Her Guide To Life

An Unofficial Guide to Staying Sane(ish) in your 20s

Monday, 3 October 2016

BLOGTOBER #3: The First Chapter (And Maybe The Only)

This is Past (Healthy) Me, feeling super sorry for Present (Flu-ey) Me
Hey, everybody. As you may or may not know, I've been down with the flu for a few days now, and I haven't really had the energy to do anything other than to hunker down on my sofa in a blanket and rewatch The Office for the millionth time on Netflix. I'm going to heat up some chicken soup, put my PJs on, and write tomorrow's post later on tonight, but for today's? I thought you might like to read something I wrote a couple of weeks ago. I don't know if I'll carry on with it yet, but damn, it felt good to write some fiction again. Bring on NaNoWriMo next month... (?)

Happy October 3rd!

(Very Ill) Hannah x

Chapter 1

It started with the TV.

Our living room looked strange and empty without it. The once-white, now cream, double sofa sagged. The patchwork throws were stuffed into its creases. Our big fern even looked like it had drooped slightly from this morning. The dust had collected over time from behind the TV, and swirled a bit as I stepped into the living room.

‘Mum?’ I dropped my school bag onto one of the sofas.

I made out faint giggles from the back garden. I crossed the room, past the dining table and pulled back the patio door to our back garden not without some difficulty. The late September sun was still shining, and I stood on the patio for a second, waiting for my eyes to adjust. Mum was sitting on the grass, Fifi in her lap, Dexter leaning against her crossed legs. A large book was spread out in front of her. Fifi was chewing a strand of her hair.

‘Fifi, don’t do that.’

They all looked up at once, Mum squinting in the light. She was wearing a bohemian style smock dress, kind of like a dashiki, with a string of wooden, green beads on. Her short, dark hair still looked wet from the shower.


Fifi clambered off of Mum’s lap and barrelled into me, wrapping her pale, skinny arms around my knees and pressing her face into them too. I picked her up, and she pressed her nose against mine, a habit that she’d had since she was a baby. Her big, blue eyes looked at me. 

‘Hey, silly.’

Mum was still squinting. ‘Lowri! I thought you were staying late at school tonight.’

I released Fifi. ‘We couldn’t use the studios. The cleaner needs to do something to the floor.’

By the way, yep, you did hear right. Lowri. My Mum, by definition, is not a creative person... in the traditional sense. She loves to draw, sing, cook… but she’s not great at any of them. One thing she was creative with, however, was our names. I’m Lowri Erika Hutchinson. Ever since I can remember, people have called me Laura. When she was younger Fifi couldn’t say Laura, or Lowri, actually, so she calls me ‘Lolly’.

The other reason I don’t like Lowri (y'know, apart from the obvious - that it's stupid as shit) is that there’s already a famous, incredibly talented painter called Lowri. 

‘Where’s the TV gone, Mum?’

‘I put it in the attic! I thought we might try a month without it. I’ve been reading a book called Our Modern Life… Fifi and Dexter like the idea, don’t you both?’

Fifi was still turning cartwheels in the garden, and Dexter has his thumb jammed firmly in his mouth. He nodded solemnly, still attached to Mum’s leg, before pulling it out with an audible ‘pop!’ and saying too loudly, in that unself-conscious way kids do:

‘We can read books ALL the time!’

He grinned at me, showing off a gap in his front tooth. How me and Mum both managed to miss his first loose tooth is a mystery to me, but the cutie kept it in his hand for nearly a whole day after it fell out. He finally came to show me, lashes stuck together into little spikes glued together with tears, and whispered dolefully that he ‘didn’t mean to’. Bless him. He thought he’d get into trouble.

Looking at them both makes my chest hurt sometimes, but in a good way. 

Dexter is slightly shorter than Fifi, and a bit chubbier too. He has strawberry-blonde hair that Mum keeps too long, and dark blue eyes. Fifi, on the other hand, is so blonde she’s almost silver, with big, baby blue eyes. I know I’m biased, but, they’re cute kids. They really are.

None of us look similar. Mum is shorter than me, with dark, cropped hair, a big chest and smile. I have mousy hair that is fine and straight, no matter how much product I blowdry into it. I have a few freckles over my nose that Mum says must have come from my Dad. Our hands are the same, though. We both have short, stubby fingers, with short nails that are always bitten down to the quick. Mum got sick of it and went through a phase a couple of years ago of wearing long, fake nails, and for weeks we’d find them snapped off and in the most unlikely places: the fridge, the kids’ bookshelf, the medicine cabinet. Once I found one in our Crunchy Nut packet.

They were still both staring at me, expectantly. I decided to leave it until later. I smiled down at Dexter.

‘Well, that sounds good, doesn’t it? Which book have you got there?’

Mum looked relieved. ‘It’s The Lonely Giant, isn’t it, Dexter? All about the environment, and how we have to look after our animal and insect friends around us!’

I snorted. ‘Well, just make sure to remind Fifi of that next time there’s a spider in the bath.’

‘So, after dinner, we’re going to rearrange the furniture in the living room, aren’t we, darlings? We can’t have it all pointed at a blank wall, can we!’

She spoke this last bit to Dexter, nuzzling into him and tickling a bit, then raised her head and looked at me. Her eyes, big too, were hopeful, and maybe a little bit pleading.

‘Sounds good. And then I have to go work on something in my room, if that’s alright.’

She stared at us all in turn, a silly, happy smile playing at her lips and filling her eyes, Dexter, Fifi, and me, her children, people that she’d made.

*      *      *

Feature image © Hannah Billie Perry 

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