Broken Wings (Broken Wings 1) - Page 68

We had a sprinkler system in the house. Naturally, we would, Daddy being a developer and up on everything that was possible and necessary. The flames set off the sprinkler, which then soaked Mothe

r’s wardrobe, ruining, she claimed, one hundred fifty thousand dollars’ worth of clothing. My father actually fired the nanny I had at the time. I knew that if he could have, he would have fired me.

“You’re finished here as my daughter,” he would have said. “Get out. Go to some orphanage!”

I actually dreamed such a scene and woke up crying. Carson, who was twenty-five at the time and still living at home, was the only one to come to my bedroom to see what was going on. I told him I had a nightmare.

“My advice to you,” he said, “is to stuff it back into the pillow. That’s what Mother used to tell me to do when I had a bad dream, and it works.”

It was something she had told him when he was only four or five, I was sure; but at least she had come to his room when he had cried. My tears made her nervous because she was older and more apt to get nervous, and making her nervous was forbidden because “nervousness leads to wrinkled brows and palpitating hearts.”

“I didn’t mean to start the fire,” I said. Vaguely, I wondered if I did. It was during the period I was seeing a therapist and was told that sometimes we don’t realize ourselves what we secretly want to do. Now I know he meant subconsciously, but I was too young to understand that, so he called it my secret self. He had me so convinced I had a secret self that I often paused quickly in front of a mirror to see if another me would be visible, perhaps caught unaware.

My brother Carson grunted after I protested my innocence. He has my mother’s nose and mouth, my mother’s eyes, but my father’s bulky upper body and my father’s dark brown hair. From the rear, especially from a distance or when there isn’t much light, it’s hard to distinguish who it is, Daddy or Carson.

“You know what Daddy says about apologies,” he reminded me. “They are always too little too late and might as well not be uttered. Usually they serve only to remind the injured party he or she has been injured.”

He stood mere stiffly in the middle of the night and lectured me just the way our father would. I couldn’t remember anyone speaking to me as an adult would speak to a child. We were all always adults in my house. Whether I liked it or not, I was never classified as an infant or an adolescent, or even a young adult.

“In my house we all take responsibility for our actions,” my father preached. “You are told or shown what is right and what is wrong and you are in charge of your own behavior accordingly. No one can look after you better than you can yourself, and you shouldn’t expect it or depend upon it.”

Carson was the one who came up with the idea to keep a profit-and-loss statement in relation to me. Everything I broke, accidentally or not, every bit of damage that could be calculated, was placed on the loss side. Someday, I would do something to earn a living and then he would then calculate the assets and work out the profit and loss. Daddy thought he was so clever and even suggested he submit his idea to some business magazines.

I told Carson it made me feel good to know I provided some amusement to them. He either didn’t understand or deliberately misunderstood my sarcasm. I suppose I always felt like an outsider, and they had always treated me as one. It shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to my mother that I was nothing like her.

Especially now, during what she saw as my debutante years, she puzzled over why I was such a mystery to her. Why didn’t I want the same things she always wanted? Why did I insist on wearing torn jeans instead of the expensive designer jeans she bought for me? Why did I put a ring in my nose and on my belly button occasionally? Why did I listen to that terrible music, and especially, why did I still want to hang out with friends who were, in her words, “beneath us”?

There was never any doubt in my mind that if I, as I was, were not her daughter, I would be beneath her as well. She never really looks at me, never sees me for who I am, I thought. Maybe she is afraid of what she helped create. Maybe my father has the same fear. I just remind them of their biggest mistake.

My father wasn’t even there for my birth. He was away on a business trip. My mother accused him of deliberately scheduling it for that time. Finally, she got him to admit that he felt my being born was chiefly her responsibility.

“How come?” she asked.

“The woman,” he said, “is the one primarily responsible for preventing pregnancy, not the man.”

The way he described it, the man was an innocent bystander.

And so Mother was to be in charge of my upbringing. When I had all that trouble in public school, I overheard them arguing about it.

“I know what we agreed,” she told him, “but I’m too old for this sort of thing, Henderson. She’s rushing me into old age. The stress shows. You don’t have the full brunt of it. You’re off doing your projects.”

He was quick to remind her that those “projects” paid for the big home, the expensive cars, expensive vacations, miles of clothes in her walk-in closet, on and on.

That was when she convinced him to spend the money to send me to this wonderful private school.

“We’ve got to get her away from this crowd of juvenile delinquents,” she argued.

“It seems to me,” he replied, “their parents probably want to get them away from her. Maybe we could ask them to contribute to the tuition. They’d gladly do it to get her away,” he muttered.

Nevertheless, he relented and wrote the check to get me into the private school. Now, I was being sent home from that one, as well.

“Go directly up to your room and remain there until your father returns,” my mother ordered when we had arrived. “And I don’t want to hear that music blasting. Just sit and contemplate what you’ve done and what you’ve become,” she advised.

I marched up the stairway. I was still feeling tired and bored and actually looked forward to getting back into bed. I fell asleep pretty quickly and awoke only when pangs of hunger made me dream about food.

Mother was gone again, so there were only myself and the two maids at home. It took one just to look after mother’s things, clean her suite, and do her errands. I could hear the vacuum cleaners roaring away, sucking up every particle of dust. I sauntered into the kitchen and made myself a cheese and tomato sandwich. I didn’t realize how hungry I was, which was probably a result of the alcohol I had drunk. I ate two sandwiches and a chocolate-covered frozen vanilla yogurt bar.

Usually, young girls envy their mothers for one reason or another. Most of my girlfriends at public school felt they weren’t as pretty as their mothers. It was different at the private school. There, the snob birds I cared to talk to all had no problem with their egos. I don’t have the same sort of bloated self-image, but I couldn’t say I ever wanted to be just like my mother.

Tags: V.C. Andrews Broken Wings Horror
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