The girl cringed as she stuck her head out of the bedroom door. “Mum – I’ve told you, it’s Suze! Suze! Please stop calling me that!”
“What, you mean your name? Get out here this instant and stop answering back.”
She could hear her mother muttering under her breath from down the hall. What the hell did I do now?
“What?” She stood in the doorway to the lounge room. Through her fringe she could see her mother standing next to the sofa. Her foot tapping out a staccato beat on the floor boards. Suze could tell before looking that her eyes would be closed, her brow pinched and her lip-sticked mouth moving in a near-silent mantra; ‘bloody children, I swear to God, don’t look after their things, ruining my good couch, never should have bought her that damned make-up in the first place, when I was their age I never…’
“Don’t ‘what’ me, young lady. What on earth is that?” A long ruby red spike of a nail shot out, pointing accusingly at a dark smear on the light suede covered sofa. “Is that nail polish?!”
Her voice rose several octaves, a shrill sound guaranteed to set Suze’s arms to goosebumps. She banished the urge to roll her eyes and walk away. It wouldn’t pay to be melodramatic in front of her mother at this time. Mother didn’t care for ‘theatrics’. Suze shoved her hands into her jeans pockets and shrugged.
“Could be?… Could be?! Susanne I have had enough of your impertinence! What possessed you to apply nail polish while sitting on my light beige suede modular? I mean, you have brains, don’t you? You are passing your classes with B average grades, aren’t you? I have had some educative influence on you in your sixteen years of life, surely?
Suze glanced at her mother while she screeched like a mosquito on meth. She was wearing her Channel skirt suit. The one that blended almost perfectly with the now despoiled sofa. Her heels were Louboutin and lethal, her deep red hair coiled in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She was dressed to kill. Her victims? The poor men who dared to climb her career ladder. She had a palpable dislike of the opposite sex and her every waking hour was fuelled by the incessant need to succeed and be at the top.
“I’ll clean it up mum.” She barely got the words out before her mother stormed out the of the room, heels clicking manically.
“Yes you will and I’ll thank you to do it properly – the first time!”
She realised she’d been holding her breath, eyes down, waiting for her mother to fly at her, palm out, nails poised. Her mother had never followed through and actually hit her, but the threat was always there. She exhaled as she heard the tinkle of car keys being fished out of a handbag and jumped as the door to the garage slammed. The muffled sound of the BMW starting up, soon lulled her racing pulse back to normal.
Suze thought of her older brother who was off on a gap year; travelling through the USA with a group of school mates. She missed him like crazy. He rarely copped mother’s fury. He was her favourite but did not relish her attentions. He learned from a young age, that his mother based her affections on how successful her children were. While Thomas was a natural academic, Suze struggled to find her place at school. Her grades were good, but not as good as her brothers. According to their mother, this wasn’t good enough. Thomas received the accolades and Suze got the ‘I’m disappointed in you’ spiels.
Despite their mother, the two were close. Thomas had more than made up the lack of maternal affection, with his love for Suze. He’d been the one to read to her, cook for her, run down the shops for pads when at eleven years old Suze had got her first period and subsequently freaked out, believing she was dying. That was the first time Thomas had ever yelled at their mother. He told her she should have been the one to talk to Suze about girl things. Told her she was a ‘shit excuse for a mother’. She was lightning quick when she came at him. She had followed through, that time and it was the first and last time that Thomas spoke up.
Shaking the memories from her head, she gathered up various bottles of cleaning chemicals and implements; if the stain wasn’t gone by the time her mother came home, she wouldn’t see the outside of her bedroom for a month. Suze had swore to herself that she wouldn’t let the crazy bitch treat her like this again. Her overnight bag had been sitting at the back of her cupboard, packed and waiting, for months now and tonight she would leave. But first, the stupid couch. As tempting as it was to leave it, years of habit forced her to her knees, old toothbrush and paper towel in her hands.
The stain was deep and fixed. A rather striking shade of ruby red. As Suze scrubbed, she looked at her nails, trying hard not to scream. They were short, chewed far down, the edges ragged where her teeth tore at them whenever her mother wasn’t looking. They were naked. Unpolished. Raw. Just like me, she thought.
But not for long.
A flash fiction inspired by a friends facebook status about finding nail polish (green in this case) on her couch. While mildly irritating for her and hilarious for her friends, I took a slightly crooked look at it and came up with this in a 30 minute mad typing session.