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When Mikey Stole Melissa

Tamsin Hopkins | Jessica Wilson

It was when my mum left that the trouble started. I knew mum and dad were making each other sad. Phoebe at school said she knew when her mum and dad didn’t love each other too, and that’s what I knew. I think my brother Mikey and I had known for ages, we just didn’t say. We didn’t talk about it much, but sometimes we did. We would go in the airing cupboard with a packet of biscuits he had probably stolen from the treats cupboard and we promised we’d stay together when they got divorced. It was obvious that something would have to happen. All the screaming at night. All the banging doors and thrown ashtrays that left a dent in the wall the next morning. We just knew.

Then one morning, we found a strangely written note on the kitchen table and realised that mum has gone. She has run away says daddy. Mummy doesn’t love daddy anymore and she has run away to be happy somewhere else.

What about us? says Mikey.

She’ll send you a birthday card I expect. Dad passes his hand across his forehead and asks brightly if we would like a bacon sandwich for breakfast. No more porridge. Ever. He he he.Then he cries.

Mikey and I look at each other and try not to cry.

Later, in the airing cupboard, while dad is cleaning his tools in the garden shed, I whisper to him that mum wouldn’t just leave us. Not without saying goodbye. I know she wouldn’t… I think she’s here somewhere but he’s hurt her and she doesn’t want us to be upset.

Mikey nods. Then he begins to cry. Then he won’t come out of the airing cupboard. I bring him a packet of crisps and a torch with his newest comic and get in there with him. Dad doesn’t do lunch for us that day, so I get us some more crisps from the packed lunch stuff that mum kept in a special box.

It is about two days after that that I can’t find Melissa. Melissa is a doll I like but am probably growing out of. She is usually on the armchair in my bedroom, with a load of other dolls and stuffed toys. I haven’t played with her for ages, but I notice she’s gone because the others aren’t in their right order.

I have a good look. I look in all the places I might have put her and think about mum. Mum knew where everything went and she would have put Melissa back if she’d found her. I am looking behind my bookshelf which is under my window, when I see Mikey in the garden. He is crouched down and dragging something small along the lawn to the end of the garden. It is small, but he is making out that it is terribly heavy and difficult to drag. I suddenly realise it is Melissa and I am furious. Mikey is a nasty twit and I am going to brain him. I charge downstairs and fly through the back door screaming at him. He doesn’t take any notice. I run along the patio and am just about to launch myself onto the grass when he looks at me. His face is very sad and bitter. He nods at the corner of the patio and I look there. Dad is standing with his mouth open. He looks badly upset. When I look back at Mikey, he is dragging Melissa down the garden again. I start to cry and Dad storms off to his shed again. It will be more crisps.

At the weekend, it is Mikey’s birthday. He gets loads of cards, including one from mum. He puts the one from her on his bedside table and throws the rest away, except for mine which he keeps in the drawer. Dad takes us bowling but we are not allowed any friends. He says he feels sad that mum isn’t here to enjoy Mikey’s birthday with us and to help with taking friends out for pizza, so we’ll just do it on our own. Mikey looks like his face will explode.

When we get home after the bowling (dad let me win but I am useless) I sit and watch telly, but I don’t pull the curtains. Mum used to do that, so I forget that I have to do that stuff now. I start to see movement outside on the patio. After a bit and when the adverts are on, I go to the window and have a look what’s going on out there. I’m a bit scared because I saw a scary film once where a clown in white makeup with a horrible red mouth was stealing children and came in the night.

At first I can only make out my own face reflected in the window, but then soon I can see a bit better. Mikey is out there. He is dragging something down the lawn again — it is too small and he is bending down and hunching his back to reach. He makes out it is very heavy to drag.

I am furious. I am still a bit scared to go outside so I run up to my room and sure enough, there is my velvet chair with all its puckered buttons visible because there are no dolls in it. Mikey has taken them all. I will kill him. I run to the airing cupboard and get the torch. Then I shine the torch down on Mikey and start shouting at him. I can see a pile of my dolls, all with their clothes taken off, piled up like a mass of dead bodies with their arms and legs sticking out in different directions, eyes staring at the house, at the stars, at Mikey and at me.

Bring my dolls back. You are a right little bugger. Your face is like a cat’s bottom. I hate you. Do you think I don’t know? Do you think everybody doesn’t know? And a whole lot more stuff like that. I can’t remember.

Mikey looks up at me and nods. He is sad. I stop shouting and try to shut the window. It is stuck and I have to hit the spindle to get it off the peg. I get the stupid window shut with a bang and nearly catch my hair in it, and then as I am about to run down to the garden, I catch sight of a much larger figure out there in the dark. It is moving slowly down the side of the garden, matching pace with Mikey but hiding behind bushes and stuff. I don’t think Mikey knows he is there. It’s the clown. The clown is in our garden! It’s tracking Mikey. It’s got dad’s big spade in its hand. Mikey comes back to the patio for another doll. It is Jody this time. I am screaming. I am banging on the window, trying to get it open again, screaming to Mikey to run. I can see the clown clearly now. He has turned his face towards the house. He is not wearing makeup. It is somebody else. Somebody I know. I stop shouting and banging on the window. Mikey is dragging Jody down the lawn now, and the man with the spade is waiting for him. I get the phone and run to the airing cupboard. In the dark, all hot and airless, I dial 999 and hope they can come and get me and Mikey before the faceless clown does.

About Tamsin Hopkins

Tamsin Hopkins lives in London. Poetry has been part of her life for some time but her fiction is only just starting to appear in literary places. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

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