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Swept under the rug, part II

April 01 2023

The second instalment of the impactful, emotive story of Kathy and her family. Kathy enjoys a peaceful, happy life, but her past and family troubles threaten the tranquillity. The themes explored in this story may be upsetting or traumatic for some readers. Story by Rosie Healey.


Issue 142 of the Pavement carried part I of Swept under the rug. Catch up on key points from the first part of the story below.

  • Kathy, living a settled life in a caravan, is talking to her friendly neighbour Byron
  • Byron informs her that her husband, now separated, has been released from prison
  • Kathy has no interest in reconnecting with her husband, James, and the story is left at Kathy returning home from a peaceful walk in the woods.

The silhouette of a car was sitting outside Kathy’s home. As she came closer, the light from inside revealed a beige-coloured Fiat. She also noticed Byron’s light was on, and his head was practically stuck to the window. He then quickly appeared at the door.

“Kath, I hope you don’t mind but I let her in. She doesn’t look so good.” Byron held both hands together, then moved his sweaty palm through what was left of his hair. Kathy’s hands remained resting in her pockets. She walked over to her home, suppressing the peace she had just spent the day indulging in.

“Hi Mum”

“Hi Charlotte,” Kathy replied, observing her dismantled face. “What happened this time then?”

“N-nothing, I just w-wanted to see you,” Charlotte’s head leaned towards the floor, examining the collage of muddy footprints. “Can I stay w-with you tonight?”

“I guess so, have my bed and I’ll take the couch at Byron’s.” Her hands were still in her pockets.

“W-Why can’t you stay in here with me?”

“You look like you could do with some space,” Kathy replied, yet she was looking at the ceiling rather than her daughter. The last time they spoke, Charlotte moved in with Lee. Kathy had begged her not to. Now she only sees her daughter when she has black eyes, missing teeth, or a broken bone.

Kathy sat on the other side of the sofa. “So, did you fall down the stairs again?” Charlotte didn’t answer. Kathy was stiff as a brick, but a subtle tear crept down her ageing cheek when she studied Charlotte’s eye, and the grey, green horror surrounding it. Silence exposed both their hostile exteriors. She could see Charlotte was shackled in chains. A feeling that was familiar to her.

“Mum, have you spoken t-to Dad?”

“He’s probably getting arrested again, let him get on with it”.

“H-h-how can you say that?”

“He’s not worth your breath Charlotte”

“You’re not even going to try?”

“No” Kathy replied.

“W-why don’t you talk about him?”

“I think you should get some rest, if you need me, I’ll be at Byron’s.”

“And you w-wonder why I go back to Lee, at least he cares about me!” Tears were streaming down Charlotte’s face. She tried to comfort her oozing eye with the heat from her sleeve.

“Yeah, it really looks like he cares about you, Charlotte.” Kathy stood, glaring at her beaten child. She walked out, shutting the door behind her. She leaned her back onto the divided wall. A second tear escaped, making the skin on her face feel itchy.

The following morning, the rain was beating on the ceiling again, but Kathy was already awake. She sat, staring out of the dusty window. The Fiat had gone. She cautiously opened the door so she wouldn’t wake Byron. Although his snoring was so loud, she was surprised he hadn’t woken himself up. She paused. “Fuck it” she muttered and began to look through Byron’s cupboards, which were clinging onto their hinges for dear life.

“If you’re looking for the good stuff it’s under the sink.” Byron’s head was still bound to his pillow. Kathy looked under the sink, retrieving an unopened bottle of vodka. At the sound of the cap crackling, Byron sat up, straining his neck in the process.

“Pour me one love,” he yawned. Kathy looked for another glass.

“Here love.” Byron had a glass next to his bed. To his surprise, there was still alcohol inside, he drank the remains, shivering, as the burning spirit hit his throat. He then handed the empty cup to Kathy.

“So, are we going to talk? Or are we drowning our sorrows instead?” he asked.

“And what sorrows have you got to drown Byron?

“Ok then, you drown your sorrows, and I’ll celebrate the morning with a drink.”

  • To be continued in the next issue…