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

Knowledge and Power

Meg pauses mid-air, the spoon halfway between the bowl and her face.

‘That’s disgusting,’ she says to her brother, Pete. ‘You’re the worst.’

Pete is laughing, bits of toast spit from his open mouth.

‘Oh gross!’ Meg squeals. She puts the spoon on the place mat and leaves the breakfast bar; the Cornflakes swimming in a bowl of milk. Her insides churn in an ominous sign of what might come.

He does something revolting every time he’s there for brekkie with her. Always. Talks about dissections, or blood, or eyeballs, or a warning about humans consuming cow’s milk. Today it was something to do with faecal matter. He thinks he knows everything. He’s always been smarter than her, sure, but he doesn’t know it all.

Pete doesn’t know, for example, that Meg knows the PIN code to his phone. Or that she reads his text messages and emails. Pete doesn’t know that Meg is holding some very private and personal information about him.

And Meg knows, thanks to her Dad’s extensive library on philosophy and literature, that knowledge is power. She’d found that Power/Knowledge essay by Michel—she can’t remember his last name—a few months back and had sunk into Dad’s leather reading chair to soak it all in. Something about knowledge giving a person leverage, the option to coerce, or a level of power. Meg had been almost heady as she’d devoured his readings. Surprisingly easy to read, that French man.

Foucault. That’s it.

According to Foucault, Meg holds some level of power over her brother, Pete. And this makes her very happy, even now with her breakfast threatening to eject itself from her tummy. She swallows hard, as if gulping will keep it down. Patting her stomach, she burps.

Meg’s happy to keep biding her time, plotting when she’ll tell Mum and Dad that Pete, their most-prized child and youth leader at church, has impregnated the vicar’s wife and they’re planning to run off together.

Twirling around with glee, it hits her. Meg feels fine. Her tummy, it’s not gurgling any longer. So maybe knowledge gives healing too. But she’s at the bathroom door, right up against it, when it opens and Mum walks out, towel wrapped around her chest, her long hair dripping.

‘What on earth are you doing right here?’ she asks Meg.

‘Oh, I needed the loo.’

‘Well,’ Mum motions with her hand. Kind of looks like a hostess on one of those old TV game shows. ‘There it is.’

‘Nah, I’m OK now.’ Should she say something now?

‘Alright. Well get out from under my feet then,’ Mum snaps.

‘Sorry, Mum.’ She stands still, hovering almost next to her mother. She’s going to. It’ll teach them all to be nicer to her. ‘Liste—‘

‘Not now, Meg, I’m late for work.’

Mum pushes past her, and even huffs in exasperation as she stomps away. Meg feels that familiar drain deep within. God, she can’t wait for her mum to hear this juicy bit of news about Pete. She’s going to knock him off that pedestal.

Photo by fran hogan on Unsplash

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