At first glance people often thought Cathy was an ethnic, but the truth was she was just nicotine stained, a result of her mother smoking whilst pregnant with her.
The way her mother had seen it, it wasn’t like a barely formed foetus even had actual lungs and in her defence she had quit after 4 months, acknowledging the legal ambivalence that goes with aborting after 16 weeks; so in her mother’s words “she had done her best”, and hey, at least Cathy hadn’t been her older brother or sister her mother often reminded her.
‘But I don’t have any siblings’ Cathy would remark.
‘Exactly’ her mother reaffirmed.
Cathy was so excited to start her first day of school that she didn’t even let her stunted skeletal growth; a result of foetal alcohol syndrome, dampen her enthusiasm for her first day of school at St Joan of Arc Primary.
However, for reasons only God could account for, Cathy had been 4 days late commencing Prep C after finding herself delayed in bushland just off the Hume Highway with her mother, due to the recent introduction of booze buses onto Victoria’s roads. As such all the best seats, next to all the best kids were taken and Cathy was forced to make do with Andrew Morris; a lad already notorious amongst the establishment for picking his nose and eating it. Cathy laughed to herself, so her mother had been right all along, snot was a food group, something Cathy had learned after her mother had had a rather harsh month at the casino roulette wheel – a game which Cathy had often impressed upon her mother was more one of chance then a learned skill. But her mother was adamant; it was the only way she could see to double the amount of Cathy’s father’s wrongful death payout.
As Cathy’s mother would frequent the various “Happy Hour” haunts around town trying to find Cathy a new father or at the very least an uncle, Cathy would entertain herself by doing more task based activities then most young girls her age, like cleaning the backseat of her babysitter/ her mother’s Honda Civic. Acknowledging that Cathy was now old enough at the age of 6 to take on more responsibility, her mother finally gave her her very own key to the car and showed her how to wind the windows up and down. Cathy felt like a princess that day – it was like being given the keys to her very own castle, minus seat belts, or has as her mother liked to call them ‘optional extra’.
Of course as anyone knows with their own castle/ Honda Civic knows, such wealth does attract undue attention, and so every few weeks DOC’s (The Department of Children’s Services) would happen upon Cathy washing out her arm pits in a bus shelter toilet off the Nepean Hwy while her mother was off ‘dogging’ – something even Cathy knew her mother wasn’t very good at given they didn’t even have a dog ‘oh mum, oh silly mum’ she’s often think to herself.
And so Cathy would be taken away and put in a special home with other various nicotine stained kids and emotionally “back-footed” people and as was always the case, she’d make the most of it. Cathy had only ever stabbed by one of them and so considered it a home away from home. Except of course in this home Cathy had a bed, all to herself – but Cathy could never tell her mother any of this, because her mother didn’t believe in beds, well at least not as far as Cathy was concerned. Like her mother said ‘I’m not going to hand things to you Cathy on a silver platter like I was, life is meant to be tough, but hey sweetie if you can over come the obstacles, like a family predilection for a dependency on hardcore narcotics and sexually ambivalent porn- the you deserve everything great you can get, so in summary you need to earn the right to lie down” a right Cathy knew at just 6 years old she was far from obtaining.
But after a few days like always, Cathy had to leave such luxuries like a bed and heated food and return to her mothers upper-middle class newly renovated Brighton seaside bungalow and sit by the pool, as her mother lay nearby instructing “Florida” the houseboy on the best way to give her a thorough Brazilian wax. She really was a woman ahead of her time. Cathy laughed “oh mum, silly, silly mum.’