a Women Writers' Showcase
Out on Parole
by Fanon

     Eventually it was bound to happen…

           I wasn’t aware of the door slamming shut - realization came, along with the panic later - It was the pain and anger that held my immediate thoughts: My shin was on fire and the stabbing pain assured me my ankle was broken in at least three places.  I lay in agony, crying and cursing.  Amanda was the target of my wrath.  I'd been tried, convicted, and left to rot by my own daughter – yet I have to admit it was all my own fault. 

           I have four children: Andrea is sixteen, Mark nineteen, Amanda - and the biggest baby of the lot - Clive, my husband.  He works for the Electricity Board, and I have a part-time job doing secretarial work.  With Amanda's arrival, we needed extra cash to keep Andrea at school and Mark on course for a degree. 

           With two children, things had been fine.  Clive’s promotion allowed us to take out a mortgage on a Semi, leaving the dingy Council Estate behind.  Moving across town changed our lifestyle, and circle of friends.  Clive became a Councillor, I joined the ladies' bowls club, we joined the Rotary.  Thursdays became Bridge night.  We were on our way up.

           I wonder how much misery results from office parties? I only attended the one - and lived to regret it for a long time.  A drink too much, family planning forgotten in the heat of passion, and along came Amanda. 

           I loved her – of course - yet she always seemed to be a problem.  Truth is, I'd gotten out of the habit of mothering young babies.  Naturally, we had to employ a baby-sitter for  Bowls, and Bridge evenings, and other outings.  I was left with no choice but to find some dignified part time employment to help with finances. 

           I wasn’t conscious of any resentment towards Amanda, yet never felt really close to her.  There just never seemed enough time to devote to her constant demands.  The others had become a full time job as they climbed through their teens.  What with them and our social life, there was little time to spare for Amanda’s demands…

           The years have flown since that party.  Amanda is almost six now.  For days she’s been trying to impress me with how grown up she is.  A couple of weeks back I had strong doubts she would be alive to see another birthday - once I got my hands on her. . . !

           The visit of a Pop Group to a nearby town started it all.  Andrea was ‘madly passionate’ – as she put it – for the drummer.

           “Can I go mum? Nearly all the school are going?"

           I must say, having heard the cost of tickets, and the hour she would return, I was less than enthusiastic.  And Pop Groups were rather low class - hardly our thing. 

           I'd made the mistake of discussing it with Clive, expecting his support.  Far from saying ‘No’, he suggested we go with her! Mark was no better-

“Great Dad, they’re a fab group, you’ll love them.  You too, Mum.  They have lasers and everything. ”

           Now if one thing gets me, it is modern Pop Stars stomping around screaming into microphones, looking like tramps, or half-clad clowns.  And the way common people react to it. . . ! I realize now what a snob I've become.

           “I think we need to give this more thought”, I'd said.  “There’s the expense.  Everyone is going to be shattered next day.  Don’t forget you two are in the middle of exams. ”

           “But Mum- ” I cut Andrea short - “I really thought you had more sense Clive.  We do have certain standards – what would our neighbours think? Anyway, there is Amanda. ”

           I was chorused into accepting that the others went.  I remained adamant that Amanda – despite her protestations – would remain at home with me.  I was expecting a visit from Lady Lattimer, about the Bazaar, so had to stay.

           The three set off at midday - it seemed one had to queue for hours for those things.  Amanda was anything but sociable before they left, throughout the day her mood was no different.  Half way through tea it ended with me packing her off to her bedroom.  I knew she was upset, but I was not exactly happy.  I didn’t want her causing a fuss if Lady Lattimer called. 

   As it happened, Lady Lattimer  didn’t.  I knew when six-thirty passed, she wouldn’t, she never visited anyone after six-thirty.  Feeling lonely, and regretting venting my anger on Amanda, I decided to make amends. 

  Our loft is a glory hole.  The strangest of possessions have been dumped in there over the years.  Not least a vast assortment of toys.  It had always been my intention to sort out the ones suitable for Amanda.  There had either been no time or I was too tired.  I resolved to make up to Amanda by setting about the task right away.

           Suiting action to intention, I had the ladder down, the trapdoor up, and called Amanda, all in under two minutes.  She ignored my calls.  I decided to go ahead and sort something out to surprise her.  Suddenly feeling pleased with myself, I hummed a tune as I stepped onto the ladder. 

           I hate lofts - and spiders.  I found myself talking aloud for reassurance.  'Thank goodness Clive installed good lighting. ' Climbing through I noticed the door catch still needed attention.  'How many years is it?' I thought aloud.   'Men never get around to finishing anything. ' I continued voicing thoughts, looking casually for treasures, more cautiously for creepy-crawlies. 

   'So that’s where that iron went.  We could have saved twenty pounds on buying a new one. '  Just how I missed my footing remains a mystery –

           'Ouch! Damn.  Oh no… blast' I was cursing in pain and anger.  'Damn you Amanda… Ouch. . . '

          I fell among some assorted boxes, a chair and what felt like lumps of scrap iron.  My shin was burning, ankle in agony.  I was uncomfortable, in severe pain, scared of things I may have crawling about me.  Uncertain of the extent of my injuries, I was afraid to move.

           'That girl is nothing but trouble. ' I muttered.  It felt like I may well be bleeding to death from my shin.  My ankle must be broken in at least three places… then I saw the trapdoor was closed.  I must have dislodged something as I fell. 

           'Damn you Clive.  The times you promised to fix that. ' I screamed the words, overcome with emotions.  I recalled Mark being trapped up there five years earlier - still the blasted catch had not been fixed.

           The door was flush fitting, with no means of opening it from inside the loft.  Something else Clive had promised to do – fit a handle on the inside – now I was left to bleed to death.  Pain, fury, and self-pity filled my eyes with tears. 

           Becoming more rational, I gingerly set about assessing the physical damage sustained.  A reluctant survey of my shin revealed a slight break of the skin and a small reddened patch.  'Well at least I won’t bleed to death. ' I grunted.

           Exploratory touching, and cautious movement of my injured ankle elicited that at worst I may have a slight sprain.  I cried in temper again, unreasonably annoyed that so little was wrong with me.  'But I’m covered in dust.  Goodness knows the state of my hair!' I consoled myself.

           Retrieving  an old golf club, I hammered on the trapdoor, yelling for Amanda.  It seemed ages before I got a reply.

           “Is that you Mummy? What do you want?”

           “Of course its me. ” 'Stupid child,' I thought.   “The trapdoor has closed.  Get the broom and see if you can push it open with the handle. ”

           “Where are you Mummy?”

           “For goodness sake Amanda.  Can’t you hear? I’m in the loft. ”

           “Are you hiding?”

           “Don’t be silly.  Go get the broom. ”            

            “Is it dark up there? Why did you close the door Mummy?” Her questions seemed endless.

           “For goodness sake just get the broom. ”

           “Are there any spiders?” The remark sent chills through me.  I dare not look round.  I yelled at her -

“Amanda, go get the broom right now. ” There was a short silence.

           “Are you sure you are my Mummy?”

           “Stop being stupid Amanda and get that broom right this minute. ”

           “You might be a wicked witch. ”

           I drew a large breath and change tactics,

“Please Amanda, Mummy has had an accident in the loft.  I need you to help open the door. ”

           “Do you mean you wet your panties Mummy?” The remark made me scream.

“Amanda, get the damn broom immediately”

           “I don’t think you are my Mummy.  My Mummy doesn’t swear. ”

           “Amanda darling” – I tried hard to sound loving – "of course I’m your Mummy.  Sorry I shouted at you.  Mummy is just frightened and I have hurt my leg.  Can you get the broom for me darling, and try to push this door open?”

           “But you sent me to bed. ” -  Damn, she sounded like the child off the Fairy Liquid advertisement.  I tried again. 

“I know dear, I'm sorry.  Now can you get the broom please?”

           “I was right.  You are a witch.  You want to steal Mummy’s broom. ”

           “Amanda stop being silly,” again anger filled my voice, “I haven’t time to play games.  Get the broom. ” Silence again, then -           

            “My Mummy hasn’t time to play games with me either.  Perhaps you really are my Mummy?” Somehow, I kept the anger out of my voice as I pleaded with her,

“I promise I will play games with you darling, soon as you help me out of here. ”

          “Can I help you do some baking?”

           “Of course you can my pet. ”

           “And can we go to the park to feed the ducks?”

          “Certainly dear.  We will go tomorrow.  Now please get the broom. ”

           “And will you draw me some pictures?”

           “Darling yes.  I will do all those things but hurry and get the brush for Mummy. ”

           “Now I know you are a wicked witch.  My Mummy is much too busy to do those things.  My Mummy is a very important lady.  I just knew you were a wicked witch. ”

           I banged, thumped, pleaded, yelled, threatened, and begged.  I clawed vainly at the door, shredding my nails in the process.  I cursed Amanda, cursed Clive, vowed to file for divorce.  Sitting back, I howled and howled.  God I was angry.  Damn, that stupid child - then the real horror silenced me - I heard the click of the wall switch, the light went out, and the door below slammed. 

    I banged and screamed like a lunatic; crying, yelling, soaked in perspiration from efforts and fright - all to no avail - Amanda had abandoned me.  I stopped from shear exhaustion.  All was black and deathly silent.  I could almost feel the spiders ganging up to attack me – then something touched my neck…

           I must have fainted, then drifted into a sleep full of dreams of abandoned children, and witches on broomsticks…

           I awoke in the early hours stiff, frozen, drained.  All anger and thoughts of vengeance had gone - so had self-pity.  I re-lived  Amanda’s departing remarks, realising what a snob I'd become in my efforts to climb the social ladder.  It had taken climbing the loft ladder to bring me to my senses.  All the cheese and wine parties in England were as nothing against losing the love and respect of my child.

           The others returned, and Clive set me free.  Brushing aside attention and questions I headed straight for Amanda’s room.

           She lay sleeping like an angel.  As tears welled, half blinding me, I leaned to smooth her brow, and kiss her tenderly.  Eyes opening briefly, she murmured “Mummy” and was asleep again. 

           “Yes my little precious gift” I whispered “I really will be your Mummy from now on…”

           That was two months ago.  I'm trying hard, but  sometimes I catch Amanda with head cocked on one side, looking at me as only a child can.  I can’t help thinking I'm still on parole  … 

Fanon:  I'm an 84 year old guy that took up writing a couple of years ago because I got cancer and could do little else. I left school at thirteen (71 years ago), so am not exactly educated, lol. I write stories for my grand and great-grand children, and general and adult stories. Fact and fiction. I attach a couple of samples (chosen because they were early short ones, and most others exceed the 2000 limit.) My name is Frankie Anon and I write as 'FANON'. My email address is "  Contact FANON.