“If that skirt was any shorter you could see what you’ve had for breakfast!” Stephen (call me Steve) barked over his morning tea and oatmeal.
Marla and her apparently breakfast-revealing skirt had just swaggered into the kitchen, wearing the outfit of a woman destined for prostitution. Even by her usual standards Marla had truly excelled herself. Today’s latest ensemble consisted of a half-buttoned school blouse (tied at the bottom, obviously, to reveal her irritatingly toned stomach), trademark loopy earrings and a two-inch skirt that scarcely covered her round and perfectly fake tanned arse, which made an unexpected appearance as she bent down to search through the fridge.
“Oh it’s alright Dad”, said Marla’s arse, “I’m wearing a thong”.
Stephen almost choked, spraying soggy fragments of oatmeal over my history essay. Choking has become a household hazard for Stephen, ever since my mother discovered the invention of the credit card and Marla began dressing like a dominatrix. Now before you make the assumption that this bottom-flashing creature is related to me, or God forbid my sister, let me correct you. When Mum chucked my poor unsuspecting Father to her ever-expanding scrap yard of ex-lovers, Stephen and his child of Satan Marla were the unfortunate baggage that came with her. Now I am very much a Cinderella, except with one evil, psychologically unstable stepsister instead of two and no signs of a handsome prince looming round the corner. All because my mother can’t keep her knickers on.
I sat slumped at the breakfast table, frizzy haired, bespectacled and utterly invisible. As I sipped at my coffee, I contemplated what Marla’s decapitated head would look like on a stick and whether a lifetime’s imprisonment would be worth it.
“Marla I really don’t think that skirt is appropriate for school,” Stephen said cautiously. Marla swivelled out of the fridge like a monster emerging from a child’s wardrobe, her eyes dangerously wide and skin turning a darker shade of mango. The ticking time bomb of teenage hormones was due for explosion.
“Yeah?” Marla hissed, pointing a milk bottle at Stephen as if it were a loaded pistol, “well I really don’t think socks and sandals are appropriate for work but I don’t go round insulting you first thing in the morning do I?”
Marla isn’t exactly a morning person, or an any type of the day person for that matter. She’s the type of teenager that would’ve been put down if Margret Thatcher were still Prime Minister. Some people have ‘BEWARE OF THE DOG’ signs pinned to their garden fences; on ours it just says ‘BEWARE OF THE MARLA’. Slamming shut the fridge door she gave a gothic shriek.
“There is nothing to eat! Why don’t you go shopping like a normal Father? Or at least get your bloody wife to do it!”
Stephen opened his mouth to protest, then thought better of it. Marla stormed out of the kitchen and shut the door with a force that made the floorboards vibrate. She always loved a dramatic exit.
“Oh and another thing”, said Marla’s head reappearing through the door, “your new haircut makes you look like Boris Johnson”.
It’s moments like that when I strongly believe child beating should become socially acceptable again. Stephen did his usual headshake eye-roll and returned to his breakfast unperturbed. I could feel an awkward silence slithering its way into the kitchen, a silence which was broken only by the munching and slurping of Stephen and his oatmeal. It’s these sorts of silences that make me feel nervous, not because they’re uncomfortable; it’s just that I know there’s an unavoidable conversation lurking in the distance. And conversations with my stepfather should always be avoided. Conversations with my stepfather usually concentrate heavily on fascinating topics such as weather and may venture further into the dangerous waters of my personal life. Conversations with my step-father always begin with the dreaded “So…”
“So…Lizzy”. Oh dear God don’t start talking about the weather.
“Weather’s nice today isn’t it?”
“Looking forward to your first day back?”
Well actually Stephen (call me Steve) I am positively dreading my first day back. Mostly because it’s school and anyone who does ‘looks forward’ to their first day back should in my opinion be locked in a mental institution, but also because of the very likely prospect that my head will be flushed down the toilet by Vicky “I’ll shag anyone behind Tesco” Valentine and her orang- faced disciples. So if you don’t mind I’d rather not talk about it. This is what my head said. “Er, yeah”, is what my mouth said.
I stared at my untouched toast; the very thought of school had vanquished my appetite. The smell of books and dust and dirt and coffee and cigarettes, Vicky’s lips creased into a mocking smile, Vicky’s nails piercing my skin, Vicky’s legs standing over my body… Everything flooded back in flashes. My stomach flipped and turned and pirouetted, trying to prove it’s athleticism to the rest of my body, which shook as a way of applause.
“You better get going Liz, is your brother up”
“I’ll go check”, I said, glad of an excuse to leave the table.
My brother Jack’s room is a shrine to pornography. Every inch of wall space is coated with nude women flashing their bits and even bobs for the whole world to see. There’s also the occasional Wayne Rooney (not nude but equally vulgar). Jack was sitting, as usual, in his boxer shorts, which I’m reasonably certain he hasn’t changed since the start of the summer holidays. He didn’t look up from his Xbox game that probably involves stealing cars and killing women. Oh whatever happened to Pac man?
“What man?” he growled, eyes still fixed to the screen.
“Don’t ‘what man’ me! We’re going to be late”.
Jack murmured something inaudible though I suspect it started with ‘F’ and ended with ‘off’. Conversations with Jack almost always turn into arguments, which almost always turn into swearing matches, which Jack almost always wins because he has the swearing vocabulary of Gordon Ramsay. He really is a vile excuse for a brother.
“Will you get out!” Jack screamed in typical teenage fashion, throwing his spare Xbox controller in my direction. It missed me by inches. I slammed his breast-stained door shut and stormed downstairs.
As I waited at the bus stop I imagined finding my brother’s brutally murdered corpse. I imagined his eyeballs gouged from their sockets, his organs disembowelled and his severed hand still gripping his precious Xbox controller… Then I contemplated hiring a hit man to make this fantasy a reality. The only problem was that hit men don’t do much advertising. I doubt I’d find one in the Yellow Pages and even if I did I’m sure they’d be expensive. Still, I could persuade Mad Gazza from school to do it for a fiver.
Marla insists on standing at a different bus stop from me for fear of losing her status as Queen Chav of St Barnaby’s sixth form. Her Royal Chavaness is responsible for making important decisions that could potentially make or break the reputation of our school’s chav elite. Every weekend Marla and the chav masses meet, via the House of Commons (also known as Facebook), to discuss pressing issues, such as whether to wear Adidas or Lacoste tracksuits and which shade of orange foundation is acceptable. It’s serious stuff. Unfortunately, as I’m clearly not a member of the legion of chavs, I have to use the bus stop four streets away in case my unpopularity is contagious.