Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Wee Snippet More..

Jeannie-from –upstairs is at the door again. I get up to let her in.

“I’m just checking, how’s it going?”

“Aye, Jeannie, we’re fine.”

“You’re da’s not back then?”

“No, not yet, he’ll be up seeing ma.”

Clad in her pinafore apron and slippers, hair in a net, she shuffles herself over the step, and down through the hall. “And Peter and Mary?”

“Aye they’re watching the telly.”

We join them in the living room just as Batman is freeing Robin from being sliced through the middle by some jaggedy spinning blade. Mary and Peter grunt hello, eyes glued to the screen.

Sinking into da’s wing-backed chair, Jeannie asks if we’ve eaten.

“Granny McKenzie is looking after us, she left us something out.”

“So I hear, it’s a pity she can never stay ‘til you get here, eh?”

Jeannie from upstairs doesn’t like Granny MacKenzie, she thinks she always sides with da against ma, but that’s only because ma tells her it’s so. I wish ma and Granny liked each other better, Granny MacKenzie is nice, she feels soft, has this lovely smell about her, and brings apples when she comes.

“And what salad did she “cook” for you tonight, then?”

“Boiled egg..”

“And did the gulls enjoy it?”

Oh-oh. She must’ve been watching from her window above as we chucked it over the ledge. Them gannets will eat anything, so they will.

“Erm, well, we ate a fair bit first..”

Jeannie-from-upstairs laughs, “Well more fools you, then, I can still smell the stench. I think you’d best open up a window before you turn in for the night.”

Hearing this, Peter brightens, “Och Jeannie, her cooking’s pure evil, so it is! Don’t tell her we said so, but guess how many salads we’ve had to eat? It’s either tinned salmon, corned beef, or boiled egg. It’s all she does. Thank God she leaves us some fruit, or we’d be wasted away by now, eh Mary?”

“Right enough, Peter. She's a trier, just a shame she’s such a rotten cook, is all.”

“And what about your father, does he eat her salads?”

“Nah,” Peter smiles, “He not that daft, he eats when he’s out.”

Jeannie-from-upstairs grunts, “What’s the news on your mother?”

I perk up, aye, what is the news on ma? Nobody tells me anything around here. I try to make like I’ve gone, hoping Peter will loosen up his jaw to let something go.

“We can’t go see her, only da can. He says she’s fine.”

“Fine, eh?” Jeannie-from-upstairs tuts, “So why is she in the Nut-House then, instead of right back here with her bairns, where she belongs?”

“Karen, where’s your manners? Go and make Jeannie-from-upstairs a cup of tea.”

I knew Mary would send me off, but that’s alright, I’ll probably learn more from the other side of the door anyway. As I say, I’m not as daft as everybody likes to credit me.

“Is it two sugars for you, Jeannie?”

“Ach, make it three dearie, I could use the energy.”

“And don’t forget to shut the door there as you go, now.”

Mary thinks she’s so sly. I close the door, gently easing the handle down so it falls open a crack. Running to fill the kettle and light the stove, I hope not to miss too much before sneaking back.

Peter is standing his corner. “Ach, she’s only in there for a wee bit until she gets cured.”

“Peter child, what has your da been telling you? You know she battered that Sandra, don’t you? She’s put her in the hospital, so she has. Not that I can really blame her, mind. Your poor mother has snapped, Peter, she’s far from fine, but I don’t see as how shutting her away in that hellish place is likely to be any help. Tell your father son, she needs to be home.”

Jeannie doesn’t realise, nobody tells our da, least of all Peter. I tear myself away to catch the kettle as it whistles. Waiting for the pot to brew, I try to digest what’s been said. Why would ma batter Sandra? It’s not as though she’s stealing the food from out of our bellies anymore, is it? Da’s been away from her for ages now. I fill up a mug and make my way back.

“ – and make sure you stay inside, we’ve enough to worry about as it is.”

“Aye Jeannie, I am. I even leave the school early now, so’s I can fetch Karen back, don’t I Mary?”

“That’s right Jeannie, so he does.”

“Hold on a minute here, what are you saying? Both you and Peter are off out there all on your own then?” She takes the mug and places it by her foot. “Are you telling me Mary, Peter walks off on his own to fetch Karen, and then you come back after him as well, on your own after school?”

“Well, da said,”

“Jesus, God! It’s your da who needs to be locked up in the lunatic asylum, so it is! What’s he thinking about? They’ve not even found poor Alistair yet, never mind all those other wee bairns!” Her lip tightens, “He’s not even on the boats now, is he?”

No, he’s not. He stayed back to look after us. But he’s not here. He gets in late, after we’re asleep. She’s right, where is he? Jeannie’s getting angry, her shoulders are all puffed up now, her eyes sharp. I don't like where this is going.

“Has he told her family where she is? I’ll bet he not, has he? No, he wouldn’t be able to live with the shame of it all, would he? Nah, not him, the Big Man, eh?”

Peter is starting to look uneasy, he doesn’t want her to go mixing things, making it bad. It’s all fine and well for Jeannie-from-upstairs to go get up on her high horse, but he’s the one who’ll have to answer for it after she’s gone. Being the eldest, he’s accountable. We don’t discuss family matters outside the family. It’s a golden rule.

“Aye, aye he has, Jeannie. Auntie Mary is arranging to come and meet us from next week, so she is, it’s only been since yesterday, that’s all.”

Mary and I nod in agreement. Sure, that’s right. Auntie Mary.

Except Auntie Mary has her own kids to collect, and lives the other side of town. Besides, there’s no way da would be having her knowing any of our business.

Jeannie has no idea, no idea at all of the trouble she stirs. I go back to the kitchen, interest lost. Besides, maybe Sandra'll die now, ma will come back and it'll all be fine.


Akelamalu said...

Are you writing a book m'deario? If so this snippet is excellent!

Shrinky said...

akelamalu, er, actually I am re-writing one, and re-writing it, and rewriting it..

Have been forever. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

(clapping hands) Woo-Hoo! Karen's back. (settling in with a hot cuppa)


Looking forward to knowing these folks better.
Very interesting!

SJ said...

Worth the looonnnngggg wait. Hope the next snippet will be more punctual :)

Kit Courteney said...


Suldog said...

That's excellent writing! I could have read another 25 or 30 pages worth at this sitting. To this American - but of Scots/Irish heritage - the accents read wonderfully true.

*Goddess* said...

Rewriting..isn't that fun?! never ends;(

pat houseworth said...

Excellent stuff...your writing is a changing...keep up the good work.

The Dotterel said... one, and re-writing it, and rewriting it...
sounds like what we do with real life. You know, in order to make some sense of it!

CrazyCath said...

Girl you have GOT to get published, and soon. So get it finished!

I want to read it.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

You're a magnet inside my screen that won't let me go without reading and rereading and rereading your rewrites and rewrites of your rewrites.

Only the best Authors do this to me. Not wanting to leave. Whether it is one page or one thousand pages, selfishly wanting more.....

Fireblossom said...

Er, what language is that? I canna make 'ead er tails of it. Must be Canadian!


Fireblossom said...

Er, I mean moost be. Losin' me ear I am!

Helena said...



Scott from Oregon said...

Methinks you must press on...


david mcmahon said...

Keep going.

Les Becker said...

Hear, hear, Chewy! Karen's back, and we'll all have some good reading for the up to Christmas, provided Shrinky keeps it up.

You WILL keep it up, right, Shrink?


Oh, and is this photo an early one of your daughter? It is precious,,,,and touches my heart!

Sandi McBride said...

I'm on! I do like Jeannie from upstairs tho

Anonymous said...

You are good, really good. I shall follow you so I don't miss anything now that I have found you.

Carol said...

Dying to read more, Shrinky!!! Intriguing characters.

Louise said...

Brilliant writing.

Rachelle said...

Hello wee Karen, and here's a big squudge for you.
I know how hard it is to come out into the light sometimes my dear.

Trust me, you don't need to rewrite HALF as much as you think you do my friend.

imbeingheldhostage said...

wonderful-- definitely deserving of David's shout out!

Leslie: said...

I feel like I've entered the house mesel' but not knowin' what's happenin'.

Love the accent - Irish, is it?

Lookin' forward to the next bit.

Fireblossom said...

Shrinky, where have you gone? Cod fishing off the coast of Greenland? Coom back!

Shrinky said...

You know Chewy, wee Karen owes a lot to your gentle prodding, so she does (hugs).

Don't hold your breath Wilsonart, these folks are the Devil themselves to breath life into, believe me!

Ah that's my sj, all nag, nag, nag.. (wink)

Yeah kit, that's what the agent keeps saying (muttermutter).

Oh suldog, thanks for that, it's a boost I really need. I can't put in the true accent as it has too many substitutes for recognisable words, so I've tried to opt for the flavour rather than for the actual dialect. It's a difficult balance to achieve.

Goddess, you sound to have the voice of experience here (hugs). Pain in the bum, eh?

Hi Pat, truth be told, this IS my old writing...I closed down my old blog, but Karen was born in there.

Hello dotteral, what a lovely name! Ah, for the gift to re-write over that what we have done, wouldn't that be something indeed, eh?

Cath, you really are something, you know that? Thanks for painting a smile on my heart! x

Dan, gee you know how to swell a girlies head, so you do! Big hugs bonny lad, coming from you, I take that as high praise indeed. (Cheesy grins.)

Shrinky said...

Hey fireblossom, sure you haven't Scots blood running through your veins? It's a stab at reproducing an accent from the Highlands of Scotland, but unfortunately the brogue is too thick for most to disipher - many words are peculiar only to there. Quine = girl, Loon = boy, dee = do, ken = know.. you get the drift. So I've gone for the lilt rather than the language.. I hope it comes through.

Aw Helena, there will be, just give me a wee time (hugs).

Les, sheesh girl, you are such a slave driver, so you are! Anyways, you have the gift, come over here and lend me a hand will you??

My God Scott, I am blown away, I do believe this is the first ever positive comment you've left regards our wee Karen. Cheers for that! Grin.

Oh david, I am trying, I am, I am, believe me..

Ah, wilsonart, I am so glad you asked. No, this is not Beccy, it is a picture of my little Abby, our youngest and wisest child. (smile)

Sandi, this modern world has lost a lot of good "Jeannie-from-upstairs", more's the pity. In the days when neighbours lived on the doorstep, the community looked out for it's own, didn't it?

moannie, I am very happy to have also made your acquaintance my friend (and stop making my toes curl)! x

Hi carol, I realise wee Karen and her friends are a bit of a surprise to land on most of my friends here, she is a left over from my old blog, but I find it hard to leave her behind.

Hi louise, wow, now you have me blushing! Thank you bonny lass, it's great to see you in here.

My dearest rachelle, yes, you know this to be true. I find it a challenge, but one worth pursuing. Hugs back to you too, bonny lass. x

imbeingheldhostage, aww, you little sweet talker you..! x

Well, you're not too far off fireblossom (giggle) - if only you knew!

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