05 August 2015
papersquare 006: Death and flowers
Everyone who'd met Angela would have described her as a hard woman. Whether they meant hard to like, or hard in attitude was a moot point, but hard was definitely the right adjective for her. Occasionally, a kindly colleague said, "Oh, Angela, poor thing, she's had a hard life," without being clear of the details. Angela didn't share details with the other librarians, she spent her breaks reading the newspaper while others gossiped.
Angela blamed her parents. An only child to Lorna and David, it was their fault, she supposed. Whether the issue was nature or nurture, it was still down to them. Her dad's prominent jawline and her mothers receding forehead gave her face the impression of obstinacy, so much of an impression that Angela felt she had no choice but to become obstinate after growing up.
They were a vague couple too, and Angela was a largely bewildered child, not knowing how to live up to expectations that weren't ever expressed. Dad saying that perhaps she should try to go and play outside, spend more time with the other kids, and Mum counteracting, telling her she must get her homework done before she could consider just playing. But then Mum would smile dreamily when Angela came in from playing in the dens at the edge of the woods, and Dad would tell her to change into a nice dress when Grandpa came around, his little girl should be a princess and not a hoyden.
When Angela sulkily squeezed into her teenage years, she had the feeling she was better behaved and more adult than either of her parents. Rows were common then, one or the other was away from home for several nights on end, flouncing or sneaking out depending on what statement each wanted to make at the time. Banged doors and loudly hissing "I'm leaving" generally meant Mum drama-queening, wanting Dad to persuade her to stay. Dad was more distant, gone, sometimes a phone call to explain, but sometimes not; and when he came home he smiled that smug smile where his top lip disappeared and wanted to be asked about where he had been. Angela made her meals, and did her homework, and read books in her room. She didn't have friends around too often, but then she didn't have too many friends.
The lowest point for Angela was when she left to go to university. With a great deal of relief and almost glee, Mum and Dad sat her down and told her they would be divorcing, that at one point they had loved each other very much, but that was in the past. But of course, that they had stayed together for her sake. Now that she was considered done, completed , they could finally skitter off in their separate ways.
After shouting that they should have divorced years ago, that being a bloody parent to them had ruined her childhood, Angela hardly spoke to either of them. Dad made an effort to phone her every month or so, and Mum would breeze down to university digs with a new beau in tow each term. Things settled down from acrimony to civility over time, but Angela remained hard.
One break time in the library, reading the newspaper a couple of weeks after her Mum's funeral, Angela smiled, having discovered the perfect revenge. Sorting out the paperwork didn't take too long, and when it arrived, she called Tony, her Mum's last boyfriend. And really, it was pathetic for a sixty five year old pensioner to call himself a BOYfriend. He was suitably horrified when told him what she'd done.
"I've just been granted an exhumation licence, Tony," she said. "Dad is going to be dug up from Bradlenown church, and reburied next to Lorna. They'll have to spend all eternity together now."