The weekend passed and I felt miserable.
Ryan tried to cheer me up by suggesting we walk round Tesco and pick out all the things we’d buy for our new place, but I was too anxious that it wasn’t going to happen, and I couldn’t handle the feeling of it all going wrong again.
We took our clothes to a launderette, and had them all washed for £10. They all came back folded neatly and smelling fresh. Some things I’d forgotten I’d even owned because they’d been dirty for so long that I kept shoving them underneath everything in the boot.
I hadn’t spoken to mum since she didn’t turn up, and she hadn’t contacted me since either, but the phone started buzzing once again.
I didn’t know if I wanted to answer at first, then I felt like I was just thinking that because I thought it was how I ‘should‘ feel.
She sounded jolly and started telling me she was definitely coming this time, and that she was bringing my twin brother with her, and her boyfriend Brad.
Speaking to her just made me forgive her for not coming, she said something about finishing work late, and not having enough petrol in the car, and not knowing where we were exactly.
I didn’t really care now, I didn’t want her excuses as to why – I was just desperate to see her again.
She was coming on Friday. And Saturday we were going to ask to view the flat again, and hopefully we would have the money to rent it.
Friday rolled round and I was trying not to get too excited, but I was still checking every car that I could hear in case it was her.
I went to Tesco to check the bank. This was it. It was PayDay. I was nervous again in case there was nothing in there. But they should be at least £1000 in there now. Enough to cover a months rent, the deposit and only just fees. We’d be living on nothing for the rest of the month but we’d find a way to manage. We always did.
Having a roof over our head was the main goal, we’d find a way to feed ourselves. It would all be easier once we had a ‘home’ again.
I put the card in the machine and squinted at the numbers – my heart was beating in my ears.
Available balance : £ 840.00
It wasn’t what I was expecting.
My heart felt like it dropped through my body and into my shoes…
Why was it so little ?
I didn’t have a way of checking what had gone out so I panicked a bit. I printed off a mini statement and saw that it was the right amount.
I thought about it for ages trying to figure out what it could be.
How was I going to tell Ryan?
This was another month in the fucking car.
6pm rolled round, and the phone rang again.
It was Mum asking if I was near a Tesco…
She was here ! She had driven all this way ! It took my mind off the money, it didn’t matter now. All that mattered was seeing my Mum.
I legged it over to the roundabout. Squinted across the roads trying to see her. Then…. her car was driving round the roundabout.
People in the other cars must have thought I was having a seizure, because I was waving my arms so hard I could feel them clicking.
She waved madly back and took the turning towards us. I suddenly felt a bit paranoid about her seeing where we were. It was feeling real again and I was uncomfortable.
The feeling of shame was creeping in, even though my mum has never made me feel ashamed of anything before.
She pulled up directly next to our car, and they were mirror images of each other. Whilst ours was filled with our life because we were living it, you’d have been excused for thinking the same about Mums.
There were stickers on the Windows, all sorts of random bits ‘ she’d picked up’ whilst out and about. And there was Brad in the front smiling, and Tom waving from the back.
It made me smile.
It felt like I was home again. I was looking at something so familiar and friendly and safe. Mum had come and she was going to look after me.
They stretched as they all got out the car and I hugged them all. I was SO beyond happy to see their familiar faces. I just wanted to keep them all here, near me so I wouldn’t feel lonely anymore…
I could feel myself welling up, so I flung open the passenger door ( my side ) and nodded towards the car.
‘Want a grand tour Brad ?’ I asked.
I pointed to the footwell, with the battered kettle and mini camping stove.
‘ Kitchen area.’
Then to the dashboard
‘ Living space.’
I pointed to my seat.
‘ Its got it all really. Can’t complain…! ‘ I laughed back.
Mum came closer to me and gave me a big squeeze. She told me she missed me and held me close for ages.
God I loved my mum more then than I ever had.
Then she forced me to hug my brother.
‘ Go on! You’ve not seen each other for ages!’
We made a joke but I was glad for it. I hadn’t seen him in ages. And it didn’t feel right that we were twins but so distant from each other.
‘ I’m glad you came’ I said to him.
‘ Well I didn’t have anything else to do – and she just turned up’ he replied, pointing towards mum.
Well that was her style. And now here they all were. In Plymouth.
I turned to look at her again but she was bent over fishing around in her car for her camping stove.
She was faffing so Brad came to her rescue and set it all up, kettle on, water in and cups ready.
Mine and Ryans quiet space had truly been taken over by this point, Tom was chatting away to Brad, Mum was chatting to me and rolling us all cigarettes, and the extra car really filled up the space.
It was a right sight with these two old bangers parked up with a kettle and stove in the middle.
Mum must have noticed the same because as she handed me a cigarette she knocked my arm and pointed at the set up.
‘ Hey look ! Jippooooos! Jipppoooos!!’
She sang it loudly, jigging around as she laughed.
We smoked, and I made the tea, using most of our supplies but I didn’t care. I was happy to share whatever I had left.
We stood around and chatted, it was easy conversation – I didn’t feel like I had anything to hide or feel judged by. I hadn’t had a conversation like that with anyone apart from Ryan for literally months.
It felt like anyone else’s normal family gatherings, except ours was stood next to all my worldly belongings, in a layby next to the CSA. Instead of around a dining table with plates of food and glasses clinking, and it was just the four of us – stood next to each other like a weird motley crew.
We were all so lost in conversation that we nearly missed Ryan returning from work. Mum began waving wildly, and all the hugging and noise began again as they welcomed him back.
I offered him a tea but I could tell he was tired, and overwhelmed by this tiny crowd around his usually quiet space.
We all went back to our respective cars/homes and agreed to drive in convoy to Nanny’s.
The keys went in the ignition but the car wouldn’t start.
It had been a bit iffy for a week or two, but we hadn’t got it checked over because the ‘no insurance’ thing meant we would end up with a ‘no car’ thing, if someone would reported it. Which they likely would.
Ryan said it was the battery, and he looked at me knowingly.
I looked down, guilty, because I knew what that meant.
He had kept telling me NOT to leave the doors open, because the lights came on and it ‘would run the battery flat.’
But I had continued doing it – to get a proper breeze in, or to boil the kettle with a wind guard, or so I could read/write in the dark when the streetlights went off.
And I had continued to excuse it with ‘ it’s just quickly’ or ‘ I won’t do it after this one…’
And now the bloody battery was dead.