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Chapter 2: The kitchen sink

April 2, 2013

“Why did you get such a massive tent?” complained Daisy.
Her father didn’t answer. It was at least the tenth time she’d asked him.
“This bloody cooker weighs a ton and all,” she went on.
“Mind your language,” he grunted.
“I’m not five,” she said. She was fifteen.

As far as she was concerned, she had a one-girl pop-up tent, a couple of clean outfits, and a willingness to eat pot noodles every day for as long as it took. What else did you need?

She staggered, then set down her end of the ridiculous kitchen crate and flopped down onto her belly.
“I’m knackered,” she said. “My arms are going to fall off.” This was their third trip up the hill and she was desperate to abandon him.

“Let’s just get everything up there. I’ll put the tent up myself.”
“Too right you will.” Daisy heaved herself up, groaning, and they set off again.
He’d had no idea you had to carry your own stuff.

As soon as they got everything up to the pitch, Daisy popped up her tent and rolled out her sleeping bag onto the foam mat. She threw her backpack on top and then, with one almost pitying look back at him, she wandered off to explore the festival.

Ian watched her go and then looked at all the kit. He sighed, and got on with putting the tent up. He knew he could do that by himself – he’d practised at home.

He approached it methodically. It was good to be doing something simple, a series of pre-defined steps: as long as you did them in the right order, you couldn’t fail.

It was a massive tent, no question: designed for a family of four. It even had a kitchen pod. He started putting his kit into place, pumping up the mattress.

Daisy was right, of course. It was an absurd amount of stuff. He’d got carried away.

He wondered how long she would be. Whether he should be worried. He thought about calling her mobile. Or was that too clingy?

Her mother had assured him that the festival would be perfectly safe for a teenage girl to explore alone. All those alternative types, they worried him. They might be weirdos, Jenna had laughed, but they weren’t into molestation. It was like a big family, she’d said, a tribal gathering. Everyone looking out for everyone else. He’d worried about drugs. She’d mocked him. Was she naive or was he uptight?

He called. No answer. He texted instead: Making some dinner. Want some?

He didn’t have a lot of camping experience, but he was pretty sure there had to be sausages. They were veggie sausages – Daisy had been vegan since she was twelve, and Jenna had warned him anyway that this was a meat-free festival. But you had to have sausages – and ketchup. Of that he was sure. He put six in a frying pan and lit the gas under his camp cooker.

He gave up calling her when he realised that he could hear her phone ringing inside her tent. She was teenager enough to come back when she was good and hungry, he told himself, and she’d eaten nothing since late morning when he’d picked her up.

The food was done. At what point was he supposed to get really anxious?

He wrapped two sausages in bread and ketchup and put them on a plate. Decided against beer and in favour of eating outside in the folding chair. It looked like a death-trap, but it was surprisingly comfortable. He nodded to the neighbours – a grubby couple in dreadlocks, cross-legged on the ground, absorbed in their smoking while a stark naked kid sat whittling a stick.

He thought about Jenna again. She had been bringing Daisy to this festival every year since she was a toddler. Not this time, with Jenna so ill: she’d urged him to take Daisy instead. His chance to step in and save the day. He was anxious not to cock it up.

Jenna would think it was hilarious, the way he was rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed. He watched them, surreptitiously, as he set about his makeshift hot dogs. The kid seemed too young to handle a knife the way he did. Expertly.

He noticed Ian. “I’m making a marshmallow stick.”
“Are you?” said Ian, non-committal.
“I’m going to cook marshmallows on it.”
Ian found small children irritating. “I see,” he said.
“Have you got any marshmallows?”
“What are you eating?”
Before he could really fathom how it happened the boy was exploring Ian’s tent and eating a hot dog. He had ketchup on his willy.
“Are you going to have a fire?”
“I don’t think so.”
“We’re going to have a fire.”
“Can I have some more sauce?”

“Hey!” It was Daisy, standing in the entrance to the tent.
“You’ve been ages,” said Ian.
“I was exploring,” she said. “You left any of that for me? Who’s this kid?”
“I’m Falcon,” said the boy.
“Well clear off, and don’t come back unless you’ve got some pants on.”
“Alright,” said Falcon. He wandered off as nonchalantly as he had wandered in.

Ian was so pleased to be rid of him that he didn’t have the heart to tell Daisy off for her disappearing act.
Just as well, he told himself. It would probably have been very uncool. Parenting had never been his strong suit.

“I’ve ripped my bloody jeans on a bramble,” said Daisy, flinging herself into the chair and inspecting the rip in her lower leg. “And I’ve scratched my leg.”
“Language,” said Ian, half-heartedly.
“Language to you too,” she said, biting into the hot dog he handed her. “Thanks.”
“I’ve got a sewing kit somewhere,” he said.
“You what?”
“I’ve got a sewing kit. It came with the – you know – in the camping shop.”
She smiled. “Knew there was a reason we lugged all that crap up the hill.”
“Nicest thing you’ve said to me all day.”

If you’d asked him whether he thought it would be easy, patching things up with Daisy, he’d have denied it. A rift that had taken so many years of distance to build up could hardly be healed so easily. But it was something. A start.

He wondered what she’d been doing in the brambles.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2013 9:45 pm

    Wordcount – 1065
    Prompt – An item of clothing is ripped (IRL friend)

    Please suggest prompts for Chapter 3 in the comments!
    (Check the sidebar for a link to more info about this interactive project!)

  2. April 2, 2013 10:14 pm

    love the festy goodness
    right….a prompt
    the grandmother circle

  3. Mark permalink
    April 2, 2013 10:42 pm

    I think you need a properly romantic love scene. I propose a hot buff eco-warrier type called Mark that someone falls hopelessly in love with.

  4. April 4, 2013 6:35 pm


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