The Green Carpet

It’s a fact that men just don’t like throwing things away and I blame women.
Every mother on this earth goes around telling their sons that money doesn’t grow on trees and then tidies up around them, whilst investing in new gadgets for them to hoard. With girls it’s different we teach them to be tidy. We expect a little girl to look prim and proper, we expect boys to get grubby. We don’t like it, but we accept it.

I was the world’s biggest tom boy, I played cricket, and football with the best of them. My dad used to threaten me daily. If I ever came home with a bruise he would give me one to match, to teach me a lesson. I know it doesn’t make sense. I was covered, from head to toe in t-shirt and jeans everywhere I went in the hope that my dad never saw the latest lump or bump that just happened to appear. So being prim and proper for me wasn’t an option. Growing up I lived in what was known as the spare room, the cupboard room. It housed a single bed, pushed up against the wall, had a chest of draws and a cupboard. It wasn’t my cupboard, it was where my dad stored all his beer making bits. During the latter months of the year the apples were stored under my bed and there were always tomatoes ripening on the windowsill. We had a large family and being the odd ball, after trying to share a room with each one of my sisters, it was deemed necessary to separate me. I didn’t do the normal girly things apparently. Reading was seen as a bit weird and so I was teased whenever I tried to get stuck into a book. That inevitably ended up in a fight. It was no good being the middle child, if I had a fight with my older sister then I should have known better, she was always going to win. If my little sister pissed me off, I should know better and understand that “She is only young, stop picking on her.” That lasted until she was in her 20’s. Even after I left home she was still treated like a little Princess. As for arguing with my stepmother, well that was a given. I never liked her from the first day we met. Still don’t. No that’s not fair. I can’t dislike someone that I have blocked out of my life.

The worse thing about my stepmother was her age. She was only 5 years older than my older sister and 13 years older than me. Which meant that neither of us were about to become her “daughters” She treated my older sister like an acquaintance. Almost a work colleague. No love lost, keeping their distance, but talking when necessary. My younger sister was still a baby when dad brought her into our lives, so she became my stepmother’s little girl. Me I just didn’t sit right. So, I just didn’t fit.

No matter how bad things got, being grounded, threatened, separated, or bullied I always got my revenge. You see in the front room we had a green carpet. Not just any green carpet, this one was posh. Dad would always tell us that it had cost him three weeks wages and he was really proud of it. It was the first thing that he and my mother had bought when they moved into their new council house in the 60’s. It was good enough then and it was still good enough now. Or so my dad thought. You see as I started to say at the beginning, men don’t throw things away. They might change their car every year, get the most up to date gadgets for the most obscure things, but practically everything practical is dismissed as being worthy until it visibly disintegrates before their very eyes. As it was with the green carpet.

I’d almost forgotten about it until I was talking to Marks ex wife about his hoarding. My stepmother resented my mother with every breath and I’m sure that my dad kept the carpet just to wind her up. We had a new three piece suit, the front room had been decorated. Walls had been knocked down, kitchens extended, but still the green carpet remained.

It began one Christmas, I had been mithering for months about going to college, but my stepmother had decided that she wasn’t going to pay for me to be an idle student. The letters came for the college trips just before the break up for Christmas and our house was blue with the argument. I lost. My revenge, a green marker pen.

Not just any green marker. This one I had to travel into town to get. I had to go into the big office stationary shop and find the best, thickest, bottle green indelible marker they had. I wrapped it carefully in a box and then paper, tying it with a bow, and placed it under the tree.

Christmas morning arrived and there we were opening our presents. It was a military operation in our house. My stepmother would sit by the tree and hand each present to us one at a time. But we couldn’t open them. When the last one was dished out, she would tell us which one to open first. Each of us would carefully unwrap for fear of making a mess and before we could acknowledge the present she would be there with the black rubbish bag. The present would then have to be placed to one side in a neat pile before we opened the next.

I waited with baited breath as my stepmother opened her present from me. There were two. She opened the one I had given her first. A new set of felt tips. They were lovely, I wish someone had bought me some like it. I knew she enjoyed colouring and she really appreciated them. For a split second I felt as though I had done something so cringe worthy that I would regret it for the rest of my life. She was genuinely pleased and everyone was so relieved that the chill around the room seems to dissipate.

She picked up the second present, “Another present, why thank you Jenny, that’s lovely.” A warm smile crept across her face, and guess what, it didn’t crack.

I squirmed as I tried to return the smile. “Yer well this one just a little joke. You know something to make you smile.”

All eyes now turned to the present and the cloud of despair that I felt was filling the room. Did I mention that my stepmother didn’t have a sense of humour?

The bow was neatly removed and place to the side, I was going to see that on someone else’s present next year. The cellotape expertly stripped and the paper unfolded. Then refolded and placed on top of the other neatly removed paper from her other presents. She hated waste. She began to open the box, and I tried to get away.
“I’ll just put the kettle on, shall I?’

“No wait, let’s see what you got her,” my youngest sister said excitedly.

The big bold green marker pen fell into her lap and she looked at me, then at the pen, then back to me in a puzzled way.

“I thought you could use it to colour in the scuff marks on the carpet.” (nervous chuckle)

Silence, nothing, not an utterance, not a ditty, until…

My father’s laugh was loud and could bring a house down. The joke approved off, everyone began breathing again. That is everyone except Carol.

“Bloody good idea,” cried my dad, “save me buying a new carpet. Years left in it, good idea girl.” And he continued to laugh. Needless to say, my stepmother was not amused.

I’d just like to say, ***(name withheld through fear of losing a friend), I’ve got some really good Oak Brown Sharpies, if the hubble wants to keep the old furniture, maybe he’ll get the hint.

You can’t keep repairing the past, physical, material, or mentally. Sometimes you have to let it go and move on.

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