In Which TV Remotes Are Weapons
I sat at the breakfast bar, distractedly spooning my cereal into my mouth and reading the morning paper. I was only half concentrating on the words. I hadn't slept well last night. I usually don't. Not for any particular reason, I don't think at least, but I've always been slow at falling asleep and had trouble staying asleep all night. I used to wake up tired a lot, until my body became accustomed to less than the average amount of hours sleep. Still, it wears me down sometimes.
I heard my dad stomping down the stairs then. I don't think he had any concept of how heavy he walked. And he wasn't a big man. Tall yes, maybe not as slim as he used to be, but he had such heavy footing. He used to try and sneak in when I was little and he was coming back late from work. Key word there is 'try'. He never quite succeeded.
He came in adjusting his tie and pulling at his cuffs. He walked straight over to the counter and pulled out some bread to slot in the toaster.
“Have you seen my silver cuff links, squirt?” he asked without turning round.
“You're working today?” I asked disappointedly, ignoring his question. He paused what he was doing and turned to me.
“Sorry, Si, work waits for no man,” he apologised, coming over to me and putting a big hand on my small shoulder.
“I thought since you were home early you might have a day or two off?”
“Apparently not.” He sighed. I looked back down at my cereal. We broke up from school last week from summer and I hadn't properly seen my dad yet. We never got a chance to spend time together. He noticed my deflated demeanour and changed the subject.
“Surely you've got some plans today, popular girl like you?” he went back to watching his toast.
I rolled my eyes at his question but couldn't help but smile. “Elliot's having a party later.”
“Oh that'll be nice,” he said distractedly. Then turned to me with his full attention. “Listen here, I don't want any police calling me and asking me to pick up my daughter from the station. Be good, okay?”
“I'm sure it won't be too rowdy, dad. Elliot's only stocking pot. No cocaine this time.” I turned round to look at my dad with a smile, but his cocked eyebrow and straight mouth told me my joke wasn't appreciated. I put my hands up in a defensive manner. “It's fine, dad. Don't worry.”
“Hm,” he mused. His toast popped and he went to town buttering it.
“Watch that cholesterol,” I murmured, but he ignored me.
“What about the rest of the day?”
“Not a lot. Maybe I'll call the guys over. Or go out with Lil and Lola.”
He approved of these plans and kissed me on top of the head as he walked out of the kitchen munching on his toast.
“Call your mum,” he yelled from the other room. I dropped the paper and stared through the doorway, even though I couldn't see him. I sighed deeply and closed my eyes.
It was hard rebuilding a relationship on the phone. Maybe if she still lived in Australia and I could see her every now and then it would be better. But when she didn't know me, didn't know anything about my life, and then has the audacity to ask 'so, what's going on with you?' It's mighty hard to explain anything without her interrupting with a million questions.
Who's he? What's that? Why would they say that? Is that a regular thing? Just to name a few. The phone calls are always forced because I keep my information to a bare minimum to avoid conversations getting complicated and this doesn't help to move our relationship forward. In some ways I was still bitter about her leaving. In other ways I understood her need to follow her passion, but did she just have to drop everything? It seemed to be a reoccurring event in my life at the moment, to feel like I'm just a toy to keep someone occupied until they're ready to move on and then I'm dropped like a hot potato.
Mum's exit was a bit eccentric, moving to Milan and all. I guess I can't really be too mad at Joe, it wasn't his fault his family decided to move, but I couldn't help feeling abandoned. So easy to just leave behind.
Feeling more deflated than I was before, I decided to dismiss any more thoughts like this and go wash away my troubles in a hot shower, even if it was only a temporary solution.
Belting my show tunes off pitch into the emptiness of my house while the hot water cascaded down my back and the steam cleansed my pours was quite therapeutic, and I did feel a little better, meaning I wasn't so on edge about calling mum.
I went downstairs in my underwear and bra, a towel still wrapped around my hair, knowing I was safely alone. I laid on my tummy across the big sofa and picked up the land line. I often tended to call mum on the house phone so I could scroll through my cell if the conversation lacked a bit of intrigue. Maybe not one of the things I'm most proud of.
“Hey mum,” I said when she picked up after three rings.
“Darling! I didn't know you were going to call!” She gushed.
“You're not busy are you?” Please be busy...
“Oh no, I'm just surprised. Besides, I always have time for you.”
Well it's the least you can do when you're in another continent. We launched into the regular small talk of how are you, what's the weather like, etc etc, before she started asking me what was new or interesting in my life.
I was just about to launch into a lovely anecdote about the spider I found in my room the other day, when I heard the front door open and close, gently. At first I thought maybe my dad had come back for something, but it made me suspicious at how gently he shut the door, compared to the way he usually does it. I heard him fumbling around on the table by the door, before walking further into the house. That's when I knew something was up, that was definitely not my dad. My dad was incapable of doing anything half quietly.
“Mum is it okay if I call you back, I think someone just knocked at the door,” I said, trying to keep my voice low. I barely let her say a goodbye before I hung up. I scrambled to my knees on the sofa but kept myself hidden. I peered over the top but couldn't see anyone in the hallway. They must have moved further. Maybe they were headed to the kitchen.
I regret not listening to my dad when he tells me to lock the door during the day. I quickly scanned the living room for some kind of weapon, but all I could see was the TV remote. It was fairly bulky. I had no choice.
I picked it up and held it in both hands as I silently got to my feet and backed myself up against the wall, next to the arch that joined the kitchen and living room. With a deep breath, I shifted in my position, curled my fingers around the remote, and then round into the kitchen with a scream.
As I ran in, poised in my bra and underwear and stylish head towel, remote held above my head, I was not expecting to come face to face with Michael as he yelled in shock, and then start laughing in my face.
I dropped the remote with a loud clash to the floor and squealed girlishly. “What the fuck!” I cried, desperately trying to cross my arms over my body in a way to hide everything. “What the fuck!” I repeated.
Michael struggled to catch his breath from laughing, bending over, leaning on his knee and clutching his stomach with his other hand while I desperately tried to compose myself. I practically tore off the towel in my hair and held it in front of me, hoping it was long and wide enough to save whatever dignity I had left.
“What...did you think...you were going to do with a remote?” Michael laughed some more, eyes crinkling.
“Maybe bludgeon someone to death. What the fuck are you doing in my house, you dick!” I was fuming.
“I left my phone here yesterday. Thought I would just sneak in and get it.” He said, wiping his face as he came down from his laughing fit. I didn't miss the fact that his eyes fell down over my body before he looked up at me. I shivered under his gaze.
“No.” I stopped him short, my stern voice made him cock an eyebrow. “No. You can't just sneak it to someone's fucking house! Not to mention, we're not friends. You and me...we are not friends. I would understand if a friend casually came in to retrieve their phone. Not you, sneaking in like you're gonna fucking steal something.” I exhaled an exasperated breath and put my hand against my forehead. Oh God, I could feel a headache coming on.
I looked back at Michael just as he was rolling his eyes at me and crossing his arms over his chest. We stared at each other for a moment, waiting for the other to make the next move, until I realised how stupid that was.
“What are you still doing here?!” I blurted. I groaned and repositioned the hold on my towel.
“I still need my phone,” he said as though it was obvious.
I huffed and shuffled passed him, trying to make sure he didn't get any more glimpses of my half naked body. “Just get it and get out, then!” I called. Once I thought I was out of his sight I turned and ran up the stairs.
“I still saw your ass!” he called up. It wasn't hard to hear the amusement in his voice. I mumbled a 'shit' as I slammed my bedroom door.