Querulous #atozchallenge

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Querulous; complaining in a whining manner. 

Mum said I was just too much and this would be better all around. I didn’t believe her though but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d never travelled by myself before and it was a long way to go to Aunt Maggie’s. I’d be excited about going on the train, but now two hours later, I was bored.

The train was rattling loudly and clicking over the rails. Rain was hitting the window and the countryside was racing past in blurs of green and yellows. I couldn’t focus on counting sheep or other animals now. For awhile, I had watched the old woman, who I was sharing this carriage compartment with, but then she had fallen sleep.

She reminded me of my great grandmother because of all the wrinkles and old dress. The woman had been reading, then knitting a scarf, then eating lunch before she had gone to sleep. I was tried too, but feeling awake. Leaning against the window ledge, I watched the rain and began thinking.

I wasn’t being sent away because I was bad, mum had made sure to tell me that, it was because she wasn’t well. She needed someone to look after her and there was no one, so she had to go to hospital which meant there was no one to look after me. I couldn’t be by myself, not just because I’m only thirteen, but because I have autism.

Autism is a hard thing to explain to people, so I don’t talk about it often. Mum says, I’m not different, I’m normal, but I just have a special way of thinking and doing things. There are lots of other people like me and they have their own ways too, just like everyone else does. I wish I didn’t have it though. If I was normal, I could look after myself and mum better.

Instead, I’ve to go to Aunt Maggie’s though I’ve not seen her for years and she’s not really my aunt but a very old friend of mum’s. I don’t know how much she knows about me, but mum says she’s really nice and with it being half term, I won’t have to move schools. Hopefully, she’ll be nice and let me play games and read my comic books all the time.

I had been fighting going to Aunt Maggie’s for the last two weeks. Mum had slowly started suggesting it along side explain things to me. I told her I could stay in the hospital with her or someone else could look after me. What about my normal babysitter, Nancy? I really like her and she always makes me laugh. I’d have anyone, I plead; even Mrs. Cramps, the crazy lady who smells bad and lives at the end of the street.

No, mum had said, no one else can do it. Please don’t make this harder. Be a good boy.

I was a good boy, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with her. I wanted to stay in my bed, in my room, in my house. I didn’t want to go to some place new. I don’t like new things, especially if it’s noisy. Mum knew that and still she had tried to make me excited about going. It hadn’t really worked even though the train had been a nice distraction.

That’s how she’d really got me on the way to Aunt Maggie’s and the bag fill of snacks, toys and comics. Now, I was getting close to arriving and meeting Aunt Maggie, my mind had changed again. No longer did the way mum had put things make a difference. I just knew it was going to be too hard. I couldn’t be good if I didn’t like it. That was just the way it worked.

I shut my eyes, listening to the rain falling and the old woman snoring. I’d try my best I decided then if I was really good, maybe I’d be able to go home faster.

Little Brother

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We always knew when my brother was coming. Everyone knew. My mother would hurry around the house, removing everything that wasn’t nailed down and locking it in her bedroom. She would put the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and make sure the back door and windows were all locked.

I hide in my bedroom, playing Xbox 360 games and listening to music till it was over. Then she would call me downstairs and we would stand in the living room, waiting. Looking out of the window at the neighboring houses, I noticed their drawn curtains and how quiet the street had become. So usual for a Saturday afternoon, but it was like this every other weekend.

The sound of a mini bus engine broke the stillness and I saw flashes of white from the other side of the hedge. My mother walked out of the room and to the front door, long skirts swishing around her. I stayed put tightening and un-tightening my fists, wondering what was going to happen during this visit.

The door opened and voices came from the hallway. I turned, sighing deeply as footsteps approached then my brother appeared in the doorway. He looked the same as always, a tall, thin mid-twenties man, with too short blond hair and bright blue eyes. He looked too pale, like he was ill, but really he just needed more sunlight. He was wearing black jog pants and a plain blue t-shirt and black jacket.  He smile at me, made a gurgling noise then inspected the living room.

My mother and a male carer from the disability home appeared. They sat on the sofa and fell into the normal conversation about how my brother had been. I watched them for a few moments then decided I should go and put the kettle on. I went into the kitchen, aware that my brother was trailing behind me.

I ignored him and went about making everyone a cup of tea. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my brother opening cupboards and searching through them.

‘No. Peter. Stop,’ I said firmly.

I closed the cupboard he was in and took his hand. He made some moaning sounds as I dragged him back to the living room. Pushing him through the door, I went back into the kitchen again. He shouted something and followed me again. I crossed my arms and watched him opening and closing another cupboard door.

Putting the drinks on a tray, I took them into the living room and placed them on a table. With thanks, my mother and the carer took mugs and carried on talking. I sat down in the armchair next to the window and faked interested outside. I just wanted this to be over already, but there was still two hours to go.

‘He took part in art yesterday and he’ progressing well,’ the carer’s voice drifted over.

‘And has he been eating okay?’ my mother asked.

‘Not really, but he’s been better then other week. He’s been fussing less, but we are still finding it challenging.’

From the kitchen my brother let out a scream and the sound of water rushing out of the tap could be heard. My mother shot me a look, which I pretend not to see. She got up and brought my brother back into the room.

‘Drink your tea, Peter. Adam, made it just for you. It’s nice,’ my mother said.

She sat my brother down in the other chair and give him his tea. Even though it was far too hot to drink, he sipped it anyway. He made some happy giggling sound then in three or so gulps drink the whole thing.

‘Fastest ever tea drinker,’ the carer said.

My brother got up, handed the mug to him and wondered out of the room again.

‘Adam. Go and keep an eye on him,’ my mother demanded.

Groaning, I got up and started trailing my brother throughout the house. He went into the kitchen again and messed around in there before going to the dinning room. He scared the cat and chased her around, till she scratched him and I had to stop him from kicking her. Picking the cat up, I took her to my mother, then followed my brother upstairs.

He went into the bathroom and was using the toilet before I could give him some privacy. I pulled the door too and stood there rubbing my forehead. A headache was building already. I heard the toilet flush and the sink tap running. My brother made his happy noises then squealed.

I rushed in and turned the taps off. He’d burnt his hands again. I give him a towel which he just dropped on the floor. Ignoring me, he walked out and down the hallway. He went into his old bedroom and I followed him. I turned the light on and watched him looking at a few childhood things on the shelves.

My mind pinged with an idea and I opened the wardrobe. I pulled out a box and opened it. Inside was a train set. Sitting on the floor, I begin to take it out and set it up. My brother watched me for a few moments, then joined me. In silence, we made a track and played with the trains. Then my brother broke into loud laughter.

He smashed two of the trains together and laughed even more.

‘No. Don’t do that! Stop!’ I shouted.

A train whizzed past me. The sound echoing in my ear. I turned my head and saw the toy land in the doorway. I started turning back and the second train hit me in the face.

‘Peter! Bad!’ I yelled.

My brother just laughed.

Growling, I snatched up the train set and packed it away. Collecting the two train engines, I shoved them in last and put the box away. Then I walked out and into my own bedroom. I locked the door behind me and sat on my bed. I rubbed my face, which was stinging, but not cut.

Hands banged on my door and my brother began wailing. Trying to ignore him, I grabbed a pillow and wrapped it around my head. He started kicking my door and screaming.

My mother’s voice rang out then I heard her and the carer wrestling my brother away. They took him downstairs where I heard him throw a tantrum. It took them a long time to calm him, then I heard the front door open and the mini bus engine.

Soon my mother was knocking on my door. I just wanted her to go away, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I let her in and we sat on my bed. I told her what had happened and she put an arm around me. Offering me a little comfort.

‘You must try harder,’ she said.

I fought down my words. It was pointless arguing. She left and I stayed on my bed thinking about how easily I could have been born my brother and he could have been born me. Both of us are unlucky, but he has come off worse. I know I should be grateful for the life I’ve got, but I’d rather we’d not been born because for us living with autism is just too hard.

Whichever Way The Waves Are Going (Part 2)

Forward, Storm, Spray, Sea, Ocean, Wave

He sit at his desk, pen above the paper thinking how to begin. His hand shook as he started with I don’t want to live anymore. There it was out and he’d said it. I can’t go on, he added. Chewing his tongue and whispering to himself, he looked at the words before putting on the next line, it’s not your fault I was born like this.

She sat on his bed, stroking the soft worn fur of his favorite teddy bear. Deep tear lines marked her red face and in the quietness her sobbing was too loud. Rain tapped against the window as if asking to be let in and the sea was business bashing its anger upon the rocks. She looked at his letter and re-read words she’d never be able to let go of.

Curling himself into the desk, he lent across the paper and struggled to write. He wanted to thank her. She was a good mother and she’d done everything she could. He looked down and tried to state that, but he didn’t know how. Instead, he wrote, I can’t deal with things anymore.

 She looked out the window and saw the middle of the night. Tiredness and coldness ached through her bones, forcing her to lie down on his bed. The pillows smelt like him. She breathed in natural white soap and baby clothes washing powder. The memory of holding him for the first time flooded her.

His computer hummed and he woke the screen up. An empty virtual page appeared. He had meant to type the letter as it would have been easier, but something had drawn him to hand write it. He closed the page and looked at the computer game he’d been working on. It would never be finished now.

Slow tears dripped from her face. Her thoughts tumbled with all she had scarified for her special little boy. She had brought him here away from the cruel world so he could be happier. The burdens of society gone, he could be him.

She had failed him. Failed as a mother. She hadn’t been able to give him what he’d so longed for. What she had never known he’d wanted. Burying her face in the teddy bear, the last line of the letter took shape before her.

I can never be free from myself.

Whichever Way The Waves Are Going

Forward, Storm, Spray, Sea, Ocean, Wave

Another wave broke at the bottom of the cliffs, scattering white frothy spray everywhere. He looked over the edge at the roaring sea and took a deep breath. He bent his knees, held out his coat behind him like a cape and jumped.

The letter was on his desk when she walked in. Putting the washing basket on his bed, she picked it up and spent a few moments trying to decipher his handwriting. As the words sank in, she dropped the paper and ran.

The cold salty air rushed up to meet him. His coat ripped about behind him and for a few moments he imagined he was a bird. Tears appeared in the corner of his eyes then were whipped away as quickly as they had appeared.

She raced out in her slippers and jumper, all other thoughts gone out of her head. She tore open the cottage’s front gate and almost stumbled onto the sand pathway. Long, hard grass blades cut across her, but she ignored them and fled onwards.

The crashing waves ring loud in his ears and he could feel spitting droplets on his face. He smiled, feeling freer then he had in years. He yelled out and the wind tore through his mouth and snatched his wordless voice away. He looked down and saw the sea rising up to meet him.

Panic and pain shot through her chest as she reached the top of the cliff. Barely stopping her feet in time, she watched some small white stones scattering and falling over the edge. She clutched her chest and searched the stormy sea for any sign of him.

He let go of everything and held out his hands to reach the crests of the waves. Chilly water splashed against him then welcomed him inside with a deathly embrace.

She cried and screamed at the edge of the cliff until she tasted blood in her mouth and her body collapsed into the dirt, spent and shaking.