Oscar eyed his cupboard, its lack of contents matching the appearance of the empty fridge. He spied the packet of unopened Aldi corn flakes lying on its side in the corner. Oscar grasped the box, along with the small tin of powdered milk kept in case of ‘emergencies’. It would have to do. He sat at the kitchen table, forcing himself to eat something, wishing that him appetite might return. The the small pieces of rough cereal scratched Oscar’s throat harshly as he swallowed. Oscar squashed them into the small amount of milk in attempt to soften them. He forced himself to eat a meager few spoonful’s. Giving in, he scraped the remaining contents into the dust bin.
It was a trigger. Oscar’s mind flashed back to a memory of himself aged 14 , one of them as a family sat around the small kitchen table. Oscar gazed at his Mother Janet’s infamous cooking in front of them, an unexplained brown sloppy mess dumped into bowls on top of the supposedly mashed lumpy potatoes. Oscar prodded the small pieces of cheap meat with his fork, without saying so much as a word and gingerly placed a small forkful into his mouth.
“What’s that face for Oscar?” Janet snapped.
“Well something is up with you, you’re clearly not happy!”
“I’m fine.” Oscar lied.
“No you’re not! Come on out with it!”
“I’m just not very hungry today that’s all.”
“All the hard work I’ve put in and you let it go to waste! It’s a bit ungrateful isn’t it?”
“Mum I’m sorry okay!”
“You’re never sorry Oscar! That’s your problem, you’re just constantly thinking about yourself! Eat something will you!”
“Well I don’t think you ever try hard enough. Do you think I want to be slaving in the kitchen while trying to cope with both of my jobs just to put food on the table? No, but I don’t have a choice. You need to realise how lucky you are! You have a much easier life than I did, you’re so selfish !”
Oscar was engulfed with a swarming cloud of anger, his short fuse snapping. “For god’s sake! Get off my case! I’m not hungry leave me alone.”
“It’s my cooking isn’t it?”
Oscar couldn’t help himself. “No shit Sherlock” Oscar froze, praying that there might be a way to take back his words upon seeing Janet’s reddening face, the blood flowing through her ex aspirated veins.
“My god! How dare you speak to me like that! Just you wait until your Dad comes home. Get out of my sight!”
Oscar sensed the anxiety brewing inside, the knots tightening violently in his stomach. Janet would give him hell verbally, but god only knows what his Dad might do. Oscar lay in his damp bedroom, gazing at the dirty patches of mold upon the ceiling, closing his eyes in hope that the situation might have improved when he opened them but it had not. His eyes flashed open, becoming aware of the heavy footsteps upon the staircase. Oscar sat bolt upright upon his bed, the thin duvet crinkled beneath his body. The door opened abruptly, his Dad Lee standing in the doorway.
“Oh you have every right to be scared!” Lee barked! “How dare you speak to your Mum like that, wasting the good food she puts upon the table.” His breath smelt heavy with cheap alcohol.
“Well what do you have to say in your defense Oscar?”
“I wasn’t very hungry.”
“That’s it is it?”
“Yes. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said what I did.”
“Damn right you shouldn’t! You really have a nerve don’t you, talking to your Mum in such a way. You don’t deserve to live under our roof . You need to be taught a lesson my boy!”
Oscar shuddered at the very word, at what his Dad might do. Oscar swallowed, grasping the edge of his bed with both hands. With no warning Lee swung for Oscar knocking him to the floor. Oscar let out a cry, his Mum Janet came rushing into the room, to find Oscar laying trembling upon the carpet, a stream of blood flowing from his nose.
“Jesus Lee! You’ve taken this too far now. What have you done to him?”
“What it looks like.”
Janet shook her head in disgust. “He needed a good talking to, not this! Get out NOW!”
Surprisingly, Lee obeyed, slamming the front door carelessly behind him and marched furiously to the pub. Janet’s tone was softer, more caring. She placed a hand on Oscar’s shoulder and handed him a small pile of tissues.
“Here use these.”
“I’m sorry for what happened Oscar, I really am. I didn’t mean for it to end that way.”
“It’s not your fault Mum. I’m fine, I’m so sorry about the comment I made at dinner.”
“So am I.”
Janet held a trembling Oscar in her arms. “Things will get better for us all you’ll see, I promise.”
It was a promise completely out of Janet’s hands.
To be continued….