ALL IN THE HEAD
I have to say since JJ and LL moved in, Maria’s life’s got pretty crazy and her head’s become kind of crowded with all three of us in it. I’m Carmen by the way. God knows I’ve tried to get those two to tone down. But there’s only so much I can do. It’s really up to Maria to get a handle on James and Liz. I mean the grief and all that. She’s never got over losing them. And that gives them carte blanche to wreak havoc in her life.
Who is that calling me?
Maria… Maria…. Maria….
There it is again. Like an echo bouncing around in my head. A whisper of a woman’s voice. Perhaps someone middle aged or a bit older. But not always. Sometimes it seems to sound like a man or a kid. But mostly it’s her. She’s been hounding me for weeks now. Damned if I know what she wants. It’s like a tree looking for shade. You know what I mean? It will never find it! I don’t even know her name. She never answers any of my questions. I just wish she would leave me alone. But no, not her. At the most inconvenient times, there she is. What’s worst is when I’m in a room full of people. To make herself heard she yells my name. It’s embarrassing is what it is. Mind you, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. This is the first time she has turned up in the middle of the night though. I’m too tired to bother with it now. I’m just going to ignore her.
Damn that Maria. It’s so frustrating! Doesn’t matter how much I call her, she just doesn’t get it. At least she can hear me calling her name. That’s a change. Surely she knows by now that I’m a part of her too? After all, I’ve been with her since she was born. We’re almost the same age now. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve actually been able to get her to hear me again. But when I try to talk to her it’s like she flips some sort of switch that turns me off. It’s getting urgent. I just have to get through to her. Jet-setting James and that Loopy Liz are getting Maria into so much trouble now. It’s out of control. I’m going to have to talk to them. Maybe getting rid of them will solve the problem. After all, Maria doesn’t seem to know they are around too.
Hey, James and Liz, can we have a bit of a confab ?
Bother and damnation! That woman is so bossy. James this, James that… I don’t really feel like talking to her. The less the better as far as I’m concerned. Now Maria, on the other hand, she’s so cool. We hang out and have real fun times. She thinks about going and hitting the nightclubs. Dancing some. Drinking some. Maybe even find someone to spend the night with. It’s like she’s sent me an open invitation. James, let’s go party! And we do. It’s awesome. Mind you, Maria never remembers anything about it the next day. Which is probably just as well! She does have one helluva hangover though. It’s the way I like it. If she did remember, she would not be happy, that’s for sure. I would be in jeopardy. Come to think of it, how did Carmen find out about me in the first place? She’s not going to give up. She’s even invited that snotty nosed little Liz. Such a spoilt brat. Coming Carmen, sweetheart, just hang five.
Carmen! Coming … Just hold on a minute. What am I going to do? She’s probably found out what Maria and I got up to yesterday. Boy am I in trouble! Just as well Maria doesn’t ever remember. I just wish James would leave me alone though. He always takes Maria to the same night clubs. Confuses the hell out of the people there. They think we’re all freaks. One night Maria’s a fella out for a good time. The next night she’s a funky hell raising hot chick. Problem I’ve got is that James is likely to snitch on me. If he does, I’m history. Come to think of it, I wonder if Carmen knows any of this? Maybe that’s why she wants a confab.
Well, you two took your time! To say I was annoyed was an understatement. I had the two most recalcitrant kids on my hands. James turned up on Maria’s twenty seventh birthday. Her brother James died that same day. Sometimes it seems like it’s him that’s lobbed into her head. Same cocky manner. Same outrageous behaviour.
As for Liz, well she turned up when Maria was fifteen. Liz was Maria’s best friend at school. They got into all manner of strife. Always skipping school and partying. None of the parents knew how to manage the pair of them. The night that Liz died they’d been out partying, drinking, drugs – the works. Then one of the lads decided to take them for a drive. Well, that was a recipe for disaster if ever there was one. The car was a write off. Six kids dead. Maria the only one to live. Took her twelve whole months and countless operations before she was finally discharged from hospital. Such a waste of a young life. Maria had so much potential. Now she just goes from one day to the next best she can. She never could hold down a job.
I feel so sad for my beautiful little girl. That’s why I’ve decided to try and reach her. See if I can make her life a little better. The closest I could get to her was to move inside her after I died. I wanted to hold my baby. To love her. Her birth was so traumatic. It killed me. I did find a way of moving in. That’s what I call it. We had so many chats and good times when she was little. Until some well meaning grown ups told her that spending so much time playing and talking to her ‘pretend mummy’ was not good for her. That’s when she stopped talking to me. But I just couldn’t leave her. So I’ve stayed in the background. Till now.
OK you kids, it’s time that you left Maria alone. You’re not helping her by egging her on to behave like some out of control teenager. She’s a middle aged woman for God’s sake. Just because you stopped ageing when you died doesn’t mean she has. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Selfish and irresponsible is what you are. Do you really think you’re helping Maria by manipulating her and putting her into high risk situations? You’re killing her. If you really loved her, you’d both piss off and leave her alone to get on with her life.
Boy, Carmen sure doesn’t hold back, does she! Maria loved me. We were so close even though we had different mothers. Not that Maria ever knew hers. She told me at my funeral that she wished she could always have me with her. So I moved in. Simple. I’ll have to think about this. Maybe Carmen has a point. Who is she anyway? It’s time I found out.
Carmen, what makes you think you can boss us around? Well, I had to ask, didn’t I? I wish my mum had cared for me as much as Carmen does for Maria. Perhaps she’s got a point. I’d never stopped to think I was out clubbing with a disabled fifty year old. Eeeew! Sorry Maria. Love you heaps, but I gotta skedaddle.
Ooops, didn’t know Carmen was Maria’s mum. Why didn’t she ever tell me, I’m her best friend after all. Or was. We were pretty shitty kids, but God we had so much fun! Maybe it is time Maria grew up. If I’m hanging around reminding her all the time of the fun we had and tempting her she never will. Even I know that’s not good. I love her too much to hold her back. Maria, if you can hear me, I gotta go babe. Catch ya!
Well, that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. They’re both gone now. Sensible kids after all. That, or they really loved Maria so much they couldn’t hold her back anymore. That means I can take a back seat now too. Think I’ll stop calling her name. But I reckon I’ll hang around for a while. Just till she settles, know what I mean?
© Raili Tanska
Written for Class 2 assignment ‘How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women’ offered as an online course by Iowa University. The brief is to write a short story focusing on a central aspect of a female character’s development relating to desire and point of view.
Image – Pixabay