I was nine months old when Mother plonked me on a beach-mat in the care of my tweenage brothers. Ten minutes later she returned and I was gone. My brothers were enjoying a game of footie. And I was gone!
A somewhat sodden gentleman wearing flannel pants and a white shirt squelched across the sands. “Is this what you’re looking for?”
He handed me over with disdain. I was wrapped in his beige cable knit jumper, trying to make sense of a clump of sea weed. “But she never moves,” protested Mother.
“She’s fooling you,” he accused. “She crept into the sea.” Mother took the dripping stranger to our home-made caravan to dry out. He left wearing a pair of Dad’s work overalls flapping mid-calf.
Mother, how very remiss of you!
The North Sea is not the best place to skinny dip at a young age, and definitely not before you’ve mastered the crawl.
Likewise, the public swimming baths, having two distinct ends, generally reserve the shallow one for non-swimmers. Not so when I enrolled my son into Learners Club. “Can you swim, young man?” asked the instructor. Son nods. “In you jump then.” He did, and promptly disappeared.
Could there be a genetic link to foolhardy water based practices, I wonder? Or is this familial tendency suitable fodder for Mr Freud’s digestive juices? Perhaps the inkblot test would suss the reticent from the ‘don’t think, just jump’ personality type.
But you need to understand, it’s a pig being a girl in a male dominant family; cousins, brothers and now husband and sons. Not a she-male in sight. No wonder I excelled at arm-wrestling and climbing trees. I even learned to spit.
But I’m cute; I had quite a lucrative enterprise flourishing by age six, and big bro’s sixteen and upwards.
Oh yes, I was investing in my short term future alright, and I didn’t give a sherbet lolly-plop what their giggly girl friends thought of me. If they wanted me to get lost for an hour, my absence came with a price. I mean, they’d been told to keep an eye on me, after all.
Most Saturday mornings, I had enough stashed away to buy a tube of Spangles, a few Gobstoppers and two ounce of Dolly Mixtures in a conical paper bag twisted on top.
I never shared. I rationalised that I’d worked hard for my money. Well, that’s what Dad said about his job at the sawmill. Anyway, it was my little secret.
The reckoning came when biggest bro fell out with his girlfriend. My disappearing act was no longer a viable investment in sweet tooth affairs. I had to think on the hoof. I would lose my street cred if I was spotted biting into a nice healthy apple or banana.
My next ploy was dreadful and if Jimmy Jenkins hadn’t offered to sell me his baby tortoise I would never have committed the shameful deed. Five shillings was a rip-off, but I so needed to own that little reptile. My former source of income showed no sign of recovery, so what’s a girl to do?
Big bro, a typical male, was careless. In addition to being a serial lavatory pot-bad shot, he habitually chucked his jacket over the chair leaving coins to spill from the pockets. I reckoned if I borrowed a sixpence now and then, just until I became solvent again…
Now I’d reached the depths, but of course I would repay every last halfpenny.
I purchased the tortoise and named him Cedric after the vicar. It was something about the way he chewed. Anyway, my debt slipped my mind until eventually I rationalised that if big bro hadn’t missed it, he must not need it. I can be logical at times.
In church one Sunday morning, watching Reverend Cedric’s reptile mouth spouting its stuff, for once my ears pricked up.
“Now children,” I looked around. There were four of us. “Who knows the ten commandments?” Three smarty pant’s hands shot up. I stared down at my Sunday best, patent shoes.
The Dumbo’s got nine out of ten. “Melissa, do you know the missing one?” My mouth made a squeak. “Turn around dear. They can’t hear at the back.” I squeaked some more.
“THOU SHALT NOT STEAL!” I hollered.
And that’s when I noticed big brother, lolling in the back pew wearing a sanctimonious smile.
He looked right past my left ear, and with a thumb up gesture, winked at the vicar.
Scripture verse. ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ Exodus 20:15 (KJV)
(Fiction based on fact.)
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.