The shop was jammed full of people- pushing and bustling, screaming and laughing. Schoolgirls giggled and hitched up their skirts, the boys laughing and exchanging glances. In the corner, a mother was trying to quieten her baby, who was crying, by jiggling a rattle over the pram. An old woman was peering closely at the selection of cards before her- it looked like she’d left her glasses somewhere. A young boy swigged a can of diet coke and ran his fingers over the array of choices.
“’Scuse.” I said, pushing past them all. One of the schoolboys wolf whistled, but I ignored him and kept on battling it through the ocean of bodies until I came to the section of cards I wanted.
I looked at the Mother’s Day cards, trying to find one that would suit Mum. There were pink ones, with little teddy bears on, or sparkly ones with purple glitter saying “Best mum Ever.” There were ones with cartoons of families and ones with a list of things which make their Mum special.
I picked up a lilac coloured one with purple fluff round the edge. There was no cheesy message written inside, just “To Mum on Mother’s Day.” It would do, although I knew she would have prefered a red one. I would have liked to buy her the one with World’s Best Mum written on it on a cherry-red themed cards where glasses of red wine, killer red stilletos and blood red handbags were printed onto the page. It was much more Mum’s style than a fluffy purple card. The thing was, I couldn’t buy it. I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t pretend my Mum was the World’s Best Mum, because she wasn’t.
In my eyes, the World’s Best Mum would be someone who was there when you got home from school, someone who made you dinner every day, somone who tucked you up in bed and kissed you goodnight. She would bake cakes, clean the house, wash the clothes, pick you up from after-school clubs and let your friends over whenever. She would laugh and talk with you, shop with you and take you on holidays to exotic places.
My mum was rarely at home after school, she would make tea if she was in a good mood- otherwise it was left to us. She would let us go to bed whenever we wanted, and she never said goodnight. She couldn’t cook an omlette- let alone bake a cake and the washing and cleaning is always done by Max or Scarlett. Mum moaned when I ask her to pick me up after school, and refused. I was too embarrased to ask my friends over with her in the way. We didn’t talk, unless we had to, and my Mum never took me shopping. I’d never been on holiday in my life.
I squeezed through the crowd once more, with the purple card clutched to my chest, weaving in and out of people doing last minute Mother’s Day buying and joined the queue.
The lady who served me had a name tag on which read Penny.
“Hello!” She said cheerfully, as I handed her the card and fumbled in my schoolbag for my purse. She scanned in and reached down for a bag. I fished out my purse and opened it up.
“That’s three pounds then please,” Penny says.
I stared down at my purse, embarassed. I didn’t even have to check to know there wasn’t three pounds in there. I was my school lunch money from the past two days- Jo had shared her lunch with me so I could save up for the card. I felt ridiculous.
“You know, I think that this isn’t the right card for my Mum,” I mumbled and grabbed it, shoved it on a shelf and walked out hurridly. I would have to stick with something sub-standard now, from the local shop. Something I don’t really want. Story of my life.
“Beer?” Jayanne asked, swaying slightly as she offered me the can. I knew I shouldn’t, but one more couldn’t hurt, right?
I took it and gulped down some of the frothy, warm liquid. We were sitting in Jayanne’s garden, we’d come here straight after school because she said her parents wouldn’t be home. The good thing was, Ruby had said she wouldn’t be home until later, she was going into town. At least I wouldn’t have to look after her until the evening, although at the rate I was drinking, I might not have be able to stand up.
“So, seen much of Connor lately?” Jayanne asked, giggling. She was drunk. Too drunk. Especially for four thirty in the afternoon.
I sighed and looked miserably into the beer can, tracing the label with my fingernail.
“No. I think he’s going to break upwith me soon,” I admitted, sipping beer.
“Dump first him!” Jayanne slurred. “I mean, first dump him! No, dump him first!” She cackled with laughter and I laughed politely. I tried to talk to Jayanne, tried to relax, to drink and chat like she was. But my mind was on something else. I knew I had to go home and wait for Ruby.
“I better get going,” I said, when it reached five o’clock. I stood up, glad to see that the groud wasn’t swaying or, even worse, zooming up to smack my in the face, and headed back inside her house.
“You only just got here!” Jayanne protested, swigging beer and staggering towards me. I did not want to be near her like this when her parents came home.
“Sorry Jay, but Ruby’ll be waiting for me.”
I slipped on my shoes and picked up my blazer. “See you tomorrow,” I waved and stepped out of the house, glad to be leaving Jayanne and my fake personality there. As I walked down the street I started to think about what homework I had to do, and if I had time to do those extra exam papers.
At school I may pretend to not care about my grades, hang around with the boy-catching, skirt-rolling, too-much make-up wearing girls, and be a tough, rough couldn’t-care-less girl, but now I was free, going home, where I could be myself.