December 1990: The month of Christmas is here, other kids have given in their letters to Santa but I know there isn’t one. I found that out once when I saw my mum wrapping presents and putting them under the Christmas tree the night before Christmas. It’s freezing and outside I see the large shards of glittering but ever so dangerous, beautifully formed icicles silently hang from the roof tops. Ramona and I always loved knocking them down, but we were forbidden to do so when once one almost land on our next door neighbor, what a mess that would have been, death by ice. Ramona, Meadow and my mum are upstairs putting up the tree, their laughter taunts me and I’m not allowed to join in as part of my punishment for what Abel and I did and also for me wanting to blood Aunt Geegee. Sitting in my room, frosty as the snowman Meadow and I carefully formed in the garden I’m wondering if we are going up to Chorley this year like we do every year to see Granny and Gran Dad and the rest of the up north family. Why all of the family lived up north I have no clue and then Ramona and Meadow have their other side of families down here in London I have no one, just them, just my mum sister and brother. I’ve come to terms with not having my own cousins and dad around and I really do love them all but that hole that seems to be filled with the disintegrating breadcrumbs they’ve tried to fill it with is getting larger and yearning for a more cement like filling.
Just doodling another eye in my note pad I took home from school, not note pad my maths book. Listening to the sounds of the tree’s branches clap with one and other in the short, strong gusts of wind, hearing the one bird calling out and no doubt looking for food in all that snow, cars are not so frequent on this road of mine so when they do pass they’re loud enough to hear from even the bathroom. Climbing down from my bunk-bed and sitting down next to the window ledge in my room I pull the net curtain over my head and look out the window, my snowman looks at me in his wooly scarf and hat that mum said I could put on him, he seems to know sorry too as he sits there patiently for some ray of sun to melt his troubles away. Cat walking on the back garden wall, weaving it’s self through the leafless apple tree’s twisted branches, I need to go toilet so I get up and walk to the passage. “We miss you a berry mismas.” Meadow begins to sing ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ and although my mum has said nothing immediately, I can hear that she is smiling towards him, Ramona joins in with him and the a call from upstairs “Rogue come upstairs, come and see the tree.” Ramona shouts down and stamps back towards the living room based at the front of the house.
“I’m going toilet.” I shout back up and hear the T.V volume go up, they’re watching Annie. I do like those films my mum puts on for us to watch, but kind of when I’m alone, all the others do is laugh and talk whilst watching it. Passing the cupboard under the stairs chills runs up my spine, across my shoulders and then back down to my toes. At least that cupboard has a light and isn’t deep enough to get lost in, although I have lost many toys to the mouth of it, I should go hunting for them some time. Maybe today whilst they play together upstairs, the happy with out Rogue family.
Sitting on the toilet doing a pee, I never liked standing up at home to pee, I just liked to be comfortable and unrushed, however if there were people in the house that weren’t household members I would stand just being cautious someone might walk in on me. Yeah they’d probably think I was doing a shit but, hearing the pee stream out and no smell of yesterdays digested lamb roast would give away that I was just peeing. Just sitting silently, hearing the murmurs through the walls and ceiling of them talking upstairs. Thinking back;
Ramona and I are in our old house: Graham road
We’re scaling the stairs pretending to swim up stream. “Save me, help me, I’m drowning” I call up to her. She turns round and passes her hand down to me, I grab it and hold on tightly and pull her down towards me just a little.
“Don’t pull me down.” She turns to me and grabs one step above her so she doesn’t get pulled down. I’m only pulling to make the game a bit more realistic, after all we are in a river and our boat has been destroyed. “Swim Roeroe, swim.” She hails down at me. I kick my legs and wave my head around as if the waves of the vicious attempt to drown me.
“I’m trying Ramona, I’m trying, hold on don’t let me go.” I let go of her hand and then glide down a few steps further behind her, she stops and pretends to tread water and wave her arms in and out.
“What are you two doing?’ Mum walks out of her bedroom and looks at us funny, not in the way she’s upset with us, but she seems happy that we’re playing nice for once, playing together at all. She pats Bingo, our Doberman puppy on the head where he lays guarding her bedroom door and carries on walking passed.
“We’re pretending to drown in the river, we lost our boat, Ramona has to save me” kicking my legs and twirling around on the stairs I scream at my mum and she turns round, nods and smile. The click, the sound, the smell of my mum lighting her cigarette thrills me, she goes into the living room and begins to watch one of her boring TV shows, which always seem to only have white people in them even Eastenders had a minimal cast of people that looked a bit like me and when they did they didn’t speak like people I know, living in East London, they spoke that weird and annoying way like all the other characters did.
Looking back at Ramona and just as a split glimpse I saw a shimmering of something in the crease of the steps above me, Ramona is almost at the top, every thing has stopped and is now silent. I look back to where I though I saw the glimmer, crawling up towards it, it becomes apparent what it is, a biro pen with no lid, a black biro pen with no lid. Looking up at Ramona she glides down a few steps down towards me “Rogue the water is too strong, brace yourself I’m flooding back!” she screams back down at me she turns her head looking at me to judge where her feet are it seems.
“Careful.” a deeper voice comes from within me. She begins to climb back up the stairs slowly and I grab the black brio pen with no lid, spin it in between my fingers and watch it reflect everything from behind me. Looking closer I gaze into in to it trapped in my own spell binding trance, I can see my mum’s legs crossed and her lifting her hand up to her mouth to take another pull of her cigarette directly behind me, to my right ant the bottom I watch Bingo scratch himself neat to the stairs in his fluffy brown bed, sharply turning my head to the garden door, I see Joan the tenant upstairs walk passed with her washing basket. I look bag at Ramona still moving slowly but slower than what I just saw. I hold the balck biro pen with no lid now in my fist and swim “It’s too strong Ramona, I’m going to drown.” In a gurgling voice I say to her. “No Rogue swim, you can beat it” she yells back down at me. My mum shushes us loudly so we know to be a little quieter. Ramona’s bum is large in my face as she falls back and I hope she doesn’t fart in my face. All this screaming and shouting that we’re going to drown I don’t want a mouthful of this morning’s Weetabix and toast thanks.
A thunderous, banshee screams soars and scare the walls of the house, Ramona jumping up and down on the stairs and twisting her body like a worm that salt has just been thrown on. Black biro pen with no lid has gone from my hand, black biro pen with no lid on has vanished. Screaming still and discovering something from her behind, she yells out to my mum who I can hear already coming towards us “He’s stabbed me mum, he stabbed me in my bum, Rogue stabbed me.!” Crying and tears filling up the stairs enough to make our play river real I look upon her face an see sheer agony and pain fill her, my pushes me out of the way and luckily I’m only on the third step now so the fall onto the door behind me doesn’t hurt as much as it could have. Looking up at the both of them “Hold Still man cha.” My mum turns Ramona round on her belly, Ramona cocks up her bum in the air, mum hold on to the black biro pen with no lid. I wail of lightening thrashes towards me from Ramona’s mouth, Bingo barking and looking up towards my mum and sister. “It hurts mum, it hurt, don’t take it out.” She looks down at me and the skin under her eyes has swollen with moisture.
“I have to.” My mum pulls at the pen and has to steady herself from falling backwards on the stairs. Red smears the black brio pen with no lid. My swiftly my mum runs the stairs, pushes me slightly to one side and opens the door behind me, it’s dark down there. Grabbing me by the shoulder, smelling the musky smell of damp and dust my mum pushes me in side. One thick step I sit upon and then down the wooden hollow steps continue to where I have no clue. Watching Ramona on the stairs still crying my calming down my mum shouts at me as I try to get out of the entrance of the basement door “Just get in there boy” the door closes and the light fades away quicker than I could blink and say sorry. Screaming and scratching away at the door the darkness thickens as my eyes try to adjust to the lack of light. The small space between the door and the floor has some light coming through but not enough to sustain any calm in my mind. The darkness thicken even more so as I see the light between the gap fade away, some one on the other side of the door has filled it up. “Let me out, I’m sorry mum, I’m scared” I scream out. Only the answer of feet walking way answer to my call. The darkness is so thick now if I put my hand out to it will surely grab and pull me down to it. The smell of damp thickens and as I try to tightly hold my scrawny legs up to my chest on the one step keep me and the deep darkness apart my right foot slips and down and I begin to follow down with it. Scared of what I might find down there or what might find me down there I scream out to my mum how sorry I am. My tears are enough to really drown me now. Cold, damp and musky I sit on in the middle of the stairs, I think I’m in the middle at least. Checking with my foot and holding onto the wall on my right it’s now obvious the quick fall down the stairs has lead me to the bottom. Putting my head in my lap I listen out for the hope of my mum unlocking the bolts to the door, I’m too scared to make my way back up, just in case something drags me back down, I close my eyes but of course that only make things even more darker. I hear the cars above me. The basement obviously leads under the road. I’m cold, shivering, trying to keep warm. I can hear them in the bathroom, I can’t make anything out, too muffled and I’m too cold to concentrate. Holding my head up and trying to look into the endless shadow I have been swallowed into I begin to see light far away in front of me. Red tiny lights coming towards me. There’s 4 of them then 6 and then only 2. Something falls over to my left I want to climb back up the stair, but will that something just follow me up? I hear Ramona and mum come down the stairs “Mum” not a shout not even a whisper, a almost breathless sigh flutters from my lips and is absorbed into the darkness. Trying not to move, trying not to make a sound I still her what ever is down here with me on the left in front of me. The door bell rings, Ramona runs back up the stairs, I can tell it’s her cause of the light and space out jumps she does to get up the stirs quicker. Another adults voice is in the house, I can’t call out now, they’ll know that I’m down here, what would they do? I’m sure this is normal to do anyway when you’ve done something wrong. My hearing tuning in well now, not so warm but I’m able to concentrate on the sounds, the kettle begins to boil, the cups placed on the counter, the stirring of the tea. Ramona playing her records, the TV getting a little bit louder, my breathing getting slower and the two red lights are eyes watching me. Don’t know how long now I’ve been down here but it seems a while, they kettle has gone on twice so far. My fingers are cold against my face and my chest shivers with the little warmth it can hold on to, those red eyes won’t leave alone they seem to per into the soul of me and know that I am afraid. She knew I was always afraid., she defiantly did. I must have fallen asleep at some point or lost all consciousness of what was going on around me, because that person had left the house I never even noticed and I hear foot steps come toward the top of my head, I look up toward the door. No unbolting of the locks, but whatever filled the gap and shut out the thin line of light has now been removed. Two shadows stay fixed at the top in the faint stream of the light. “Are you ready to come out now.” My mum says. The clank of the bolts excite me and I crawl up, the door opens and my mums face appears in the light. She looks at me and then at the door. She notices the marks made from my nails, now filed down from the scratching and says nothing more.
I’ll never forget those times my mum put me in the basement. After a few more time she did, I started to experiment with fire and how to keep the darkness away. First it was burning toilet rolls in the garden to see how long they would last, not very long I found. Then just holding matches and having to relight them. Then I discovered candles.
Flushing the toilet I walk upstairs to Ramona, Meadow and my mum and think to myself, how comes they never had to go down there?
“Mum can I have a mince pie please?” I ask her with a relief that I know there’s nowhere in this new house she can subject me to thickening darkness and red eyes.
“What’s the matter, you okay?” she asks.
“Yeah I’m fine.” Looking at Meadow, I feel a little bit sick still, knowing he was a child of a demon, dreadlocked man but every kid deserves a father so let him have him for now.
“We’re going to Granny and Gran dad’s soon.” Ramona slurs out with little enthusiasm. I kind of second her thought cause I know all I’ll get from them this year is socks, because no doubt mum has told them all about my shenanigans since my last visit, and Santa doesn’t give bad girls and boys nice things. Oh well, we’ll just see I guess.
Munching away at the mince pie my mum only buys for me, I asked her if I could go to Greysons’s house later on that day. Wow, she actually said yes. I ask if I can call him and she tell me not to be too long on the phone. Calling him sometimes was a hassle though, his parents would always sound so upset that their phone would ring, why bother have one if that was the case.
“I’m coming over yeah?” I say to him, with a slight smile on my face.
“Okay, don’t be long though, oh and my friend Chris is coming over too.” Attempting me to hurry up I hang up the phone, sure to run down the stairs and grab a pound out of my mum’s pocket so I can get some penny sweets on the way.
“I hope your not in my pockets you know Rogue?” she shouts out.
“No mum.” I say as I leave the door. I know she’ll probably find out I was, or had already counted the coins in her pocket. What has been done has been done. Damn it’s cold and slippery out here.
© 2010 - 2012. All rights reserved N P Rogue Laudat-Scott 'Mind of Rogue' and 'Memoirs of Marbie'