HOME ALONE WITH MILLICENT!
I love dreamless nights. I always wish for the silence and peace it brings. A beatific oblivion. I always feel grateful because it helps me rest so I am prepared for my busy routine.
Also, I wake up in a much better mood than if I were to be plagued by Millicent's pestering, nightmares revolving obsessively around Mum and my fears for Dad or indeed- and harassing- customers.
However, today sleep is a stranger. I keep on thinking about every detail of my life and it is incredibly frustrating.
Millicent. My younger sister. Sly, spoilt and annoying. Everyone's favourite because she always pretends to be sickly sweet and innocent so everyone adores her. They do not see the real Millicent. Only I see her. They see fake Millie. I never call her that because she loves that name and hates her full name. If she can be aggravatingly annoying to me all of the time then can return the unwanted favour. When she protests I call her “silly Millie,” because she is silly. And pathetic.
I wish I was an only child. I wish I was never home alone with her.
But I'm not an only child and I am here with her. I have to look after her and take her in hand. I wake up and she always moans theatrically and selfishly tries to go back to sleep. She is selfish. Just because everybody adores her it doesn't mean that I have to. I shake her and drag her out of bed. When she plays the cute little waitress (I don't dress her up, I exaggerate how young she is so they don't think we are exploiting her but that she is a little kid wanting to help out) and receives many tips I make sure that she doesn't keep them all. She is allocated half because she insists. She is very spoilt. With “her,” money she manages to buy all sorts of cool things, forever in touch with the trends. I save the remaining money to pay the bills and even then we only break even. We charge cheaply but we would lose custom if we increased our prices as we are from a deprived area so nobody has that sort of money. I have to make do with no treats even though I work really hard and deserve a reward.
At least we're not homeless.
Millicent is so lucky and yet she is always moaning like the customers at our B and B (but our place is better than where they come from, I know because I know all of their sordid affairs). I can't moan because I'm the oldest. So I wale up hours before Millicent to clean until everywhere shines- the guests are so disgusting and dirty- and tidy as they mess everything up and then I start breakfast and wake her up. She not only gets more time in bed and money, but she barely has to work in the evenings. I do everything because I manage to look old enough if I wear heels, adult clothes and make-up. People don't twig we are running an illegal B and B. The guests might, but they never mention it because they need us as much as we need them.
I work so hard and so long that I can't keep up with it at school. I am forever worrying and fussing and can't concentrate and I sometimes fall asleep. Then my teachers moan at me and tell me I'm falling behind and they will talk to my Dad if I don't improve.
Then I either bribe- she won't do anything for free- Millicent to play the helpful act and take over a bit so I can study really hard and catch up on all of my homework and perhaps write a showy essay to please my teachers, or I just have sleepless nights doing that stuff. But I do it and so I catch up and my teachers don't phone Dad and don't continue to think I'm stupid- because I'm not- I just lack energy. I'm actually quite bright.
It's the phoning Dad but that really bothers me. If they found out then we would all get into trouble. They would say he neglects us and is an unfit father and then we would be taken into care.
But he does it to help us. It's not like he goes out drinking and leaves us. He has this comedy act thing but it isn't very good and so he isn't booked often and so can't afford to pay the bills on that alone. Yet he loves gigging so much. So 2 years ago- after Mum had dies, leaving us with less money- Dad had the idea of a B and B as we have a ramshackle house with one big spare room and so he thought that it would appeal to the locals because it would be familiar, down to earth and cheap.
The only thing was that he was impatient to try it our and also to gig. I have always wanted to please my Dad like Millicent always does and so I said: “You go Dad, I'll sort it.”
He considered me because I have always been tall and independent. I had to be because Mum was always unpredictable and Dad always favoured Millicent and I have had no friends so I am alone. After much persuasion he agreed.
Maybe I am stupid. But I just wanted to feel special and appreciated. Like I had a place in the family. When Dad trusted me I felt so happy.
However, I stopped feeling happy when I realised that the supposed trial period of my running it would become permanent. He was meant to make it that way, but there was always something else he wanted to do and he'd say: “You understand Summer?” and I would nod and give a crude attempt at a smile. I understood. He wanted to have his passion and his talent. At the time I understood but now I feel unsure, Is it right for him to leave us? I wanted to be appreciated but bow I want out. I want a normal life.
Dad. I always adored my Dad. We had our games and jokes and routines. We had our own special connection that I thought was unbreakable. But she broke it. She ruined everything. Sly little Millicent simpered her way into Dad's arms with her sickly sweet demeanour while I was left in the cold to watch.
I was heartbroken. I still am. Helping him our with this hasn't changed anything. He still favours her and loves her most. I'm nothing to him anymore. Maybe hes convinced himself that I truly am grown up enough to do this. But I'm not.
Perhaps he wants to convince himself that so he can live his dream. I sort of understand. Sometimes I've got a strong urge to lock myself up in the bathroom (not my room because I share that with Millicent) and do what I love the most. Singing. But I don't because Millicent needs e. What I need doesn't matter to anyone.
So how could he go through with this for so long? He's barely ever home and when he is home I am so relieved that he is alright that I never ask; I don't want to ask because he might hate me.
Maybe he convinces himself because he hates it here. Too many memories. I hate it here. But I will never leave although I want to. Although I resent it I have to put Millicent first and look after and protect her. If anything bad happened to her it would be my fault.
Millicent will be able to leave when she's old enough because she has the advantage of more time to sort out her schoolwork and so consistently does well. She is not smarter than me and I hate how unfair an advantage like that makes it seem like she is.
When I pull it together and do really well the teachers can see my natural ability but they want consistent hard work and dedication and I just don't have the energy.
I know it sounds horrible but I wish I could just walk into the sunset, to have a music career. Every time I think of this I hate my Dad and Millicent even more. Both have taken so much from me and they will never understand.
Mum. She died two years ago. I was relieved. That may sound sick but I hated being around her. Living with her was torture. She was unpredictable and angry all of the time. She wasn't a responsible Mum, we were the ones to look after her. Put up with her as well.
She constantly annoyed people, like other parents, and she managed to draw attention to herself and us. All of us became spectacles, except now Millie has been able to make friends. I don't know how.
Anyway, she was selfish. All she ever talked about was herself and how she hated where she lived and she ranted at us for holding her back and making her life miserable. She made us miserable. All of us have too many bad memories. Especially me.
Millicent and Dad had each other to love. Mum didn't love anyone and so was unloved. No hugs. No kisses. No smiles.
I still can't fall asleep. All I feel is awake. I feel suffocated by my thoughts. Is this all I can be? All I can ever have?
I feel so bad because I feel so bitter. Nothing ever works out for me. Nothing can ever be good and normal. But I also have to have worse than Millicent. Why am I the unlucky one? I am the oldest and so I have to be responsible but I'm not old enough to do everything and yet I do while she has it easy.
She can get out of here. She has that choice. But this is my future. My future is this. All of my dreams are fanciful impossibilities. Deluded lies. Lies.
I want to be a singer. I can do academic things but I hate it because I always have to rush it and it just feels predictable and empty. But when I sing I feel overcome by passion and I feel warm and excited. Running on electricity. Totally in the moment and above and away from my life. When I sing I feel free and like anything is possible only when I sing.
School. One other thing on my mind. I hate it because I've got no friends and people avoid me because of how my Mum used to embarrass us. I can't make them overlook that like Millicent does. I don't like the teachers either. They don't understand me and my life. They think I'm stupid or slow until I work hard when I need to and then they seem me as lazy because: “You can do anything you want to but you don't try.”
I do try but I can't do everything and I can't tell them why I don't do some things so they continue to have the wrong impression. Do I care? Well, only a little bit.
Academic careers are boring, stuffy and predictable, so it's not like I care because of that. I just want to be taken seriously and then be able to do what I want to do. When I wake up in the morning my heart longs to sing and all I can think about is singing. But Millicent and the business take over my thoughts and I return to reality.
Millie. That's what everybody calls me. Except my sister Sunset. But that sums up our relationship. With everybody else I can be Millie, who tries to be sweet and caring. With Sunset I don't try because it would be bound to fail and also because I get to express how angry I am at her because she resents me which makes me feel incredibly guilty that I can't bear it.
She resents me because she used to be close to Dad and feels that I took him away from her. This annoys me because it's not something I could control and it's cruel to hold me to that.
I feel guilty because when I was younger Dad would pick me up and Sunset would be staring enviously in the corner at us and I never did anything to include her. I was so incredibly selfish but I had Dad and didn't want to share him because I needed one parent to make me feel special and loved and as Mum was useless I counted on Dad.
She also resents me because she has to run the B and B and I'm not very helpful and ask for half the money earned. This annoys me because it's not my fault that she got drawn into it and I'm still at primary school so she's lucky to have any help from me at all, and I need the money for security.
I don't want to be stuck here forever so I've started saving some money for the future and I use the rest to stay in touch with fashion and technology. I feel guilty because again I am being selfish and also because she's so clever and does well at school when she tries so she gets good results but she deserves to be teachers pet and be able to do well all of the time but I hold her back by not helping her out more.
But I need to do well myself and a part of me feels good that teachers can see me as semi-intelligent and like me because I know in normal circumstances I'd be in the middle of the class (based on natural ability and me not studying really hard) and she'd be the top of the class all of the time.
She resents me because she'll be stuck here forever and I won't. This annoys me because I save up and work hard and deserve to get out of here.
I feel guilty because she works hard in the B and B which is why she can't always work hard at school and she's so much more intelligent than me and could get a good career and she is so amazing at singing it could be her job.
When I see her look at me I know how she feels and I can't bear it so I am means and rude and unhelpful because I don't want to feel beholden to her due to her sacrifices and my mistakes.
I want a normal life.
I was roughly (she shows how angry she is with me regularly) woken up (again) this morning.
“Get up. It's time to work,” she said sharply.
“It's the holidays, you don't have to get me up early,” I moaned.
“Early? I wake you up- generously, I might add- hours after I've woken up and now it's the holidays you don't have school as an excuse,” she argued and tried dragging me out of bed bur I resisted. It was hard because I'm skinny (due to my hobbies) but I held my own.
“Leave me,” I said.
“I wish I could. You disgust me,” she said and she glared at me with all of the hate inside of her and it made me feel disgusted with myself and in that one moment it really hit me how I made her feel because I must have enraged her so much for her to leave me when she normally stayed and persevered until I went to her and followed her.
In that moment I felt too weak to work. I was weak. I was a mean, ungrateful, selfish, spoilt- any bad word to describe me- who made my sisters life hell and held her back.
When people saw me they may like what they saw. I was skinny (a desirable quality) and pretty (so they told me) and they may adore me but I hated myself now. Sunset deserved to be skinny (she was normal size and yet she was tall and always working) and pretty (she wasn't ugly but her features didn't show how much of an amazing person she was) and adored because I was not a good person and she was.
To distract myself I did my hobby. I always did it in private because I worried it would make Sunset break down if she realised every day I could practice for my dream job while she only had occasional moments. I loved dancing and longed to be a dancer. An academic career wasn't my forte because I always work so hard but dancing feels like a release. It wasn't a natural gift, like Sunsets' voice, but after some practice it became second nature and I felt like electricity was soaring in my body. In those moments I felt like if I continued dancing nothing could bother me.
However, that dance routine couldn't last forever. Before long it was over and I was left with my new revelation about myself and I couldn't cope. Dancing was a short term solution but I could get rid of it right with Sunset.
But how? She hated me and I couldn't change that overnight. I needed to help her and not for a selfish reason (like for material gain) but so that she could be happier. This was not a good idea. She was independent and even if someone could help her easily, it would have to be someone she liked and she hated me. But I hadn't given up on dancing and I wouldn't give up on Sunset.
All I had to do would do it slow and steady. Build up short moments of trust. When would the first one be?
I was so sick of Millicent. She had everything I wanted: looks, figure, freedom, education and friends, and yet she still behaved like a spoilt brat.
But the customers were distracting me from my anger. We have one permanent spare room (Mum's) and a semi- spare room (Dad's) so we had 2 guests each night and if they had company it was worse (especially pets, they cost extra because of the mess) and they always managed to treat me like an imbecile.
Mr Rodgers (he's a regular, he and his wife argue constantly because he has these affairs and she kicks him out for a night and then he goes back and does it all over again) was complaining about his breakfast being cold and I was arguing that it was only cold because he'd been busy talking to the other guest (who was looking away embarrassed).
“Look, are you aware of the saying: “The customer is always right?” he asked coldly.
“Yes, I am,” I agreed.
“Well, that applies here. My breakfast was unsatisfactory and I want another,” he said sharply.
“You can have another if you pay for it,” I said, trying to sound calm but he was annoying me so much that I was going red.
“Or we could come to another arrangement,” he said quietly and my heart stopped. People assumed (and mostly it was right for them to assume) that I was an adult but you got some flirters and people who made innuendos and those who tried to grope you- I dodged back when they did this.
“There won't be any arrangement, you dirty man,” Millicent- who had silently crept behind me- said angrily.
“Do not get on the wrong side of me, you little madam,” he said threateningly.
“Here's what's going to happen: you're either going to pay my sister, and top her for your rudeness and never come here again, or I'll wake my Dad up and he'll be in such a bad mood when I tell him what you said to his oldest daighter that he'll come to an arrangement with his foot in your groin,” Millicent replied before I could. I was about to say that I didn't need her sticking up for me, and to ask what she was up to but she shook her head.
He begrudgingly gave me the money and the tip and then ran out of the room. The other guest seemed curious about what had happened so I smiled slightly and indicated Millicent go through to the kitchen with me so the customer did not catch any gossip.
“What was that about?” I ask, when we were there.
“Nothing, I just never realised what they were like and it annoyed me,” she answered.
“I don't need your help,” I said, annoyed that she only occasionally helped when I desperately needed her.
“I know, but I wanted to,” she answered.
“Why?”I asked, surprised at her.
“Because we may hate each other but we're still sisters,” she said, trying to sound calm but she sounded worried.
“You're not my sister,” I argued and I started walking away.
“Maybe not yet. But I want to be. Let me take over for a while,” she said.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“I'm bored and I want to do something meaningful,” she said, looking earnest and all I wanted was to get away from her and whatever game she was playing and have a break so I nodded.
All afternoon I had to myself. I expected her to go back on her word but she didn't. What was she up to? But I was reluctantly grateful because I got to sing.
Normally I sang cover versions because I didn't have enough time to sing the ones I'd written or I was scared but today was a day with a difference and I let go of my pain whilst singing and it was the best experience ever.
I sang until my voice tired and then I got some water (and noticed how many tips Millicent had collected in the money jar) and the went to our bedroom and sat down and daydreamed.
There was a presenter calling my name and a crowd cheering and out I came, confetti falling around me and I sang and when I finished there was silence because they were blown away and then really loud and never ending applause.
Normally, I always think that it will never happen because I've not got superstar talent or the breaks but in that moment anything felt possible. When my head hit the pillow I fell asleep easily.
Earlier was amazing. I made small steps towards forgiveness from Sunset and I defended (I had never realised how weird some of the guests are) and helped her.
It was long and tiring but I was on a big high from my good deeds that I barely noticed and the tips helped my mood. Especially as I saved most of them for Sunset. Not all of them because I need my security and it isn't a bad thing to think of my future, but the money I would use would be for superficial things. Why would I seek such luxuries when we didn't have the basic, like a sisters (good) bong, and it was the holidays I wouldn't see the people from school anyway so I didn't need to look cool.
When I was having a break I heard Sunset sing. I'd always known that she had an amazing voice but as she'd always sung other peoples songs it didn't sound like her singing. But today she sand what was presumably her own songs and she was spectacular. I've never heard anybody sound as true, open and unique.
It made me even more aware that today couldn't be a fluke. She had to get back the time I had denied of her and so I needed to keep on working for her.
Whatever it takes, I will do it, to help her because it breaks my heart to think of all that talent going to waste. I just hope that my need to make things right will make me become permanently stronger as a person. I hate to think of the alternative...
Normally I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock. Today I woke up to the voice of Millicent and it was weird.
“Good Morning,” she said softly and when I sat up to see if this was real I saw her holding a tray and she passed it to me gently. It was a warm cooked breakfast.
“Breakfast in bed. Well, it's more like brunch,” she said calmly, like she normally did this.
“Brunch? Did I oversleep?” I asked, appalled.
“No, I turned your alarm clock off,” she said matter of factly.
“Why?” I asked, curiously.
“You needed to catch up on your sleep,” she said, smiling sweetly at me.
“Why are you acting like this? The sticking up for me, helping me, letting e sleep in and breakfast in bed. What's your angle?” I asked, stunned at her behaviour.
“I've woken up,” she said mysteriously.
“When did you wake up? Are the customers alright?” I asked anxiously.
“Do not worry about them. They're fine. You need to take care of yourself,” she said.
“I don't have time. I've got to sort everything out,” I said, wanting to get everything sorted.
“There is nothing to sort out. Everyone is alright and now I'm making sure you are,” she persisted.
“I don't get it. Why?” I asked, wanting a real answer.
“I've realised that all I want is to be a good sister and make it up with you and I don't care about anything else,” she said, surprising me.
“It's a shame you never cared before, when you sat down and let me do everything,” I moaned bitterly.
“Well, like I said, I've woken up. I'm so sorry for everything,” she said, sounding sincere.
“That's ok, as long as you're sorry,” I said sarcastically.
“I mean it,” she continued.
“You're just good at acting but you can't fool me. I've seen who you are,” I said stubbornly.
“You've seen who I was but not who I want to be,” she replied calmly.
“Oh, like I thought, this is about getting what you want,” I said.
“Just eat your brunch, please. It'll be going cold,” she said, diverting the attention.
“You're cold. A cold heartless girl who always has an ulterior motive,” I went on angrily.
“I don't mind you taking your anger out on me, but you should realise that I'm trying to make up for everything,” she said and she sounded like it meant a lot to her.
“You can't make everything up to me. I should have known this was about guilt,£ I went on, wondering why I had almost been convinced.
“Of course I feel guilty. I was a horrible person and made you suffer. I'm not suddenly going to be loved by you, or even liked, but I hope someday you can forgive me because I'm trying,” she said and her voice was thick and I felt bad. She deserved what I said but she was young and I needed to accept that.
To divert the awkwardness I tried my meal. It was lukewarm now but it was lovely and I imagined how much effort she must have put into it.
“This is nice,” I said.
“Can I get you anything else?” she asked me.
“No, thanks. You didn't need to do this,” I said.
“I'm not doing this because I need to. I'm doing it because I should if you're going to be my sister,” she said, sounding slightly sad.
“You're not my sister,” I said but with slightly less conviction.
“Not yet,” she said before smiling and leaving me to be seriously confused.
My plan was working well. Sure, she was still resentful and angry but her stubborn side seemed to be wavering. All I wanted to do was be a good sister and I was working for it but I never expected it to be easy and I knew there was a lot left to do.
Breakfast was alright, she seemed to enjoy it even though we'd argued a little. But I wanted something more personal and meaningful. What about a dance? It would be personal because it was a secret of mine, and meaningful because I wanted to show my deep desire for us to work and the sadness I felt at the thought of being rejected.
Running the B and B regularly was a lot harder than I imagined. The customers were regularly moaning and wanting things and disturbing my choreography time. Even though I planned it to be a short sequence, it was still really hard to work, then practice and choreograph.
It was incredibly tiring and I thought I was fit from all of the dancing. I understood exactly why she wouldn't forgive me easily and so I gave it my all in my last practice and then moaned with pain because I felt like I had sprained something because it ached.
Sunset (who had been very quiet on her own) must have heard me because she came up beside me and asked: “What's wrong?”
“Nothing,” I denied.
“It's clearly something. Have you hurt yourself?” she asked, sounding concerned.
“I think I've sprained something,” I said, pointing at my leg.
“What were you doing?” she asked.
“Dancing,” I answered.
“Why? Didn't you stretch before?” she asked, frowning.
“I was practicing for later. Of course I stretched, it's my hobby so I know what to do. I was just tired,” I explained.
“This job requires constant commitment and it's very tiring, it's not good for you,” she said, helping me up.
“You did,” I said unwisely.
“I did a lot of things because I had to. But my little sister isn't going to,” she said.
“I am. I need to,” I argued.
“What you need to do is rest,” she replied.
“What do you care? I've been awful,”I said.
“You're my little sister,” she said simply.
“You know that I care about you, I just haven't shown it. I was going to do a dance routine for you,” I said truthfully.
“Really? You meant it that you did it as a hobby?” she asked, looking surprised.
“Yes, I was going to make it really good but I screwed it up,” I said, gesturing at my leg.
“Well, you screw a lot of things up,” she said bitterly.
“Please forgive me,” I begged.
“No,” she replied.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I'm busy and you've been an awful sister,” she answered.
“Doing what? I know I've been awful but I've been trying to make it right,” I said desperately.
“Writing a song. You have been trying but that's a days work and I can't forget everything. I admire your effort and respect you for it but you're thinking too small,” she said, starting to walk off.
“Can I still run here?” I asked.
“No. It needs both of us. Like it always had done,” she said.
“I'm going to help,” I agreed.
“This has to be full time. I can't take any more changed. This is a promise that we work equally hard,” she said clearly.
“Ok,” I agreed, but she looked unsure.
“Can I show you my dancing tomorrow?” I asked.
“If I can show you my singing,” she asked and I nodded.
I hoped everything would end up ok. She seemed to be more agreeable with me but in an untrustworthy way and she still seemed to feel really negative.
Would this ever change?
She has got such a nerve. I do think it's good that she's trying but I think “Too little too late.” I've sacrificed everything, so it's too much to let her get off easily. It's going to need to be a really big gesture.
But I have always cared about her- despite lack of appreciation from her and everyone else in my life. I have always cared but never liked her. Now, when I'm acting unimpressed I feel mean because she's young and she shouldn't be doing all of this and I should just lie and say that I forgive her to save the hassle.
She's too determined for that tactic and so I've said we'll split the work. For me now that is like a dream come true like the time I've had off, except I felt more of a fraud then, but I still wonder if it is too much.
What I want is for her to understand exactly what affect her actions had on my life and for her to make up for it appropriately, but I don't want her torturing herself on the way.
She is very sweet when she wants to be. I wonder what her dancing is like?
I couldn't sleep last night. It was because I was thinking about Sunset and where we stood. It was hard for me to understand whether she still hated me or was on the path to forgiving me. She still seemed very angry but less than usual but she was also unwilling to let things go easily.
Tomorrow, I knew, I had to bring it. I just hoped my legs would be alright for dancing.
When I did finally fall asleep I dreamed of dancing and a whole crowd of people watching my every move and gasping.
Luckily I woke up early, like I wanted to. I started working and my leg felt almost completely better, which was a relief. But it was still hard to cook, clean and see to the customers but I couldn't complain because Sunset had been doing it for years.
Still, I couldn't deny that I was grateful for when I got to wake Sunset up, with a warm meal in bed.
“Good morning,” I said, trying to sound cheerful but I was weary after all of the work I'd been doing.
“What time is it?” she asked drowsily, before reluctantly eating.
“Elevenish,” I said calmly.
“Oh no. I must have forgotten to switch the alarm clock on again. Why didn't you wake me?” she asked accusingly.
“That was your time off, remember? We share duties now,” I said.
“That doesn't mean one at a time. It mean together,” she said, looking amazed.
“What's wrong? Isn't it nice?” I asked.
“Yes, it's fine. Look, I never wanted you to do any of this,” she said.
“But you need help,” I argued.
“And you working like this is trading one injustice for another. All I want is to make sure you're alright,” she said.
“But that's not fair,” I said unwisely.
© Copyright 2016 Skye Bagshaw. All rights reserved.
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