The Teenage runaway girl living rough on the streets of London
This is a continuation of a story: To go to the start of the story or another chapter
Friday 16 January 2008
It was like thunder. The difference with thunder was it scared her but she knew it would go away and she’d be safe. That feeling of safety was absent and she knew something bad was about to happen.
Another bang at the door, she heard the door crack. A wood panel on the door had splintered and given way; the voices outside that would soon be inside were clearer now.
‘Go on, Bill,’ she heard one of the men scream, with the others cheering and urging him on. ‘Smash it, you’re almost there.’ The voices were fired up with raged enthused adrenalin. Lauren peered over the top of the duvet cover. If only she could disappear, but there was nowhere to hide. Again, she heard the door being rammed hard. A cheer went up. They were in.
‘Police, stay where you are,’ fear and confusion shot through Lauren’s body; her brain trying to connect the millions of messages playing pinball in her head that made no sense. The police are the good guys! What were they doing? That should be the ones to protect her. Why had they broken into their house? ‘Nobody move. Stay where you are.’
She could not make out how many were now in the house but there were a lot, the noise they were making probably made it sound like more. Some screaming inaudible sounds that made them sound like madmen. Shock and fear, shock and fear. However many there were they certainly outnumbered Lauren and her family, and her dad was the only one who could defend them. And, the guns. She remembered they were carrying guns as they started coming up the stairs. Her door flew open. Two police officers stormed into her bedroom, although her peripheral vision blurred the police officers as her eyes focused and frozen on the barrel of the gun that pointed directly at her.
‘Stay still. Don’t move’ the man with the gun shouted, in the same aggressive and violent voice they had used when entering the house. Lauren was shaking uncontrollably before she froze. The voices in the hall became distant, she could hear them but her mind was blocking them out. ‘Stay still and you’ll be alright’ said the same man in a voice that had now soothed and was almost comforting. He lowered the gun and she raised her eyes to meet his and he gave her a reassuring smile. Lauren started to breathe more evenly and started to regain her senses, now aware of the noise coming from her parents’ bedroom. She could hear her mum shouting and screaming and then saw her dad being led to the top of the landing with his hands cuffed behind his back as the two police officers guided him down the stairs. Her heart sank. She knew, he was being arrested and a sudden fear went through her that she may never see her dad again. The policeman in her room said nothing, but looked at Lauren with a sorrowful expression on his face.
‘Be good,’ said the policeman and turned his back and left the room and followed the others down the stairs and out of the house. An eerie silence filled the room. Still in shock Lauren climbed out of bed and walked to the landing where her mum was sitting, crouched down with her head on knees sobbing.
‘Mum, where have they taken dad?’ Lauren asked. ‘What happened mum?’
‘Go to bed Lauren,’ her mum said through her tears without looking at Lauren. She walked to her bedroom without saying a word. Picked up Barbie and got into bed.
Lauren did not sleep, at 8 a.m. the house was still and silent. Her mum had not shouted for her to get up and get ready for school as she did on a normal day. But, today was no longer a normal day, how could it be. Lauren did not know what the future held but she knew today was the start of a new life for her. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe last night didn’t happen. She remembered she was now seven years old. Yesterday was her birthday, and it was a day she would never forget and today was the day she would have to grow up. At the age of seven she still had an intuitive understanding that last night was not a mistake and last night did happen, and it was only in her books that the story finished with a happy ending. Life did not, life was cruel and now she knew how true that could be.
She climbed out of bed and walked to the bedroom door. She opened it hesitantly, still with the remains of fear from last night that beyond that door would be the police still there waiting. Edging the door a little ajar she could see the landing was empty. She walked out onto the landing and looked down the stairs. She could see the door had been patched up so it would close but the debris of where it had been smashed in eliminated any doubt that last night somehow never happened. She walked down the stairs and opened the door to the living room. It was as she remembered it the night before as if nothing happened. Her dolls house sat in the middle of the room. She no longer felt any excitement or pleasure. They could take it away if she could have her dad back. Although her dad never spent much time with her, he was her dad and she wanted him back. She went through into the dining room where her mum sat at the dining room table. “Happy birthday” table cloth still in place.
‘Sort yourself out some breakfast,’ her mum said with her voice reflective and soft. Her eyes red from the tears shed and lack of sleep she had suffered from last night. A cup of coffee sat on the table in front of her that was cold and untouched. Lauren paused for a moment thinking of something to say. She had no words that could change the situation or comfort her mum so she went to the kitchen and poured herself an orange juice. Took a bowl out of the cupboard and poured cereal and milk on them and then went and sat at the table with her mum. Both silent, Lauren kept her eyes fixed on the flakes of cereal floating in the bowl. Occasionally, she would look at her mum, who was motionless and lost in thought.
Her mum suddenly looked up and looked at Lauren for a few seconds before she spoke. ‘Lauren, can you take yourself to school to today.’
‘Sure,’ Lauren replied. It was not the first time she had taken herself to school. There had been a few times before when her mum had such hangover she felt she was incapable of walking. It was not far, it took about ten minutes and less if Lauren run, which she did most the time when she was on her own. She finished her breakfast and took her bowl and mug to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher. Her mum continued to stare at the cold coffee in the mug in front of her as Lauren left the room in silence. Upstairs felt cold as if the frost from outside had penetrated the house and taken resident. Lauren washed and changed into her school uniform and went downstairs. Her shoes and coat were in the hallway and she put them on before opening the door from the hall and shouting.
‘Bye, mum.’ There was no response, and all a sudden Lauren, felt alone. She opened the door and made her way to school. She didn’t run, she walked slowly, crying. She didn’t remember much about the day, the passage of time passed with Lauren being there in body only.
Thursday 10 April 2008
It was like the heavens had opened and by the time Lauren reached school she was drenched. Her blue rain coat, her sky blue blazer and grey skirt were soaked along with her bag and school books within. She wasn’t the only one, all the kids were, even though most had had lifts to school and been dropped at the school gate. Her brown curly hair was more frizzy than curly and when she shook her head the water flew off like a puppy dog that had been playing in a puddle. After registration she had English, it was her favourite subject but today she had no interest in lessons. Her mind was elsewhere and she just wanted the school day to finish so she could get home and see her mum. Lauren had made her own way to school today, not that it was so unusual of late but, because her mum was going to court.
Today was the final day of her dad’s court case where she would find out the verdict. Although there was none, for Lauren it was the last hope she had that her dad would return home. The evidence was stacked up against him, there was video evidence along with a full confession from Jase, or Jason Thomaweed as it was revealed in court, the driver. Since her dad’s arrest she had not seen him, nor had her mum much. Her mum had visited when he first went in but when she found out he had another woman visiting and she could only go when she was not she stopped going. Her mum told Lauren to forget him, he was no good and he would only bring bad things to their home. But, without her dad what kind of family did they have. Her mum had become more reclusive and tended to drink more than she had before and Lauren now spent most of her time in her room reading books and doing homework. Her books and homework was her saviour, she loved to learn although at school it was tough and it got her down with all the other kids picking on her. Not in a physical way but more from exclusion. She sat on her own in class and at break the other girls would play by themselves and never asked Lauren to join in. She had never been the most popular of girls at school; the other girls had tended to avoid her. It was probably more from parental guidance influence. Avoid that girl, she is trouble, she comes from a rough family. And, since her dad’s arrest it had become worse and she felt it more. On occasions she would get verbal insults, but mainly it was the silent treatment; in class and at break she tended to keep herself to herself. It was a worrying time for Lauren and she broke down in tears at school a few times, but the girls would just laugh and make fun of her so she stopped that. Now, she stopped herself and only cried when she was alone in her bedroom. She knew she got little sympathy from her mum so her bedroom was her only sanctuary. She often wondered what it would be like to be one of the other kids, to live their life. She would see them being dropped off and collected at school. Their mums, and even their dads sometime, would be there cuddling them, smiling and happy to see them. Lauren would walk passed and walk home alone as her mum rarely came to pick her up. And, even when she did she felt an outcast. The other mums would be grouped together chatting and laughing whilst her mum would be standing by herself. She had learnt to harden up, or was learning, it was tough and she wasn’t sure exactly how tough she was. It was only a front; a protection screen for deep down all she wanted was to be loved and have a family that were there for each other. And, it was on those occasions she would lie in her bed at night and cry for two hours before she would go to sleep.
It had stopped raining when school finished and there was a clear blue sky among the clouds that had started to clear. Lauren walked passed the other kids and their mums and dads, but today she didn’t notice them, she had only one thing on her mind, to get home as fast as she could to find out the news. The verdict was to be passed that morning so she was confident her mum would already be home when she got there.
Lauren saw her mum’s car, as she turned the corner into their road and her heart started to race. She upped her pace and was running by the time she reached the gate to her house that she left swinging on its hinges as she made her way to the front door. Fumbling through her bag she found her keys and with her hands shaking uncontrollably she needed three attempts before getting the key in the lock to open the door.
Lauren went into the sitting room where her mum was sitting, her face drawn and tired. Without removing her coat Lauren sat in the armchair next to her mum and without asking the question she knew the answer from the expression on her mum’s face.
‘Guilty,’ her mum said. ‘I hope they give him bloody life.’ Her anger was with Joe, he had let her and Lauren down. Again. And, now they would be left on their own to fend for themselves.
‘Mum, it’ll be alright,’ Lauren said. ‘You’ll see.’
‘You may as well forget your dad now. You’ll probably never see him again.’ The words cut through Lauren like a knife. The word probably she dwelled on knowing that it was probably true.
Chapter 4 – To Be Published 29 Jan 2018