We had been once before, and I’d scrubbed my skin pink in the shower. We’d showered properly before going into the pool because 1- we were fucking gross, and 2- we wanted to make the most of having fresh water on our skin.
Ryans beard was growing so much now, but he’d gotten quite fond of it and said he might just keep growing it even when we leave the car. I laughed at him and hoped he was joking…
I was thinking about the Life Centre and remembered Ryan telling me they’d built it just for Tom Daley, and here I was using it as my shower – when someone shouted through the window to me.
‘ OI !!’
It startled me and I whipped round to see who it was. Some guy with a couple of springer spaniels. He looked like a dickhead – the sort of guy that would have his nickname tattooed on his arm, yknow – incase he forgot it.
‘ Ain’t you got no where to live ?’ He barked.
‘ No.‘ I replied. And I felt like I was going to cry.
‘ Well ain’t you got a job ?‘ He smirked and I noticed his girlfriend lingering too. She laughed.
‘ Obviously not.’ I glared at him.
And with that he walked off.
And, although I was still in ear shot they began taking about me immediately.
It made me feel stupid, and insignificant. As though I wasn’t really there.
Ryan gets back, he is knackered so I pull out one of my charity shop books and read to him. He lies back in his seat and closes his eyes. We were just getting into it when a van came speeding up the road and swerved round us. It pulled up right next to us and two men jumped out.
They looked like gypsies, tanned and wearing vests. A few tattoos and they had a surly look about them. My first feeling was fear.
Were they about to start some trouble ?
As they got to the car I realised I recognised one of them. It was the rude guy from earlier !
He peered into Ryans side window.
‘Hello. We’ve brought you some hot pasta.’
Me and Ryan are sat there with our mouths open.
He passed a container in. A large lunchbox sized Tupperware. Ryan takes it and then follow two plastic spoons and a packet of jam tarts.
‘ Oh – t…Thankyou…’ Ryan stutters out.
‘ Really you shouldn’t have . Wow. Thankyou.’
‘ Well. We thought you’d appreciate something warm.’
We did. Infact we were so blown over by his act of kindness that we couldn’t thank him enough.
His son peered in the back window and cheerfully said ‘ I’ll come back for the Tupperware – I hope you enjoy it!’
Then they got back in the van and drove away.
My first impression had been so wrong.
I turned to Ryan and his mouth was still in a big ‘O’ shape.
‘ I told you …. People care.’
We opened the Tupperware and inside was a huge portion of tuna pasta. It was glistening and still so hot. Cheese oozed through it and our mouths were watering.
We wasted no time and tucked in.
‘ It’s probably laced with drugs’ Ryan laughed inbetween mouthfuls.
‘ Who cares ‘ I said ‘ Free drugs !!’
‘ At least we’d get a good nights sleep’
‘ Imagine’ I said – pointing my fork outwards. ‘ We wake up tomorrow morning, naked, feral position. The bastards have fleeced us !’
Our spirits lifted massively after that meal, and we sat contentedly for a little while. What a treat, I thought gratefully. And I wondered if I would have done that for someone before now.
‘ Your own dad wouldn’t do that for us..’ Ryan said seriously.
‘ I know.’ I replied. ‘ Makes you think doesn’t it?’
‘ A perfect stranger was that worried about us, he had to bring us something…. And I thought he was a right wanker!’
I still couldn’t believe it. That was so unbelievably kind. Maybe people weren’t the bastards I always think they are..? Maybe those people that walk by and see how I am aren’t such nosy parkers – they really just want to see I’m ok.
I thought some more and about my family and friends… Maybe they would help us out.
If I asked.
I leant back and sighed.
But how do you say to the people that love you – that you’re not okay ?
That you made a mistake and now everything’s totally shit. And you’ve no money and no job and nothing except the clothes you’re wearing ?
You hear about it from other homeless people. That they fell through the cracks and stayed on sofas until the offers ran out. And they weren’t so welcome after a week or two and that suddenly, just like that. They were a burden.
I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems. They have their own, all of us have our own battles and our own issues and I don’t need them to shoulder mine as well as their own.
This isn’t forever.
Just keep going G…