THAT Feeling!


You know that feeling? That feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach, that cold tingling feeling that makes you shiver even when it’s a boiling hot day? A feeling that you can’t quite explain but your whole body is suddenly filled with dread and you just know that something bad is about to happen?
That’s the feeling I had when mum told me dad was coming home.
I tried to smile but nothing happened. The corners of my mouth just wouldn’t move. I stood there taking in the words, with that feeling running through me.
“Come on love. It’ll be like it used to be. Remember?”
I remembered well. Even though I was only eight years old when he left.
“Remember when we all went to the seaside and he bought you that big ice cream?”
I did. I also remembered me and mum sitting on the beach while he went off to the pub and came back four hours later unable to stand up straight. I also remembered me and mum being terrified when he drove us all the way back to London.
“He’ll be here sometime this morning so we’d better get a move on. We want to look our best for when he arrives. Don’t we!”
The way she said those last two words. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement, tinged with fear. She was smiling but inside I was sure she also had that feeling.
He’d been gone for six years.
“Come on love. Do it for me. Go upstairs and tidy up your room. I’ll do down here. Please?”
Now her words sounded like begging. She should have ended the sentence with “You know what he’s like.”
Because I did remember what he was like. He was a bully. A so called hard man. When the Police dragged him from the house it took five of them to get him into the van. He got ten years for armed robbery. Now after only six, he’s coming home.
That feeling was still with me but at last my lips could move.
“Is Sharon coming over to see him?”
I already knew the answer but wanted to see her reaction. I knew I was being cruel but…
“No love. Not today. Sharon might need a bit of time. You know, to get used to the idea of dad being back.”
Sharon was my sister and four years older than me. She hated dad. Even more than me. He used to insist on “tucking her in at night”. Said it was a job that only he could do.
I remember him coming out of her room one night screaming “That silly bitch has only gone and fucking bit me.”
Sharon doesn’t live with us anymore. She moved in with one of her mates last year. Couldn’t wait to get away from what she called “bad memories”. She left on her eighteenth birthday. Funny, her panic attacks stopped the very same day.
I never went to see him in prison. I would always be ill when visiting day came around. Sharon couldn’t go either as it was always a day when she had an important exam.
“Go on, hurry up. Put on those nice black trousers and a white shirt. No trainers. Put some shoes on for a change. I’m going to make us a nice trifle.”
Mum only made trifle on special occasions, like when it was one of our birthdays. I remember it being dads favourite. Not that he ever said thank you. She made it every Sunday when he was at home. One Sunday she made apple pie instead. Thought it would make a nice change. I remember the plate smashing against the wall missing her face by inches. The look of fear in her eyes when he stood up and put his face close up to hers and called her the “C” word. We never saw him for three days after that.
“Will you hurry up! You’ve been standing there for ages. I’ll tell you what. You can wear your jeans and those new trainers. Happy now?”
Those new trainers were from the market stall in Crisp Street. They were a cheap imitation of Adidas. They cost six pounds. He left us with nothing. Mum had two jobs during the day and worked in the Dalston Arms at weekends. I read the newspaper reports after he went inside. They said he’d gotten away with over seventy thousand pounds. We never saw a penny of it.
“Jesus. Did you hear that? That was a knock at the door. Oh my god we’re not ready. Not by a long shot. It’s all your fault for just standing there gawping. How do I look? Do I look okay?
And back it came. That feeling.


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