Joanna

I have had an idea for my next book. It’s VERY different to my other books but I think will be lots of fun to write. It will take me about 9 months, so I thought I would try out the beginning on you first. Depending on how many people ‘like’ it will help me to decide whether or not to continue writing or change it completely.

I realise I should be posting this at the beginning of the week – always get the most responses on a Monday morning – but I am much too impatient to wait! Here is the first splurge of words. Oh, and Mum, you wont like it.

To save you asking (because my family did): No, it is not based on myself or anyone who I know and, no, I have never wanted to murder anyone at all ever – I could not even kill the rat I caught!

Joanna
by Anne E Thompson

      I first saw them on the bus. They got on after me, the mother helping the toddler up the big step, holding the baby on her hip while she juggled change, paid the driver. I wondered why she hadn’t bought a card or paid by phone, something quick so we didn’t all have to wait.

      I watched as she swung her way to a seat, leaning against the post for support, heaving the toddler onto the chair by his shoulder. Then they sat, a happy family unit, the boy chattering in his high pitched voice, the mother barely listening, watching the town speed past the window, smiling every so often so he knew he had her attention. Knew he was loved. Cared for. They had everything I didn’t have but I didn’t hate them. That would have involved feelings and I tended to not be bothered by those.

      No, I just watched, knew that those children had all the things, all the mothering, that had passed me by. Knew that they were happy. Decided to change things a little. Even up the score, make society a little fairer, more equal.

      Following them was easy. The mother made a great deal about collecting up their bags, warning the boy that theirs was the next stop. She grasped the baby in one hand, bus pole in the other and stood, swaying as we lurched from side to side. She let the boy press the bell button, his chubby fingers reaching up. Almost too high for him. Old ladies in the adjoining seats smiled. Such a cosy scene, a little family returning from a trip to the town.

      They waited until the bus had swung into the stop, was stationary, before they made their way to the door. I was already standing, waiting behind them. The mother glanced behind and I twisted my mouth into a smile, showed my teeth to the boy who hid his face in his mothers jeans, pressing against her as if scared. That was rude. Nothing to be frightened of. Not yet.

      The family jumped from the bus and I stepped down. As the bus left I turned away, walked the opposite direction from the family. In case someone was watching, noticing, would remember later. Not that that was a possibility but it didn’t do to take chances. I strode to the corner, turned it, then made as if I had forgotten something. Searched pockets, glanced at phone, then turned and hurried back.

      The family were still in sight, further down the road but not too far. She had spent time unfolding the buggy, securing the baby, arranging her shopping. All the time in the world.

      I walked behind, gazing into shop windows, keeping a distance between us. They left the main street and began to walk along a road lined with houses, smart semi-detached homes with neat square gardens. Some had extended, built ugly extra bedrooms that loomed above the house, changing the face, destroying the symmetry. There were some smaller houses stuffed by greedy builders into empty plots, a short terrace in red brick.

      It was just after this that the family stopped. The mother scrabbled in her bag, retrieved her key. The boy had already skipped down the path, was standing by the door. The mother began to follow but I was already turning away.

     I would remember the house, could come back later, when it was dark. I would only do it if it was easy, if there was no risk. If she was foolish enough to leave the back door unlocked. No point in going to any effort, it wasn’t as if they meant anything to me. There would be easier options if it didn’t work out. But I thought it probably would. There was something casual about her, about the way she looked so relaxed, unfussy. I thought locking the back door would be low on her priorities until she went to bed herself. People were so complacent, assumed the world was made up of clones of themselves. Which was convenient, often worked to my advantage. As I walked back, towards the bus stop, I realised I was smiling.

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3 thoughts on “Joanna

  1. Dear Anne,

    I’m a bit scared about this new book….!!

    But I do want to thank you for telling me about “The Martian” which I have just got from the library. I thought, “if that lovely lady is reading, it maybe I should”. And so far (a third of the way through) I’m repeatedly being grateful to you!!

    Also, please, where do you live, and please could you very kindly send me your mother’s home address? And if you felt I deserved it please may I have your “proper” personal e-mail address?!! Or does that only go to family and close friends?

    I just love your Letters to my Sister and other blogs.

    All very best wishes.

    Love, Frances (Aldridge – mother of Ruth, David and Rachel)

    Liked by 1 person

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