Hope this is not cheating - it came out of the fabulous Faber Academy weekend I attended in October, from one of Sarah Hall's great workshops. I think it stands alone, but am aware the character belongs to my second novel. If I ever finish the current one I may well use this as part of something bigger.
Tell yourself. You're pleased Cassie got the promotion. Really. Now you can live in the white house on the hill. The one you both dreamed of when you were kids on the beach. Large. Clean. Warm. Not like the fucking boxes the army gave you. The walls so thin,you heard every word of the neighbour's domestics. As they heard yours.
Tell yourself. You're fucking lucky mate. She took you back didn't she? Again. After everything you've done. You didn't deserve a second chance, and she's given you a fifth. Anyone else would have walked away long ago. Not Cassie. She's a diamond. One in a million. You're lucky, mate, you really are.
Tell yourself. You don't care about the way the girls look at you. That they don't speak to you. Or mind you, unless their mother says. Whose fucking fault is that? Besides, teenage girls never speak to their fathers. Somewhere, under the piles of mascara and eyeshadow, they still love you. They'll come round. Eventually.
Tell yourself. It doesn't matter that the job stinks. That you stink. Of cockles and mussels alive-a-fucking-o. It's a start isn't it? At least you have money of your own again. Don't have to rely on Cassie's wage. With your track record, it's a miracle anyone would ever employ you. It'll do for now. Till something better comes along.
Tell yourself. As you pass the tourists packing out the pubs and avoid the offie on the way home from work. As you sit in the evening watching crap on TV. As you lie awake, in the middle of the night, wondering what the fuck happened to your life. Tell yourself. Like they told you in the clinic: I don't need a drink.
Perhaps, one day, it will be true.
Copyright c Virginia Moffatt 2009