5 June 2014
The early days of summer heat were gone, replaced with torrential rain. The whole day had seen rain so heavy it had pooled on the roads and pavements before it could reach the drains. The few people who had been brave enough to go out had led dances on their tiptoes looking desperately for dry patches to step on only to end up even wetter when they lost their balance and had to steady themselves by planting a deliberate foot right into a puddle that covered the soles on their shoes. Donna’s day at work had been her quietest yet as a result. The only customer she could remember was an exceedingly tall English sounding man who told her he had lost at rock paper scissors and been sent to buy his office’s lunch. She had given him a pineapple cake out of pity.
Even though the walk from her work to her home was barely two minutes, Donna still left a puddle in her close as she wrung her hair out. Despite the relentlessness of the rain she was not cold – Donna thought about how she had always longed to experience warm rain like she had seen in films. But nothing had prepared her for the sheer volume of water that fell from the sky. She hoped that the sky was pre-empting the next day’s Fair, relieving itself in good time so as not to spoil the day of those who would be out to celebrate Govan and its people
As she stood outside her front door, shaking any excess water off on the landing before stepping inside, Donna heard shouting. Sighing and sure she couldn’t be any drier she opened the door and walked in. The voices were clearer now. “Don’t you dare, Darryl. Don’ you dare dae anythin'” came the slurred voice of her mother from the living room. They were so engrossed in their shouting that neither her brother or mother heard Donna enter the house or step up to the living room door. “I know what you’re like ya wee dafty. And you’re better than that. I raised you better ‘n that.” “Better? Better? Are you serious? Look at the state of you. You can barely staun up straight.” Darryl was standing in the middle of the room while his mother was slumped against her chair. Donna could see her whitened fingers clutching the back of it. She was breathing heavily. For the first time Donna noticed that Darryl had grown taller than their mother. Along with the boys she had seen him on the streets with, this scared her. She wasn’t afraid of her brother on a personal level, she wasn’t even afraid for her mother – any more so than usual – in this situation, but she was afraid of what Darryl was turning into. As much as Donna by her own admission had suffered from the shortness of temper prone to those from meagre backgrounds in response to her troubled mother and the various problems caused at school and out in Govan, she felt she had advanced emotionally enough as she had grown up to recognise what was wrong and how to change it. She had hoped her brother wouldn’t go through the same mistakes she had, and now as she saw the potential origin of him going down that path, she knew something had to change.
“Hello.” Her sudden announcement of her arrival surprised her relatives enough to quieten them and make them look towards the door. With despair in her voice she carried on. “What are you fighting about now, both of you?” “He’s up tae sumthin’ the morra. I know he is. He’ll no tell me. He’s gonnae ruin it for everyone.” For the first time Donna could remember in the face of her mother’s alcoholism she truly noticed it when she spoke. Not only were her words slurred, they sounded panicked, delirious. Darryl’s face was screwed up. “Naw. She’s at it, look at these bottles Donna. She’s no there in the heid.” “Well where has this come from then? What’s she talking about, what are you talking about Mum?” “They boys he hangs around with. Marie telt me she saw him with they bad boys that are graffiti-ing, causing trouble. He’s in with them. My own son. And they’ve been around the park, they’re planning something tomorrow. And he’s in on it, and he’ll no tell me about it.” Donna turned to Darryl, too dismayed to even be angry. “What are you doing? Are you going to be causing trouble tomorrow?” She knew the answer even before he started trying to lie to her.
“You know? You do what you want. You’re a big boy now and if you want to be stupid and do things that will ruin your life, have at it. If you don’t want to be better than this, you’re old enough to make that decision and you’re old enough to have to live with it. We can stand here and tell you it’s wrong, you shouldn’t do it, you’re wasting yourself, but you’ll do it anyway. So if you want to waste your life, I’m not going to waste mine trying to convince you otherwise.” With disgust in her face and the living room silent save for the rain battering off the curtainless windows, Donna turned to go to her room. When she went in she lay flat down on her bed, put her face into her pillow and cried silently.