I hated that summer. Well, I hated every summer but that one was the worst summer ever. I suppose I should explain. Well every summer my dad sent me to boarding school. I had a different boarding school each year. Since my mum died, he’d never been able to cope, especially since I was growing up.
I was three when she died. She went missing then was found floating in the water of the soft, calm sea several metres away from our house. People thought she drowned by accident. But that is what they would think if they didn’t know she was a secret agent (I would have said Spy if I hadn’t hated that word so much. It seems such a cruel word). The people who found her said she looked so white she looked like rubber. I remember her lying on the beach and me not knowing she was dead, waggling her cheek going,
“Wake up, Mamma. Mummy wake up!”
She felt like rubber as well.
I remember a policeman picking me up but I squealed and shouted “Mummy!” I looked over the policeman’s shoulder and saw my dad kneeling down next to my mum, head in his hands and crying. He sobbed,
“Delilah, don’t go! Not now!”
That’s when I realized what had happened; Mum had died.
For a few days police knocked on our door to see if Dad was ok. He used to say it was nice of them to come round, but he was fine. But he was obviously lying; you could tell from the dead look in his eyes. Grandma used to come round too. That’s my Grandma on my dad’s side as my grandparents on my Mum’s side were dead. She’d used to coo over him going, “Oh, sweetheart you poor, poor thing” or “You must feel dreadful darling, are you sure your ok here on your own, with no-one looking after you?”
Dad would always say “Mum, Delilah died a terrible death and I’m sure she wouldn’t want a big fuss over it. Thank you Mum but I’m fine with on my own. Becca and I don’t need anyone.” I am Becca by the way. Yep, Rebecca Rosie Jones, that’s me.
Anyway, this summer I wasn’t going to boarding school. Oh, no! I was going to move.
My Dad was a businessman. He sold ‘High Tech’ stuff. He worked for a company called ‘InTech’, as in, Into Technology. People Into Technology would buy stuff from there. As well as InTech being a shop, it is a school inspector of technology shops. That’s what my Dad did mostly, as well as being a businessman, being an InTech inspector.
That’s how he met Susan. A woman as sharp as a lemon left in the freezer overnight. Can image biting into her in the morning? Nasty. Anyway, while on an InTech inspection to Spain he met Susan. Susan had been on a holiday. Dad and Susan got on really well, apparently, and found out that they lived quite close. When Dad was enjoying himself in Spain, I was in my dump of a room or The Blue Room as my roommate called it. I don’t know why, but apparently she loved the room we were in. I didn’t. I called it The Dumps. In fact, every room at every boarding school was a dump.
So when my Dad and Susan got back from their holiday they started seeing each other. That is when I realized she was like Mrs Quickly from Nanny McPhee. She started giving me dirty looks and laugh cruelly behind my back. She was evil. Then I started thinking she was a witch. Waiting for my dad to go out one day so she could grill me in her cauldron, then serve me to my Dad and Charlie, my Border Collie cross, disguised as soup. Hey, I was seven then.
Then the day after my 15th birthday, my dad hit me with horrible news. He put his hand round the top of Susan’s arm near her shoulder, almost as if he was going to hug her. I stared at them. “Do you want to tell her, or shall I?” Said Dad, excitedly.
“You tell her. You’re her Father.” Susan insisted. I stared at them even more. My heart started thumping and some how I ended up blurting out,
“Your not having a baby, are you Susan?”
They both laughed.
“No!” Susan exclaimed hysterically, but I could tell she was annoyed with such a suggestion, “Your Dad and you are moving in to my house!”
“Hey, what happened to I’m the father and I should tell her?” My dad squeaked.
Susan turned round to my dad and said,
“Sorry Mike, I was just so excited I couldn’t help it!”
Neither of them noticed how shocked I looked. My mouth shot downward so quickly I thought I might have accidentally broken my jaw. I managed to get out two words before running upstairs and sobbing for a bit.
“That’s great!” I said to them, lying to myself. It wasn’t that I was upset about moving schools; I didn’t have any friends anyway, it was that I was moving in with a witch, I mean a sour lemon, no, Mrs Quickly. I was also upset because we were moving in with her, not her moving in with us. I loved our home. It had all our memories in it. Including mums.
The next day, I helped my dad shift and organise boxes. He started talking about plans and how we were going to be a great family. He started to get a bit tearful. I just smiled and looked grateful. After we did the boxes we had lunch.
“Dad? Do you still think about mum? I mean you do like her more than Susan, don’t you?” I asked him like I was eight or something. I swear he nearly choked on his food when he heard this.
“Yes! I love her second best to—” He said softly.
“To whom Dad? Susan?” I said, annoyed. I think my dad picked up the annoyed tone in my voice. He became tearful again.
“You, Sweetheart,” he pronounced, ripping his last tuna sandwich in half a stuffing one half into his gob. I hoped he would give the other half to me so I gazed at it licking my lips over and over until they got sore. Then he did that thing that siblings do. You know, where they pretend to give it to you then they pull it back and eat it. I suppose my dad has always been a big brother to me.
Have I mentioned that Susan has two kids? One is a girl and one’s a boy. They are actually nice for Susan’s children. The boy, Jack, is really clever. He is always hanging about somewhere, like a ghost, and then when you ask a question, he is there to answer it. Creepy!
The girl Daisy-Rose is really nice and we agreed when we were seven that we’d be Best Friends. So I’m glad Dad and Susan are boyfriend and girlfriend for one reason. Is anything wrong with that? No? Good.
Don’t get me wrong but maybe, I thought, maybe I could learn to live with
Susan Quickly. But… I was so wrong.