A slow beat. A smoke filled rhythm coated the room in a thick blanket of warm music.
“No more his eager call
The writings on the wall
The dreams you dreamed have all
Her voice echoed throughout my bedroom, as I laid on the thin ash burnt carpet, dreaming of far off places. It was nearly dawn. The morning birds outside trying to match the beautiful melodies that I held captive in my room.
I didn’t hear the front door unlock but I heard the drunken stumbling of my mother, as she dropped her door key and she wasn’t alone.
I left the sanctuary of my bedroom and at the bottom of the stairs, two lingering fingers, hidden in almost complete darkness, lit only by the burning cigarette, ash slowly cascading onto the shag carpet. They were dancing. Dancing their dance of neck kissing and hands fumbling. My mother, and a stranger.
“Oh Garry!” I heard her groan.
She knew his name, that was a first.
“Oh bollocks.” The man I assumed was called Garry had seen me watching at the top of the stairs. Quickly his hands left my mother’s inner thigh and he jumped back into the doorway. “You never said you had kids.”
My mother took a long draw on her cigarette, and switched on the hallway light, illuminating the three of us. Garry’s face red with embarrassment, mine tried and her face, smeared with the make-up she had applied so carefully at the beginning of the night. Eyeliner streaked, her lipstick smudged. Her usual blue eyes, now a bloodshot red as they tried to focus on me at the top of the stairs.
“I’ve only got the one.” She slurred as she put one hand against the wall to sturdy herself and took another drag from her cig.
“Alright son?” Garry said, trying to make conversation. His bald head gleaming in the light that shone above him. He was sweaty. A crooked smile stretched across his face, showing all four of the teeth that still remained in his head.
“I’m going to bed.” I said and headed back to my room.
I shut the door behind me, the early morning light now creeping into my bedroom. I could hear clumsy footsteps pounding up the stairs, coming after me. My Mother bursted in.
“You little bastard.” She snarled. “How dare you embarrass me like that in front of a guest.”
I turned to face her. Her face, purple with anger, almost hiding her shade of smudged lipstick.
“Do not come out of this room until the morning. Understand?”
“But…it is morning.” I said. As soon as I spoke I knew it was a mistake. Sure enough, she bent down to take off her heeled shoe. “Please…I didn’t mean…” I felt the hard steel of the heel clip the side of my face as she flung it at me and it landed with a loud thud on my bedroom floor. If she had been sober, it would have been worse. Luckily for me, she was rarely sober.
I didn’t cry. I stopped crying long ago.
She reached down for the other shoe when Garry appeared at my bedroom door.
“You coming sugar tits?” He sneered. My mother’s personality suddenly changed with another drag on her cig. Giggling like a teenager.
“What happened to the lad?” He asked. Almost concerned.
“Nothing.” My Mother said to her new friend. “Ignore him. He’s always causing trouble” She turned from me and ushered Garry away and into her bedroom next door.
She turned back into my room. “Not a sound.” She utters under her breath, looking at me dead in the eye. “And turn that pansy music off.” She demanded, as she kicked her remaining shoe at my record player. “People will think you’re some sort of fairy.”
She slammed the door behind her.
I took a breath, turned to my record player, and lowered the music.
“Pack up your troubles and just get happy.
Ya better chase all your cares away
Sing Hallelujah, come on get happy
Get ready for the judgment day”
A slow unsteady knocking, against my wall began to come from the bedroom next door. Matched with an exaggerated groaning of a woman who is trying too hard to please.
“The sun is shining, come on get happy
The lord is waiting to take your hand
Shout Hallelujah, come on get happy
We’re going to the Promised Land.”
I looked at myself in the cracked mirror in my bedroom. A scrawny thirteen year old boy, not yet developed into his body, and not yet grown into his looks. A slow trickle of ruby red blood falling down my face. I rubbed it away, but it stained my cheek. Like a ladies’ rouge.
My mother’s high heeled shoes lay abandoned across my bedroom floor, I bent down to pick them up, but I stopped myself, and slowly slipped them onto my bare feet. I stumbled as I walked back to the mirror. I composed myself. I stood taller. One hand on my hip, the other cocked in midair, like I was holding a cigarette, just like they did in the movies. I looked at myself in the mirror again.
The morning light, now streaming through my bedroom window. I closed my eyes, and held my breath. Wishing.
I clicked my mother’s heels together three times, but I don’t wish to go home. I wished to be anywhere but home. I opened my eyes, but I was still there. Sunlight blinding in my eyes.The burnt carpet under my feet. The scrawny lost boy staring back at me, in his mother’s heels. Playing dress-up.
Then I noticed. The light through the window had caught in the window pain and across my face, laid a rainbow, painted proudly across my cheeks.
“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.”
I stood there. Basking in the sunlight. I smiled.