Lucy and The Worry Wind, Volume One of The Jimmy Meridian Story© Máighréad Medbh
Children's -- Fantasy
"Thoughts fly, they never die."
(The chief maxim of Bliss, as stated in the Bliss Catechism.)
Q. What made the world?
A. Thought made the world.
Q. What makes it bright?
A. Thought makes it bright.
Q. What makes it pale?
A. Thought makes it pale.
Q. What is thought?
A. Thought is a series of signals from the hatcher brain, guided by emotions.
Q. What is a hatcher?
A. A hatcher, also called 'human', is a being who lives in a heavy dimension just beyond the Thought World. Hatchers are mostly composed of clumps of clogged energy, but they have created the Thought World with their thoughts. The stars we see in the Hatchery are the thought-bodies of hatchers.
Q. What is a genius?
A. A genius is a being made from the thoughts of hatchers.
Q. Do hatchers control geniuses?
A. Yes, until the geniuses are fully made, or clinched. However, they are seldom aware that they are in control.
(Excerpt from The Bliss Catechism)
"Great shot!" came the chorus from the crowd, as Lucy returned a difficult shot to her back-hand.
"And again!" someone breathed, as she sent another, low ball.
"Barely over the net! Brilliant."
There was applause. Lucy took the ball in her hand, swung her racket across in front of her and bowed. Flowers rained on her head. The crowd got to their feet and cheered.
Lucy waved to the crowd and trotted round the corner of the house. When she got to the kitchen window, she stopped trotting and put the racket under her arm. She took a deep breath and went in.
"Good morning, Lucy," said Wayne.
The kitchen felt dull after the centre court. Wayne was looking at Lucy intently over the top of his thick-rimmed glasses. She always thought that a bit odd. Why would you wear glasses if you were always looking over the top of them? She didn’t like looking straight into her Dad’s eyes, especially after she’d been daydreaming, so she looked down at her feet.
"Let’s see if you’re just so," said Cissy.
Cissy was fixing her ear-rings. She wore small, neat, pearl ones, so there was no danger of them getting caught in anything and pulling off a bit of earlobe. Cissy worried about that sort of thing. Lucy stood stock still and Cissy tut-tutted. Wayne watched closely. "Not just so, Miss," Wayne said, wagging a finger. "You have to be just so."
Cissy took a kitchen towel from the counter, wet it and wiped some toothpaste off Lucy’s cheek. "You know what to do with the racket," Cissy said curtly.
Lucy trudged off to her room to put the racket and ball in their proper place. In the Scales house, everything had a place and was expected to be in it. She took off her runners and pulled on the suede boots she had got for Christmas. She wore the boots every day. They were light brown, with tassels at the tops. Each boot had a large blue flower threaded on the outside, and a little blue flower made of beads hung on the end of each tassel. She stroked the leather. It was very soft. That reminded her of Rover, who was sitting pertly on the bed. She gave him his plastic bowl and said, "Now, Rover, eat up all your breakfast. There’s a good boy." She patted him. Rover was the nearest thing Lucy had to a pet. She had asked her Mam and Dad if she could keep a real dog or cat now that they weren’t living in the city any more, but Wayne had said that cats spread disease and Cissy had said that dogs get fleas. Now Lucy wouldn’t touch an animal if you gave her a million euro.
"Well, that tennis racket was one good thing to come from your sister," Wayne said to Cissy, as he fussed over breakfast. "It certainly keeps her occupied," Cissy replied, starting to plait Lucy’s hair, "even if she does just play up against the wall. You should join the Bore tennis club, you know, Lucy."
Cissy kept saying that, but what did she expect Lucy to do about it? She was hardly going to ring up the tennis club when she was only just about brave enough to face into school every day. Besides, Bibi Coole had just the day before said that she was joining the club, and that would make things extremely awkward.
Cissy stood in front of Lucy, examining her handiwork. Lucy’s Mam was small and thin, but she was always perfectly turned out in neat suits and carefully applied make-up.
"You really shouldn’t go out playing before I’ve plaited your hair, Lucy. It could get caught in something and scalp you."
"And you could catch cold," Wayne added. "February mornings tend to be icy." His thin, stiff shoulders stiffened even more.
Lucy was taken aback. She supposed they were right. She hadn’t thought about the dangers. She normally didn’t practise before breakfast, because she didn’t get up early enough. It’s just that she had woken this morning at seven after a great tennis dream, and just had to get up and grab her racket. She decided not to do it again.
"Got your bag sorted for school?" asked Wayne, when Cissy was satisfied with Lucy’s hair.
"Get your lunch ready then. And don’t say ‘Yeah’. "
"Don’t say, ‘Okay’. Say, ‘Alright, Dad’, or, ‘Yes, Dad’."
"Do you need anything else for school?"
"No. Eh… Dad. Eh… no thanks, Dad."
Wayne had that angry look about him. Lucy kept forgetting the right way to say things. "That’s good," he said, after giving her a piercing look. "We’re not made of money. Let’s say the ‘We’re Grateful’ prayer."
Lucy hated the ‘We’re Grateful’ prayer beyond all belief, but she had to say it, so she imagined she was back outside, playing tennis against the wall and pretending she was on a real court. They all joined hands. Wayne was stooped over, as if he was ashamed of being tall. He looked a bit like a heron when he did that. He started the prayer. Cissy and Lucy joined in.
"We’re grateful for our health. We’re grateful for our work and for our school. We’re grateful for our house. We’re grateful for our family and friends."
"Amen," said Cissy.
What friends? Lucy wondered angrily, as she took a spoonful of porridge. She never got Cornflakes like normal children. As for Sugar Puffs or Coco Pops, they wouldn’t be considered for a second.
"Egg and tomato time," said Wayne.
As usual, he put the tomatoes to grill first. He always grilled the tomatoes for precisely five minutes and poached the eggs for precisely three, timing everything by the enormous clock that took up half of the kitchen wall. While the tomatoes were grilling, he had the water boiling in the poacher, so that he could pop in the eggs and have everything cooked at the same moment. Meanwhile, Cissy got the toast ready. Lucy vaguely remembered some arguments about all this fussiness at one point, but not any more. Cissy was just as fussy as Wayne now.
At seven-fifty precisely, Wayne turned on the radio for the News and sat to eat. He chewed every mouthful fifty times. He had used to chew it one hundred times, but that was keeping him late in the mornings. Apart from the News and Wayne’s intense chewing, there was silence. Lucy hated the News. It was so boring and so bad. There had been another gang-land shooting in Dublin.
"Have we got those bullet-proof vests yet, Cissy?" asked Wayne, when the ads came on.
"No. The Gardai don’t supply them, so I’m trying the British police. If that fails I’ll have to contact the FBI."
Wayne nodded approvingly.
"It’s a disgrace. Why should we have to pay for protecting ourselves on the streets? The police aren’t doing their jobs. We’ll all be murdered as we go about our business."
"It’s a free-for-all out there."
"Bullets whizzing past as you walk the streets."
Lucy had never seen a gangster in her life, nor had bullets whizzed past her in the streets. Not even when they’d lived in Dublin. Still, that sort of thing had to be happening, because it’s what the News reported all the time. In a way it sounded sort of exciting. She started to imagine how she’d duck bullets if they whizzed past her on the road outside her house.
The News faded to nothing as Lucy looked out the window, half-thinking, half-daydreaming. She hated living in Coolboora. She even hated the name, ‘Coolboora’. It sounded like somewhere in the outback of Australia. Cissy had told her that it meant ‘Boora’s Retreat’, named after some ancient warrior. As far as Lucy was concerned, it meant ‘The Back of Beyonds’. The next house was a mile away, and there wasn’t a shop or a cinema anywhere around. Not that it made any difference. Lucy wasn’t allowed to buy sweets and didn’t get pocket money. Still, she wished and wished that she could live in a town. She wanted a terraced house with windows that opened onto the main street, so that she could look out at all the cool people passing by. She wasn’t sure that Bore, the nearest town, would fit the bill, as the people there weren’t very cool, but it couldn’t be worse than where she was.
Before Coolboora, the Scales had lived on the outskirts of Dublin for five years. They had lived in London before that, but Lucy didn’t remember London at all. Cissy and Wayne figured they’d die young if they stayed living near a city, what with the pollution from factories and the lack of fresh vegetables. If the pollution and bad food didn’t get them, they reckoned the crime on the streets would. Cissy had been born in Coolboora, so they had decided to move there. Besides, there was an opening for an accountancy firm in Bore, and Wayne and Cissy wanted to set up their own business. Wayne was an accountant and Cissy was a secretary.
Since they’d come to Coolboora, everything had changed. So much so that Lucy couldn’t remember what it had been like before. All she knew was that her Mam and Dad didn’t have time to watch her made-up dramas because they were always working. Either that or they were talking about odd things like ‘going places’, ‘making waves’, ‘moving up in the world’ and ‘planning for the future’. They had grown pale and serious, and looked angry whenever they passed large houses with two cars in front of them. Lucy had to play out all her dramas in her head. She was used to it by now. "Did you hear that, Wayne?" Cissy asked, her face paler than usual. "We’d better make sure we don’t buy bread made from genetically modified wheat." She put a hand to her forehead as if it ached. "You can’t eat a thing these days without putting your life in danger."
Wayne finished chewing a mouthful of whole-wheat toast and said, "If it isn’t sugar, it’s additives."
Cissy stared at Wayne in horror. He nodded furiously. "Oh yes, that’s what makes it all smell so good. Spiked with perfume, the lot of it."
At eight-fifteen precisely, Lucy helped Cissy to wash and dry the dishes. Lucy went to her room to get her schoolbag. She said goodbye to Rover and kissed his forehead. As she left the bedroom, she glanced briefly at the notice in large type which was pinned to the wall beside the door. It read:
The Rules 1. Get up at precisely 7.15a.m., brush teeth and get washed.
2. Put on clothes and dress bed so it looks like it’s never been slept in.
3. Be in kitchen for breakfast at precisely 7.35a.m.
4. All toys, books and clothes to be allocated special places, and to be in those places when you’re leaving for school.
5. In the evening, clean room so that everything is just so.
6. Wash and dry each dish and item of cutlery after meals.
7. Generally, help keep house looking like no-one eats, sleeps or moves around in it.
8. Make no noise or other demands while Mam and Dad are working, talking about work or thinking about work.
9. In the interests of mental development, and because of radiation and bad grammar, no television on week-days.
Lucy sighed, hitched her bag over her shoulder and went to get her lunch box. Wayne came out of the bathroom with his face and teeth shining like porcelain. He got his briefcase and coat from his office and checked his tie in the hall mirror. He took a brush from the hook under the mirror, brushed his coat briskly and folded it. He went out and put the briefcase and coat in the back seat of the car. Lucy looked at the grandfather clock, which stood just inside the door. It was eight-twenty-five. Wayne would start the engine at eight-thirty precisely. She sighed again and plodded out the front door. Cissy bustled out after her, jangling her keys.
A very furry orange cat wound itself round the corner of the house and stretched its nose towards the back of the car. It stared at Lucy with its large, haughty, orange eyes. It was Cleopatra, Aunt Flounce’s Persian. Lucy’s heart jumped. Cissy and Wayne went mad whenever Cleopatra called round. Lucy stood in front of the cat so that Cissy wouldn’t see. Luckily, she didn’t. She was too intent on treble-locking the front door, checking that the windows were locked, and placing her folded coat neatly on top of Wayne’s.
Lucy looked back as they drove off. She liked looking at Cleopatra. She was the colour of honey and the setting sun, and she moved very gracefully. Lucy forgot her boring life and let her mind dwell for a while on the colour orange and all the things she knew that were that colour. She thought about how the sun rose and set, and she thought about gold. She thought about the story of King Midas, whose touch turned everything to gold. She thought that if she were an orange cat like Cleopatra, she’d never be bored or lonely, because she’d see everything through golden eyes.