Hero and villain
It used to be that my family’s darkest skeleton was the bungling wife killer Lord Lucan, second cousin somewhere along the line on my mother’s side, and then along came Ingrid. She was this Swedish au pair to my sister, nineteen years old, leggy as a colt and she knew she was the star of my teen fantasies. She liked to sit at the breakfast table in this white towelling dressing gown, the folds at the front oh so casually fallen open so she could grin as I turned red. Or she’d be coming out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her body, another around her hair, this slicked down goddess of pale skin and knowing looks.
The night of my Dad’s fiftieth it was all champagne and crab puffs, horse faced women in low cut tops, and moustache faced men in low cut minds. Ingrid in her little black dress was the star, earning dagger looks from every woman in the place and lustful glances from every man. When she fell over the second time it was me that caught her, and it was me that helped her up to her room, half the men in the place cheering me and the rest asking my Dad if he was ready for grandchildren.
But let them have their fun because here was sixteen year old me, never having touched a girl’s hand but now her firm thigh and body pressed against me, chest sometimes soft against my head as I tried to get us both up the stairs. Up in her room she unzipped her dress, blood was roaring in my ears and then she fell out of it and onto the bed.
The memory though that sticks the most, she’s in that same white dressing gown and it’s loose at the front but this time she’s past caring. Ingrid with her face puffy and red, half from the crying and I guess the rest from her own flip flop that Mother has used to hit her around the face. She hit me too, and it was only Dad coming into the middle sitting room that saved us both from her rage.
She called him a bastard, she threw the flip flop at him, she threw a coaster, and then she sank to the sofa next to Ingrid.
Dad just looked and looked. He looked at Ingrid in her slump, stick from the pregnancy test in one hand, second flip flop in the other. He looked at me and he looked at mother and his mind was going back to that night of the party, when I met him in the corridor, when I told him I’d put her on her side and put a blanket across her. He made me glow when he told me what a capital fellow I was. Where in God’s name did that come from? Not Lord Lucan, and definitely not him.