I had this fully formed clichéd scene in my head when I was in town earlier, and when I came I just had to write it out. It’s one way to get into the swing of writing – write anything, and maybe the gears will pop in and let me work on the novel that I’m supposed to be working on.
It’s very raw. Sorry. But it’s progress, of a sort. The trip to town was probably good for me.
Dad has an office in the downstairs part of the house, the part you can only get to if you go through the closed door in the hall. There’s a staircase, five steps, and then another door that is usually locked. That part of the house is really separate, apart, and he has told us numerous times when it looks like we might have forgot that we can’t go in there.
When dad leaves for what looks like a longer errand, I usually go in there. It gives me a breather from the kids, as they obey dad’s rules, like the little sheep that they are.
In there it is quiet and I can read, and through the window I can see the parking space where dad always puts the car, so when he comes back I can get out fast. It takes two minutes for dad to leave the car, lock it, cross the street to our door, open it, and come inside. In those two minutes I have plenty of time to lock the door, and be on the staircase up to my room, and pretend I’m just coming down from there.
Now Dad was in the hallway, shouting at the kids about them running about, himself looking for his keys in all the bowls and boxes on the little table in the front hallway where we have our land-line. He always does that. While he’s doing that, he always shouts instructions to mum, who usually sit in the lounge watching Eastenders or something, not minding dad one tiny bit.
A cloud of smoke hung over her head, and when dad leaned over the back of the sofa to give her a good-bye kiss she barely blinked. Out he went, and he had the briefcase with him which meant that he would be gone for a long time. Through the little window in our little kitchen I saw the car swerve out into the road, and then jerk into motion down the street.
I waited five more minutes while the kids resumed their running and shouting. They came into the kitchen, with Thom wrestling the younger Dan until Dan squirmed out of the grip and disappeared out of the kitchen again. I sighed, and went out into the hallway, opened the first forbidden door, closed it, and then entered the forbidden office.
Silence. Golden silence. Shutting the door behind me cut off Dan and Thom’s shouting abruptly, and all I could hear was the creaking of the wooden boards beneath my socks. Dad’s office smells of papers, dry papers, dusty and a bit acidic with a hint of the furniture polish he uses on the old mahogany desk that stood propped against the window.
There were always piles of papers in there; neat piles, but stacked high. I glanced at the top of one such pile, and saw a long title that stretched over two lines. It looked legal, so I didn’t bother. Instead I pulled out the chair, and then set the little marble paperweight in the window so that it propped up the blinds a bit, giving me a view out onto the street and the parking spot.
When I moved the keyboard, mouse-pad and the mouse out of the way the screen flickered to life. It had never done that before. Dad always shut off the computer when he went, and I’d never thought of starting it up. Now that it started, I knew I could get on the internet - without the controls dad had put on my laptop. Such a boon.
Instead of reading, I could watch a film. I clicked on the browser and tried to remember the link to the page I usually sneaked to when I wanted to see films without paying. ‘G’-something. I pressed G in the browser address bar, and a long list of links unfolded down from it, and my eye fell on the first link.