In Care : Sharon : 2

Sharon and Caitlin had been in care together. This is the second episode of Sharon’ side of the story, following Caitlin’s version which we published earlier. For the last episode, click here.

We went into the smart little house, and Caitlin put the kettle on and busied herself putting the shopping away. Everything seemed so neat and clean and orderly. I could see no hints now that this was where Caitlin’s mother had killed herself, except that the carpet in the hall and up the stairs was dark and patterned. I remembered Caitlin had been so upset that the Police and Ambulance people had trampled all over her mother’s white carpet.

At last we were sitting on the high stools at the breakfast bar. We looked at each other and smiled.

“You go first, Sharon”.

I drew breath. “What’s to tell? You left. Somebody else got dumped in my room. I waited to hear from you. I never did. Things got bad for me all round and I ran away.”

As usual, Caitlin had a question or two. “But how could running away make it better, Sharon? Didn’t you get into all kinds of
trouble? Wasn’t it dangerous?”

“No, running away didn’t make it better, and yes, it was dangerous and yes, I did get into all kinds of trouble. Now it’s you turn,” I said, taking a great interest in the bottom of my tea cup.

“Oh, Sharon, it’s not that simple. Tell me the details, please. I do care about what has happened to you. You were a very special friend to me.”

“’Were’ being the point. I think I got that sometime ago, Caitlin. No message. Nothing. Just packed up and gone, with no goodbye and no looking back.”

“Sharon, when they decided what was going to happen to me, it was back to The Haven and packed up so fast you wouldn’t believe. I even saw one of the staff going to make up my bed with clean sheets. I wanted to wait to see you and say goodbye. I wanted to thank you for taking care of me. I know I was a pain, but I wouldn’t have got through as well as I did at The Haven without you. They told me to get in touch later. I tried phoning you a couple of times, but they said you were out, or couldn’t be found. I think I thought it was you didn’t want to speak to me.

“Then there was so much going on in my new life. The boarding was such fun and I still had a lot to deal with about my mother and the Will and the house and everything. I did get around to writing to tell you my address but someone at The Haven opened my letter and sent it back with a note saying that you had gone away and they could not pass on my address to you, nor tell me where you were. I mentioned it to Mr Ellis, – you remember he was the solicitor who helped to look after me. He said he would look into it, but then he said he could find out no more.”

“Oh, he found out, Caitlin, believe me. But he and that Headmistress of yours decided it was ‘not in your best interests’ to let us get together again. Of course I was in trouble with the Police and waiting around to go to secure by that time. So I suppose you can understand them not wanting me to come visiting your posh school in the pig van with flashing blue lights and all, or have you meeting some of my new ‘friends’ in the Alcatraz for girls. Even worse than The Haven, believe me.

“But in his own funny way your Mr Ellis did try to help me. Came to see me on and off, always made sure I had a solicitor when I needed one, paid the bond for a room for me when I got out , made sure I got a reference for a job. He even spoke up for me when I was likely to be sacked. But I would rather have had you, Caitlin, even if you did keep asking questions. Especially when I had the baby …” This time there was nothing of interest in the bottom of the tea cup, but my tears began to splash into it, and on to the kitchen work top.

Caitlin was off her stool and beside me. She held me close and stroked my hair, saying, “Shush” and “There, there”, alternately. When the crying had died down a bit Caitlin asked, “Baby? Do you have a baby Sharon? A boy or a girl? What’s its name? Where is it?”

“See. I told you. Bleedin’ questions non stop.” I snuffled into Caitlin’s shoulder. “She’s a little girl. I called her Katy and the social have got her. Un-fit mother that’s me.”

As the deep, racking sobs started again, Caitlin pulled away from me and asked, “Does Mr Ellis know about this Sharon?”

“Shouldn’t think so. He lost track when I legged it from Court one time. Needless to say I wanted him and quite a lot of other do-gooders to lose track of me then. I went out of the toilet window when the social worker was daft enough to let me go in the Ladies on my own at Court. I went up West and soon met this lovely guy just outside the bookshop on the Station.

“I was standing there thinking about you and all the things you had read and learned about and wishing it was me. He came up. Lovely clothes, nice teeth, such good manners – like your Mr Ellis only a hundred years younger.”

We both giggled at the mental picture. “First he offered me a cup of tea. Bit like you today, kid. Then it was, ‘Had I got somewhere to stay? Did I know how dangerous this place was? Would I like to call my parents?’ Soon he knew or could guess the whole story. I was on my own-some, on the run, nobody to look out for me, nobody to know if I simply disappeared.”

I straightened up, sniffed, gratefully took the tissue Caitlin offered, and tucked my hair behind my ears. Caitlin smiled and said it had been a regular habit, which she had forgotten until now – and I said, “I don’t know how much more of this you want to know kid. I’ve just found you again. I don’t want you to throw me out after the first hour.”

You can find the next episode in Sharon’s story on this page.

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