Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Yes. Time to go back.
It was a grey day and I suppose my memories weren't helped by the rain. I watched a woman come out of her house and walk across the communal gardens. She looked at me, but didn't smile. Of course, had I not moved to London, we would have been next-door neighbours.
And the houses are not too bad. They've been polished up with a grant and been all modernised. Compared to some estates, like a few in North Manchester, this place is a stroll in the park. I'm being sensitive.
I collected my post and spoke to another neighbour, she told me about the mother I'd worried over so much before. Since I'd left she'd had two more babies in the space of just over two years.
'So she has six now?' I asked.
'No, two adopted out and two in care,' said the woman. Then I headed off to the local shops where I dropped in at the chemist.
I stood at the counter and a girl about as high as my hip piped up to the assistant:
'Do you have pregnancy tests?'
'Yes,' said the assistant, grinning at the little girl who couldn't have been much more than seven years-old. I looked at the assistant, she continued to smile.
'How much is your cheapest one?'
'£5.10,' said the assistant.
'Thanks,' said the little girl, skipping through the door. 'It's not for me,' she giggled, 'it's for me mum.'
The little girl waited by the shop window, she kicked her feet against the path. Outside the community learning centre a young mum and her daughters hung around some lads perched on BMX's, one lad had a pitbull at his side.
Little girls shouldn't be sent in search of pregnancy tests for their mums, I thought. Or maybe I'm getting prudish with age. Maybe the family has been waiting for a baby for years, and the little girl is simply excited.
I waited on the seats for my prescription to be prepared, through the window the sky was gloomier than before. More kids came to hang around the shops, dressed in only greys and blacks, kicking their shoes into the dirt and sucking on lollipops: boredom, frustration, tracksuits, nothing to do.
I watched them and felt nervous, not wanting to be judgemental but judging them all the same. This, I thought, is why my stomach sinks each time I drive my car around that bend, and why I didn't want this place to be called home.
Then Jack texted me: 'Hi Mom. in Dover!'