Self-Assertion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium
Catherine needs to start asserting herself. Inspired by an Imaginarium House One Word Prompt.

Submitted: August 06, 2017

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Submitted: August 06, 2017

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Self-Assertion

You need to get some sort of a grip on your life, Catherine. The whole lot of them.....they’re walking all over you. I hardly know you any more.”

Catherine looked at Dee. She meant well, but she just did not understand what it was like. She’d just got her partner to please; not her partner and his three children. But there was no point in saying that, she’d said it to her friend so many times before.

I know, Dee. You’re right! And this time I’ll try. I promise.” Catherine meant it. She knew that she was losing herself, trying to cope with their ever-increasing demands.

It hadn’t been too bad, not at first. Kevin would be supportive and try to back up whatever she said to Toby, Helen and Ben. But they knew how to get him on their side, how to turn him against his new wife. All they had to do was go to Daddy crying, with whispered tales of Catherine’s unfairness which the other two would always back up, and it would be her that felt his displeasure, not them.

She’d tried to keep her place in the family, after all it was her house they were all living in. She would not know it now though. What remained of her original furnishings were battered, scraped, marked with ink. Was it wrong to expect them not to draw on her favourite wooden table, not to score the surface with compass points and any other sharp object that they could get their hands on? Apparently Kevin thought it was.

Catherine had tried to make family time, had tried to arrange outings. All her suggestions were ridiculed and none of them wanted to know. So many weekends had been spent with her on her own at home while the four of them headed out to do whatever they chose to do. Meals were another thing. She would make a family dinner which nobody would touch.

Why do you waste your time and my money?” Kevin had decided to take control. “They don’t like the same things so you need to acknowledge that and treat them as individuals.”

From then on Catherine had found herself preparing five different meals, three times a day. Although she barely ate proper meals any more; it just wasn’t worth the bother. And that summed it all up, really. Why try any more? Wasn’t it easier to just go along with it all, to say nothing, to be nothing?

They were to go to a cabin for a weekend. The children needed a chance to run wild, to be free, to get some exercise. She was to take them on a Friday night and Kevin would join them on Saturday.

But....” She’d tried to say no, to make a stand. He’d made sure they would take no notice of her so how could she manage this?

The trip there had been made in silence, at least as far as Catherine was concerned. None of the children sat up front, preferring to sit together in the back seat where they could whisper and giggle in peace. And things did not improve once they reached the cabin. Toby, the eldest of the three, took charge, and Catherine was too tired from the journey to care. It was late anyway, not many hours left before bedtime. She busied herself and left them to themselves.

They woke up early and were clamouring to go outside. Catherine knew she could not let them go alone. They were city kids, street-smart maybe, but clueless about the dangers of the countryside. She’d have to go out there, keep an eye on things. If necessary, she’d have to take control. She looked at the clock; there were maybe three hours before Kevin would be there. She’d manage – somehow!

At first they were happy to just tear around the house, climbing rocks and a few low branches. But soon their attention turned to the jetty and to the little boat that was moored to it.

I want to go sailing!” Ben, the youngest, shouted.

No, Ben. You can’t. Wait for your father.” Catherine was quite pleased to hear that she sounded calm, in control.

Helen turned and gave her a stare and Toby moved to Ben’s side. “Okay, Ben. I’ll take you!”

No, you won’t Toby. Ben can wait for your Dad and so can you!”

You’re not our mother.” Helen rarely spoke to Catherine at all, but she moved towards her brothers. “You have no right to tell us what to do.”

Look, be reasonable! None of you know how to sail. I don’t know how to sail! Just wait.”

Toby took no notice, began to loosen the rope that was holding the boat at the jetty. He did not look up as she made her way towards him.

Stop it, Toby. Leave it alone.” Catherine was mad now, determined to make the boy listen.

Shut up, you stupid bitch,” Toby spat out at her. He reached up, lashed out, and Catherine hit the water.

She splashed, she floundered, weighed down by her clothes. Her head went underwater and she breathed it in, breaking the surface spluttering just to go back down again. The three children stood there, watching in silence, only moving when they heard their father’s car arrive.

Daddy, Daddy. Catherine was a fish!” Ben ran towards his father, arms outstretched.

Kevin, seeing Toby and Helen standing at the end of the jetty went towards them. What the hell was wrong with Catherine, leaving them there unsupervised? He’d have to make sure she learnt that was just not acceptable.

Where’s Catherine?”

Toby looked out at the lake and Helen pointed. A few strands of Catherine’s hair could still be seen in the water.

Toby pushed her.” Helen sounded cold, unmoved.

She said ‘no’, Dad! She wouldn’t stop.”

Kevin turned away, pulled the three children with him. “No, Helen. Toby did not push her. She tripped! She’d stupidly taken you to the end of the jetty and tripped. Okay?”

Catherine’s a fish,” laughed Ben.

Hush. You are sad, upset. Your mother has.....”

She was not our mother!”

Helen, think! Your MOTHER has drowned. It was an accident. You are UPSET. Now, I’m going to call the police, call it in and you are going to cry.”

Yes, Dad,” the three children said in unison.

 

 

 

 

 


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