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
CHAPTER 5 – Part B
She opened the front door to find the house empty, cold and silent. It was Friday night, she hated Friday nights for that was the start of the weekend that she hated equally. Mum was out, probably down the pub. Fridays she went down there lunchtime, and if the normal crowd of morons she spent her time with were there, she would not get home until gone eleven. Which meant they’d all be back, that is whoever was left standing when the pub closed, keeping Lauren and the neighbours awake half the night with the music blasting out.
In the kitchen, she clicked the button on the central heating and made herself a glass of orange squash. The sink was full of dishes and cutlery caked with left over breakfast that had been neglected throughout the day. She opened the fridge, worked her way through all the rotten food. Cheese, a starving mouse would reject; bacon with shades of green in patches through each rasher and bread that was covered in mould. Gratefully, she found an unopened packet of sausage rolls still within their use by date. With the oven set to 180 degrees she put them in to heat through whilst she washed up clearing the debris that had been left.
Dunking sausage rolls into pools of ketchup was a little pleasure, a simple one maybe, but one never to be missed when the opportunity arose, so she palmed the bottom of the bottle with force and plopped a generous dollop on the side of the plate. In the front room she sat on the settee, turned on the television and laid the plate on her lap. Through her blazer jacket pocket her phone vibrated against her hip. She took the phone out of her pocket and saw the mailbox flashing, 1 New Message. She tried to ignore but unable to resist her curiosity, even before reading she knew it would only be another abusive email.
HOPING YOURE NOT READING THIS COZ YOUVE ALREADY KILLED YOURSELF. IF NOT MAKE SURE YOU DONT COME BACK TO SCHOOL MONDAY. OR ELSE! GO ON DO IT – WHAT YOU GOT TO LIVE FOR – YOUR MUMS A WHORE AND THATS WHAT YOUR END UP
Her resolve would not let them beat her, just senseless threats to be deleted and forgotten but they were starting wear her down. She thought about going to the police but that would mean her mum would have to get involved and she knew that was the last thing she wanted. There was no point telling her mum, for all she would get from her was: You gotta toughen up, life’s shit, get used it, which was the response she got when she got home the day of the fight with two black eyes and scratches all over her face. Life at home was hell and school now held nothing but misery.
‘Fuck ‘em’ she said as she dropped the phone beside her and started watching a program about super intellectual dolphins, that she concluded had a far greater IQ than all the members of the pop squad combined. She sat back dunked her sausage rolls, watched her program, and tried to forget all about her troubles. Stretched out horizontal on the settee feeling to so exhausted she watched another program before taking her empty plate to the kitchen. After Washing it up she stacked it on the draining board with the plates she had washed earlier and then went upstairs to her bedroom.
It was six-thirty and she lay down on her bed, looked at the ceiling, ‘happy birthday,’ she whispered to herself, and wondered if her mum knew it was her birthday, or cared. She guessed not, for the last two years she not had a present or even a birthday card, so why should this year be any different. She opened her school bag and took out the book she had borrowed from the school library, The Swiss Family Robinson, and started to read.
It was easy for to fall into the story and forget everything as she absorbed herself into the book; it took her away from this world and took her somewhere new and exciting. It fascinated her to read about a family that looked out for each other, a world far removed from her own. She read about a father who was a mentor for his children, guiding and helping them grow, something she could only dream of but never have. She had lost track of time and suddenly realised she had been reading for two hours and it was now eight thirty.
It would be unusual for her mum to be home before ten but she decided to have a shower and get dressed ready for bed before she got back. That way she could avoid her mum and those creeps she hung around with.
Lauren showered, she preferred too, the bath was never cleaned. She used to clean it but gave up after a while, she never got any thanks and it was a losing battle. She dried off and went back to her bedroom with the towel wrapped around her. She pulled on a pair of knickers, her night dress and then her dressing gown that hung on the hook on the inside of her bedroom door. She opened the door and made her way downstairs, the program on the television had moved on to some hospital drama that she glanced at as she passed on her way to the kitchen. She watched the white plastic clock on the wall above the kitchen door vibrate loudly as it ticked and Lauren watched that had just passed 9 p.m. That would give her at least thirty minutes, if not more before they returned from the pub, they were rarely home before 10 p.m. unless they had run out of money. That gave her plenty of time for a cup of tea and a biscuit and she could be in bed before they were home.
The teabag had hit the bottom of the rubbish bin with a wet splat when she heard the front door open. From the noise of laughter and loud senseless chat Lauren guessed there was a small crowd. Before Lauren had sat down at the dining room table with her tea and biscuits they had made their way into the living room. There were four of them including her mum. That meant it was going to be noisy night. They fell through the door that raised the volume of laughter, she knew they were already drunk so she made her mind up to finish her supper quick and get up to her bedroom and read before going to sleep as quick as she could.
‘Hello darling, did you have a nice day at school?’ nice of you to ask. How about a happy birthday. A year back, Lauren would have added bitch to that thought, but now she didn’t care. She no longer had any feelings left for her mum. She was just a person who lived in the same house.
‘Yeah, fine,’ she didn’t waste her time telling her about her trip to the head masters office.
Of the three men standing there with her mum she knew two of them, Pete and Vic. Pete, was the tall one, but it was not his height that the eye was first drawn too but his nose. Flat and squashed with red and dried up purple capillaries that were the evidence from years of excessive alcohol. Vic was the opposite in height, only five foot four inches, or five foot four and a half, if asked. With broad shoulders that made him as wide as he was tall, and muscles that bulged from everywhere. Lauren had been told, although she didn’t care much for such stories, that he came out the winner in most fights with other men whatever their height or size. He was likened to a savaged dog that would not let go until the other man was down. She thought to herself he might have come in useful the other day in her fight with Sophie. But Lauren, never wanted to hurt Sophie, she still didn’t, even after all the emails that she knew she was somehow behind.
‘Hi Lauren,’ said Pete.
‘Hey beautiful, how’s my princess.’ Whatever Vic’s reputation as a tough guy he had always been fun and pleasant to Lauren. He was one of the few friends of her mum’s that she could even stretch to say she liked.
‘This is Stick,’ her mum said. The skinny man said nothing but stood smiling, his glazed eyes and nicotine stained teeth bulging from his face in a drunken oblivion.. He remained silent for a time, gently swaying back and forth, before speaking.
‘Alright,’ he slurred. He was obviously drunk but Lauren assumed he was also little stoned. Those bulging eyes seemed fixed and focused on Lauren that made her feel uncomfortable. She then realised her dressing gown was open and where she had no bra her right nipple was standing out through her nightdress. She looked up and realised that was what Stick, the skinny man, had been staring at all the time. His smile increased in size, forcing his mouth to open wider exposing his nicotine stained teeth in their full glory. Lauren, embarrassed quickly closed her dressing gown round her.
‘I’m just going to drink this and go to bed,’ she said to her mum.
‘Ok,’ her mum said as she went into the kitchen to get some beers. Lauren sat at the dining room table with her back to the living room where they had all settled down drinking. She wanted to turn round, for she was sure she felt his eyes burning into her, but the thought of looking at Stick eyeing her up made her feel sick. She gulped back her tea and put them in the dishwasher. She quickly made her way through the dining room and without slowing down walked into the living room where they were all slumped.
‘Good night,’ she said as she closed the door behind her without waiting for a reply. She brushed her teeth and threw some water over face. She used cold water for she felt that would wash the look she had got from Stick away better.
In her bedroom she hung her dressing gown on the hook, picked up her book she had borrowed from the school library earlier and jumped into bed. She sat with her knees up and pulled the covers up and over her for safety.
She listened to the noise from downstairs. The music had increased in volume but not enough to drown out the voices, laughter and every so often they would know a line from the song that they would join in sounding like tone-deaf madmen. A house full of madmen and a mother who didn’t care, she tried to put them out of mind.
She opened the book and started to read. The island the family had made their home after being shipwrecked seemed to offer so much. She wanted to be there, it had to be better than where she was, even faced with the problems they had and the risk they would never return home to their normal life. But she realised they had made a home there and it wasn’t the location, it was the people that made it a home. How they loved each other and looked out for each other. That was what she wanted, that was all. Sadness consumed her the more she thought about it, but she knew that was all she had ever wanted. Why had she been given this life, it was so unfair. She wanted to cry but she would not let herself, she had to remain strong, it was the only way she would get through this hell. She focused back on her book to take her out of her melancholy and back to that happy place.
The music from downstairs suddenly went clear and loud before returning to its muffled tone as the downstairs door to the hall opened and closed. The stairs creaked as the footsteps on them moved slowly. There was then a groan as whoever climbed the stairs had stumbled. She was not sure but she thought it sounded like Stick. She froze, the footsteps stopped, she listened but there nothing but the music below, after a few seconds continued climb of the person ascending the stairs continued. It was him, she had convinced herself, he had reached the top of the stairs and again had stopped and there was silence. This time the silence went for longer. She imagined him outside her door with his ear pressed against it trying to hear her. What was he doing? Why had he stopped and gone silent. The door handle started moving downwards. She sat, motionless unable to breathe, just fear bursting through her. The door opened a few inches, still unable to see who it was, and then a voice.
It was Stick, ‘Sorry, wrong room,’ he called through the crack in the door before pulling the door closed and going to the bathroom. Lauren let out a sigh and breathed again, her heart started pumping the blood around. All over her body was shaking.
She heard him in the bathroom, he had left the door open. She listened to the sound of him pissing, followed by the toilet flushed and then him stumbling down the stairs. The music went clear and loud and then back to muffled tone as he went back into the living room.
She didn’t belong there and the need to get away from that house was the only thought that kept spinning around her head. She knew all focus and effort was to get out of that place, it was the only way she would be able to change her life for the better. She didn’t know when or how, but from tomorrow she would set time aside to plan. Maybe one year today, her sixteenth birthday. It was now midnight, she closed her book, turned off the bedside light, laid her head on her pillar and closed her eyes and drifted away.
The sun on her back, brought not just heat but a comforting feeling to the island where Lauren and the boys had been fishing with the spears they had hand crafted from bamboo. They didn’t catch much but they laughed as they missed each fish they saw escape in the crystal blue waters. Lauren saw the boy’s father approaching with a large catch of fish held proudly in his right hand.
‘Time to go now, mother will want to start cooking these before it starts getting dark,’ they made their way back to where they set out their temporary camp. Father started the fire whilst mother prepared the fish. The crackle of the skewered fish under flame of the fire and with the family chatting around the fire as they waited for dinner to be ready gave her a comforting feeling and sense of belonging. She wondered if it was the extreme circumstances that made this family so strong or were they like this before being stranded on the island following the shipwreck. She wanted to stay there with that family forever. By the time they had finished eating and had chatted, each sharing their stories about the day’s events, it was dark and father announced it was time for bed. She didn’t want to go to bed, she knew when she awoke in the morning she would have left that place and be home where life offered her nothing. There were three tents made from the sailcloth rescued from the shipwreck. Father had made one up for Lauren earlier today, she didn’t know how she knew that but she did, and guessed that it was because that was the type of man he was, thoughtful, caring and kind. The air was warm and Lauren gazed up at the stars that shone in the clear sky. How in this world can there be such beauty and wonder whilst in her life there was nothing but misery. There must be more to this life than she had experienced so far, there must be something better out there for her, she took in one more view of the stars before crawling into her tent.
She pulled the blanket up to around her neck and tried so hard to keep her eyes open to prevent her falling asleep. She battled for a while, but the tiredness took over and her eyelids became too heavy before they closed on her and she fell off to sleep.
It was a pleasant sleep; there was a light breeze that crept through the small gaps at the bottom of the tent. Lauren laid there asleep but aware of how comfortable in this place she was, trying to push every second into her memory to be available for her to recall at any time she needed it. On her leg she felt a tickling sensation briefly and then it was gone. It was no surprise a few insects would creep in, insects never worried Lauren, and she was not going to let it spoil her rest. Again, just above her left knee, but she was too tired to care. It started moving up her leg, it became heavier and she tried to flick it away with her hand. It didn’t move but took a tighter grip and moved up toward the bottom of her knickers. It was hand. She tried to jump up from the fright but was held down. The hand went inside her knickers. She wanted to scream but another hand pushed her down, holding her mouth, muffling any sound she made. Her eyes opened, but it was too dark too see, she was awake and back home in her bed. In the struggle her left arm became free and she grabbed for the bedside light. She clicked the switched and the light came on. She saw Vic’s face bearing down on her. He moved his hand that was over her face, and as soon as he did she let out a scream that made him move back further.
‘Get off me. What do you think you’re doing?’ she screamed at him.
‘Oh, come on Lauren, you know you want it. You know you’ve always wanted it.’ He said. She shouted and screamed again, so loud that he stood up and moved back from the bed. Lauren continued to scream until the door opened and her mum stumbled through the door with Pete following behind.
‘What’s going on?’ her mum asked.
‘He was attacking me, he was trying to rape me,’ she said pointing at Vic.
‘No I wasn’t, her light was on and I heard her say something. So I came in to see what she wanted.’ Vic claimed.
‘That’s not true,’ Lauren continued.
‘Lauren, don’t be stupid, what would Vic want to rape you for when he can have me anytime he wants.’ At the end of the sentence her mum laughed and went over to Vic and put her arm round him and started to kiss his neck. ‘Come on you,’ she pulled him towards the door, ‘now go to sleep Lauren.’ She closed the door behind her.
Lauren sat up in bed. She wanted to cry, but refused. Her anger was intense and she wanted to go downstairs and hit her mum there and then. But, there was no point, it wasn’t worth it and nothing would change if she did. Her anger eased after a time and she began to think. She got out of bed and went to the window and looked up to the sky. From her house there were no stars, just clouds that blocked out the beauty that was out there.
How could her mum react in such a way that would put the blame on her? Lauren’s disbelief was incredulous. Her mum knew what happened and she chose to ignore it. She didn’t ask much, she didn’t expect love or affection. She knew from experience she would never receive that, but surely some protection from being sexually assaulted. There was the sound of laughter from downstairs that made her feel worse. She looked to the street below. Outside it was peaceful and calm, out there looked safer than in her own house. At the point, she made the decision, tomorrow she would run away from home, for nothing could be worse than living in this place and there was nothing in this world that would make her stay one more day.