“Open your eyes and look down, trust me!”
Trust was a big word coming from her.
“But mum, the last time you told me to trust you you ran away and ended up dead for three years!”
“Remember to call me Lou please, honey! Mum makes me sound so old. I thought we had a deal here, angel.”
Ang winced, eyes still firmly closed and tried to wiggle her hand free from her mother’s firm grasp. Bony and cold, so different from the remembered warmth and softness which she had last felt on her thirteenth birthday.
“Okay Lou, but you have to stop calling me honey. And don’t call me angel! You should remember how much I hate that.”
Ang wasn’t in the mood to forgive her parents for not having given her a name that could be abbreviated to sound like a boy’s name. Antonia would have worked so nicely, for example. She’d be Tony now. She’d love that.
She’d easily passed for a boy with strangers up as far as age eleven. Wearing boy clothes. Refusing to wear dresses. Demanding that her hair be kept cut short. Very short. Calling herself Tony. Hands in pockets. Walking with a swagger. Whistling.
Then something happened with mum and dad. Mum started working late, first once a week on every Wednesday and soon on Mondays and Fridays, too. Came home at midnight and they’d have words. Shouting at each other. Dad accusing mum of betraying his trust. Having an affair with one of them rich businessmen. Mum shouting back at him to get his lazy bum off the sofa and find himself a real job that would pay their bills. If it wasn’t for her they’d lose Ang to social services.
“You are so wrong Roy! You’re the problem here, not me. You’re getting less and less attractive by the minute. Don’t touch me!”
Soon after it started. Ang shivered. Still keeping her eyes closed as she had done the first night Roy – no longer to be called dad – had come into her bedroom.
Her thirteenth birthday had fallen on a Wednesday. Roy had forgotten about it. Lou hadn’t. Had come home early with a present of a beautiful deck of tarot cards for her. Which she had flung at Roy’s head on discovering him in bed with Ang. Kneeling down beside the bed with tears in her eyes Lou had held her hand very gently, “Don’t you worry, child, I’ll sort him out! Trust me!”
Ang still had the birthday card. “To accompany you on your path to adulthood, my love. To help you gaze inward and outward as you seek answers and guidance,” Lou had written on it.
They had words that night, Lou and Roy. Louder than ever before. A tug of war about Ang which Lou had lost to Roy’s physical strength. Which had ended in Lou running out into the street with Roy chasing her and shouting for her to come back. The screeching of tires, screams, loud bangs, then silence. Wailing and sobbing, the sound of people running on the wet asphalt, muffled voices, sirens, car doors opening and closing, then silence again. Ang at her bedroom window staring straight ahead into the darkness unable to look down.
A tragic accident they said. The poor man left to look after the child all by himself they said.
“Why did it take you so long to come back from being dead? And where are we? It felt like we were going up in an elevator.”
“He pushed me, Ang. I didn’t choose to become dead. I had to wait for you to come looking for me. And yes, you could say that we went up in an elevator. Open your eyes now! You’ll enjoy this view.”
Ang opened her eyes to the vast expanse of luscious shades of green in Phoenix Park beneath her feet. “Wow! This is breathtaking. We’re so high up, Lou! I never knew they had an elevator all the way up to the top of the obelisk and a glass balcony to step out on. This is amazing. Best birthday present ever.”
“Glad you think so, my darling. I’ll make sure to bring you back here often so. We’ll have to recharge our batteries every now and then. We’ll be rather busy haunting Roy for the rest of his life.”
The young policeman straightened himself and took a deep breath before walking up the steps to Roy’s front door. This was the worst news he’d ever had to give to anyone. He’d rehearsed what he would say to the poor father, already a tragic widower for whom now so very sadly tragedy had struck a second time.
“I’m so sorry Roy, I have sad news,” he would say to him, “We’ve found your daughter near the obelisk. Not sure yet what happened. There’ll have to be an autopsy. Possible OD.”
He would also have to ask him about the Tarot card they found next to the body. He carried it with him sealed in a plastic bag so that he could get it over to forensics afterwards. Boy, this was going to be tough.
(c) Ash N. Finn, 2012
Note: This short piece was triggered by Elizabeth Rose Murray’s article “Opening Lines” which encourages readers to think up an opening line inspired by the picture shown there (not the one which is shown at the end of my story) and to post it via the comments section. Hop on over and add your opening line!