Kill Your Darlings

Entry by: Corone

14th January 2016
Kill Your Darlings

“Have you got your socks and shoes on Daniel?” she asked.

Despite hearing a definite affirmative from the bedroom, Jennifer was not surprised to see Daniel sitting there with his socks on his hands and one of his shoes on his head. His sister Melanie, who was a full two years younger, gave him the same withering sigh their mother did.

“Come on darling,” said Jennifer as Daniel giggled. “I said we had to get ready quickly didn’t I.”

“Where are we going mummy?” said Melanie as she helped put Daniel’s socks and shoes in the correct place.

“We’re going away my love,” replied Jennifer, glancing at her watch. It was late, nearly past their bedtime. But they had to set off tonight. Tomorrow morning would be too late and someone might see them if they set off during the day. If they were to get away, it was going to have to be at night.

Daniel’s shoes were finally on his feet, and he was engrossed in concentration as he tied the laces. Melanie gazed on, pleased with her efforts to help, and mesmerised by her brother’s tying expertise. She had come to consider laced up shoes as very grown up, but was resigned to Velcro while she was only four.

With both children dressed, Jennifer gathered their backpacks and led them through the kitchen to the garage. She opened the car for the children who climbed into the back while Jennifer put their backpacks in the boot. Daniel helped Melanie into the child seat with minimal bickering while Jennifer slid into the driver’s seat.

“What do you want to watch?” she said, pulling her iPad out of her handbag and loading the movie app. After a brief negotiation, there seemed to be general agreement on ‘The Lion King’ as long as it was followed by ‘Finding Nemo’. It seemed a simple compromise, especially as Jennifer knew they’d both be asleep before ‘Hakuna Matata’.

It had been a hot day today and the garage was stuffy. She wound down the windows to get some air in as she started the engine. Originally the plan had been to go straight to her mother. Beatrice lived some way out of town in a quiet neighbourhood. It would only take an hour or two and along the way was an avenue of trees that smelled dark and sweet. That smell always reminded her of coming home.

But it would be the first place they looked, and she couldn’t be sure her mother wouldn’t call the authorities. Melanie hadn’t been badly hurt; it was only a tiny cut. They’d had a big hug and Jennifer had said she was sorry. Melanie had understood that sometimes mummy got very angry and didn’t quite know what she was doing. But there was also that time she had spanked Daniel far too hard. He had been very naughty, but she had sort of gone away in her mind as she struck him and didn’t stop. After that visit to the hospital, the authorities had got involved.

They had said they understood; that they knew how hard it was to be a single mother. But Jennifer didn’t trust them. They were sending someone round again tomorrow, someone with a clipboard and forms to decide if Jennifer loved her children enough. They’d find out she wasn’t taking her pills too, but they made her feel so far away from her babies. It was all part of their plan, put Jennifer on the pills then tell her she wasn’t paying her children enough attention. Then they would use that as an excuse to take them away. These people had all the power, and they wanted her babies, but Jennifer was ready for them. It was only a matter of time, but she wouldn’t let them do it, couldn’t let them do it. They were all going to stay together forever. No one was going to love Daniel and Melanie more than Jennifer.

So the garage door remained closed, and the engine purred a grey lullaby that sent them all to sleep together.