Saturday mornings in the Brooks household always started with:
·A “SHUT THE HELL UP! SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO SLEEP”
·Some spilt milk
·An argument about that spilt milk
·And finally, some tears.
Saturday the 1st of August began as a typical Saturday in the Brooks household however instead of one argument about spilt milk there were two arguments one of which resulted in Sam pushing Felicity who slipped on the milk only to fall onto Adam who was busy quarrelling with Luna.
That particular morning, I woke up early as usual. Be it weekend, weekday or holiday, I always wake up early. The rest of my family thinks it’s weird. There is no way they would ever wake up at the ‘ungodly hour’ that I wake up at. Not unless they really have to. An advantage of waking up early was that the shower was free, and I could relax. Half an hour under the warm spray had left my skin shrivelled like a prune.
The kitchen was just the way I liked it, quiet, peaceful and clean. I got out a pan, whipped up some eggs and made a quick omelette. I sat at the table with my breakfast that was delicious (if I do say so myself) and a cup of tea that wasn’t too hot or too cold or too strong or too sweet, but it was just right. I don’t pride myself on my cooking and have been banned from cooking in the kitchen countless times because of it but I do excel in making omelettes. That morning was just like any other morning, delightful breakfast with no fuss, no chaos and no mess it was when everyone else woke up that things started to fall apart.
Luna and Felicity came downstairs looking like they had a rough night but that was what they always looked like in the mornings. Luna’s hair was a bird nest and she hadn’t bothered to change out of her pyjamas or, as I noticed when she walked past me to get to the fridge, have a shower. Felicity’s eyes were red and the skin around them was puffy and dark. Half of her chestnut brown hair plastered to the side of her head where it had rested on the pillow and the other half was stuck out in all directions. Her pyjamas were black and creased and her small frame drooped as she dragged her tiny feet to the table. Squinting, she pulled out a chair and flopped onto it.
Adam and Sam came down shortly after. Adam got out some eggs to make himself some pancakes but when he couldn’t find flour he gave up and ate toast like Sam was doing.
Sam's curly hair was flattened to his head making him look absolutely ridiculous.
Sam got a carton of milk out and left it open on the table whilst he went to find a glass. I had a feeling that something was going to go wrong, there was nobody arguing, nobody had gotten hurt. It was too quiet.
Sam, who was reaching past Felicity to get the milk accidentally pushed her arm just as she raised her cup of orange juice to her lips. It spilled all over her shirt staining it orange.
“Oops!” He said not sounding at all apologetic as he continued to reach for the milk. Felicity, who had been frozen in shock stood up looking ready to hit something, or someone. She definitely wasn’t a morning person.
Despite being the oldest she was the same height as Katie and came up to Sam’s (who was the tallest) chest. She pushed his arm out of the way, and he preceded to drop the milk making a perfectly slippable puddle. Felicity stood up and took a threatening step forward.
“You bloody idiot!” she started but her words transformed into a yelp as she slipped on the milk and landed on top of the carton with a squelch.
“Watch out!” Warned Sam, maybe a tad bit too late.
Felicity sat in the puddle of milk shouting up at Sam, her bottom probably hurt too much for her to stand up.
“It’s your fault!”
“How?! I told you to watch out!”
“When I was in mid-air!”
“Well, it’s not my problem you have the reaction timing of a drunk sloth!”
She stood up ready to fight.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the kitchen.
“Luna! Luna! Luna! Luna!” Adam repeated.
“WHAT!” She burst out.
“Pass me the bread.”
“Get it yourself!”
“It’s right next to you!”
“I can’t be bothered.”
“You’re so lazy!”
“Says the one who can’t be asked to get it himself.”
“You’re so-” Adam was cut off by Sam who fell onto him, toppling him to the ground.
I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. It could’ve been one of four people, Katie, Oscar, Mum, or Dad. I did the calculations and concluded that it was better to escape whilst I still could, just in case.
Have you ever heard the expression ‘a sinking ship?’ Well I only had seconds to jump off. I ran out of the kitchen and into the living room leaving the door open a crack, so I could watch what was happening.
They bickered and wailed loud enough to wake the dead and were so absorbed in their shouting matches that they didn’t realise that their mother, Mrs Tessa Brooks, was stood in the kitchen doorway, arms crossed as she surveyed the damage done to her once meticulously clean kitchen. She cleared her throat and the whole room seemed to freeze. They all, slowly, reluctantly turned their heads to face their mother and began to mentally prepare their excuses and decide who they were going to blame.
I watched as she glided through the kitchen, her face the image of calm and sat down to eat breakfast. Her blonde hair was in a loose pony tail and her eyes looked tired. She had bags under her eyes and
“Sit down,” she said quietly. Adam was sat on top of Sam and Felicity was back on the floor in the puddle of milk. They all scrambled to their feet and sat at the table. Luna had her headphones in and was facing the opposite way. She probably hadn’t seen mum walk in. I waved from my hiding place to get her attention.
‘Mum!’ I mouthed
I pointed behind her,
She took her headphones out and turned around to find mother sat behind her eating.
She got up and started to stroll casually to the living room, if you looked innocent then nobody would question you but then mum said,
Luna winced and went back to her seat. I surveyed the extent of the damage in the kitchen. In the time it had taken me to escape the scene, someone had thrown an egg and there was cereal, a damp and soggy island surrounded by a sea of milk, on the floor.
I went and sat on the sofa and turned on the tv. There was no noise coming from the kitchen, Mum must have missed her cue to start shouting.
So, I went to investigate. I couldn’t take the door leading directly to the kitchen as that would be suspicious. I slowly got up and tiptoed across the room. I opened the door leading to the hallway. Silence. Stepping out into the hallway, I strained my ears. I could hear a faint… crunching? I walked up to the kitchen door and walked through the doorway. What I saw made me fear for my life. My mother, my dear mother was sat on a stool surrounded by broken plates in a large puddle of milk, eating coco pops. But it was not the mess that scared me or even the coco pops. It was the look in her eyes, slightly wild. Dangerous.
I cautiously stepped into the kitchen only to find Sam, Luna, Adam and Felicity cowering in their seats, their eyes pleading with me to help them. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. With a final look at the mess, I decided to leave the kitchen as soon as possible. But to my despair, my getaway was ruined as I heard my mother say,
“Would you please go and wake the others up?”
And with that, I made a quick escape. Taking long strides to the door but once I got through, I ran. At the top step, to my surprise (and amusement) I found my father, John Brooks, Oscar and Katie all sat on the top step trying to listen in on what was happening downstairs. I approached them and was met with expectant stares.
“So?” Dad demanded.
“What’s happening? “asked Oscar
I filled them in and we all went down to the kitchen to see what had happened. They all looked so scared, I would’ve laughed if I wasn’t terrified myself. It seemed that mother had finally snapped.
We entered the kitchen to find mum on the phone.
“Yes, that would be great! I think it will do all of us some good.... mhmm …. yep…. Great! I’ll tell them now”
She put the phone down and marched towards the living room,
“Come on then,” she said, “we need to talk”
Every child hates those words. Because they mean, ‘you’ve messed up and you got to listen to an hour or three of me lecturing you.’
Oscar ran for the armchair, you see that was the comfiest seat and was why I also ran for it and elbowed him in the stomach to get to it. I dived onto the seat and before he could drag me off of it Mum walked into the room. She gave us a sharp look,
“Stop fighting, I’m not going to be long!”
Once we were all settled mum started,
“First of all, I have decided that we need a holiday, two weeks will do it. Something to stop us all from losing the plot. I was just on the phone to your Uncle Marty and he would be more than happy to have us over for the summer. Isn’t that great!”
Uncle Marty was Mum’s older brother and lived in Denmark somewhere in the countryside with his wife, our Aunt Margaret.
“Uncle Marty? The one that lives in Denmark?” asked Luna
“In the middle of nowhere.” Said Sam.
“Next to a farm.” Stated Oscar.
“Yep,” beamed mum, “the very same.”
And all I can say is that what happened next can only be described as all hell breaking loose. Everyone (including me) erupted in shouts of protest.
“You’ll never take me alive!”
Mother waited patiently for everyone to quieten down.
“To be honest I think it’s a pretty good idea,” said Dad. Traitor.
“No, seriously,” he said when we all glared at him, “We all need a break from the relentless arguing”
“It’s either that or me and your father are going to go alone.”
Our relief was short lived when she said,
“and your aunt Agatha will have to look after you.”
To get an idea of the kind of woman aunt Agatha is, I think I’d ought to tell you about the first (and last) time she babysat us. Why did we need a babysitter in the first place? You ask, well the first time we were left to our own devices our parents came back to police cars, ambulances and fire engines all over the driveway all because Sam tried to make a piece of toast. We were sent to aunt Agatha’s house for a week as mum and dad were visiting some friends. The house was pleasant enough on the outside, OK fine, Ill admit it It was horrible. It was a block of concrete with small windows and no driveway. We knocked on the cold metal door and aunt Margaret, dressed in the same black trousers, grey cardigan, and black t-shirt she always wore, opened it. Her hair was in the same tight chignon it was always in and her face was straight and devoid of emotion. The house on the inside looked nothing like the outside. It was much more depressing. The only colour I could see was a poster of the periodic table on the wall and a brown oak table. Willing to look past the appearance of the house we tried to make ourselves comfortable and enjoy our visit. On our first day she put up some rules.
1.No snacking outside of mealtimes
2.No loud noise
3.1-hour TV time
4.No going out without permission
5.If you pick something up put it back where you found it
6.Don’t touch what’s not yours
7.No friends over
8.Finish all of your homework
9.Bedtime at 7pm
10. No detours after school or university
The rules seemed simple enough and we thought they’d be easy to follow. We were wrong. The, ‘no more than 1 hour of TV time’ rule applied to the whole week and we ended up having to read books once our hour was used up and we all used up our hour on the first day. Aunt Agatha was a physics professor and the only books she had were all on physics. I asked her for a novel and she showed us a box of books.
“Take your pick but put it back when you’re done,”
I took the first book I saw which happened to be Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It drove me mad. It was so confusing and there were so many characters it was hard to keep up with who was who. The reading wasn’t even the worst part of that week and as I can’t bear to relive the horrors of that week all I’ll tell you is that we came back emotionally scarred.
Mum knew she had won from the expressions of horror on our faces. There was no way we’d ever go back to Aunt Agatha’s house.
“Ah!” Mum clasped her hands together in delight “so it’s settled, we’re going to Denmark!”