In Care : Sharon : 5 : A Fresh Start?

This is the fifth (and last) episode in Sharon’s story. She and Caitlin were in care together, and they have just met again. Sharon is telling Caitlin what happened to her after there were split up. You can read the earlier episodes here – Epidose 1 2 3 4

I drew breath. Now that I had started I might as well cough the lot. I didn’t expect Caitlin would want to see much of me anyway after what I had already told her, so I might as well finish the job.

“Right, so back to Mr Nice Guy on the station. He told me his name was Jason. Took me back to his place. Lovely gaff overlooking the river. All polished floors and glass furniture – you know what I mean. Nice little room for me with its own bathroom and loads of ‘smellies’ and big fluffy towels. I thought I was in Heaven, I can tell you. And I was still so stupid as to think he was just wanting to take care of me. Of course, it wasn’t long before he was wanting me to do favours for some of his so-called friends. He had been all sweet and gentle with me himself. Never even tried to get me to do ‘it’ with him. So when the first of these animals jumped on me and pawed me and sweated all over me and covered my mouth up when I screamed because it hurt, I thought if I told Jason he would not let it happen again. But he just smiled that charming smile and said, ‘What did you expect sweetie? Haven’t you heard? Nothing is for free. This is the start of pay back time.’

“After I lost count of the number of Jason’s ‘friends’, he told me one day to pack my stuff, it was time to move on. What stuff? you might ask. I had spent most of the time naked, or in a skimpy nightie. And I had hardly packed for a long stay when I legged it from Court. Anyway, some woman turned up and told her Jason had sent her to fetch me. As we drove away in her car I saw Jason driving up with a young kid in his car. She looked like I had a few days before. She looked tired out and crumpled. ‘Well,’ I thought, ‘You’ve got a nice clean bed, kid. Jason made me change the sheets before he left!’

“After that, it was a blur of houses and men. Then it was out on the street to hook my own trade. But all the time any money was going straight back to Jason. A few times I tried holding some back, but only got to regret it.

“Finally I fell pregnant, and although some men seemed to get a kick out of going with a pregnant woman, my usefulness to Jason was coming to an end. So one day I turned a few tricks, took the money before he could collect it and got on the train back here. I eventually stumbled into A and E in the early stages of labour, after living rough for days. Of course I had no address, no ID, no medical records and hadn’t had any ante-natal care.

“So, some Goody Two Shoes nurse called the social and before I knew it they had decided that it was ‘in the best interests of my baby to be put into foster care, pending a long-term decision about her future’. Did anybody ask yours truly? Did anybody try to find out why I had turned up alone and out of nowhere? Did they give a toss about where I would go? Did they wonder about what state I was in? Did anybody care? I thought of calling Mr Ellis, but couldn’t remember the number.

“I didn’t fancy the homeless hostel they had on offer and left one day, after promising little Katy I would come back for her. The best thing that happened to me was that a Salvation Army woman got talking to me on the street one night. She was out on patrol with the God Squad, but she really took an interest in me.”

Caitlin’s eyes got big and round.

“Now don’t go thinking I got religion or anything”, I said. “But she was good to me. Got me into a decent hostel. Got me cleaned up. Helped me to get that poxy job. It’s not her fault it’s poxy. Anyway, I’m getting myself together and I’ve got on to the social a couple of times to ask about getting Katy back. Course, if they ever found out half the stuff I’ve told you there’d be no chance. But I do all I can to keep them sweet. I go to see her when I can. I make sure I’m clean and sober. I’ve even got a place of my own now. Nothing like this of course, but enough room for Katy and me.”

“Sharon, have you thought how much it would cost to look after Katy?” Caitlin the sensible wanted to know. “And what would you do about work? All those funny shifts? Who would look after Katy in the middle of the night?”

Well, of course I had thought about it, but I pushed it all aside because all I wanted to think about was having Katy with me and her growing up, knowing that I loved her for herself, out of choice, not because I had to, not because of what other people might think.

“Don’t spoil it for me, Kid, please. I want to do something good for once in my life. I know how this ought to be and I want to do it, for my baby. I ought to go now. I’m on early shift. See you around. And don’t dob me in to the law. OK?”

Caitlin leapt up. “Please stay the night, Sharon. I’ll drop you at work tomorrow. Then when you finish we can talk some more. We must be able to sort out something.”

I think, ever since I had seen her face across the check-out counter, I had hoped against hope that she might say something like this. Anyway, for now I was too tired to argue and in minutes I was settled in her spare bedroom.

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