It seemed like ages before the door opened. I was surprised to see a woman staring at me. She was around 40 I suppose, though she still looked a lot younger than my 36 year old ma (but that wasn’t hard to do!).
She just stared at me, dark hair in little waves sitting on her shoulders. I was dead surprised to see a woman standing there, and she looked just as surprised to see me!‘Yes’? She said seriously. For an old bird she was quite fit!I held my soaking wet jumper in front of my chest, trying to hide my freezing cold nipples which I could feel sticking out from under my shirt (They were hurting where they’d been rubbing on my shirt as I walked!)‘Is Anthony there?’ I said, trying to speak without my teeth chattering.
The woman raised her eyebrows (They were dead thin and neat!).‘He’s at work’, she said. She looked dead suspicious of me. I’d seen that same look on the faces of almost everyone I met. But Anthony hadn’t given me that look when he caught me scrounging in his skip. That’s maybe why I felt I could trust him. He didn’t question me like the others did; he looked at me like I was a person, not like I was just some scum who was after something.I felt dead stupid just standing there with her staring at my soaked white shirt stuck to my nipples!
After a about five seconds just standing there, I smiled awkwardly, ‘Ok thanks. See you!’I turned and started to squelch away down the path. The woman suddenly called to me
‘Who shall I say called?’I turned to face her, but carried on backing away down the path towards the road,
‘Tommy. Tommy Scouse.’ I turned away, relieved to have my back to her. I was way too cold to stand still anyway.‘Wait!’ She shouted. It made me jump. I turned round quick. She smiled for the first time. ‘He’ll be home soon. You can come and wait if you like’. I didn’t know what to say. I was standing there dripping wet. I could feel my hair springing into little curls as it started to dry (I always hated the way my hair did that!)She smiled again (She was actually really fit!).
‘Come on in, I’ll make you a drink. You look freezing!’I looked from left to right, as if it wasn’t me she was talking to. When I looked back at her, she smiled and stepped aside ‘Anthony won’t be long, I know he’d love to see you.’I didn’t know what to say.. Anthony would love to see me? I know he was dead nice and all that, but why would he want to set eyes on a scumbag scally like me? (They were other people’s words, not mine!) Why would he even care?I nodded to her, and practically ran through the door before she changed her mind. I was so cold, and just needed to warm up for five minutes.
I walked passed her into a big hallway about the size of our kitchen, only longer. She shut the door and pointed towards another room, which I awkwardly entered before her. God it was nice! Not massive like the queen’s house, but posh. Posh chairs, posh carpet. It was then I realised that my clothes where practically dripping onto the carpet. I panicked, and pointed out the door towards the stairs
‘Can I just…’ I stood there like a soaked statue, just pointing out of the room. For a second she stood staring at me, then a light came on in her head and she pointed with me.
‘Oh, yes of course! Sorry.. you must be absolutely freezing! I’ll get you something warm to put on!’ She vanished out of the room. There was this lingering smell of flowers when she went.. really girly. It was nice (not that I like flowers or nothing!)It gave me a chance to look around the room while she was gone. It had this massive leather couch. I reckon I could have laid flat on it, and still my head or feet wouldn’t touch either end.I looked over at the fire place and there was a real fire burning in the grate. It was June, but it wasn’t that warm out.
We had a space in our living room where a real fire should go, but it was full of drink bottles and cans. Every now and then me ma would empty it and put some junk mail on it, lighting it with a match.. it would only burn for a few minutes, but it was nice to watch. But this fire was different; it was warm and welcoming. And the giant logs on it crackled like one of those fires you see on the tele. I stood closer to it to feel its warmth.. it was so nice.
I glanced up at a big square mirror above the fireplace, and that’s when I caught my reflection… A drowned rat stared back. My hair had dried. It had jumped up into a mass of brown curls, just like a girl! I frantically tried to pull them down with my fingers.She came down carrying some clothes in her hands. I stood to attention, knowing how stupid i looked – God I wish I hadn’t come here now!
She handed me the clothes, ‘Why don’t you take those into the downstairs bathroom, and change out of those soaking wet things! You’ll find clean towels in there too.’ I took the stuff from her hands, but still stood there like a knobhead.‘I… er..’ I just couldn’t think what to say.‘Go on.. before you freeze to death!’.Before I could think of anything to say, she’d let me down a hallway and pointed into the bathroom. I went in and locked the door.
For about 20 seconds I just stood there, staring at the door. When I finally turned around I was in this f&ckoff big bathroom with a shower AND a bath (not just a shower head hanging over the bath). The white toilet was sparkling clean, and the floor and walls where covered in really big tiles, like something from Roman times. I’d never been in a bathroom like this one in my life before! AND it was a ‘downstairs bathroom’, which meant they must have had a bathroom ‘upstairs’ as well! If it was my house I’d have to have two baths every single day, just so I could use both bathrooms! It looked so inviting.. I wish I could have got in that bath and poured the bubble bath from the bottles on the side into the water. I splashed my face with water from the sink.. it was warm and lovely.
I managed to peel the shirt off my back, which was so wet and see-through, it was completely stuck to me. I found a huge, white, soft towel and dried myself off, before putting on these black kecks the woman had given me, and the striped, blue shirt, which was way too big. But at least I was warm now.
I looked in the long mirror and saw a complete state looking back at me, but I did look better than I had 5 minutes ago. My hair was really curly now, as it always went when it was wet.. I always have to prise the curls out with my fingers while it was wet, so it doesn’t all gather up like a giant ball on top of my head. But it had already dried, so it was too late.
I gathered my wet clothes in a heap and unlocked the door, carrying them out of the bathroom and down the hall. I popped my head around the door of the living room.
‘Hello Tommy!’ It was Anthony. I felt awkward. How do I explain why I’m in his house with his Misses, and wearing his clothes?
‘Erm, Anthony.. I just came round for… erm.. I don’t know.. It’s not what it seems.. I didn’t want to wear your clothes, she made me! They’re too big anyway..’
Anthony started laughing.. but it wasn’t a laugh like he thought I was pathetic, it was a warm laugh, like I’d just told a joke or something.
‘Tommy, Tommy! It’s okay, I don’t mind you wearing my clothes. You can bring them back next time you come. Glad to see my wife Susan has been looking after you!’
I was just gobsmacked.. why were they so kind? What did they want from me.. were they just taking the piss? Making me believe that they were my friends, but really they were going to have the bizzies waiting around the corner when I left the house, and they’d cart me off for using their bathroom and robbing their clothes!
‘Don’t be so nervous! Susan’s making you a cup of tea.. do you like tea?’ Said Anthony, smiling.
I nodded, yes. Susan then came in with a tray and 3 mugs of tea on it. Funny but I expected posh cups and saucers with big red flowers on them.. like the queen would have. She gave me a mug, and then put this plate of biscuits on the table.. God they looked good! Chocolate ones, Jammy dodgers.. everything.
‘Help yourself!’. Well if that wasn’t an invitation, I don’t know what was! I had four of them dipped in the mug of tea and down me neck in seconds!
Anthony asked me why I was wet.. I told him I was fishing and fell in the Mersey (I thought it was best I didn’t tell him about robbing the pipe, and all the rest of it! He’d never have me around again). I just kept digging into those biscuits until they were gone! I thought they’d be mad, but they just laughed, and Susan even asked if I wanted some dinner. But I said no thanks (I was ready to burst with all the biscuits in my belly!).
I decided to get off, thinking that by the time I walked home it would be nearly time for the social worker to be there…. I decided that if I didn’t turn up and play the part, me ma would get into trouble. And besides… I didn’t want to end up back in foster care… that’s no place for any kid… not even me.