Ivy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 06, 2017

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Submitted: November 06, 2017

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Ivy.

It had turned out to be so simple. I’d phoned, exactly the same as any other applicant would have done, and arranged an interview. The job would be mine, I was sure of it. And once they’d given me my first step inside, it would just get easier and easier.

I made myself look neat and tidy, clean, but not too attractive. There was no telling how protective Holly, or rather Mrs Fielding might be, and to go there looking too good....Well, she might feel have felt threatened, turned me away. There would be plenty of time for me to show my true self once I had secured my place in the house, the family.

“Good morning, Ms Daniels. Please, come in and take a seat.” She’s nervous, much more than I am. That’s good, an advantage to me! I’ll help put her at her ease and she’ll trust me that bit more.

“Oh, please, Mrs Fielding, call me Ivy.”

“Ivy!” She laughed. “Isn’t that strange, my name is Holly!”

"No....Really?" Even though I had known all along, Just the same as I know that their young son is called Ash, and their older daughter, Rowena. And Frank, her husband, I know a lot about him.

“Come into the kitchen. Would you like tea? Coffee? You can tell me what sort of experience you’ve had and I’ll tell you what we’d be expecting from you.” Holly Fielding is already starting to relax, I can see it in her posture. She is going to be like putty in my hands.

I reel off a list of names, addresses, jobs that I’ve had. The whole lot is fictitious. If they ever bothered to check just one of my references, my game would be up before it had even begun. But they won’t. They won’t even bother to make one single phone call. I am the answer to their needs so why risk finding out that I’m not.

We talk for a while. Mostly I’ll be working with Ben; taking him to playschool and bringing him home, keeping him entertained, fed, and preferably in a good humor for his parents return from work. On top of that, I’ll have some light household chores and some shopping to do. But in return, I get a spectacular room; it is almost as big as the entire house that I grew up in. And there’s a large television, a computer, ample storage space and it even has its own bathroom. Not to mention the fact that they are going to pay me in cash almost as much as I was earning before when I was having to fork out for my own accommodation.

She hasn’t said as much yet, but I know the job is mine. Holly says she’ll have to speak to her husband later, but then she hears the door open, close, so she excuses herself and returns with Frank in tow.

How many years is it? Must be about eighteen. I don’t make eye contact, just in case. I try to make myself appear embarrassed about Holly’s gushing approval; she’s selling me better than I ever could.

“And on top of all that, Frank, guess what Ms Daniels name is?”

“I haven’t a clue.....Debbie? Grace?”

“Ivy! Who could possibly be better.”

And that was it. The job was mine and I was in!

* * * * *

I dutifully played my part for a few weeks, not putting one foot out of line. Every task I had to do was done perfectly, and I was prompt and courteous. I knew Holly was unhappy, lonely. I knew she needed a friend. It would not take long for her to come to see me as someone she could trust but I would not push her or rush it in any way.

Ash was a darling. Four years old and so easy to influence. I don’t know if he resented his parents leaving him with a stranger but within two months he certainly did. He was always to be heard singing my praises. I did this with him, and that with him, while they were rarely home when he was awake, except at weekends. Even then, he often sought out my company.

I suppose you could say that he became the first to be entwined with Ivy.

It was me that got to see his teachers. It was me that got to plant just a slight bit of doubt on his home life when his behaviour took a turn for the worse. And it was me that kept the whole thing hidden from his parents until it had grown to become such a big monster it had to be let out.

* * * * *

She’d insisted on me using their first names right from the start. When I walked in to the kitchen and found Holly sitting at the table, sniffing back her tears, I knew it was time to spread out with a new branch, one that would coil and wrap.

“Are you okay, Holly?” I’m good at sounding genuinely concerned.

“What? Oh...oh, yes, Ivy. I’m fine.” But she looked away and she knew I’d seen the tears glistening in her eyes.

“Are you sure? If you need someone to talk to, you know you can rely on me. Would you like me to make a coffee, sit here for a while....”

That was all it took. She burst in to tears and began to sob it all out. How the school had written to say that they had reason to believe Frank had struck him, hard; how the school was obliged to pass such suspicions on to the social services. On top of that, Frank was working late most nights, and was always walking out of the room with his mobile phone. She wasn’t sure but she thought he might be having an affair.

“Oh, Holly, I don’t think so. I can see how much he loves you.” My branch grows and tangles that bit more. Two now, both spiralling around their victims. Two more to go and the ivy would suffocate the life out of this family of so-called ‘innocents’.

* * * * *

Rowena was more of a challenge. She was very much a ‘Daddy’s girl’, and believed he could do no wrong. Like a lot of girls in their early teens, she had no such view of her mother. The difference in her and Ash’s ages made it almost unavoidable for her to not see him as being spoilt and favoured by Holly.

“And look at the clothes she expects me to wear? What am I? A nine-year-old or something!”

“How about we jazz some of them up, Row. We could do some pretty cool alterations.”

Rowena’s eyes start to glitter at the idea. “Really? Do you think we can make anything decent out of this....?”

“You bet. Row. You’ll be the envy of your mates by the time we’ve finished. And, if you like, I could show you some make-up tips too.”

That last bit was a bit of a gamble. Rowena could easily have taken that as a criticism. But she didn’t; she was only too happy to take me up on my offer. The fact that Holly disapproved of her using make-up at all, well, that just proved how out of touch with her daughter she really was.

The third vine of ivy is in place, ready to wind around, to twist and to turn. Only one more left and this last one would be the easiest of all.

* * * * *

Frank spent more and more time out of the house, and when he was there, the tension between him and his wife flooded the place. The kids, picking up on it, did either one of two things. They either kept right out of the way, mostly spending their time with me; or if they wanted something, especially Rowena, would take advantage of the awkwardness and play her parents off against each other. It was rare that she did not end up getting her way.

They didn’t really argue much, Holly and Frank. It was more like taking pot-shots at each other, playing one-on-one and keeping score of the points. I knew Holly had not mentioned the school’s letter; was she scared how he might react? I also knew exactly when he had seen it. But then I would; it was me that left it on the table, on top of a pile of mail I’d ‘accidentally’ knocked to the floor and muddled in the retrieving.

Holly and he had a real row, shouting and blaming and accusations being flung backwards and forwards. She walked out, slamming the door behind her. I watched her stomp down the path, get into her car and speed away. She would not be long.

Frank was there, head in hands. I made him a drink, put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and that was all it took to make him mine. If he had been a bit reluctant, if Rowena had not been home, my plans would have been ruined but as it was it all worked out so perfectly.

Holly came back and found me with Frank. I knew she would; I’d willed her to. The color drained from her face. I don’t honestly know which of us she felt more betrayed by, but it would be me that would be leaving. I strongly suspected Frank would not last long there either.

Did they recognize me at last? Did they recall seeing Ivy before, when she was called Nicola? The girl that adored Frank, that watched him from a distance before Holly turned up and tore him away. I’d waited a long time but now I had them, twisted and twined, pulled apart, so firmly wrapped up that the whole life had been squeezed from the family.

Ivy. I had chosen my name with care.


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