|"I've had ENOUGH "|
The words surprised Len as much as anyone. She almost wanted to look around, see who had spoken, despite obviously knowing that she'd said it herself. The little group of girls glanced round at each other, and then back at Len. Ruey was the first to speak.
"What d'you mean, Len?" She asked, although she wasn't totally sure she would get a reply. Her friend was staring off slightly into the distance, and seemed almost to be in a trance. Ruey waited a few moments, exchanged confused looks with Margot and Con, then asked again. Finally, Len almost dreamily replied
"I've had enough. I've reached my limit. You're all just going to have to get on without my help. I can't do it any more."
"Do what, Len?" a few of them said at the same time, and Len just smiled.
"Look out for everyone; Take everyone's worries on my shoulders; Be the oldest; the possible Head Girl, the Sensible one..."
She descended into almost a mutter, and the girls waited for a moment for her to continue, but there was nothing more forthcoming
Con tried this time, touching gently to her sister's shoulder as she spoke. "Um. Ok Len, but what do you mean?"
Len smiled oddly, and waved vaguely around. "Oh I've just had enough. Too much pressure to look after everyone. To be a good girl. To understand and try to fix things when Margot's devil makes her act so badly, when you drift and dream, or when Jack Lambert acts like a little idiot about things...."
Margot opened her mouth, but once the stream of words had started, there was no way for Len to stop apparently.
"... When Mamma forgets who should be supervising which babes... When Mike and Steve are about to set off arguing ... When Aunt Grizel is being snide to people, or Aunty Stacie corrects someone when she really shouldn't ..."
Len paused for a moment, then carried on, a dream-like cast to her eyes, and still that strange smile. "When there are chores to be done, lists to be made, issues to be resolved... I - don't - want - to - know... I want to wake up, do my own work, get my own choice of food, think about my own future, and my own life. I know I'm good at getting under people's skin, so I ought to help them. I know that everyone wants me to be the next version of Mamma, marry someone, maybe teach here and then have masses of babies. But you know what? I don't want to. I want to study languages, true, and I probably want to teach. But if I do, I want teach in a school where I can really know whether I'm doing a good job or not, where I won't always have that doubt about whether I'm getting extra leeway for being me. For being a Maynard..."
Len got up, gave a beatific smile, and then a cheeky look that transformed her face. She pulled her blouse out, no longer neatly tucked into her skirt, ruffled her hair up and took her shoes and socks off. She then wandered into the garden soon to be seen lying on the grass outside looking up at the clouds and smiling. She wasn't ill, wasn't unhappy really, didn't know why she had so suddenly realised how she felt.
But it was simply expressed, and she quietly murmured the words to herself every now and again.
"I've ... Just ... Had ... Enough..."