Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHILDHOOD (03/09/17)
TITLE: Sleeping Beauty
By Ellen Carr
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“Do your sleeping at home young lady! You're here to participate in this class.”
Someone giggled. Nicki was sure it was Grace Perkins, though she didn't look round. She willed herself to stay awake and concentrate. She could deal with Mr Thurlow, but Grace Perkins was an entirely different matter.
The final bell rang and thirteen-year-old Nicki grabbed her bag, raced out the gate and down to the primary school. Jacqui and Tom were just coming out of the building. Tom ran to Nicki, waving a piece of paper at her.
“We've got a school camp in four weeks time. Here's the form. I've got to get it back by Friday.” Nicki's heart sank. There wasn't much chance that he'd be able to go.
“We'll talk about it when we get home, mate. Hey, come on Jacqui, hurry up! What's up?”
“I got into trouble for not wearing my hat at lunch time. But I couldn't find it this morning. It's not fair!”
“We'll sort something out. Come on, let's go.”
They headed for home. Tom tried to whistle and Jacqui put her hands over her ears.
“Stop doing that! You can't whistle and you sound stupid.”
“I do not, do I Nicki?” Tom retorted.
“Let's just get home. See if you can both be quiet all the way home? I challenge you to not say one word till we get home.” Nicki hoped this would work. She had enough things to worry about without sorting these two out.
“Shh! Let's see how Mum is before we make any noise.” They knew the drill, so they crept into the house, closing the door gently. Tom peeped into the lounge room.
“Mum's on the couch and she's out to it,” whispered Tom. “Let's get ourselves a snack. I think there's some bread in the cupboard.”
“Yes. Can you do that, Tom, while I clean things up a bit?” Nicki grabbed two bottles and a can from the floor near the couch. She pulled a rug up over her mother.
“Peanut butter or jam? What do you want on yours Jacqui?” Tom was spreading butter on a slice of bread.
“Peanut butter and jam,” said Jacqui.
“Shhh! Let Mum sleep it off. Take your bread up to your bedroom.” said Nicki. “I'll get the clothes off the line.”
Just then her mother woke up. “You kids home? How was school? I'll get up in a few minutes. Just having a little rest. You're good kids you know.” She shut her eyes and within a minute was fast asleep again. Nicki, stood next to her for a moment.
“Oh Mum! Let's not pretend you're going to get up. You've had three bottles and a can.” But Mum was beyond hearing.
Next morning, when Nicki got up, Mum was asleep. She had dragged herself into her bedroom and Nicki saw another empty bottle on the floor near the couch.
"Here we go again!" She picked it up and dropped it in the bin.
She got Tom and Jacqui up and gave them some rice bubbles, with water. There was no milk.
“Get dressed while I make you a sandwich each. These are the last slices of bread so you can only take one each.” She found some sultanas and she put a few in each of their lunch boxes. There was nothing for her to take today.
“Come on you two. Move it! You don't want to be late. Hey, Jacqui, I found your school hat in the laundry. And, Tom, we'll talk about the camp tonight.”
“Here she is. Sleeping beauty – without the beauty! Bet you're in trouble again with old Thurlow.” It was Grace Perkins, grinning like a Cheshire cat. “And aren't we good enough for you? You rush off after school as though you're avoiding us all.” Grace's friends giggled.
“And how's your Mum? Still keeping the bottle shop in business?” More giggles.
Nicki clammed her mouth shut and walked right past them. She was glad she had a friend she could talk to. She prayed to him silently. “Please Jesus, help me to get through today. And please help Mum get off the drink.”
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