard. In the end the single bed was wedged against the front door, allowing Lilly to see through the middle room and the kitchen at the back. Her armchair was placed by the window while the sideboard took pride of place against the far wall.
In the centre of the sideboard stood a faded black and white snapshot of Lilly and her husband Joe on their wedding day, to the left, a photo of Gloria, aged fifteen wearing a light pink sash declaring her, ‘Little Miss Brighton, Seaside Queen 1969’. A year later Gloria had married Nigel, a man seven years her senior. Their collection of brightly coloured nuptials dominated the other side of the sideboard alongside a stash of memorabilia from Gloria and Nigel’s various holidays abroad, including: a conk shell from the Maldives, a ship in the bottle from the Caribbean and a Micky Mouse letter rack declaring Florida, ‘The Sunshine State’. Megan had thought her sister had married too young, but now she saw that her sister had been more than canny in getting away with caring for their mother.
The only photo Lilly had of Megan had been tucked behind the other memories. It had been taken the year before she had left school. She hated the face that stared from the frame, all teeth and hair; harking back to the time when she was openly known as the ugly sister; a label Megan had never quite been able to let go off. On numerous occasions Megan had asked her mother to get rid of it, only for Lilly to snap back, “If you’d got someone to marry you, or done something important with your life, then I would have had that framed instead.”
With a deep breath, Megan stepped into the front room and once again the stale smell of her mother and the state of the room reminded her that things could not carry on like this for much longer.
“Is that you Meg?” boomed Lilly.
“Yes Mum, replied Megan, “you’ve lost your teeth again?”
* * *
Like to read more? pop on over to blanchestreet.co.uk for info on all ten tales and how to get your hands on the e-book