By early May me ma was hardly ever in, and when she was she was so off her head that she could hardly speak. It hurt so much at first, but I had this other life; a fantastic life where I walked Penny Salerno home from school every night, and then I’d go for tea round to Anthony and Susan’s house. Anthony was Boss. I’d never have been able to survive on the food in our cupboard at home…. a jar of mouldy piccalilli and a tin of sliced peaches (which had been there since I’d come back to live with me ma from the foster parents).
Anthony could sense things weren’t going well in our house, so Susan was making dead gorgeous scran every night, and then washing and drying my school clothes for me to take home for the next day. Susan had even gone out and bought me a pack of new white school shirts from Next!
I was feeling dead smart when I’d walk Penny home from school. Then on Saturdays I’d fish on the dock, and Sundays I’d go to Ray’s at tea time to walk our Regal, and they’d always give me a load of ham and tomato butties and trifle for afters…… Yeah life was fantastic!
I just dreaded nine o’clock at night when I’d go home, put the key in the door and not be sure what I’d find. It was mostly a relief when me ma wasn’t in; but if she was I was terrified to find what state she might be in. One night I found her lying draped over a tipped up chair in the kitchen – puke all over the floor, and a cup smashed to pieces with her still holding on to the handle (with nothing else attached).
Sometimes Binny was there… sometimes he wasn’t. He was always in the same state as me ma if he was there. I reckon neither of them ever noticed me come in… I wondered if me ma remembered I lived there at all. I’d just go to my room and lock the door, lie on the bed and surround myself with National Geographic mags. Then before I went to sleep I’d think about my walk home with the gorgeous Penny Salerno, and her smile….. thinking of her always relaxed me (worked me up in a good way, but made me feel relaxed and content).
The less I was seeing of my ma, the more I could pretend everything was brilliant.