Today we bring you the August winner of The Electric Discounter Writing Competition:
Winner August 2013 TED Writing Competition
When Miranda first saw the unusual house she was nearly twenty. Situated just across the road from the ocean, she knew it was the right place. Brown brick veneer, double storey, surrounded by a green lawn, a few straggly shrubs and a rose bush. Not much to speak of, but the newer front addition grabbed Miranda’s attention. Previous owners built on a cream, semi-circular entrance, a turret with a pointed tip. Somehow it seemed just right. It spoke of her life, a dingy background; now a new found freedom.
Her life was once very different. She remembered her teenage years.
“Miranda! Miranda!” A querulous voice demanded from the front bedroom. A small girl of fourteen, she would drag her weary body out of bed and go to answer the summons.
“Yes Mother? Can I get you something?”
A thin, sulky looking woman peered at her daughter. “My pillows have slipped. Fix them up. Then I need some hot milk, I can’t sleep with this constant pain.”
Miranda settled her mother’s pillows and went to the kitchen, where the electric kettle stood ready and waiting. She was too tired to feel angry or upset by the demands. There were countless nights like this one. Her mother’s illnesses had been going on for as long as Miranda could remember. Once her father danced attendance on her mother, until he faded out of life a year ago, leaving Miranda to fill the gap.
“Here’s your milk Mother. I’ll just get you your tablet; that should help you sleep.”
She returned to her own bed, sighing wearily. There would be an English test in school tomorrow, she would not have time to study, and an assignment was due on Thursday and not even started. Glancing at the clock radio, she told herself not to worry about that. Sleep claimed her.
Memories. Not good. She thought back to when she was sixteen.
“Come on Miranda, there’s a party on Saturday night, it’s Fran’s. You’ve got to come, everyone’s going.” Sally grabbed her friend’s arm and dragged her from her text books.
Miranda shook her head. “I don’t see how Sally. You know what mother’s like about me going out.”
“Bother her! Can’t you persuade her, just once? This is the party of the year! She’s the first of us to turn 16. You could leave your mum’s supper ready and her medicine.”
Arriving home from school that afternoon, her mother was in a nasty mood for her pain was bad that day. Miranda had a difficult time settling her, so there was no chance to mention the party.
It wasn’t until Friday when her mother seemed in a cheerful mood, so Miranda plucked up her courage and suggested the party.
“Miranda, how could you be so selfish? I can’t take care of myself at night, you know that. I need you. It’s bad enough when you’re at school. A party? I really don’t think so. Maybe when I’m stronger…”
Miranda knew it was useless to argue.
A year later and she had broken out.
“You’re what?” Mother’s voice was shocked, angry. “Pregnant? And who’s the father may I ask? That terrible boy from school I’ll bet; the one with the greasy hair. How could you Miranda? What will the neighbours say?”
Miranda looked at her mother. “I won’t be here for them to say anything. Brad and I are moving in together.”
“And how old are you? Seventeen. What sort of folly is that? It won’t last.”
“Not your concern Mother. I’ve given you enough years of my life. It’s my problem now.”
Yes, Miranda thought, a different life from three years ago. It was a cool, blustery day. She hugged her son, wrapped her coat around him and turned to walk back home. The wind tossed her hair, she laughed as she looked out to sea. She remembered how hard it had been initially, finding jobs, battling her sickness in pregnancy. Yet she and Brad had stuck it out and believed in each other.
She touched the rings on her fingers. Brad proposed on Daniel’s first birthday. Yesterday, they were quietly married. Miranda hugged her son even tighter and looked over the road at their home. Rented yes, but in the future, they planned to buy it. It would be theirs, as their life was their own. A folly, her mother said it was, when she became pregnant. Well, it was a folly that had paid off, and for that, Miranda was thankful.
Vickie is married with two adult children, and loves to write stories and poetry which are often based on her travels around Australia