I’d thought about Sarah’s offer a lot. I was desperate for another shower, we hadn’t been back to the Life Centre yet, although planned to this weekend. It was Friday again and nearly 2pm.
I would get out the car and make to walk across the road over to the nursery where she worked. But I’d get a few feet away from the car and turn and get back in.
I can’t just knock on the door can I? I look rough. She might not be in today. The security guard might see me. He might be aggressive or have warned others about us. She might not have really meant it anyway, she might have just said it and hoped I’d forgotten.
I didn’t go to the nursery.
It was Friday again already, although I had stopped logging the time and date in my diary long before now. Most days I just didn’t know what to write so I’d miss them and I’d ripped pages out or started on one side and missed more so it was all a big mess.
I was flicking through the pages now, aggressively turning the pages and nearly ripping the paper as I was getting bored with reading my own words…. when there was another delicate tap on the back window.
It was funny really, a few people would ‘knock’ for me, on the rear window, as though it was our front door…
I turned and there she was again.
‘ Helloo again’ she smiled. ‘ Are you ok?’
I was genuinely pleased to see her, and smiled back as I wound the window down. I told her I was doing ok and explained what had happened since she’d gone with the security guard and everything else.
I had just finished when she held up a huge cool bag from TESCO.
‘ It’s bank holiday weekend‘ she explained.
‘ And I always think of bank holiday being for treats…’
I wasn’t following so just sat there blankly.
‘ I couldn’t bear the thought of you being alone for bank holiday – so I got you some things – I hope you aren’t offended ?’
‘ Im n- wow – I – that’s so generous ? Thank you…’ I stuttered it out. Overwhelmed by what she was handing me. I was speechless. She passed in the huge bag, and it was heavy !
‘ I took into account that you’re in the car and well… ‘
‘ …I hope that’s okay…’
She finished and stood there awkwardly. I didn’t know how to make her feel my gratitude so I just kept saying over and over ‘ Thankyou. Thank you so much.‘
I could feel a lump in my throat and tried to swallow, she was so unbelievably kind.
We chatted for another 15 minutes or so, and then I watched her walk off. I wished good karma on her and sent her every lovely thankful vibe I could.
I made a mental note to thank her properly. When I was back on my feet I would send her the money for what she’d bought. I’d send her flowers. I wanted her to know I was so so grateful.
Even now I can’t find the words to express how much that act of kindness meant to me. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore. There was someone on my side again. I wasn’t a total outsider. I was being thought of without even knowing it. Someone cared.
Inside the bag there was all sorts, crisps, chocolate, a few drinks of squash, jam tarts, croissants, sweets, fruit. And a gift card for £20 to spend in TESCO.
I cried then and I didn’t care. I had never ever experienced another person that could be so overwhelmingly good. But there she was. Good people were still around, they still existed.
Before Ryan got back I shoved all the loot behind his seat so he wouldn’t see it. I was going to surprise him when he got in. I sat there for hours waiting to surprise him with it all, and for once the hours didn’t seem like years.
I could see his silhouette through the bushes as he sloped back to the car, he looked exhausted. We said our hellos and he slumped in his seat. He sat forward again feeling the back of the seat.
‘ What’s that ?’ He asked.
And I yanked the bag out and showed him all the treats. I was grinning my head off as I showed him everything.
‘ Where did you get all of this ?’ He seemed annoyed.
My smile dropped and I explained.
‘ It’s from the nursery lady – you know – Sarah ?’
He eyed me suspiciously.
‘ She said it’s bank holiday, so she wanted to get us something. So she got us this.’
‘ No she got it for you.’
He huffed and I felt like I’d done something wrong.
‘ I didn’t ask for it Ryan ? I wasn’t even expecting her.’
He grumbled about being tired and opened one of the chocolate bars.
‘ I’ll make a tea for you then ? Just relax honey…’
I felt nervous, Ryan had been getting more grumpy lately, but I could understand why. His job was hard work, he had to walk a long way to and from. He was up early and we weren’t sleeping well.
I tried to lighten the mood and busied myself with making him a cup of tea on the camping stove. He just needs looking after that’s all – I told myself. He’s had a long day. He doesn’t mean to be snappy.
I placed his cup in the holder and sat back with my own tea. He complained about his back and took a sip of tea.
‘ That tastes rank.’
My heart fell a little. I knew the tea bags were crap but we couldn’t afford any others. It was a luxury as it was to buy anything like tea bags or sugar, and we couldn’t buy proper milk because we had no where to store it. Although I did keep the UHT under the car in the shade in the day, and at night it was really cold.
‘ I’m sorry love’ I said weakly.
What am I apologising for I wondered. I had a whole argument in my head then – why am I sorry ? Sorry that he is in a bad mood ? It’s not my fault I thought harshly.
We sat in silence for ages then. Both thinking our own things.
I tried to think positive, to look forward instead of around me, at what was happening right now. And I’ve always been the optimist. Ryan was the realist.
I needed to Ryan to see that too though, that yes our life is shit right now – but it’s going to get better – one shit tea at a time…
I sighed at that and he broke the silence.
‘ What are you sighing for now ?’
‘ I’m just thinking about everything. That’s all.’
It came out harsher than I meant it.
‘ Look. If you’re so unhappy then just go home. I will stay here until we’ve got the money for a place. Go back to your mums or something.’
I stared at him dumbfounded.
‘Are you joking ?‘ I asked in disbelief.
Is this really what he thought this was about ? That I was just staying here for the fun of it and now it wasn’t fun I was bored. Bored of him?
‘ I don’t want to go home.’ I said sharply.
‘ I wish you would. I hate seeing you here. Looking all sad all the time. Living like this.’
‘ What ?’
‘ I’m sorry alright ? I’m sorry that I’m not good enough. I’m sorry I’m not doing enough.’ It all spilled out his mouth at once. Every thought he’d been holding in came out and he looked away when he finished.
I was really speechless then. So that’s what he thinks. That this is his fault. That he isn’t already doing everything he can.
I put my hand on his leg.
‘ Ryan we are in this together.. I don’t want to leave you behind. It’s not forever.’
‘ Yeah and what if it is? What if we don’t get the flat. What if I lose my job ? What if we lose the CAR ?’ He was getting annoyed now.
Saying what we had refused to discuss, almost as if we didn’t talk about it it wouldn’t happen. To mention it would be to tempt fate I’d thought, so we just acted as though it was set in stone. Live like this for a bit, go get the flat, start again.
Leave this chapter behind and pretend it didn’t happen.
We argued then. Finally let rip. I yelled at him. He yelled at me. I called him stupid. He called me stupider. He told me to run back to my mummy. I cried. I said I was going. He told me not to get out the car.
I got out of the car.
I looked over at the empty car park and hated everything. I hated that security guard. I hated being here.
I hated feeling unclean or being hungry.
I hated everyone that hadn’t asked me how I was. I hated not being able to ring anyone. I just wanted to ring my mum. Or my friend Hannah.
I walked along the pavement and then just sat down and cried. I flicked a piece of glass and thought about stabbing myself for something to do. Then I saw it was dirty and wondered if thats how you get tetnus.
Then I giggled a bit and felt like a nob.
I turned around and saw how far I’d gotten from the car. I was close enough to see Ryan glaring at me in his wing mirror.
Fucking arsehole I thought.
As if I was going to just get on a train out of here.
‘ Bye bye Ryan, sorry I fucked your life up but give me a bell when it’s sorted yeah ?’
I leant back and looked at the stars.
This isn’t forever is it ? I asked myself.
We are going to get out of this.
We have to right ?
I let myself consider the reality of it all. Not the future we had planned for but the reality of things really going up the Swanny.
What if this is the start of the end. We argue. We leave each other. I go to Plymouth to find a hostel. Ryan stays in his car. He could afford a deposit easily on his own. Without another tenants fees to pay for. He gets his life back on track. I take the wrong road – the path marked ‘ Sticky End ‘.
I shuddered at thought. Staying in a hostel trying to sleep knowing predatory men are lurking around. Being truly alone. I don’t have a phone. Or any money. I don’t even know my mums number off by heart.
What happened to homeless women ? Do they exist ? You don’t see as many do you ?
I thought about my note with Matts number on. Maybe I could ring him.
Maybe he’ll murder me and that will be my plight over with.
Maybe I’ll just go and get back in the car and cuddle it out…
I got back in the car.