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Authors: Cecelia Ahern

Mrs Whippy

BOOK: Mrs Whippy
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CECELIA
AHERN

 

M
RS
W
HIPPY

Cecelia Ahern was 21 when she wrote her first novel,
P.S. I Love You
. It was an instant best-seller and became a major motion picture. Since then she has published many more novels including
Where Rainbows End
,
If You Could See Me Now
and
Thanks for the Memories
.

M
RS
W
HIPPY
First published by GemmaMedia in 2009.

GemmaMedia
230 Commercial Street
Boston MA 02109 USA
617 938 9833
www.gemmamedia.com

Copyright © 2006, 2009 Cecelia Ahern

This edition of
Mrs. Whippy
is published by arrangement with New Island Books Ltd.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Printed in the United States of America

12 11 10 09 08                                  1 2 3 4 5

ISBN: 978-1-934848-39-5

Cover design by Artmark

Library of Congress Preassigned Control Number (PCN) applied for

O
PEN
D
OOR
S
ERIES

An innovative program of original

works by some of our most

beloved modern writers and

important new voices. First designed

to enhance adult literacy in Ireland,

these books affirm the truth that

a story doesn't have

to be big to open the world.

Patricia Scanlan
Series Editor

One

My name is Emelda. Describe myself in twenty words? I can do it in less. There's really not much to me. Forty-six years old. Soon-to-be divorced. Mother of five. Five foot three. Two hundred and twenty pounds. Fed-up and mightily bored with my life. Five words that define me? I hate my ex-husband. That's only four words, but you get the point. I tend to fall short of my targets.

I can almost hear my mother in my head. “Hate is a very strong word,
Emelda. You don't
hate
– you
dislike
.” She does that a lot now since she died. She pops into my head and reminds me to do things. I like it when she does that. It's nice company in my lonely head. Well sorry, my dear departed mother, hate is not a strong enough word for me. I
detest
him and dream of ways he can die a very painful death.

Perhaps that's too evil, but he does deserve my bad thoughts. He deserves my mother to tut and shake her head disapprovingly. She did that when she was disgusted at me. He recently ran off with a twenty-three-year-old Russian lap dancer the size of a broomstick. He left me with five sons: a twenty-five-year-old, a twenty-one-year-old, a sixteen-year-old, an eight-year-old and a five-year-old. The remnants of our once-upon-a-time sex life.

I live in a three-bedroom semidetached house with patterned
wallpapers, curtains, carpets and borders. They haven't been changed since we moved in twenty-five years ago. My kitchen is shabby. My bedroom is a depressing disappointment that, over the years, has seen more depressingly disappointing performances than the West End. Romeo, oh Romeo, my husband was not. Juliet, I certainly am not. The only where-bloody-art-thous uttered from my gob were at four a.m. when he still hadn't returned from a night out. The only standing on a balcony and calling I've done is to hang from our bedroom window while throwing his clothes into the garden. All the neighbours could hear me cursing him.

I was seventeen when I fell in love with the beast named Charlie. “Fell” is the appropriate word because it was indeed my downfall. I remember the exact moment this fall happened. We
were having dessert in the cheapest restaurant he could find. We chose delicious vanilla rice-pudding with poached pears and chocolate ice-cream. I looked up from my plate to take a breath from scoffing. I caught his gaze over the flickering flame of the candle. My heart melted like the ice-cream meeting the hot pudding. I can still remember the sweet taste of that chocolate ice-cream on my lips when he kissed me. It was the sweetest kiss I had ever had.

Every moment of my life is marked by ice-cream. I associate moments with tastes, textures and smells. Sweet sugars that pumped into my blood, lifted my heart and made my special moments even more special.

I recall the passion-fruit ice-cream in our wedding cake. I remember it touching my tongue and sliding down my throat as Charlie fed the food into
my mouth. My first spoonful of married life. That taste always reminds me of that look on his face. The adoring look that made me think I was the most special woman in the world. I once was in his world.

I remember the vanilla and strawberries on the first night of our honeymoon. I'll never forget how the vanilla felt against my skin as it slid down my stomach and formed a pool in my belly-button while we rolled around laughing.

Knickerbocker Glory reminds me of a time spent watching the sunset on a holiday in Spain. Tones of red and orange decorated the sky over a glistening sea while we watched with sunburned noses and peeling shoulders.

I recall eating mint ice-cream and chocolate Flakes with my mother in the back garden on summer days. I was heavily pregnant, hot and bothered.
The cooling effect of the mint mixed with the familiar smell of my mother's perfume was a wonderful combination.

I remember my father bringing me to the beach as a child and tasting orange Popsicles. That smell brings me back to the sandy beaches, rich with the smell of coconut suntan lotion.

Barbecued bananas and vanilla ice-cream at friends' parties remind me of our “just-married” social life. Vanilla ice-cream between soggy wafers reminds me of the kids' birthdays. Raspberry-ripple-stained T-shirts and ice-cream-and-chocolate-sauce-covered mouths remind me of my growing boys.

All these tastes hold memories.

It's only been a few months since Charlie left me. I do very little these days except sit in my house. I cry and binge on Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough. Cookie Dough will forever
remind me of tears, stinging eyes, snotty tissues and an aching heart. This was my routine until last Monday. After Monday there was a big change in my behaviour.

I knew summer was beginning when I heard that sound – the wonderful tinkling music of the ice-cream van. There was such excitement on the street. Children ran into their homes to beg their parents for money for treats. The music lightened the mood. The day seemed brighter as the distinctive tune played from the speakers. It tickled and teased everyone's senses. That sound immediately reminded me of the smell of barbecues drifting over garden walls. Summer was here. Brightness was here. Hope was here.

I used to feel trapped. I used to feel like I had been stuck down a hole for days with a broken leg. I felt that I couldn't go anywhere or help myself.
The sound of that van was like hearing a rescue helicopter. Mr Whippy was my rescuer. Those tinkling sounds saved me that day.

The man in the van, who called himself Mr Whippy, brought smiles to everyone's faces. He caused parents and children to rush to his side. That man with the twinkle in his eye brought brightness into my life, which had become so dark.

Two

My sixteen-year-old, Brian, has taken to smoking pot in his bedroom. I'm not one of those snooping mothers that roots through her children's things when they are at school. I don't need to. He doesn't hide his habit. He doesn't care if I object. He doesn't lock his door. He doesn't even open his window. No amount of threats of being grounded can stop him. He's sixteen. He's taller than me, stronger than me and apparently knows better than me. So he does what he likes.

My youngest child's name is Mark. He is five years old. Unfortunately, yesterday he was hiding under Brian's bed. It's a new habit of his. He appeared to have inhaled too much smoke. He wandered down to breakfast like a zombie in his Power Rangers pyjamas and cowboy boots. He was complaining that he had the munchies. His eyes were as wide as saucers. He had pupils like Charlie's when he used to watch late-night porn.

Apart from becoming high every day from inhaling second-hand pot, he has now decided that breakfast, lunch and dinner must be eaten under the bed. Whenever we need to leave the house, it takes me twenty minutes to find which bed he has hidden under.

My eight-year-old, Vincent, has taken to not speaking. His school principal has called me into the school
twice in two weeks because of his behaviour. But nobody can do anything to convince him to talk.

So I eat dinner practically alone every evening. Mark hides under the bed. Vincent doesn't speak to me. Brian rarely comes home to eat dinner. There's not much I can do about this, unfortunately. How can you drag someone into the house on time when you don't know where they are? How can you force someone to speak? And how can you tell someone to stop hiding when you can't find them?

And I've just realised that each of my boys has copied their father in some form or another.

My eldest son, Charlie Junior, has my heart broken too. He's in prison. He has a sentence of four years for burglary. He's been there for two years. My second eldest, Terry, went on one
of those year-long world trips with a group of friends. That was three years ago. He has decided to settle in Thailand. He sends me an e-mail once a month. I don't really know how to work e-mail, so I have to ask Brian to read it to me. He rarely does.

I try my hardest with the boys. I really, really do. I'm a good mother. I know I am. But I can't seem to get through to them. There isn't anyone around me to help. My husband refused to recognise his own bad behaviour during our married life. I doubt he has noticed his sons' carry-on. Any time something was wrong, it was always my fault. He could never compromise. The only time we met in the middle was when we both rolled into the dip in the centre of our twenty-five-year-old bed. If my husband won't listen to me, why on earth would the boys?

My dear mother died last month. My older brother has moved to Ohio. He's opened an Irish store that sells Irish butter, sausages, bacon, chocolate bars, crisps and tea to the homesick Irish community. My very best friend, Susan, is a mother of four and married to a saint of a husband for twenty-five years. She has just begun an affair with the window cleaner. He is twelve years her junior. I feel I can't talk to her any more.

I'm feeling very alone these days. Every day, as I sit on my twenty-five-year-old sofa, I begin to think that it and my life are very similar. It's falling apart at the seams.

Three

My husband takes the boys on Saturdays. I watch him from the bedroom window every week as he drives off in our car. Then I fall onto the bed we used to sleep in together. I stay there until the boys come home the next day.

Today I greeted him at the door. I needed to talk to him about the boys' behaviour. I needed him to back me up more often. I needed the boys to see him support me and respect me. Then perhaps they would listen to me. When
all they ever saw was a man that walked all over me, they assumed they could do the same. My mother saw it in them. She tried to teach them. They were as good as gold for her. But as soon as she would leave they would return to their old ways. It was like a bulb being switched off inside me when that happened. My mother was always on my side. I needed the boys to see that Charlie was on my side too.

BOOK: Mrs Whippy
13.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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