Mother of the Year


When Rachel Gregory was born, her mother felt herself drowning in hatred towards the baby. The father had just done a runner, upped and left like the coward Iris Gregory knew him to be. 

Iris would look at Rachel and see the dad, then the hatred would fill her up like a newly pulled pint and she’d suffocate right up to her throat. 

The dad was Brian. 

She didn’t know where he went or why he went.

Well, the why was obvious.

Iris called herself headstrong (what she meant was high-strung). 

Iris was bitter. Iris felt anger towards everything and everyone. And Brian couldn’t hack it anymore. 

Iris went around to Brian’s mum the week he left, held the baby in her arms, and looked her ex-mother-in-law straight in the face:

‘Look what your waster son has left me with,’ Iris said with spit coming out her lips. 

He joined the French Foreign Legion. 


That’s what she told people anyway. 

She didn’t know what that meant when Brian’s mother said it, but it sounded better than being jilted, so she told everyone in Essex who would listen that he was now a Frenchman fighting for France. 

He's joined The French Foreign Legion.

Everybody that heard it thought it was extremely perplexing. 

He’d rather go and fight for France than stay in Essex and raise his child? 

That ain’t a man. 

Eventually, Iris came to a point where she couldn’t stomach being around her daughter. It saddened her to think about it. She knew that deep down somewhere amongst all the thorns and bristles, deep inside herself, there was a decent human being lurking beneath all that hate and contempt. 

Occasionally she felt good about things. Good about people. Good about life. 

But that was occasionally. But at that point in her life, she wanted to take her child and chuck her off the side of the tower block. 

And she was coming closer and closer to that point. 

And so, Iris made a decision. 

Me or the child. 

It was a no-brainer because she knew there was a decent person in there somewhere. And this was the proof. She was willing to sacrifice herself to stop her butchering her child. 

It was just her and Rachel in the flat. This was not good.

Lord knows how long it would take them to find her. 

Another selfless act. 

She called up her sister Penny. It was the answering machine.

‘Listen, Pen, I can’t live like this anymore. I’ve left the key in the plant pot, come round and you’ll find me hanging from the doorway. I know… I know… You need to get Rachel and put her into care or look after her. I don’t care at this point. But she’ll starve if you don’t come round soon,’ Iris said. 

A pretty shit suicide note; she thought. 

It's not like they'll be studying her motivations and final goodbyes for years to come though, is it?

She took a belt from the cupboard. It was a Gucci belt. The only expensive item she had ever owned, Brian bought it for her. He got it from Turkey - probably fake.  

She tightened it around her neck. The leather was reliable. It was hard and snapped as the belt tightened. She heard the crack of the belt. She looped it around the top of the door. A small stall stood underneath her. 

She was doing this to save her own daughter’s life. Because every day she grew angrier and angrier at the shit Brian left her in. 

The stool fell, the belt tightened, then the bannister above the door collapsed, and splinters of wood fell atop Iris' very much alive body.

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