Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: Whistle and Pea

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Theme for this week was “Whodunnit?” 

My name is Desiree Long – a name which was given to me by my mother in the hopes that I would be beautiful, and charming, and like herself. But I turned out like my father, and so disappointed her in all respects: dumpy, dull and silent.

She’s dead now. I came back from school on Tuesday last week and found her hanging from the ceiling hook in the living room, like she was an extension of the light. It took me ten minutes to stop staring and phone the police, since it was the last thing I had expected. I can’t remember it very well – the shock hit me worse than anything – but I remember dad hugging me and saying it would be okay, and the police muttering to each other before finally telling us that, though it looked like suicide, the marks on the living room floor showed that she was dragged up there. It was murder.

I wish I could say I was upset. Well, I was – but not too upset. She’d never liked me, my mum; she was a whistle and I was the pea trapped inside her, both rattling against each other but unable to part. I remember when dad went to the police station to talk about possible suspects, and I was left alone in the house. I made myself a jam sandwich with mum’s favourite strawberry compote and I sprinkled loads of sugar on top like she would never let me, and it tasted like the best thing in the world until I was halfway through and then I felt really sick, and that was when I started crying.

When dad came back from the station he said that they were taking my uncle – my mum’s brother – in for questioning. It was likely a strong man who fought her and strung her up like that, he said, and my Uncle Phil is built like a bear. Phil’s loud and obnoxious for a security guard, and he’s always made crude comments about me. My mum never told him off for it because she loved him, she loved hanging out and drinking with her brother. That’s why I was so confused when dad said that he was a suspect, because he would never hurt her, I thought. And she trusted him enough to give him a key to the house…

I remembered our last house party. Mum was angry that night, but she had been constantly angry for weeks so I didn’t notice. Phil got drunk and kept calling her Ann, which really annoys her because she had it legally changed to Anastasia when she was younger because she hated being called just “Ann”, and the more she told him to shut up the more she got genuinely angry until she shouted at him and stormed off. He went after her and had a chat with her, and everyone was whispering and awkward – people kept asking me what was up so I just stood by the snacks and pretended to tidy up so they’d leave me alone again. After that she didn’t talk to him for the rest of the night, wouldn’t even look at him.

And then I remembered that after that she got loads of phone calls from him, and she kept hanging up and refusing to answer, until the other day – the day before she died – she went up to her room and ended up shouting down the line, saying he should leave her alone and stop trying to control her life and let her make her own decisions.

‘You know, chick,’ dad said at dinner, ‘our solicitor said that your mother had arranged to see him. You know your uncle’s a beneficiary on her will. The police think that, since she’d had an argument with him, maybe she was going to write him out of it.’

He looked really upset. He looked like he’d been crushed by a train ever since she died, and that made me feel so bad.

‘She wouldn’t do that,’ I said. It was too twee, too like Agatha Christie for anything that happened around my mother. ‘She loved him. I bet you anything he didn’t kill her.’

He gave me a big speech about facing reality and being a big girl and how sometimes the world is cruel and things we don’t think would ever happen come about, but I didn’t listen.

Maybe I should have, because Uncle Phil phoned me up earlier today, and told me I should come round to his house, and I refused because I’m glad that I have no reason to go near him ever again. He sounded worried, upset, said that I should because some tests had come through, and they’d found sleeping pills in my mum’s body, so there would have been no struggle to hang her – and I hung up because I didn’t want to hear it.

I didn’t want to hear it. But I heard it, and I went through to the kitchen and I took out the packet of sleeping pills in the box where we keep medicines. It had four missing. When I turned, dad was in the doorway, and when he saw that I was crying he started shaking his head.

‘Oh, chick,’ he said, sounding so tired, looking horribly sad. ‘What have you done?’

Nothing. I’ve done nothing. I would never have killed my mother in a hundred years – so surely my father, who’s dull, and dumpy, and scorned by her like me, would never have killed her either. But he kept shaking his head and sighing, and he started walking towards me and I pressed myself against the counter away from him, unable to run.

‘You don’t understand, chick,’ he said, and his quietness had never seemed so creepy. ‘She was going to rob me, rob us. Your uncle knew – he thought she should try to stick it out – but I had no idea until she said she was going for divorce papers. I gave everything for her, yet she was going to bleed me for all I had, and leave nothing for you. Don’t you see, chick? I did it for us!’

He didn’t do it for me. I knew how little I meant to her; I never expected anything. He did it for his own anger, not me. And his anger didn’t die with her; I can see it in his eyes, he couldn’t kill it so now he’s looking at me, he’s still angry and he’s just looking at me…

He’s waiting for me to respond, but I can’t do anything but cry. And he’s twisting up a tea towel with his hand and I know I should try to run, but all I can do is think back on everything that’s happened, me and him and her. And he’s coming towards me, and I can’t move, and I know I should stop thinking now because all thoughts have to stop–


I think everyone was a little shocked with this one. Got some very nice responses though 🙂

P.S. Riverboats will be back on Sunday. 


Written by G.J.

19/09/2012 at 10:44 pm

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