Figure of Eight: Chapter One by Marcie Winstanley

Chapter 1

I write this sitting on my bedroom windowsill. As I have already had my breakfast, I wait for my sisters to raise their sleepy heads. Just as I wonder when exactly that will be, I hear the sound of Sophie’s door opening just a crack and the light being let into my room from underneath it. I can see through from my own orange painted room to her blue walls, the rooms linked by the door she has opened. We are twins, identical twins. Sophie’s hair is tousled from sleep and she sits on my bed for a while, looking out of the window at the day. It is raining. A stormy grey kind of day that always seems to fill me with boredom. It is not long before Frances’ door is opened, she is the oldest of my seven siblings still living at home as Juliet married last year. Juliet lives at the other side of the village where I spend quite a lot of my time. Frances always has her hair tied back and is never without her nature diary, page by page she adds to it, finding a new type of butterfly wing or a shell she can draw and study. I hop down from the windowsill now to see the sight of my four younger sisters tumbling out of their bunk beds and onto the landing. The first, Skye is dressed in a pink hooded sweatshirt and denim shorts, she smiles then makes her own way downstairs. Greta runs up to me smiling, wearing frilly white socks and my old blue pinafore although patched and threadbare we know that she will not part with. Holding out her arms she wraps them round me in a warm ‘good morning’ kind of hug. I hold her hand as I find myself downstairs again. Last out of the white painted door of our largest bedroom are Morag and Mia, two bundles of giggles and young fair hair.

I guess you could say the Jackson family is quite large. My mum Fiona and my dad Ian are the only ones I have not yet told you about. My mum sits in the kitchen now, making porridge for everyone on this rainy Saturday morning. My dad must have gone out early, before even I was awake, to catch at least a few fish today, before the sea grew dark and too rough. I am Tora and if it was not raining you would find me racing with the wind up and down a sandy shore or collecting shells in an increasingly soggy pocket.

As I tiptoe away, my sisters settle themselves at the kitchen table and begin having their breakfast. I sit in my attic room again, looking out over the harbour wall, watching the boats, some returning already, to be safe and escape the churning waves. With the sky still overcast and the rain blurring with the sea spray I wonder if I’ll get to go outside at all today.

I think of the large number of pets I have, on the other side of the house, but for now I look at the sea. Behind me lies our garden where I wish I could go. Beyond the cliffs and the sea and the grass are the moors and the heather where I want to walk Doorknob, my dog (he’s lovely but I have no idea what breed he is) but because of the storm raging outside, I cannot. The trees sway and I hear their branches; the leaves of the ones close to the beach sighing in the wind their limbs lashing against the wall below me. Doorknob’s presence is always made clear by the sound of this large paws on the carpet and the tail I can see waving before I feel a warm shaggy head nuzzles close to me and Doorknob’s pink tongue licks my hand. I think again of the other members of the menagerie outside and I stroke Doorknob’s shaggy blond head as I picture Dodgem the bull, out in the awful weather. Flossie the sheep, is on the moors too, probably trying to shelter under a clump of rushes or heather. We also have Glubslyme the pig, Splat the goat, Gandalf the donkey and Moss the Muntjack deer sheltering on the fell not far away. Stew, Pie, Gravy, Hotpot, Stuffing, Kebab, Curry, Stir-fry, Pasty, Soup and Sandwich the chickens, are still in their coop in the garden, and I make up my mind to let them scratch in the freedom of the garden sometime today, whether or not it stops raining, along with Freddie and Beelzebub the ferrets, who will want to breathe the fresh air. Our duck named Dizzy will be swimming round in circles in the rained-on pond.

I finish snipping up a page of this morning’s local newspaper. I’m bored and just like our animals outside, I hate the rain. Every imaginable issue of my favourite magazine lies strewn on my pillow. I love the mess in my bedroom, it gives the entire space a kind of personality; my mum and I; I know have slightly different opinions of what an organised room is.

Personally, I like the look of clothes hanging out of drawers or maybe even on the floor; clearly in her view everything is completely different. I know this because every time she comes into my room she will either tut quietly to herself or yell wildly, depending on how desperate she’s feeling.

I am completely ordinary, I just like mess, it is one of my unstoppable characteristics; wherever I go mess follows as a Pekinese would trot after a celebrity.

My mum’s head appears around the bedroom door as I throw an empty crisp packet at the bin and miss in a way nobody else can. She is in a desperate mood so you can guess what happens next.