Morning’s first rays peeped intrusively between the curtains. A honeyed glow revealed her curled up, fetal like in the corner of her double bed. Her eyes were squeezed shut and she was oblivious to the interruption.
‘Darling, it’s time to wakeup.’ My whisper fell limp as she brushed it away, retreating back into slumber. I sat beside her and swept her hair from her face, my fingers engaging in an artful dance, untangling brittle ends bleached by family summers by the sea. Her bed-sheets slipped away to expose the bountiful promise of impending adulthood. I paused, glimpsing the swell of her bosom and arc of her hips. I caught my breath and exhaled the stabbing from between my ribs. Who was this woman laying before me?
‘Leave me alone.’ she moaned, yanking at her bed-sheets, attempting to shield her womanhood from my prying eyes. Her freshly laundered clothing spilled to the floor. A padded bra dangled on the base of the bed, its attempt to mock me made fruitless by the regulation school knickers swinging from its clasp.
‘I asked you to put all that away before you went to bed last night, for God’s sake, can’t you do anything to help around here.’ I knelt beside her bed, retrieving her clothes from the floor. ‘I can’t even tell what is clean or what is dirty, how the hell can you live in such a pigsty.’
‘Go away.’ Her plea was muffled from under her pillow. ‘Can’t you just leave me alone.’
Her Disney alarm clock blinked: 7:15.
I picked up her school dress from the floor and attempted to shake off yesterday’s crumbs and creases. A chocolate wrapper and several silver coins card spilled from the pocket as I flung it onto her bed. ‘If you put your clothes away when I ask you then you can use the same basket to put your dirty stuff in. It can’t be that hard.’ I arranged her clothing into two piles: dirty and clean. ‘Now get up or you’ll be late for school.’ I stormed toward the door.
‘Mum. Mummm. Mummmmmm.’
I lingered a moment, ‘Yes?’
‘I don’t know where I put my English folder.’ She slipped the dress over her head and staggered to her desk where polaroids, pencils and paper were piled. A ceramic tree was laden with beaded bracelets, amongst them a baby bangle hung from a branch. An Iphone buzzed, though its messages appeared illegible from behind the cracked screen. ‘Don’t look at my phone.’ she flipped it over as I joined her in the search.
I pulled her pink swivel chair away from her desk to reveal a blue binder ‘Is this it?’ I waved it above my head, displaying my prize.
‘Thanks mum. Love you.’ She sidled up to me, allowing me to embrace her in my arms.
I stood on my tip-toes to kiss her cheek ‘I love you too darling, now hurry up you’re going to be late.’
Her Disney alarm clock blinked: 7:25.