Lizzy could hear the shouting before she got to the gate. Her heart skipped a beat. It was Friday. Daddy was always home early on Friday but sometimes he wasn’t in a good mood. As Lizzy walked up the path the sound of voices got louder. The door was open so she walked in and went straight to the kitchen.
“Hi Mammy, Hi Daddy, guess what? I got a new book to today…. Miss Fitzgerald said that if I finish this one before the mid term break I can take another new one and I can keep it for the whole of the break. But I have to mind it and bring in back exactly the same as I took it. Mary Maher took a book last time and split milk on it and her mammy had to pay for it and Miss Fitzgerald said that…”
This was Lizzy’s M.O. She always ignored her parents’ arguments and marched straight into whatever room they were in and would start talking for as long as she could get away with it. If they were sober, she used to do quite well. But if there was ‘drink taken’ more often than not she’d be sent out of the room.
The worse day was a few weeks previous when she was finishing her homework. She heard her dad come in the door and knew by the curses that he was drunk. He walked straight into the kitchen and the shouting started. Lizzy quickly finished her homework and ran in to show them and get her journal signed. She burst in the door like nothing was happening. Her dad was in mid-flight, shouting about something or other.
“Da, can you sign my jour…”
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE? GET BACK IN SIDE! GO ON, GO AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!”
Lizzy’s dad thundered these words at her and suddenly her mam’s face changed.
“Don’t shout at her Mick!”
Lizzy’s mam wasn’t loud but she was powerful.
“I’LL BLOODY KILL HER! GET BACK INSIDE LIZZY, GO AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK.”
Lizzy kept to the plan… “but I done it Da. I want you to sign my journal. I’m finished.”
“Are you?” He said quietly but still with anger. “You’ve done it all have you?”
“Yes”, Lizzy smiled, now sure she’d managed to stop the fight.
“WELL GO BACK INSIDE AND DO IT ALL AGAIN!”
Lizzy found herself outside the slammed door. As she walked back into the sitting room the shouting started again. This time her mam’s voice could be heard and she demanded he never speak to Lizzy like that again… the row went on for a while. Lizzy did all her homework a second time and when eventually things went quiet she went back to get her journal signed.
Mam was sitting at the table smoking, staring into space. Dad must have gone to bed, his dinner plate empty, still on the table.
“Will you sign my journal ma?”
“I will love! I’ll even sign it twice.”
Lizzy love her mam’s smile. She ran to her, giving and getting a big hug.
She blinked hard so she wouldn’t cry as her mam rocked her for a few minutes before signing the journal and lighting another cigarette.