“Drama, dra…, dra…, drama, what type of drama?”
Frankie knew he said the wrong thing the moment the words left his mouth, but it was too late. Yvette kissed her teeth at her youngest son and continued stuffing clothes into the washing machine.
“Boy, get me the washing powder”
Yvette continued muttering and shaking her head, “Drama!”
Yvette did not know what nonsense that school was filling his head with. She sent him to school to learn, not play. How the backside was he going to make any kind of living doing drama? Yvette shook her head again, she would laugh if it wasn’t so ridiculous. This would have to stop, he does not have enough to do, or any ambition if he’s got time for foolish dreams. Is he crazy enough to think drama is going to pay bills? Yvette huffed.
Retrieving the extra large box of washing powder from the cupboard under the stairs Frankie felt for a moment as though the bottom had dropped out of his world.
His mother’s loud shout shook him out of his thoughts, he raised his head too quickly and bumped it on the sloped ceiling. The box slipped from his grip and spilt some of the contents on the floor. That was all he needed, wearily he responded.
Yvette did not know what she was going to do with this child. His head was always in the clouds, didn’t she have enough to do? If they were going to eat before 7 ‘o’ clock, she would need to start cleaning the snappers she bought earlier as soon as she got this load of washing on. Yvette was tired, this might be a takeaway night. Where was that boy?
Frankie was flustered. He did not want to leave this mess behind, it would be far worse if his mum discovered it later. He scrambled to the floor and got as much of the powder up as he could, sneezing several times in the process. He could not risk emptying the dustpan while his mum was in the kitchen. Frankie eased open the door a fraction, his mum was still at the sink ranting on.
“And another thing…”
“Drama is not the reason why I feed you and send you to school…”
Frankie carefully moved the dustpan to one side and backed out of the cupboard, remembering to keep his head bent.
Yvette was in full flow now, her accent thickening with each word. Her concentration did not waver as she took the box of washing powder from her son, measured a rough amount, filled the dispenser and switched the machine on. The machine whirred into action and Yvette’s voice already raised went higher to compensate. Frankie wanted to retreat upstairs, but he knew it would be worse if he got called back, so he stayed.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with these teachers before they don’t go and teach you all some proper life skills…drama! I don’t know what the hell they’re doing, I don’t think they even know what they’re doing. More Maths, that’s what you should be doing. How are you gonna run a business if you can’t add up hmmm?”
The long drawn out sound of kissing teeth was a welcome pause in what was turning into quite a tirade.
“They should be concentrating on getting the basics right, instead of this drama rubbish. You think it’s like on the television. And even if you did get that far, you’d be killed off in the first ten minutes anyway. I thought you wanted something better for yourself, you’ve got good hands, do something practical like…like your father did.”
Frankie felt a dark cloud descend as his father was mentioned, his jaw tightened and he looked down not wanting his eyes to betray anything. This was the emotional blackmail of the highest order. His mum must be really pissed or desperate. Frankie still struggled to process the absence of his father more than anyone else in the house and she knew it.
Without turning Yvette sensed the effect her words had immediately but ignored it.
“What’s the point of having god given talents if you’re not going to use them?”
Frankie chose his words carefully.
“I didn’t say I wasn’t going to use them…”
Yvette stopped what she was doing, turned, cocked her head to one side and fixed her son with a look. Only the gentle churn of the washing machine could be heard.
“Good, so there won’t be any more nonsense talk about drama?”
Trying to hold his nerve Frankie thought quickly. He could assure his mum that he would give up drama and concentrate his efforts in workshop lessons or he could tell her the truth. Yvette had taken up her fighting, no-nonsense stance. Frankie exhaled.
“I won’t mention it again.”
“Good, let that be the end of it.”
Yvette turned back to the sink and breathed a sigh of relief as she looked down at the snappers she had just cleaned, she was tired they could wait until tomorrow.
“Fetch my handbag for me, order a bargain bucket I’m going to put my feet up.”
Frankie was momentarily distracted by this strange turn of events; his mum always cooked in the week and he blatantly lied, about something sacred to him. With hindsight he recognised he shouldn’t have said anything, it’s not like he did not know what his mum would say. But he got caught in an unguarded moment when she asked him how school went. He was still in the glow of today’s class before he realised what was happening, he was smiling and gushing about everything. His new teacher, the play, getting the lead, he was so excited. But all that changed when he saw the incredulous look on his mother’s face and the contempt she exuded for his new found happiness.
Frankie found his mum’s handbag and tried to focus on the treat of takeaway on a weeknight, instead of the sadness he felt at not being able to share a rare moment of joy at home. Frankie took the cash his mum pressed into his hand and headed to the fresher air outside. The usually comforting warmth of the house had become suffocating.
“Don’t forget your key, I might be in the bath.”
Too late the door swung shut behind him. As Frankie strolled aimlessly he cast his mind over the last few months since they moved. At school, the daily taunting however mild was still an irritant, a reminder that he was considered different and had to be taken down a peg or two if he dared express his opinion too strongly. Always being told about the chip on his shoulder. Funny, he didn’t get that chip until he moved to this place.
Free from his mother’s judgement Frankie relived his drama class today. It was the first time he felt happy in this alien environment away from the close friendships he’d made in his old neighbourhood. For a few hours he was invigorated and completely absorbed; cares and worries floated away. It hadn’t occurred to him how miserable he was until he has something to smile about again. He would have to grow a thicker skin if he wanted to be taken seriously. Frankie chuckled to himself, he was the lead in the school play and he was going to be an actor.