It’s just after dawn, Saturday has begun, and the world is getting busy again. I like this time of day. Just before everything starts, when it’s quiet and peaceful. The air is still fresh and clean and save for a few birds, there are almost no sounds at all. It’s like getting to the new day before everyone else.
Colin is sleeping. I checked on him before going outside to smoke. He gave up just after midnight, but he was determined to stay up as long as us. Of course his wasn’t drug induced wakefulness and although he fought, his eyes had given up on him and he had fallen asleep on the floor. He hadn’t even woken when I picked him up and put him in Will’s bed.
The night has gone fast, or at least it seems so. I still feel the sting a little of Maz’s harsh words. She wasn’t happy with my new high, but I had got Colin food and even some for Mikey. Their bellies were filled with pizza and coke. They had eaten until they couldn’t take another piece in and after, laid down together to play Nintendo, while enjoying the childish freedom and amusement of belching at each other. They were happy.
Colin hadn’t heard Maz’s dissatisfaction with me, just more evidence of my failure. Of course I had lied about how I got the pizza; even Froggy had given me a suspicious glance when I had said that I had bought it. I did in a way, maybe not with cash. Joanne had asked if my dad had given me some money and I gave a noncommittal nod of my head and then went to do something else to avoid the question of how much.
Maz knew something wasn’t right. She always knew, she had been mad at me, but I don’t think she really knew why. I had no doubt some of her shouting had been fuelled by the pain of taking Mikey back to his foster parents and knowing that at night, when he went to bed, when he got bathed and hugged and a bed time story, that another women would be in her place. Even giving him that night time kiss and watching as he went to sleep. I had let her shout at me. I let her say all the things she wanted to get out in her frustration and then I had put my arms around her and she had cried. I didn’t ask why and she didn’t say, but I knew.
My own pangs of guilt at my actions didn’t last long. They didn’t need to. Everything was good. Everything was great. Now. Now that I had had my fixed. Everything was perfect.
Joanne didn’t bother to ask how much. With the phet and the pizza, she no doubt came to an assumption in her head. She doesn’t really care about the girl that works in the take away. Karla she is called. She likes me, Joanne knows that much, but I don’t think she realises how much, not that it matters. Isn’t the saying, what they don’t know won’t hurt them? Even if Joanne does know, she doesn’t care anyway. She doesn’t seem to care so much, as long as she gets her fixes too and I ask no questions of her, all is good. She is no different to everyone else. She doesn’t care for me.
Maz is different. I’m not really sure where she places herself in my life. A motherly sister perhaps, but even that doesn’t fit right. I’ve slept with her once, nothing serious. Fun one night between Joanne, Maz, Froggy and I.
I guess that’s what I’m made for. It seems so at least. Everything always comes back to sex and what people will do if I give it to them. People see something that says it is okay and so they take it. It was there as a child and it’s here now. Maybe I will never figure out what it is and how to turn it off. Maybe it’s all I have to offer.
Even the backwards events of my childhood seem to confirm it. I wasn’t able to tie my own shoe laces; I couldn’t reach things in the top cupboard. I had a bed time and I wasn’t allowed to cross the main roads by myself, yet I knew how to have sex. I knew how to give people what they wanted.
It’s my purpose.
I look at Colin sometimes. He’s seven, the same age I was my first time with a girl. I can’t imagine him reaching beyond his years into such adult activities. He might not have much, but he has his innocence. I never did, maybe that’s what people see.
Karla, sex for food. It’s nothing to me. Karla is just another taker hidden behind a sweet smile. A smile that gets her exactly what she wants from whoever she wants it. I wanted food.
I put my cigarette out and I try not sigh. I know that sigh, I’ll let it go and my next intake of breath will pull in the darkness of my day. I can feel the weight of everything beginning to build up again. Like the ruckus as the day begins, cars moving, more and more people outside. My mind feels as congested as the world. I want to sleep before it becomes more than I can bear.
I’m thankful for the light at least. The fears of my mind aren’t so bad in the day. The flashbacks of a monster long since gone in reality, but ever present in my mind are dulled by the daylight. His grinning face doesn’t plague me as much. His smile, his eyes, the intent in them. With daylight I can fight the bad man.
I don’t sleep so long. Less than four hours. Between Colin and his ever quiet elephant feet as he tries to walk quietly back and forth through the flat so not to wake me and Phil.
Phil calls to make sure that everything is still on for the day. I hear his voice on the phone and the anxiety spikes in my stomach at perhaps he is cancelling. As he asks me if I am still good for the job, I relax a little, but I still feel the echo of the apprehension inside. I mumble a half asleep yes as I get out of bed and Phil talks, but I’m not really listening as I venture to the bathroom and set the bath off running before I go to the kitchen to find my cigarettes. The content has depleted a little; my foolish over tired mind forgot and left them on the kitchen counter and Colin has been in them. I don’t like him smoking. I guess I see the child he still is and he sees the grown up he wants to be.
I shout Colin’s name, he has my lighter. Everyone else is asleep, but I glance at the clock, it’s nearly 11am. Phil tells me that he’ll be there in an hour, and then we’ll go and get the television.
“I’ll be ready,” I say to him and then I hang up without saying goodbye. Colin comes in and puts my lighter in my hand without me asking for it.
“Bath time,” I say to him.
“I had one,” he replies. I know he hasn’t. I curse his mother in my mind for making him my problem.
“Bath, now,” I say. “I don’t care if you had one, another won’t kill you. Go, and leave the water in for me.”
He goes to bathroom muttering to himself and I make coffee. Maz, Joanne and Froggy all wake and get up like a conveyer or people, by the time Colin is done and it’s my turn, the flat is filled with noise.
I take my mug and go to the bathroom myself. I only just get undressed and sit in the water, and Maz comes into the bathroom. She isn’t bothered. She does this often and we chat. She pulls out my envelope of needles and takes on for herself. I don’t stare as she pulls the toilet lid down and sits on it to make her hit up. I feel the jab of envy burn inside as she shoots up.
“Are you really going to do this with Phil?” She asks me.
“I don’t trust him.”
“You don’t like him,” I say and Maz clears everything away and rinses her spoon under the tap. I watch as the last evidence of her drugs go with it, like watching food being washed away and starving enough to taste it.
Maz sits on the edge of the bath and takes the shampoo bottle from my hand. I don’t say anything as she washes my hair. In a way I like it. It feels calming as her nails scrape along my scalp. “There’s other ways of making money.”
“Not fast like this. I’ll have £500 in my pocket tonight. Where else can I make that?”
“Lorraine,” she says. “She just has two guys on her books, they make a fortune.”
Lorraine. Maz’s ‘friend’ as she calls her, a woman that runs an escort agency. Maz works for her, or she did until she got pregnant. Not much call for an overly pregnant woman to spend some quality paid for time with.
I tell her I’ll think about it then I finish off my bath and get out and dress ready for Phil.
“It’ll be fine,” I tell Maz as she stares at me. “It’s just some easy money.”