A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Lyra cursed as yet another drunken idiot fell onto the bonnet of her car.

She had been sitting outside the bar for over half an hour now. What was taking them so long? She couldn’t really be angry with them. Her parents deserved to have some fun and it was brilliant to see them happy again.

Finally they emerged giggling like teenagers and stumbled towards the car. As they fell into the back seat Lyra couldn’t help but smile.

“Good night then?”

Being wary not to hit any of the inebriated strangers roaming the streets, she pulled out onto the road and headed for home.

“Yes it was great to see the gang again. But it’s still so strange having you drive us around instead of the other way round. Sorry we kept you up so late.”

Her mother giggled as she made the observation.

“Yea you really sound like you’re sorry there. Don’t worry I was up anyway doing my prep.”

“Of course I forgot you had night school tomorrow. How goes it?”

She could always count on her father to take an interest in her studies.

“Not bad. It’s tough but I’m sure it’ll be worth it. Might finally be able to leave that damn waitressing job once I have some A-levels under my belt.”

“Well if you need any help feel free to ask. Just don’t expect any help with that psychology malarkey. Haven’t the faintest clue when it comes to that stuff.”

Lyra laughed at the face her father pulled as he expressed his distaste for her interest in psychology.

“Eyes on the road young lady.”

Lyra focused on the road in front of her and silence fell over the car. It wasn’t long before she could hear the soft snores coming from her mother with her head slumped on her father’s shoulder.

***

As she turned the final corner onto their street Lyra saw a car parked outside their house with its lights on and the engine running. How strange. As she started to pull up behind the car a man emerged and walked towards them. She kept the engine running just in case this wasn’t a friendly visit, and why would it be at half one in the morning.

The man knocked on her window.

“Mr. Fisher?”

Lyra’s father wound down his window.

“That would be me, what are you doing here?”

The man handed her father a large white envelope.

“Goodnight sir.”

With no further explanation the man returned to his vehicle and drove away. This could only be bad news. They all climbed out of the car and made their way into the house.

“Dad please don’t open that now, leave it till morning. Nothing this late is going to be good news and you’ll be in a better position to handle it tomorrow.”

She knew her words were falling on deaf ears. Her father was looking at the large white envelope as if it may explode at any moment.

“I don’t need to open it to know what it is. We were living in a dream world if we really thought they would give up without completely destroying us.”

The giggling teenager was gone, the anger was pouring out of her mother in waves. Her father tore open the envelope and drew out a court summons. Just when there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel the tunnel had gone and caved in. Her father collapsed into the nearest chair and dropped his head into his hands.

“I knew it! I just bloody knew it! Why didn’t you just listen to me? You never listen! I told you they couldn’t be trusted! But NO! You had to bite off more than you could chew and now we are utterly screwed! There is no way we can afford this! We haven’t even paid off the last batch of fees, the mortgage is still not paid, before long they are going to come and repossess it and we are going to be out on the street and it is all your fault!”

Tears were streaming down her mothers face and Lyra stood frozen to the spot. She had never seen her parents fight before. When her father failed to respond or even move her mother grabbed a glass and threw it against the wall where it shattered cascading glass all over the kitchen.

“Don’t just sit there, what are we going to do? You have to fix this!”

Her father punched the table, stood up and strode over to her mother where he towered over her.

“What do you want me to do? As you said, we have no money, no representation, nothing! I’m not a bloody magician. And how is smashing glasses productive in the slightest.”

Lyra couldn’t stand to watch her parents fall apart like this. It was heart breaking knowing she couldn’t do anything. Or could she? She was no lawyer but how hard could it be?

“Shut up the both of you!”

Her parents turned to her in stunned silence. She had never raised her voice to them.

“I told you not to open it and you wouldn’t listen. Now go to bed, I don’t want to hear another word. I will fix this.”

Her mother was so shocked she couldn’t form words. After a few goldfish moments, she stormed out of the room and soon they heard her bedroom door slam. Her father wandered over to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a generous helping of whiskey.

“I’m so sorry you had to see that. The last few years have been… well they’ve been tougher than most. Don’t worry though I will find a way to make it right. I’m your father, that’s my job. Now off to bed with you, you have to be at work in a few hours.”

Lyra shook her head. For years she had played dumb to their world falling apart around her, but no more.

“No, have some faith in me. I want to help. No matter how good your intentions are you can’t just magically fix this, you’re not a magician remember.”

A small smile appeared on her fathers face and he pulled her into a great big bear hug.

“We are just so lucky to have you as a daughter. I am so proud of you and I am so very sorry that this affects you, you deserve better.”

She wanted nothing more than to stay there in that moment with her father’s arms wrapped around her but if she was going to do this she needed to get started now.

“Don’t worry about me, it’s character building. Now go. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Her father released a large sigh and picking up his whiskey he traipsed into the lounge and collapsed on the couch.

Lyra filled the kettle, if she was going to do this she would need caffeine, lots of caffeine. Whilst the kettle bubbled away she started sweeping up the broken glass.

With her coffee in hand she entered her bedroom and started up her beaten up old laptop. It whirled into life making such a ruckus she was worried it would crash, as it was so prone to doing.

Where to start? Google was always a good bet.

***

Lyra stretched as the printer slugged its way through the endless paperwork. Sunlight was streaming through the window and the birds had started singing.

Traipsing through the house she made her way to the kitchen and filled the kettle for what felt like the hundredth time. As it boiled away she started running a bath. It would have to be a quick one if she was going to make it into work on time.

She checked her bag ensuring that all her study materials were in there, how she was going to make it through work and night school after a night like this was beyond her. But there was nothing to do about that now; she just had to power through.

Back in the bathroom she stared at her reflection. The bags under her eyes were huge and the face staring back at her looked much older than 17. Thank god for makeup. As the mirror steamed up she tore her gaze away and went to make her coffee.

***

The paperwork all printed she filed it and left it on the kitchen table with a note explaining its contents resting on top. She drained the last dregs of her coffee and grabbed her car keys from the side.

Sitting in her car it felt like a lifetime ago that her parents had been sitting in the back seat giggling. Shaking off the thought she started the engine and made her way to wok.

Would life ever be simple again?

***

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One response to “A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

  1. I’ve decided to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is a background story for my protagonist as part of the October NaNo Prep Challenge on WDC.

    There may be a few mistakes throughout this, I finished my night shift and came home to write this. Knew what I wanted to write but may have rushed it a little bit. Either way really enjoyed writing it 😀

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