I awoke to the annoying singing of Martha. She was on the floor, her back to me, occupied with something… I caught a glimpse of myself; five years old, so innocent. Then one day everything shattered into pieces. I had hated my father forever since. I shuddered in my reminiscence and sat up. For a moment I had the slightest feeling of guilt, but I quickly stopped it. My head was heavy and I badly needed more sleep, but I had to be "nice" to the kid now, so I guessed I had to get up. She noticed me and gasped when I caught her eye.
"Is that my snow globe?" I sounded sharp. She hid whatever she was holding behind her.
"It is my snow globe! Give it back you little-" I got out of bed and snatched it from her. It was the only remotely nice thing about my childhood and I didn't want that to be wrecked too.
"Lets get out of here for the day, then." I breezed past her into the open-plan lounge and kitchen.
"Can I have breakfast?" She asked, appearing in the kitchen behind me.
"No." I swallowed some anti-depressants.
"But I'm hungry!" She wailed.
"Shut up and leave me alone." I went to the sofa, ignoring my new shadow.
"Please!" I studied her for a second. She looked desperate. I knew I had to feed her if I was pretending to be her mom.
"Fine." I breathed. I retreated back to the kitchen and rooted through the empty cupboards, then the fridge. Nothing. I suddenly remembered a granola bar I had in my handbag. I fetched it from where the bag was hanging on a set of hooks by the door. It was squished but it would do. I handed it to her.
"I can't open it." She whinged.
"Look, here." I snatched it back and tore the wrapper. A look of disgust washed over her face. I gave it back to her and she ate it in silence. A little later on, after making many phone calls, there was a knock on the door. Suspicious neighbours? Cops? My heart beating like crazy, I adjusted my wig and plastered on a fake smile.
"Hello." I tried to sound relaxed as I opened the door. A small, frail old lady beamed back at me.
"Why hello there to you, my new neighbour." She produced a basket with a cloth spread over the top, concealing whatever was inside. A nice smell emanated from it.
"What's this?" I asked, accepting it.
"A housewarming present. Heard you arrived last night." I nodded.
"Stressed?" She laughed. I said nothing. Martha bound over to us, despite the fact I had made subtle body positions with the doorframe to stop her being visible.
"Oh, a mom are we?" The lady looked at Martha in adoration.
"Yeah." I ruffled the top of her head for effect. Martha froze underneath my touch, so I quickly glanced up at the lady, to see if she was at all suspicious. She looked slightly shocked, but she continued talking.
"So, the bottom line is- I'm Bettina, and you can drop by mine-" She gestured to the door that was in a juxtaposition to ours.
"Whenever you want. I'm always in, being retired and all. If I'm not in for some reason I usually leave a note on the door. Enjoy your present and welcome to Marchfield."
"Thank you Bettina." I smiled and shut the door behind us.
"She's nice." Said Martha.
"And intrusive." I muttered, but she didn't hear. I dumped the basket on the countertop and grabbed my purse.
"We're going to the shops."
"Why? I want to open the basket!" Martha pointed towards the kitchen.
"We can later. Do you want clothes?" I asked, exasperated. She nodded.
"Well lets go then." We headed out, her slightly in front and me sneaking glances at everyone around us to check there were no cops or- even worse- people who knew Martha. So far we were safe. I led her inside GAP and searched for the children's section.
"What do you like then?" I said, looking around at the pastel t-shirts and mini sweaters hanging on racks. She marched over to a pink fleece and pointed at it.
"I like that one." I picked it up.
"$20. Oh well."