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He spends more money getting materials for those things than he’ll ever earn from selling them,” Mum said flatly. “Pour the batter into the tin,” she told Margaret.

   I went out the kitchen door, Mum nagging me to do something about that bloody hair of mine as I went. When I entered the shed, Dad put down his cellphone. “Someone else wanting to buy your horses?” I asked.

Horses of courses,” he replied. Then he noticed the look on my face. “Your mum?” he asked.

Just—“ I shook my head. “It’s nothing. Just Mum being Mum.”

Well,” and he looked into my eyes, “no matter what she says, you know you’re my favourite thing in the world. You’re my star.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said, embarrassed. I sat down in my armchair and picked up a book.

 

 

   It wasn’t just that Mum didn’t like me, or that she hated that I so clearly would have died before I became more like her. It was the way she treated Dad. She was a bully, plain and simple. One night, five or six months before the car crash, I woke up to hear Mum screeching at Dad for the umpteenth time. “You’re never here!” she yelled. “Even when you’re home, you bugger off to your bloody shed! If I knew you were going to spend all your time there, I never would have married you!”

   Dad said nothing.

What? That’s it?”

   Still silent.

Say something,” Mum hissed. “Just say something.”

   Footsteps towards the front door. Dad’s tread—I recognised it. The front door closed behind him. Then I heard Mum turn the radio on, loud, and underneath that I could hear Mum putting dishes away. Cupboard doors and drawers began to slam.

 

 

   The wake for Dad’s funeral was held at our house. Mostly I remember a lot of people in black, most of whom were friends of Mum’s, not friends of Dad’s. But then, Dad was never one for large groups of people, for endless numbers of friends. He wasn’t the kind of person who needed to be popular or liked. All he needed was a few people who understood him, who he could hold close. I’m the same way.

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