Second Fiddle

Free Second Fiddle by Siobhan Parkinson

Book: Second Fiddle by Siobhan Parkinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Siobhan Parkinson
a sniffle.
    I’d think about how I was an orphan now, or half an orphan. That was no good, because it only made me laugh, imagining myself cut in half, hopping about on one leg. Laughter is good, but there are times when it is not appropriate.
    I’d think about how Mum had no one to talk to about things, no one to plan things with, no one to share the responsibility of a child with. Of course, I am a very easy child to bring up, but all the same, it is a big responsibility to be a parent all by yourself. That just makes me sigh with frustration and check guiltily that my mobile is charged up. It’s difficult to feel sad about my mother’s parenting problems. I mean, I understand it’s hard for her, but it doesn’t push the sadness buttons, you know?
    I’d think about how we’d had to sell our old beloved creaky house in the city and come and live in this stupid house where everything is too new and shiny and there is too much light everywhere and no nooks and crannies. But even that didn’t make me cry. The new house is annoying, not sad; leaving the old house was sad, but not as sad as losing Dad, so there’s no point in whining about it.
    I would think about the terrible noise there’d been when he’d collapsed onto the horn of the car, and how my mother and I had come running out of the house, thinking someone was trying to steal it, and how we’d found him slumped there, not breathing, and the horn blaring and blaring like some angry creature. That makes me edgy and nervous, though, not sad exactly.
    I’d think about how much I missed him. I’d think about how he used to tease my mother when she got anxious about things, stood up for me when my mother was being strict. I’d think about how he used to let me beat him at chess and how he used to read to me when I was younger and about how, when I got older, I used to read to him when he was too tired to read for himself after a long day’s work and how we used to laugh about things that happened in books. That makes me sad, sad, in a longing, aching sort of way.
    But the very saddest thing I didn’t want to think about.

    I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised to hear that my father hadn’t replied to the e-mail. Really, Mags is too ridiculous. What does she think? That she can make people nice by sending them cute little notes, inviting them to join the human race? It doesn’t work like that. She doesn’t understand that yet. She hasn’t had the experience, I suppose, of having her dad go missing on purpose. I know it’s terrible if someone dies, because you know you will never, ever see them again, but if someone just walks away from you, chooses to walk away, that’s much worse, because it spoils everything. Not just everything now and in the future, but the past as well. All those games he played with you when you were a kid, all the stories you read together, all the walks you had, the bags of toffees he brought home on a Saturday—they’re all tainted now, as if someone has spat on your memories, because the person you shared them with turns out not to have loved you after all. OK, maybe he loved you at the time, but he didn’t love you enough to stick it out. That’s what makes it so bad.
    I suppose I should try to see it from Mags’s point of view. She would probably give anything to see her dad again, just once, and that probably makes her think that for me, seeing my dad even once a month is like being given the most wonderful birthday present. But he’s still missing, my dad, that’s what she doesn’t understand. Being missing doesn’t have to do with whether you’ve seen a person recently. Being missing has to do with whether you know where to find them if you need them. It’s easy to turn up once a month, all smiles and with the welcome of the world for yourself. That’s not the same as being available, which

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