Disraeli Avenue

Bill Williams is lost, Aunty Maggie longs to be young and attractive, Crystal is searching to find out more about Adam. Tales of debt, infidelity, incest, love and loss all combine and weave into a mosaic of working class life. As the characters featured within Caroline Smailes' debut novel «In Search of Adam» are given individual voice, the flashes connect into the making of Disraeli Avenue.When Caroline Smailes' critically-acclaimed debut novel «In Search of Adam» was published she was overwhelmed by the response of her readers. Exploring themes of sexual abuse and self-harm, the book prompted many people to contact her to tell her of their own experiences. Smailes said 'when I realised what a chord had been struck with so many people I knew I wanted to find a way to give something back to those whose lives have been touched by abuse'. A talented author, Caroline began to craft a novella that she could publish as an eBook.All author royalties from sales of this ebook will be donated to One in Four, a charity which provides support and resources to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence.
Содержание:

Disraeli Avenue

   

DISRAELI AVENUE (Dizz-rah-eh-lee Avenue) Caroline Smailes


   Table of Contents

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   There was once a girl, she was sexually abused in real life. On that very day she lost her voice and no other person asked her why.

   That girl changed, she became silent, almost invisible, she had no words.

   I wrote a novel, In Search of Adam, telling the story of a girl called Jude Williams who lived at 9 Disraeli Avenue. Jude suffered emotional and physical abuse. Readers emailed me, they could identify with Jude, they knew of the abuse that she had experienced.

   One reader told of the organisation and of how they provided a safe environment, a place to give voice. One in Four is a charity run for and by people who have experienced sexual abuse. They offer unconditional support and advice to those who need it most. Each and every donation makes a vast difference to this small charity.

   I offer Disraeli Avenue for you to read about the people who live in the thirty-two houses on the street where Jude Williams lost her words. And I dedicate this novella to the little girl who lost her voice and to all those others who have suffered sexual abuse.

   The profits from the sale of this book will go to the charity One in Four, in the hope that they will help someone begin to heal.

   Thank you, for listening.

   Caroline

   Bill and Jude Williams

   Green front door

   Green garage door

   Yellow car

   KON 908V

In Search of Adam

   Two years, six months and twenty-one days before I was born, my parents moved to New Lymouth. From a block of flats that were as high as a giant. My mother’s house was brand new. It was shiny. Spick and span. There were two new estates being built in New Lymouth. The housing estate that I was to live on and another one. They each had four parallel streets and formed a perfect square on either side of the main road.

   On this Coast Road, there were ‘The Shops’. Dewstep Butchers was also New Lymouth Post Office and displayed a smiling pig’s head in the window. New Lymouth Primary School. My primary school. Was a perfect E-shaped grey building with a flat roof. Mrs Hodgson (Number 2) told Rita that many cuckoos were put in nests on that roof. I didn’t understand. New Lymouth Library was on the Coast Road too. It was a rectangle. Like a shoebox. Inside the library there were eighty-seven Mills and Boon novels and three Roald Dahl books. There were signs everywhere. ‘Absolute silence at all times’. The grumpy librarian liked to read her Introducing Machine Knitting magazine. I read the first chapter of Danny, the Champion of the World twenty-seven times. I read all of Matilda and The Twits. Thirteen times each. Brian’s newsagents stretched across 127–135 Coast Road. Inside the shop I heard gossip being tittled and tattled, as I stood looking at the jars of delicious sweets.

   Rhubarb and Custard. Chocolate Raisins. White Gems. Aniseed Balls. Coconut Mushrooms. Brown Gems. Cola Cubes. Pear Drops. Cherry Lips. Liquorice Comfits. Toffee Bonbons. Jelly Beans. Edinburgh Rock. Pontefract Cakes. Pineapple Chunks. Sweet Peanuts. Scented Satins. Sherbet Pips. Midget Gems. Sweet Tobacco. Chocolate Peanuts. Toasted Teacakes. Rainbow Crystals. Sour Apples. Lemon Bonbons. Unable to decide. I wished that I had the courage to ask for one from every one of the twenty-five jars.

   On the other side of the Coast Road there were five really big houses. My class teacher, Mrs Ellis, and Mrs Hughes the local librarian lived in two of them. I didn’t know who else lived there. The children in those houses didn’t go to New Lymouth Primary School with me. The children in those houses didn’t play foxes and hounds around the estate with us local bairns. I walked down that road on my way to school. I peered into those large houses. I stopped walking to stare in. I tried to look past the fresh flowers in the window and I thought about all the nice smelling things that would live inside.

   The Coast Road ran a slope from New Lymouth down to the Lymouth seaside. The estate that I lived on was at the top of the hill. As the road continued up, it travelled through a number of similar estates and villages. Signs warned drivers when they were leaving one village and arriving in another. My father said that the ‘nearer yee lived to the coast, then the richer yee were’. We lived about a ten-minute walk from the coast. I’m not quite sure what that made us. All I know is that, when my mother was alive, my father talked about one day living on the sea front. The houses there were enormous. Five storeys tall. They went up and up and up to the sky. You could stand on the roof and your head would be in the clouds. I thought that really important people lived in those kinds of houses. People like the Queen could live there. A hacky lad in my class at school lived in one, with about twenty other children. His mother and father hadn’t wanted him. They, the twenty other children and the hacky lad, lived in their mansion that looked out over the beautiful Lymouth cove. They were very very lucky. They must have been very very rich. They must have been the richest people in England.

   Lymouth Bay was shaped like a banana. There was a pier at each end and three caves lived in the cliff. Just over the left pier. Sat tall on a throne of rocks. There was a lighthouse. The most beautiful. The most elegant. A white lighthouse. Legend had it, that hundreds and thousands of small green men with orange hair lived in it. I never saw them. But. Paul Hodgson (Number 2) had seen one buying a quarter of Toasted Teacakes in Brian’s newsagents.

   There were one hundred and twenty steps to climb down. One hundred and twenty steps before touching the grey sand. The sand was unhappy. It looked poorly sick all the time. A green handrail wove next to the steps. I never had the courage to touch it. The paint was covered in carved initials, decorated with lumps of hardened chewing gum and topped with seagull droppings. Yackety yack. Hundreds and thousands of lumps. Hacky yack yack. Paul Hodgson (Number 2) told me that his uncle caught an ‘incurable disease’ from touching that handrail. He said that his ‘uncle’s hand had dropped clean off’. I wasn’t going to risk it.

   To me, the Coast Road seemed to go on for ever and ever and ever. I was told that it was a perfectly straight road, which travelled from the seafront and through four villages. You could catch a bus on the Coast Road. The road passed by my school, up the slope, close to my house and then on through village after village into lands that were unknown. Into lands that sounded magical and exciting. North Lymouth. Marsden. Hingleworth. Coastend. Mrs Hodgson (Number 2) told me that Coastend was ‘famous for its cheapness of tricks’. A magical place.

   I lived in Disraeli Avenue, in between Gladstone Street and Campbell-Bannerman Road. The neighbours all said it dizz–rah–el–lee (four chunks) Avenue. My mother’s house was a semi-detached on a street with 31 similar-looking houses. They looked identical but I knew that they weren’t.

   There were differences. Thirteen had red front doors. Seven had green front doors. Five had blue front doors. Seven had yellow front doors. The garages matched the front doors. Except for Number 17. Mr Lewis had a yellow front door and a green garage. I didn’t know why.

   green,

   red,

   red,

   yellow, green, red, red, yellow, yellow, green, red, red, red,

   green, blue, blue,

   red,

   blue,

   green,

   yellow, red, blue, blue, yellow, green, green, red, red, red,

   yellow, red, yellow.

   I wanted the numbers to fit better. I wanted the colours to fit better.

   It should have been sixteen red front doors. One half. Eight green doors. One quarter. Four blue doors. One eighth. Four yellow doors. One eighth. It was simple. The colours could look really nice. I had worked it all out.

   red,

   red,

   green,

   red,

   green,

   red,

   blue,

   blue

   green, red,

   yellow, red, green,

   red, yellow, red,

   red, green, red,

   green, red, blue, blue,

   green, red, yellow,

   red, green, red,

   yellow, red, red.

   I wasn’t happy with Mr Lewis (Number 17). His colours didn’t match. Maybe he didn’t realise. I wished that I had the courage to talk to him about it.

   There was a little wall in front of the garden. A dwarf wall. A dwarf wall for Snow White’s friends to play on. There was also a drive for my father’s Mini. There was a garden to the front and a slightly larger one to the back. The front lawn was just big enough to squeeze onto it a folded tartan picnic blanket. The soil surrounding the perfect square of grass was always packed with flowers. I watched the flowers. I noted them all in a little lined book. It was green and lived on my windowsill. Thorny rose bushes, coordinating colours and then down to a mixture of blossoms. Depending on the month.

   Gaillardia ‘Burgunder’.

   Shiny red flower, with light yellow centre.

   June–October. 30cm.

   Dahlia.

   Really orange and red.

   June–November. 60cm.

   Narcissum ‘Amergate.’

   Orange outside with a darker orange in the middle.

   March–April. 45cm.

   I liked to write things down. In the green notebook that I kept on my windowsill. Flowers. Colours. Number plates. Full names. Times. Routines. All of the first chapter of Danny, the Champion ofthe World. So I wouldn’t forget.

   Mr and Mrs North

   Green front door

   Green garage door

   Red car

   DFT 678T

Martin North leaves home

   I was the first lad from Disraeli Avenue to get into uni. There’d been this lad Paul Hodgson who used to live at Number 2, he went on to study law but they’d moved out of the road by then. So I’m saying that he doesn’t count.

   Getting into Liverpool Uni was fucking huge. I managed two As and a B at A level and my mam was beyond happy. She was right chuffed and painted my results on a white sheet, then hung it from the front room window. It was a right sunny day and all the neighbours slowed down to look at what me mam had painted on the sheet. I told me mam that it didn’t really make much sense. So she got another sheet, asked is how to spell university and then wrote ‘Wor bairn Martin is ganin to university’ in fuck off huge red letters. She was practically dancing around the house. I’ve made me mam so proud.

   Mam, Dad and me Nana North gave is a lift to Liverpool last week. The car was packed with everything I’d need. Pans, a kettle and a load of food. Me Nana North had baked is pies and scones and stuff. They all wanted to give is a right good start. My going to uni is the most major thing in me mam’s life and I have to try me hardest not to fuck it all up.

   I’m sharing a flat with two other lads, Ginger Matt and Charlie. They’re sound lads. We’re right in the centre of Liverpool, just off Mount Pleasant, around the corner from the Everyman Theatre. It’s sound being right central. We can walk everywhere and don’t have to bother with the last bus or with hailing a taxi. Charlie’s a private school lad. He’s right posh and his dad’s mates with Jeffrey Archer. He’s studying French and Spanish. Ginger Matt’s a Manc and so fucking sound. He’s writing a novel and studying English Lit. They’re both a bit off their heads. Charlie has a never-ending supply of pot and is determined to roll the longest joint he can. He reckons he’s going to get in the Guinness Book of Records with it. We’re out every night and I’m spending me money far too fast. The Guild’s a laugh and there are thousands of fit lasses wearing hardly any clothes. I’ve shagged two lasses already and I’ve only been here a week.

   Early this morning, I reckon it was just after two. We’d left the Casa before closing and were having a few tins in the kitchen. The kitchen has massive windows and looks out onto Oxford Road. Charlie managed to pull a lass by shouting out to her from the window. The silly tart came up and let him shag her before he chucked her out. We were laughing about that, so I reckon it must have been about three when we heard screams. Charlie was first to see and ran straight out the flat. He’d had first aid training and even though he must have been stoned, he seemed to know what to do. Ginger Matt had some lass straddling him on one of the kitchen chairs. He was on a promise. I stood at the window and saw her lying, curled up on the road and there were already a few people screeching around her.

   The taxi driver was out of his car and was looking down on her. I could see that he wasn’t right. He was lighting a fag when he puked all over his shoes. Charlie was on the floor giving the lass mouth to mouth. I could only catch glimpses of him through gaps in the crowd. Another lad, who I kinda recognised from downstairs, was in the phone box, must have been calling for help.

   Charlie came back up to the flat with the lass’s blood all over his face and T-shirt. He told us that she was dead and then he went and got himself washed.

   It turned out that her name was Laura. Well that’s what a copper said when he came to get statements from us all a bit ago. She was a fresher and studying English Lit, must have been in the same lectures as Ginger Matt. She was pissed after a night in the Casa. She’d been in the phone box calling her boyfriend who was still back home somewhere in Wales. The copper said that she’d been giving the lad shit. The last thing that she’d said to him was ‘fuck off’. Then she’d staggered out from the phone box and straight onto the road. He told us that she’d died on impact, and although Charlie had done his best, well there was nothing that he could have done to save the lass.

   And now it’s pissing it down outside. The cars are going up and down the road, over her blood and it’s as if nothing’s happened. I reckon there’ll be flowers by the side of the road at some point and a few people will come and stare at the spot. And maybe that’s a good thing, because at least if there are flowers people will wonder and ask questions and the poor lass won’t have died without anyone noticing. She was eighteen years old and she died after saying ‘fuck off’. I’m not going in to uni today. None of us are. We’re all going out to the Guild to get pissed. I was going to phone me mam and tell her about Laura, but I don’t want her to worry about is. I guess what I’m learning is that life’s too fucking short and that I shouldn’t waste any of it.

   Mrs Hodgson and Paul

   Yellow front door

   Yellow garage door

   Red car

   GYS 606S

The making of Paul Hodgson’s legend

   Mam and Sam had met through a dating agency. It’d been advertised in the local Guardian free paper and we’d had a laugh about it. My nana was the one who made my mam fill out the form, because she reckoned that my mam needed a man about the house. My mam had been to see Mrs Curtis from Number 20 for a tarot reading, she was holding out for a ginger bloke, on a horse in a field full of pumpkins. My nana told mam that she was holding out for a pile of crap and that she had to make her own future, that no one got anything by sitting on their arse waiting for the world to come to them. So Mam got the form and, although we took the piss out of her, she filled it out and sent it back with a postal order for £15 (meet your ideal man within six months or get another six months free).

   Sam was Mam’s first date. He had no kids and was divorced, because his first wife had shagged his best mate. Sam’s a decent bloke. He’s a teacher at the local college, earns pretty good money and treats my mam like a princess. Nana likes him and I do too. I can’t really fault him as a person, but his dress sense is shit.

   We moved in with him three months after Mam met him. He lives on the new estate, in a canny posh detached house with three proper big bedrooms. Mam was a bit stressed about leaving Disraeli Avenue. It was more to do with her independence than anything else and I think that my dad leaving all those years ago made it difficult for her to let go. My nana helped out and gave her a good talking to and then we moved in with Sam. We’d been here just over five weeks when my dad turned up.

   Legend has it that my dad left us when I was a toddler. I can’t remember much about him. The story goes that he’d been on jury service when he’d met a lass called Sky Thursday. Two weeks after the end of the jury service, after he’d eaten a plate of egg and chips, my dad had packed his bags, taken a pint of milk and pissed off.

   That was the last we heard from him.

   My dad didn’t bother with us and I’m not too sure how that’s supposed to make me feel. He was too busy shagging Sky fucking Thursday, selling crystals from a stall in Coastend indoor market and being a dad to the three kids that he’d had with Sky fucking Thursday. He didn’t give my mam any money for me and he never bothered with my birthdays or with Christmas.

   I used to care.

   Of course I fucking used to care. My dad abandoned me and then went on to be a dad to three other kids. I’d see Karen Johnson with her dad and Jude Williams with hers and I’d feel like shit. I didn’t know what I’d done to make my dad hate me, but he must have. My mam’s been great and my nana made sure that I had as much as she could afford. She’s canny kind. And next week I’m starting university, studying law. How the fuck did that happen? I’m going to Newcastle, so I’ll still live at home with Mam and Sam.

   But Dad turned up.

   I answered the door and of course I didn’t recognise him. He looked a state in a knitted cardigan covered in wolves and a moon. His hair was long, grey, thin, scraggy and he was wearing flip-flops with trackie bottoms. I thought he was collecting for something. Anyway he started talking and it turns out that he’d heard about my mam and Sam and thought that seeing as my mam had come into money, that we’d all be able to be one big happy fucking family. Apparently my three brothers were waiting around the corner to meet me too. I don’t know why him having three more lads pissed me off quite so much, but I seriously needed to deck the bloke.

   It was then that my mam came to the door.

   I was standing with my fist clenched leaning forward, my mam was in front of me pushing me back with her huge arse and she was staying canny cool. She looked my dad up and down, then she did her fake laughing thing that she does when she’s actually scared shitless. She told my dad that we’d managed sixteen years without him and that really he should just fuck off. Then she closed the door in my dad’s face.

   I used to make up a story for the kids in my primary school class. I’d tell them the legend of hundreds and thousands of small green men with orange hair living in the lighthouse in Lymouth Bay. I even told them that I’d met one when I was buying a quarter of Toasted Teacakes from Brian’s newsagents. Jude Williams and Karen Johnson believed me.

   Now for the real legend.

   Legend has it that I once had a dad who went on jury service and pissed off with some woman who he’d known for all of three weeks. He left me and his wife of ten years for a fucking weird tart who changed her name from Wendy Jackson to Sky Thursday and made my dad want to live in a council flat and play the didgeridoo. Legend has it, that my dad ate his egg and chips, then packed his bags, took a pint of milk from the fridge and then pissed off. It took him nearly sixteen years to remember me.

   Mr and Mrs Drake

   Red car matches red front door

   Red car matches red garage door

   EVS 343V

A tarot reading

   () indicates the length of pause, in seconds

   (.) indicates a pause of less than one second

   ‘What question would you like to ask of the cards?

   I’m only allowed one question?

   (.)

   My thoughts are all over the place

   (5.0)

   I’m sort of thinking that everyone needs a partner.

   (.)

   For some I guess it’s sexual, for others convenience.

   For some I guess that it’s a chance to be eternally mothered, for others something else. I wish I knew what that something else was.

   (3.2)

   No that’s not my question. That’s not even a question.

   (.)

   Some people don’t enquire. They accept what they’re given. They say ‘thank you very much’ to the first man or woman who happens upon them. They panic, they grab, they accept. They can relax then. They can mate.

   (2.0)

   And I’m kind of sure that most people can go through life feeling content. They accept, they embrace; they make do with whoever it was who happened to stumble onto them, into them, beside them.

   (.)

   I’m beginning to sound cynical.

   Really this isn’t a bad thing.

   I’m just saying.

   (1.2)

   I’ve been thinking too much about life and death. It comes from living on this bloody street. The bed hopping, the suicide, the abandoning, the repression. It’s all getting to me a bit, but we can’t move. We’ve got too much debt, we’re trapped.

   (3.0)

   I’m looking at him and wondering if I’ve made a big mistake. I didn’t know who else to turn to and so I thought I’d try you. I thought you’d understand. I thought you’d be able to see into my lives and give me an answer.

   (.)

   But I’m only allowed one question.

   I’ll have to formulate all my ramblings into one, all of these floating thoughts into one question.

   (.)

   You see I’ve got to thinking that maybe life is continual.

   I know that this goes against what you, what some people believe in. Well it sort of does. Doesn’t it?

   (2.3)

   That’s not my question.

   (.)

   I just think that life is one big series of livings and deaths. And the more that I think about it, the more I get to worrying that there may be one true soul mate for each of us.

   (1.5)

   I’m rambling on. I’m trying not to sound too manic. Too confused. But I guess that I am.

   (.)

   You see, I’m wondering if there is just one special person for each of us. And then I’m wondering if life is really simply about bumping into them. If that one special person keeps coming in and out of our lives. And if only true believers, I mean believers in true love, could ever realise.

   (.)

   Does that make any sense?

   (4.1)

   That’s not my question.

   (.)

   I’m getting to wonder if life is one big game of Russian Roulette, but without the gun. It’s like holding your nerve until the time is right. Until you get a feeling that there is no next one. Really no next one. That this one person, this one connection is true.

   (1.8)

   I met a lad called Simon when I was five and he was six. I clicked with him instantly. We met at a family wedding. He was on the groom’s side, being a pageboy. I was on the bride’s side, being a bridesmaid. I remember dancing with him during the do. We held hands and loads of people snapped photos. I remember it being late, dark and I remember him leaving the party.

   (.)

   My mam used to have a photo of the two of us on the sideboard. She’d polish it and tell the same story.

   (.)

   The story went that when Simon left, I started crying. Apparently I was inconsolable. I sobbed and sobbed.

   (.)

   ‘When will I see my boyfriend again?’ I asked my mam. ‘Maybe when there’s another party,’ she’d answered.

   (2.7)

   I never did see him again. Well I don’t think that I did. Maybe we brushed into each other. There must have been other family parties. But maybe that one meeting was our only scheduled hit for this life.

   (.)

   Am I making any sense at all? I know that you’ll be thinking that my question is about Simon, but it isn’t really. Not at all, really.

   (1.3)

   You see, I think that I must have loved Simon. Truly loved Simon.

   (.)

   Apparently I cried all the way home from the party. Apparently I fell asleep, releasing tiny sobs. Mam says that the next morning I woke up and told her not to laugh at me. She’d been shocked by how mature, how adult like I’d sounded when I was only five years old. Mam reckons that I grew up during that night.

   (1.1)

   What if Simon was the one? What if he was my one true love?

   (.)

   No they’re not really questions for this reading. Not really. I’m rambling again.

   (2.9)

   Simon and me never met again. The connection that I had with him was instant. I still remember him. Or is it the photograph that prompts the memory? You see that’s where I get stuck.

   (2.2)

   I think that I came here for you to tell me about life and death. I think that I wanted an answer to my wondering about if I kill myself, if I die tomorrow, will I simply start a new life?

   (.)

   Because I’m kind of thinking that this life is shit and if I try the next one, then I might meet Simon and I might actually manage to live.

   (5.0)

   You see me and Len have money problems. It’s no big secret. I’m not coping. We married young. I was eighteen and Len was nineteen. We lived beyond Len’s wages. We spent, we lived and soon the debts started to pile up. We tackled the bills by getting into more debt and then it all spiralled. We’ve had bailiffs knocking on our door. I’ve got nothing. They’ve had everything.

   (2.2)

   I’ve got zero, zilch, nothing left to give anyone. You’re my last option. I guess that I came here, hoping that you’d see into my future and tell me what to do.

   (.)

   You know that I work in Woolworths in Coastend. But what you probably don’t know is that I’m only thirty-two years old. I know you’re shocked, I can see it in your eyes. I look twice my age.

   (3.1)

   And Len, well he doesn’t work. He spends his days in the bookies in North Shields, he says that it’s work. He has bad days and good days. Mainly he has bad days.

   (1.7)

   He’s the one that I married. It was sexual; it was me saying ‘thank you very much’ to the first man who showed me any interest.

   (.)

   He was good looking, came from a nice family, was an apprentice. It was all good to start with, for a couple of years.

   (2.0)

   But now it’s shit.

   (1.5)

   Now I don’t think that I can go on.

   (.)

   I don’t think that I can take any more.

   (1.1)

   Sorry.

   (1.2)

   You asked me what my question was. What question I’d like answered with this reading.

   (1.9)

   Well I’d like it to go no further.

   (.)

   I don’t want it being spread around the street.

   (.)

   You see my question is this. Should I kill myself?

   (.)

   I’m supposed to focus on my question aren’t I? Would you like me to shuffle the cards whilst thinking about it?

   (2.7)

   Mr and Mrs Black

   Black car matches their name

   Red front door

   Red garage door

   POK 776T

The banana and milk diet

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Monday.

   Drank – 3 pints of milk.

   Ate – 8 bananas.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Tuesday.

   Drank – 3 pints of milk.

   Ate – 8 bananas.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Wednesday.

   Drank – 3 pints of milk.

   Ate – 8 bananas.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Thursday.

   Drank – 3 pints of milk.

   Ate – 8 bananas.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Friday.

   Drank – 3 pints of milk.

   Ate – 8 bananas.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Saturday.

   Drank – 3 pints of milk.

   Ate – 8 bananas.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Total pints of milk – 18 pints

   Total number of bananas – 48

   Weight Sunday – 13 stone 9

   Weight Sunday – 13 stone 4

   Total loss – 5 pounds.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat.

   Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat.

   Fat.

   Mrs Grant

   Red front door

   Red garage door

   No car

Stamps for Crystal

   Crystal from Number 9 came and knocked on my door. She’s a sweet kid.

   ‘I’m starting a stamp collection. Have you got any spare ones?’ She had her eyes pointing to the floor and she was fidgeting, moving from foot to foot.

   ‘Are your mum and your dad with you?’ I asked, looking over her shoulder.

   ‘No. Mam’s in bed and Dad’s at work.’

   ‘I’ll have a good look around and I’ll pop what I’ve got through your door, in an envelope. I’ll put your name on the envelope. Is that okay Crystal?’

   ‘Thank you Mrs Curtis.’ She smiled, she turned and she walked away.

   I started searching for stamps, looking in the bin and on the kitchen side, searching for used envelopes. I looked in cupboards and then in drawers. I had found quite a few before I found the postcard. It was picture down, his handwriting looping up at me.

   19 August 1972.

   My dearest Loulou,

   Weather hot, fishing without a shirt on. Not seen the Monster yet.

   Had a dodgy stomach last night. Perfecting my Scottish tongue.

   Miss you. Back soon.

   Love Bob xxx

   I turned the postcard over, the picture was a cartoon. Nessie was coming out from the loch, wearing a tartan beret and looking rather grumpy. She was breathing fire onto a man fishing in a boat. The man’s fishing line was attached to Nessie’s nostril. I know that Bob would have smiled when he found that card. I know that he would have felt it to be perfect.

   Holding the card that Bob had sent to me, seeing the handwritten words that he had chosen for me. I could hear his voice. I could hear him reading the words, emphasising ‘yet’, laughing after the word ‘tongue’.

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