Family, Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Parenting, Relationship and marriage, Weather, Writing

Ball of rage

Leonora watched as her daughter jumped and splashed in the muddy puddle.

‘Look Mummy, I’m Peppa Pig!’ she called with a crazy giggle.

Christ, how Leonora hated that show. Each episode only five minutes, but time dragged on to resemble the length of a rainy, wintry day. Forever, in other words.

‘Hattie, stop jumping now,’ Leonora called, noting how the mud had splashed onto Hattie’s leggings. Brown, murky splats on pale pink, glittery fabric. How the hell was that coming out.

‘NO!’

‘Don’t be silly,’ Leonora snapped. She pursed her lips, tight, like a cat’s bum. ‘Stop jumping now,’ she repeated, more forcefully. She focussed on her breathing, like her counsellor had told her.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. 

The swirling ball of anger still churned inside her belly.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. .

Before having children she believed that she’d be a perfect mother, raising a perfect child who did as they were told and would only mimic the positive behaviours of those around them. But parenting was much harder in actuality than it was in her dreams. She was a much angrier person in reality than in her dreams.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. 

‘Come on, Hattie. Let’s go home.’

‘Don’t wanna! Hate home,’ Hattie yelled. She ran off; climbed the ladder into the cubby-house in the playground. Leonora stormed to the base of the ladder, put her hands on her hips.

‘Get down now,’ she hissed.

‘NO. Hate you!’ Hattie yelled. She screamed, that ear-piercing screech that made Leonora’s spine crooked.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. It wasn’t working. The rage burned, like indigestion rising up her windpipe.

‘Alright. I’m going home. You can stay here.’ And Leonora turned on her heel and left her daughter hiding in the cubby-house.

She only meant to scare her. She didn’t mean to stay away for more than a minute. But Hattie’s screams echoed in her ears; they seemed to get louder the further away Leonora walked. Before she realised, she was standing at her front gate.

‘Where’s your girl?’ asked Rosette, her nosy Mrs Mangel-type neighbour.

Leonora stared in shock.

‘Leonora, where is Hattie?’ Rosette insisted.

‘Playground.’

Rosette came near. She rubbed Leonora’s back. ‘Who is with her?’

Leonora shook her head.

‘OK, I’m going to call the police,’ Rosette said quietly. ‘Then Tim, alright?’ Rosette walked down the footpath to her own yard and dialled 000. Once that call was made, she called Leonora’s husband, Tim.

Leonora looked at Rosette, without seeing her. ‘I’m sorry. Is Hattie OK?’

‘That’s what we’re going to find out, hun. The police will let us know,’ said Rosette. ‘Tim’s on his way home from work. He’ll be here in about five minutes.’

Leonora nodded. ‘He’ll know what to do.’

Three hours later, with Hattie home safe, bathed and in her pyjamas, Leonora sobbed on Tim’s shoulder. ‘I’m not good enough for her!’

‘Well, you certainly shouldn’t have left her in the playground. Thank god that mother helped her and took her to the police station. Fuck knows what could have happened.’

‘I’m sorry, Tim. I’ll get help.’

Tim breathed deeply. He cleared his throat. ‘I’m going to send you to your Mum’s for a while. My mum will come here and look after Hattie while I work and you can focus on feeling better. Yeah?’

Leonora wiped her nose. ‘OK.’ What else could she say?

 

 

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