Thursday, 13 June 2013

glory brats: the girl

[This is just a snippet I wrote trying to get a feel for the world that the Glory Brats came from. It won't occur in the actual story, but something like it might.]

The girl held her satchel upside down and shook it. Pencil stubs and coloured beads added to the mess on the rug. A penny rolled away in a slow curve on the uneven floor. Her last reading book, caught by the shoulder strap, landed open, pages flapping in the breeze from the broken window. The girl thought of birds taking off from a rooftop at the end of summer. She had never been so aware of noise before.

Holding her breath, she tiptoed past the room where her parents lay. The door was half open, and she could just see her little sister's hand peeking out from under the covers. Mim slept on a mattress on the floor of their parents' room, beneath the window, so she could see the stars at night; the stars that were brighter than ever since the street lamps stopped working.

But Mim didn't move, and the girl went into the kitchen. She took the last three apples from the bowl on the table, the tin of apricots from the shelf, and found a bag of rice that pulled her shoulder down with the weight of it in the satchel. She took the rice out and sat it on the table.

'Where's a knife...'

A knife was found at the back of a drawer. She slit the bag open, and a few grains spilled out through the sides. Cupping her hand, she scooped the contents out and into the satchel. She did this until half the bag was gone, enjoying the feel of her fingers against the silky-slippery rice.

An alarm clock made her jump, and the last handful scattered across the table and the tiles. She looked over her shoulder into the hall. Still ringing. A few grains of rice were stuck to her hand but she brushed them away against her jumper.

The ringing was louder in the hall. She put all her weight against the bedroom door to push it open, and caught her foot on Mim's mattress.

'Sorry...'

She could barely hear her own voice over the noise of the alarm clock. It was coming from the corner of the room. Picking her way through the mess, she clambered awkwardly onto the edge of the bed and swung her legs over to the other side.

'Sorry...' she whispered to her parents, 'So sorry...'

She shuffled over to the corner and picked the alarm clock up, knocking the lever with her finger. It stopped. Her breathing was the loudest thing in the house. She dropped the clock. It whirred briefly and then stopped with a metallic clunk. The girl stood in the middle of it all, listening to the sound of her breath going in and out and in. The birds outside began to sing as the light crept slowly over the sky.

On her way out through the kitchen she paused. The knife lay on the table where she'd left it. She picked it up, feeling the weight of it as if for the first time. It felt odd. She gripped the handle, and her wrist shook.

She put it in the bag and shut the door behind her.