Only Me ~ Part 3
Mum says I'm to stay in now and play on my computer. The next day I lift the latch carefully, open the door slowly. It doesn't make a noise.
He's there already. I see his red cap instantly. I go over to the swings and sit on the nearest, my legs dangling more casually than I feel.
I reach twenty-two in my head before he's standing in front of me. He smells a bit funny and I think he's wearing yesterday's clothes again.
He pulls a paper bag from his pocket and hands it to me. "What's this?" I ask. "Look," he mutters. I pull out a red keyring with my name on.
I do not know what to say so I just tell the truth. "I don't have any keys." Then I look into his grubby face. "Did you buy this in a shop?”
He shrugs, then grunts. He has stolen it, I can tell. Somebody who can't afford soap or another set of clothes can't afford to buy keyrings.
"Why do you not live with us? And what is YOUR name?" I ask. He looks down. "It's complicated." "Pleased to meet you, Complicated," I reply.
He smiles and I smile. "You'd have made a good brother," he tells me. "Thank you," I say. I have a trillion and one things to ask but don’t.
"So..." he trails off. I think he's more nervous than me. "Do you have a girlfriend?" he eventually asks. "I'm eight," I say. "Nearly nine.”
"Right," he says. I swing my legs a little to look busy. I don't want to go home so soon but the silence is awkward. "I better go back now.”
"You've only just come." "I know," I reply, then shrug. "See you," I say, turning to leave. "It's Tom," he says. "Maybe I'll see you again?”
I sit out of view, my back to a tree. I rub my finger over the keyring, tracing my name. As I put it in the paper bag, I notice the receipt.
Part 4 coming Thursday 24th July