January

 The muddy water washed over them as they stood shivering on the street corner. Two girls Mary and Gennie. They weren’t wanted by society; they weren’t wanted by anyone. They had a mother. Yes, a mother that lived in unclean squalor who smoked rolled up cigarettes and talked to herself. Who sent them out on an ice-cold day in January to collect messages because she couldn’t be bothered? Mary pulled her arm around Gennie pulling her towards her in a hug. No one was going to hurt her, not this time, this time mother had gone too far. She slapped Gennie in psychotic rage, the doctors had given her pills, pills that she washed down with Russian vodka. Mary wouldn’t say mother didn’t care, that was not it. She had always blamed her father far more than her mother a selfish man who’d run off at a young age with another wealthier woman. Who’d left Mary and Gennie in the care of a woman society would claimed as unfit. It was the nineteen forties and the second world war was still raging on.

They lived in London but hadn’t been fortunate to be evacuated here they lay stiff in bed at night, planes circling overhead wondering wither a bomb would drop upon their heads. Gennie suffered from mad fits of panic waking in the middle of the night shivering at the sounds of the sirens her whole body would shake her teeth chattering, her knees knocking, I cant breath she would yell at Mary , “Mary take her back to bloody bed” mother said dismissing her through a cloud of smoke as she sat in a worn armchair watching some old cowboy film on a black and white television. “You don’t have to be so selfish” She yelled at mother although she was only fourteen, she felt like the only person in the world who cared about her sister. She pulled on Genies hand dragging her into the kitchen and putting some milk on the gas hob to heat up. Gennie hopped from foot to foot as the air raid sirens wailed on. Mary wished they would stop. What good did it do? It only panicked people, people running into shelters or just running around the streets clutching at others anything to sooth their fear. Mary thought it was unnecessary and selfish of the government to panic people in such a way. Once the milk was heated up enough, she poured it into a mug and took Gennie by the hand leading her back up to bed. Climbing the stairs. She Lit a lavender candle and tucking her under the covers. “What if we get bombed” Said Gennie still shivering. Mary took her hand stroking it in a soothing manner. “Were not going to get bombed” she said as if the idea was the most absurd thing anyone could ever conjure. She took out a book Alice in wonderland and began reading to Gennie. Gennie Sipped at the hot milk as her sister soothed her into sleep that eventually came. Mary sat back on the old wooden chair; her sister lay peacefully with her eyes closed. Outside the sirens still wailed on and Mary wished she could be younger, she wished someone could sooth her into sleep, but no one would. mother sat downstairs half drunk and showed her no pity. She felt as if no one showed her any pity, perhaps she didn’t even deserve it?

The mornings were slow but easy. Make the beds, empty the chamber pots get dressed, then go downstairs for cornflakes with a little milk. No sugar, not even on birthdays. She longed for something soft and sweet like the buns she saw in the baker’s windows but there was no money. 

Gennie was staggering about trying to put her tights on, they were laddered and bobbly, but again there was no money. They were both trouncing from school again, they were too scared to go as that would mean risking evacuation, and although she longed to go sit at a desk and learn poems and arithmetic in a quaint countryside town something in her just wouldn’t let her leave her mother.

Mary stared down at her black cup of tea no milk as usual. They used to get eggs and milk delivered when their dad was around. Sweets aswell once a month on payday they would go to the corner shop and chose between sherbet and liquorice balls all laid out neatly behind the counter. They had nothing like that now. Now all they could get where some out of date potatoes and carrots that mary would have to cut the bad bits off to make some watery soup.

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