“No!” replies Lizzie curtly, “You can not go and ‘hang-out’ with your friends at April Mill.”
April Mill is the name for the new multimillion-pound shopping centre, which opened recently in the town adjacent to the secluded village in which Esmé has grown up. With over one hundred top name brand stores, a food court that covers everything from feta cheese and chips to heavenly Sushi, it is a Mecca for anyone with too much time on their hands, too little regard for money and far too little imagination – or at least that is the opinion of Esmé’s well educated parents.
“But Mummy,” Esmé protests, “I’m ten years old”.
“You are nine years, seven months and six days old,” corrects her Mother, “and even if you were ten, you still would not be allowed to go”.
“And besides”, continues her mother, “haven’t you got home study to do?”
“I’ve already finished it,” exclaims Esmé.
“I’m sick of those,” Esmé cries out.
Both Lizzie and her husband Marcus are becoming increasingly concerned about the behavioural change they have noticed in Esmé. Where once she was a bright, obedient and content child, she now acts out, argues at every opportunity and seems constantly distracted. They were of course expecting a slight change in her personality to occur when she moved to ‘big’ school, but this is far too soon.
“You don’t want me to have friends and be normal do you?”
“Of course we do dear, now calm down, you are being melodramatic”.
“No I’m not, I just want to spend sometime with my friends”.
Lizzie stops writing the piece for the Guardian weekend magazine on her artist friend James Pascal (a feature quickly commissioned following the critical praise her photo article ‘My fabulous child’ had received; this Lizzie now felt was turning into an ‘article de hubris’) and turns to Esmé.
“Sweetheart, I’m not sure they are the sort of friends you should have”.
Esmé glares at Lizzie with such anger that Lizzie is taken aback. Never before has she seen such intensity in her baby girl’s eyes.
Lizzie expects Esmé to back down as she has always done during the infrequent times they have had crosswords, except this time it is different.
Esmé turns away without apology and walks upstairs to her room where she remains in self-imposed isolation for the remainder of the day.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Posted by Herge Smith at 5:04 pm