Royalty- section 8 – Caz,


  • I walk home slowly, trying to make sense of what i have just seen.
    It’s not like bruised faces, the odd black eye, a broken nose are exactly news round here, this is a dumping ground after all.
    But there’ s something different going on here, i don’t think i’ve got the words to describe whats in my head, what i could see in her face, behind the bruising.
    Other girls here, the ones who come from women’s’ aid, from the homeless place, well, they look they way i would if my face was all mashed up, sort of ashamed, embarrassed, not meeting anyone’s eyes.
    And then it comes back to me , i know where i’ve seen that look before and its me, age 13, the memory creeps up on me, surprises me with its intensity.
    I’m 13 and i’ve started wearing black lipstick and deep down i know it doesn’t suit me, makes me look stupid, but its become the thing i do, so i go on doing it and when i see people looking, that’s the face i show them, sort of defiant and lost all at the same timeMia walks next to me, holds my hand
    “what happened to her face?”
    I continue walking, don’t make eye contact
    “dunno, maybe a fight”
    Mia knows about fights, theres been a few here and shes seen plenty when we lived in other places
    She nods, satisfied and we walk on in silence.At home, the kids are restless, edgy and i am exhausted. The last week has taken it out of me, i have been so focused on her return, have not seen beyond that and now that she is back i am confused and the kids can feel it. Mia takes charge, grabs crisps, chocolate, defies me to say anything and marches the other two away. I can hear her voice, and Haydon’s – as she explains something to him.
    I know i should gather them up, make tea, organise the evening, but i am too tired and lie on the sofa. A week ago, the fact that Imelda was coming to my house would have had me leaping around, cleaning like a mad thing, choosing an outfit, playing my going out playlist. A week ago, the fact that Imelda was coming to my house would have had me behaving as i i was going on a date.
    For a moment, i even think about jacking this all in, wonder if its too late.
    3 kids now, not two, like,when we last saw her, mother, mummy, grandma.
    I wonder what would actually happen if i and my little tribe and our black bin liners of possessions actually rolled up at the door.
    I can see her, thin lipped smile, sharp intake of breath, the dawning realisation on her face that i can still completely fuck up her neatly run life.
    And for the first time in years, its actually tempting, not the fucking up, thats just a by product, i can do that to her as easy as i can breathe, no, whats tempting, is the going home itself.

    After today, i have a bad feeling about all this, i know i should keep away, but then,
    I close my eyes and see Imelda’s face again and i am lost.

    I sleep on the sofa, wake up cold, stiff, back aching. I move slowly, an old woman shuffling around, i even manage a proper old woman cough. The kids are still asleep and i have that best 5 mins of the day, no kids, first fag and there’ even enough milk for a cuppa.

    The nights sleep has helped, my head is straighter now, i’m thinking properly again

     so, Imeldas’ got some low life boy friend somewhere- well thats big news around her – not.
    She’s  no better than anyone else here’

    Even when i’m saying this to myself, i know its not true, I’ m not even sure if i want it to be true, the whole point of Imelda is that she is better than anyone else here

    And then the kids are awake and Saskias’ wet the bed again and the day just rolls but there’s a nagging little doubt just ticking away, but its easy to ignore, and anyway, I promised the kids that we’ d make the sitting room pretty and you cant break a promise to kids, can you?

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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