Mollys needs, p.1
A Short Story by Bea Turvey
Copyright 2011 Bea Turvey
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This would be the last time I would sit next to Molly; surreptitiously breathe in the “apple blossom” scent of her dark multi-braided hair; cast sidelong glances to feast my starved sight on the perfectly formed firm, oiled thighs exposed by the shortness of the bottle-green skirts her little gang favoured over the regulation knee-covering length stipulated by the school.
Her bottom shifted impatiently on the wooden bench.
I imagined the slick imprint her bare skin would leave behind.
I shouldn’t be sitting here. I ought to be standing. Keeping watch.
I nearly groaned at the brief searing contact of a hip as she leant round her best friend to poke the blazer-covered shoulder of the girl in front.
She was rewarded with a scowl that quickly gave way to the shy adoring smile she was more accustomed to. The smile was premature. Molly had no intention of being friends.
I pretended not to notice as she mouthed an obscene word to her fan, her eyes lighting with satisfaction at the hurt clouding the other girl’s face.
Molly: school bully, school flirt, school dare-devil.
Don’t get me wrong, Molly didn’t hurt people intentionally. At least, not physically. But she could wound with a look, a gesture, a word as easily as slamming a door in your face. It wasn’t intentional. Not really. It just – was. You wouldn’t blame fire for being hot, would you?
I nudged her with an elbow as Mrs Wellman, the Headmistress, swivelled a frosty gaze in our direction.
Molly could go from blazing angry to demure in seconds. I’d watched the transformation many times over the past ten months. She did it now; a calm, serene, attentive expression descending over her features, a light chuckle escaping the glistening lips at the story being related by the teacher on the podium.
Mrs Wellman turned away, satisfied. I released the breath that had artificially inflated my chest.
Molly shifted again, her arm brushing mine – a kiss of the flesh. I managed to restrain the gasp that welled balloon-like in my throat. I wanted to hold this contradictory girl. So much. I ached with the need.
‘Oh, for God’s sake!’ The annoyed mutter reached my ears. I stored away the irritated tone in my memory banks to fawn over later.
I would never again hear her voice after today.
How was I to bear it?
At the whispered query I turned to face her smoky-grey irises. Her pupils had widened to such an extent in the bad lighting of the ancient hall that the grey was more of dirty smudge. I leant towards her, our noses almost touching.
Skin-to-skin. So close.
‘I really need the loo, Miss.’
The mint she’d chewed before assembly barely disguised the nicotine breath now flowing into my mouth; over my tongue; into my lungs.
I breathed deeply.
She took it to be a sign of annoyance.
With a short jerky nod I rose and stood, waiting for her to shuffle off the bench.
My eyes slid to the vacant spot. It was clean, unblemished.
The Head turned another frown on us as we crept down the side and through the double doors.
‘In here.’ I pushed open the wide door of the disabled toilet a short distance from the Hall. The toilet was for visitors, dignitaries. Strictly out-of-bounds to pupils; a definite NO to Molly and her destructive little gang.
‘Really, Miss?’ Her brows curved high, disappearing under the choppy fringe.
I nodded, impatient myself now. The pupils’ toilets were too far away. This time was precious.
I didn’t see the advantage an extended time with Molly, alone, could bring. I only saw the risks.
‘Hurry up, Molly.’ I tried and failed to be stern. ‘You really should have gone at lunchtime.’
‘I did. I just,’ she shrugged, embarrassed and I was immediately intrigued. Molly was the most self-assured pupil in the school. ‘You know. I need to, like, change… You know?’ A faint blush stained the soft cheeks and she looked away, over my shoulder.
‘Why didn’t you change at lunchtime?’
‘I told you, I did.’ She shrugged again, the embarrassment of having to discuss her period with a member of staff giving way to belligerence. ‘I gotta change lots. You know. It’s like, kinda heavy.’
‘Have you told a doctor about this?’ She shook her head, the beaded braids swinging freely across her shoulders. ‘Your mother?’ Concerned, I stepped closer, my arm dropping from the door. It closed silently, swinging forward on its cushioned hinges.
‘Don’t see her,’ the mumble was almost indistinct.
‘You don’t –’ I stopped, appalled. I’d read her record. I knew her parents had split up. Her primary contact was her father but I had never guessed she was estranged from her mother.
‘Anyway, she’s not me real mum,’ her arms crossed defensively, lower lip jutting out. ‘She told me. Me real mum didn’t want me.’ Her eyes glared into mine, daring me to contradict her. Wanting me to contradict her.
To reassure her.
I gave a nervous snort. Had I ever imagined a heart-to-heart conversation with Molly this was not the way it would have gone. For starters the venue would have been less…open.
‘I’m sure you’re wrong Molly. It is, uh, a very rare case indeed for a mother to give up her baby out of choice.’ I recalled the words I’d heard before. ‘Usually it’s because they are too young, too ill, or, uh, because there is no other option open to them.’
Molly rolled her eyes. My trite little speech was obviously not news to her; she believed it as much now as the first time she’d heard it.
‘Look, d’ya mind if I just go to the loo?’ She transferred her weight off one leg onto the other.
‘Molly,’ I couldn’t let this drop, couldn’t let Molly believe she was unwanted.
But I couldn’t tell her how much I wanted her. That would be wrong.
My head was empty of helpful words.
Molly heaved a long-suffering sigh, regretting the uncharacteristic confidence already.
‘It’s nothing. Look,’ she tossed her head, the dark fringe bouncing on her forehead. ‘It’s cool, okay? I don’t wanna talk about it. I got, like, a shrink I got to say this stuff to already. I don’t need another busybody trying to tell me shit.’
My eyes narrowed at the foul language as she skirted past me, millimetres away, and disappeared into the toilets.
I’d been hoping she’d open up. Cry. Give me an excuse to hug her.
As I waited I counted the brilliant glass stones attached to the bustier adorning the dressmaker’s dummy in the alcove. Part of the Year 10 fashion project, these flashing risqué pieces were positioned all along the staid upper corridors of the school.
Molly’s little gang had managed to purloin a choice gold and white frothy number to dress the plinth supporting the bust of the school’s founder, Lord Carstairs. The culprits had never been discovered, but I knew. The Head knew. Proof was lacking.
The corridor now had cctv monitoring its length.
I’d reached two-hundred and thirty-four when I heard the lock slide back with a snap. The door opened emitting a spicy scent.
Molly swaggered out, confidence and calm oozing from her; quite unlike the vulnerable child who’d rushed in. Her pupils seemed even bigger and I half-knew, half-wondered if their size had less to do with the dimness of the hall and more to do with her frequent toilet visits. Her too-tight sh
Without a word, without a look in my direction, hands jammed into her green blazer pockets, she sauntered back into the Hall and resumed her place on the bench.
I trailed after and took up a position against the wall, pretending to stare at my navy court shoes. From this vantage point, out of the corner of my eye, I caught every expression as it flickered over her face.
The remaining fifteen minutes of the assembly are a blur. I recall bowing my thanks when the Head praised my work, expressing her gratitude that such a well-known teacher-turned-author had been able to stand in while Molly’s class’ teacher was on maternity leave.
A deceptively angelic-looking Year 7 trotted up with an expensive bunch of scented blooms while the assembly offered a short round of claps. Not something normally awarded to supply teachers, but then, of course, my fame demanded special treatment.
I half wish I’d agreed to stay.
I wish, when the Head had jokingly asked if I couldn’t stay on permanently, I’d accepted.
Ten months. That was all I’d had with her. Molly. My little girl. My only child.
I’d abandoned her.
This time I didn’t even have the excuse of young age, a broken home, lack of funds…
I kidded myself that I’d already done enough damage.
I kidded myself that my presence would only confuse the issue further.
My heart was heavy as I boarded the first-class carriage of the London-bound express. I didn’t falter as I took my seat.
It wasn’t hard to walk away.
She was better off without me.
I kidded myself.
I was good at pretend. It had helped make me famous.
Molly's Needs by Bea Turvey / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes