FREE short story by Colin Devonshire
“Today’s the day I change,” I said to myself. Swinging my right leg and booting Mrs Ricketts’ gnome from the front of her pristine garden. I chuckled as it smashed in the road. Her front door opened, and she came out waving her walking stick shouting and calling me names you don’t expect a woman of her age using.
It made me laugh as I jogged backwards, waving my middle fingers at her. I guessed she knew what it meant.
I tripped and fell backwards over an overfilled shopping bag by the bus stop. The owner was not happy. I turned and ran. He was bigger than me. My guess was correct, he wouldn’t leave his shopping spilt over the pavement. My exaggerated laughter rang as I ducked around the corner.
“Where the hell have you been?” shouted my father, hands-on-hips.
“I’ve been saying goodbye to my oldest friends,” I lied.
“We haven’t got time. I had to pack for you. So if anything is missing, tough. You’ve had weeks to prepare.”
We are going to fly to Bangkok. God knows why? He possibly does. My dad, Dr Jacob Smithson, has a new job. Not as a GP, he is something to do with chemicals. I never understood, he has told me, but I wasn’t listening.
Oh, and we are going to rejoin my mum. She couldn’t cope with London, I got some of the blame for that too. She went back to Thailand. Now after two years apart, she hopes I’ve changed. I told her I had. I mean to. New home, new school, new me.
My dad tugged my ear, forcing me to release next door’s kitten that cat enjoys being held by the tail.
The taxi arrived on time, and we arrived at Heathrow with two hours to spare. I wandered off in search of something to do. Dad had his nose buried in The Telegraph.
Some bloke in a uniform marched me to the seat next to dad.
“Keep your eye on him, please, sir.”
Dad looked up, and then quizzically at me. I shrugged.
Our plane was delayed by thirty minutes. “So what?”
The Thai customs and passport people all looked at me as if I was a wanted criminal. Mind you, so did the Brits. What is up with these people.
“I hope your mum is here to meet us,” said dad.
There was no sign of her.
Another taxi, the traffic is worse here than in London; it was hotter too. Thank god the cab had air-con. Dad and I were tired, the endless rabbit in a foreign language was boring. When did dad learn to speak Thai? I wondered.
“Well, son, here we are.”
“What? It’s a bloody factory,” I said.
“Less of the swearing. It’s only temporary accommodation. We can start looking for somewhere this weekend.”
Our new, if only for a short while, home was two rooms, a tiny kitchen, and a shower jammed in next to an odd-looking toilet. Dad told me it was an old fashioned Thai squat effort. I didn’t want to use it, and old Mrs Ricketts couldn’t. At least there was something to laugh about.
Dad got himself connected to the phone system, there was no need for me, as I had no one to call. He spent ages on Line and e-mailing my mum. Eventually, she agreed to house hunt with us at the weekend, does that mean she’s moving in with us?
Dad took me to my new school yesterday. The kids were a mix, about half of them were Thai, at least they could all speak English. I start next week. I’m not sure what the homeroom teacher meant when he said, “I’ve spoken to your last headteacher, we don’t want the same behaviour here. Got it?”
Trouble seems to follow me across the world, but I’m determined to change.
My dad left me at home. “I’m going to meet your mum,” he said.
“Can’t I come?” I asked.
“It is better if I go alone. I’ve bought you an electric game, that’ll keep you busy this evening. Don’t forget we’re home hunting tomorrow. Tonight, I hope I can convince your mum to join us.”
The game was boring, so I attempted hacking into dad’s laptop, I had little success. But was getting somewhere with it, I gave up and decided to go for a walk. Hot and sweaty outside and no kids playing. People were just sitting outside their doors, all looking at me as if I’m a space creature.
Dad had found three houses to view, all had three bedrooms and were much cheaper to rent than London. He said it depended more on where the places were and how difficult the trip to school and his work were. Traffic in Bangkok can be dreadful he said. What do I know?
And yes, mum was joining us at the first address.
We arrived early, dad had rented a car, so thankfully we didn’t need a taxi. The agent was already there; she gave dad a tinned coffee and me a coke; I liked her. After showing us around, she handed dad sets of keys and a piece of paper with addresses on it.
“I must get back to the office, sorry I can’t show the other two. Take your time and then pop back and let me know your choice.”
With that, she disappeared. Shame, it was nice following her up the stairs.
There was a knock at the door. It was mum.
She had put on some weight; I kept my mouth shut, maybe I am changing?
“You’ve grown,” she said.
“So have… yes, I guess I have.” At least I smiled at her.
Dad put his arm around her and tried leading her in. She shrugged him off.
“Well, mum, what do you think?”
She glared at me and snorted, “I’ve only just walked in.”
“Come and see the bedrooms,” said dad.
“What makes you think I’m sleeping here?”
My dad dropped his shoulders, “Look at the lovely kitchen then, they have a western one inside and a Thai kitchen outside,” he carried on bravely.
“Has he learned any manners?” she said, pointing at me.
“Eh, um, he…”
“I’ll take that as a no. So he’s as bad as before?” She still refused to look me in the eye.
“Please darling, I want us all to be together.” My dad was quaking. It was sickening to see.
She looked at the ceiling as dad dropped to his knees, begging.
I had seen enough. I took a few steps across the kitchen, opening a drawer, first try, and first time lucky. An eight-inch carving knife stuck to my hand.
It soon found its way across dad’s throat, mum hands to face, looked at me for the first and last time, as I slashed her windpipe.
I had the keys to a car, keys to three houses, not sure what to do with them yet, I’ll think of something. Now I must pop back to our little hovel and continue with hacking dad’s laptop to arrange some funds. Then I think I’ll travel south to the beaches.
I said I was going to change. I didn’t say for the better!
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