It was 4.30. In the afternoon when Kat was born. She hadn’t been wanted in the first place, but now, she had committed the cardinal sin of arriving on the scent just as Lillian was shopping in her favourite store. It was a Monday, and though heavily pregnant, Lillian had been unable to resist the call of the shops having had one full day, a Sunday, without them. Indeed, that was Lillian’s life – scanning the shops for any bargain that was to be had. When a certain percentage was announced as being knocked off all items in store, Lillian was the first to be there. Always, she returned home with goods that she did not really want or need, but her thirst for a bargain had been satisfied. That was how it always was, right the way through her long life. Ninety three years to be exact. But Lillian could never forgive Kat for arriving just when her favourite store had cut fifty percent off everything. Kat had to carry that burden throughout her life. At least, that was what she had thought the burden was for some time, but it transpired that the real burden that she had to carry was being born at all.
When Kat found out about this she began to understand a lot of things that had happened to her in her childhood. Well, kind of. She could never understand the depth of the cruelty that Lillian had meted out to her.
Kat had watched other kids, and seen how their lives were different to hers. They were allowed to play out. They went on family outings. They had birthday parties. But most of all, their mothers hugged and loved them. Oh yes, they told them off every now and then, and sometimes they were grounded for a while, but there was nothing as sinister as Kat had to endure. Kat remembered the day she was held over a fast flowing river, with a stone wall between her and Lillian, who was dangling her with just her hands over the river. Lillian forced Kat to look at the foam below and told her she would soon be in it and that she would die in the water. As Kat heard these words, she felt herself starting to slip from Lillian’s grasp. Terror struck her, but Lilian pulled her back just in time. Kat was shaken, but Lillian then took her to the grass on the bank of the river, and said,
“It’s nice here. Look at this nice grass.” Kat was unable to think that anything was nice at that moment, and knew that she could never feel safe again with Lillian. Kat was three years old.