23- The Trip To Plymouth

So after the tuna pasta spirits were high, we still felt awful, and unclean and generally out of touch with everyone else. But there was always this tiny glimmer of hope –

It was the end of the month. Time for us to get out of this mess and back into Real Life. We’d hashed out a plan over the weekend, even writing it down in my diary so we definitely KNEW.

The plan was for me to use our last £5 to get the bus into Plymouth. I was going to check how much Ryan was paid, and then go to the bank to withdraw what we would need for the deposit.

We’d use any left over to put petrol in the car and drive to Liskeard. We’d speak to the estate agent and as per our last conversation, we would have the keys within a day or two.

Sorted.

It was going to be over. Finally. We were going to be back to normality.

Ryan went off to work as usual that day, but there was an uneasy atmosphere when I woke up. I put it down to the fact everything was riding on me getting the money and getting back.
I trusted myself to do it, and I knew Ryan trusted me too. But I couldn’t help but worry that something might go wrong. Everything needed to be done today – else we were buggered.

Our money had lasted til today. After today there was none. We had a couple of tins of soup and a couple of jam tarts left – although they were looking a bit dodgy now.

I got half dressed in the car and then stood outside to brush my clothes straight and comb my hair into what I thought was a neat bun. I looked awful but you wouldn’t have guessed I’d been living in a car for just over a month.

I gathered a bag ready – wallet, car keys, phone, a few other bits and pieces.
And I set off.

There was a queue at Tesco, and I felt uncomfortable because I couldn’t see very far. Infact I was practically blind as I had no contact lenses in, and my glasses had been left behind at Dads. Squinting I got to the cash point and pressed in the PIN.

The machine whirred for a second and I felt nervous. There should be at least £1000 in there I thought, preparing myself for the right numbers to appear.

-£00.12

What.
I felt sick.
Is it not in yet ?
Have we got the days wrong ?
The mind was spinning and I didn’t know what to do.
I couldn’t get hold of Ryan because our phone bill hadn’t been paid.

Nothing was paid.
We had nothing.

I realised I’d wandered away for the cash point and was leaning against the bus stop.

What do I do ?

We are absolutely screwed. We have nothing, literally nothing. No money. No flat. No ticket out of here.

Is this what rock bottom feels like- I wondered. Is this how easy it is to just fall out of society and stay there.

‘ There’s no help available’ the woman’s voice from the Job Centre rang in my ears. ‘ You’re intentionally homeless’

I shut my eyes for a minute and kicked myself for being a total fucking idiot. This is all my bloody fault and my stupid idea of just running away from it all. Our old problems had gone but now we had even bigger ones.

A bus pulled up and a few people got off. Someone knocked into me and I dropped my bag. Ryans iPod fell out of it and I scooped it all back in.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder.

‘Hey miss ?’

I turned around and looked at the old guy talking to me.

‘ Iv got an all day travel ticket. I’m not gonna need it now, but if you want it for the next bus ..? ‘

He was holding out a ticket to me.

ALL DAY TRAVEL £4.50

‘ it was cheaper than a return, but you can travel all day on it..’

I reach out for the ticket and say Thankyou.

‘ No worries love. Take care..!’

I stared at the ticket and thought about selling it to someone. But that didn’t feel right.
The next bus was due in 5 minutes. Into the city centre. I could just – go ?

I stood in the bus stop shelter, and looked at the other people hanging around.
There was a guy listening to music, looking tired of everyone. A mum and her kid waiting patiently. A girl my age who looked as though she was off to work.

I wondered what they thought I was up to or what they thought of me in general when the bus pulled up.

I showed my ticket and sat down.
The guy with the headphones sat next to me, and I shoved myself up against the side of the bus.

His music was loud and annoying. I thought about Ryans iPod in my bag.

Then I remembered him saying :

‘We could always sell it if we need to. It’s not like we’re using it.’

Just like that. My trip had a purpose. We weren’t screwed at all, I reckon I could get a good £30 for it. That would last us until we know what’s going on with Ryans wages…

I walked through town and I was hungry as fuck. I’d planned to have something to eat at Tesco with the money, and now that hadn’t happened I was starving.

No sooner had I thought that, than a loud girl stepped into my pathway and loudly said ‘FREE DOUGHNUTS?’

There was a doughnut in a bag, stapled to some leaflet about whatever she was trying to sell. I took one from her, thought about it and asked for another – for Ryan.

I ate mine as I walked, not really giving a shit who saw me. I made my way towards Cash Converters.

*****cash-converters

The shop smelled like feet. I eyed up the prices on things and felt hopeful I’d get some money for the iPod. I’d never been in a cash converters before, so I didn’t really know how it worked. But I followed the sign to ‘Selling’ and waited for someone to speak to me.

A guy appeared, he looked like an IT guy. He was quite fat, and he had that clammy look about him. Like he’d just run over here. He was out of breath too but I think that was just the way he talked.

‘ Can I help you?’

He sounded sarcastic but I didn’t care. I wanted him to buy this from me and ask no questions.

‘ Hi! I was wondering if I could sell this to you?’
I held up the iPod and unplugged the headphones.

He raised his eyebrows and made a gesture to say ‘ pass it to me’.

He inspected it and in this light I could see all the stratches and dents on it. I bit my lip.

‘I’ll have to test it first . It’ll take me five minutes. Take a receipt and I’ll see you then’

The machine next to me printed something off and I took it. He walked back out of sight and I stood there for a moment.
A different guy appeared, and shouted NEXT PLEASE! I took my cue to go.

I walked back out the shop into the sunlight and it struck me how dark that shop had been. It’ll be worth it I thought. I can at least soften the blow to Ryan with some proper food. After that though… I don’t know.

I went back into the shop and waited for the guy to return. He appeared but seemed to have forgotten who I was. I showed him my receipt.

‘ Do you have the charger ?’

‘No’ I shook my head. I didn’t think about that. ‘ Iv got the headpho-‘

‘ We don’t sell the headphones with it. Just the charger. Without the charger it’s worth £10. Would you like to sell?’

He interrupted and said it all fast, and monotone.

Ten shitty quid ? Fuck sake I thought. What the fuck am I meant to do with that?
The thought of buying some warm food disappeared, although I considered buying it anyway but only for Ryan.

‘ Yes ok. £10 is fine.’

He pressed a ten pound note into my hand and swiped the iPod back off the desk.
I filled in a form and thought about how much Ryan had paid for that when it was new. And here I was selling it for a bit of easy money.

I felt like a bitch.

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