It began when I had my t-shirt on inside out and I thought, cool, and all mum did was tick me off for being stupid, not cool, but stupid IS cool. I like the seams showing, and I like the words on it bein’ backwards and faint, like me at school who doesn’t give much for learning. I like makin’ think out of accidents. Spontaneous like, as if something else is running things for me.
Next it was different socks. It was an accident. I was in a hurry and two oddies went straight on without me noticing. Kirsty at school noticed, and she laughed, what a droob! That’s an inside out t-shirt and now the socks. Are you lookin’ for attention or something? Mum’s would be good. She’s a single mum, with me and me bro’ livin’ in a housing estate on the edge of town. Mum works at night in a supermarket stacking shelves. Me bro’ and me stay at home. We’re good. We could be looking for trouble but we don’t. We’re good.
I started wearing odd shoes to school. I’ve got Doc Martens. Red, cherry and black. I start mixing them up. Odd sox, odd shoes and funny shirts. Kirsty gives me the nickname Quilt. Hiya Quilt. How’s it goin’ Quilt? Mum doesn’t like me doing this. She reckons I’m an attention getting freak. So I stripes my hair with Chickenfeed stuff. The teachers are cool. They know we’re disadvantaged out here. Some of them look it, I can tell you. Maybe they don’t want to patronise us kids being tied up and keeping their belts straight. There’s a lot of fights, a lot of screwin’ and stuff. My thing is The Quilt. It’s kinda safe.
I am the Quilt and I’m cool. Smithy tried to punch me yesterday. Reckons I’m an idiot. Mr Board told Smithy to leave me alone. And stop looking like a bully he said. I don’t see a lot of mum. She’s always working or going out. Me Bro’s pretty quiet. He’s five years younger than me. We go to the same school but don’t hang out. He doesn’t say much about me being the Quilt. Don’t reckon he brags too much about me to his mates.
Think I want to get into fashion design. I spoke to Miss Broadrick the other day. She’s cool. Reckons I got an eye for colour coordination. She laughed and then gave me a hug. Been a long time since me mum’s hugged me. Miss Broadrick said for me to come and see her if I’m serious. She knows about courses and things. Most boys are into the footy and cricket. I guess the girls like those boys. Only Kirsty teases me.
It’s been hard at home. Mum’s got some new bloke. I don’t trust him. He looks mean and he gives me dirty looks. Me Bro’ doesn’t like him neither. Wish our dad‘d come back. I miss him. Maybe they won’t argue as much. We’d be scared me Bro’ and me, when they argued. There was a lot of shouting and banging. Dad just went off one day. I saw him awhile back. He came to my school. Said he was sorry and he misses me. He never said anything about mum.
Me mum’s been giving me a hard time lately. She’s been picking on me for little things. I know she stressed, but gee give a fifteen year old a break eh! I’ve got my own problems. Miss Broadrick left the school and there’s no one to talk to about my dreams. I’m still the Quilt but it’s a struggle. I want to be good mum, just leave me alone. A couple of the kids I know are stealing. They want me to come, act as a distraction like. They’ll give me stuff. I dunno mum. I just want to be good.
B.F. Moloney is an Australian writer of flash fiction and poetry with work soon to be published in Ocean Magazine, Fast Forward Press, Paragraph Line and Eureka Street.
To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page