Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: The Imposters

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One day at school they asked us to write a story about aliens. They gave us sheets of paper with thick black lines to write on, next to a box where we were to draw the aliens we had invented.

Today I can’t remember what everyone else wrote, except for my rival Hannah, who made a rapping pink boy alien who travelled by skateboard and wanted to see every country in the world. I only remember because I was jealous of her cool idea, because I remember looking at her smiling alien drawing and wondering how she always drew so prettily and how she never got the ghostly running-out felt-tip pens like I did.

My aliens had bodies that looked like they’d faded in the wash. They had fingerless, suckerless tentacles that appealed both to my sense of horror and my lack of artristic talent. They had grey helmets with noseguards because we had been studying the Vikings, and each helmet was shaded by pencil instead of pen, because graphite gave it that metallic sheen on the paper. They were sinister, I thought, with their teeth-heavy cartoon mouths and flared nostrils. But I only drew them in that form on page three, the climax of the story. On page two, I drew the generic spaceship above the earth. I couldn’t be bothered to colour in all of space, so the red rocket and blue-and-green globe floated in a white sea peppered with asterisks.

One page one, I drew my mother and sister.

I called my story “The Imposters.”

I enjoyed writing it, and I liked that I needed more pages to tell the story than everyone else, even Hannah. Then I forgot about it. From that I can guess that I didn’t receive any comments on it from Mrs Patterson, because I always tried my best to get her to say nice things about my work, and I always hated when she complimented Hannah’s work and not mine. I don’t think Mrs Patterson said anything about the alien stories – she was probably eager to get us back to spelling tests or learning about World War Two. The project was done, my piece was thrown into my folder of work, and I didn’t think about it again. Until parent’s evening.

Mum came back from parent’s evening with a white face that seemed even whiter in contrast to her freckles.

‘Daisy,’ she said, ‘come here a minute.’

She sat me down on the living room floor, and put my folder of work on the coffee table. I ooh-ed and aah-ed and fished out some of the drawings I liked most – the one of the dragon flying in front of the moon, the wizard with the purple hat – but she stopped my hand, and placed in front of me “The Imposters”.

‘You wrote this for school?’ she asked.

Yes, I said.

She pointed to the drawing on the first page. A lady with brown hair and freckles, a girl with brown hair up in high bunches with Minnie Mouse hairbands. The way I drew it, the Minnie Mouse hairbands were nearly the size of the girl’s head. My sister Ivy always insisted on those hairbands, every morning when mum put up her hair.

‘Who are these two?’ she asked, voice low. I wondered if she was tired, from the way she said it.

‘The mother and sister,’ I said. I told her how the story was about aliens that took over people’s bodies, and one day the person telling the story realised her sister was acting strangely, and then when she went to ask her mother about it, the mother was also acting unusually.

‘Then she realised they were aliens,’ I finished up, ‘and they took her to space so she wouldn’t tell anyone, but she stole a spaceship and ran away.’

‘Oh,’ Mum said. ‘Does she ever find her real mother and sister?’

I hadn’t thought about that part.

‘No,’ I said firmly, knowing that the best stories were dramatic. ‘They are gone. The imposters took them away forever and she’ll never see them again.’

A sad ending seemed better, I thought. Hannah would never be brave enough to do a story with a sad ending.

‘Why did you call it, “The Imposters”?’ mum asked, her voice still low, face still white.

‘Because that’s what you call people who pretend to be someone they’re not,’ I said. ‘Don’t you know that, mum?’

She shut the folder and took it away. I ran after her, asking whether Mrs Patterson said nice things about me, but she didn’t answer. My dad came back from his walk with Ivy and then it was bathtime.

I pinched Ivy when she came out the bath later. I had been thinking about my story, and what it would be like if it were true and Ivy really was an alien.

‘Ow!’ she cried, bursting into tears.

‘Daisy, don’t pinch your sister,’ Dad said.

‘She’s not my sister,’ I said, ‘she’s an imposter. Alien, imposter sister!’

And then the strangest thing happened. Mum burst into tears as well.

I was terrified. Mums weren’t meant to cry – they only cried when pets died or when there were sad films on TV – but still she sobbed, and it was all my fault. I had hurt Ivy plenty of times before, so that couldn’t be why. Somehow I had unleashed a powerful force without realising it, like a superhero. An awful, evil superhero who could make even the biggest people cry.

‘Bedtime,’ Dad said, hustling us both away, shielding us from our crying mother with the bulk of his body.

I lay under the covers for a while, stewing in my own guilt. I felt even worse than the time I was told off for calling Hannah a bitch. It was too early for bed, I decided, and good heroines always said they were sorry when they did something wrong. So I slipped out of bed and back downstairs, sneaking up to the living room door as I heard my parents talking.

‘I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it,’ Dad said to Mum. ‘She doesn’t know.’

‘She knows,’ Mum said. ‘I’m sure she knows, somehow. Why else would she have done that? Calling us “imposters”…’

She wiped her face and dad hugged her. So that’s what it was. That word hurt her, somehow, the word “imposter”. I didn’t understand, but maybe it was like vampires and sunlight. I opened the door and they turned to look at me in surprise.

‘Daisy, get back to bed,’ Mum said, sniffing, standing up. I took a deep breath.

‘Mum, I’m sorry I made you cry, I didn’t know saying “imposter” hurt you. If it’s a bad word, then I won’t say it again.’

Mum and Dad looked at each other. Mum still seemed afraid. Dad shook his head at her in reply. He sighed and opened his arms for a hug, and I ran into him, hoping I had made everything okay again.

‘Daisy,’ he said. I heard his heart beating under my ear, faster than it normally thumped. Mum sniffed again.

‘There’s something we need to tell you.’

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Written by G.J.

19/09/2013 at 11:13 am

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