Visiting day

Jake hammers down the stairs two at a time. Full of excitement it`s visiting day. He jumps the last four steps landing double footed next to his sisters push chair. His mum struggles to strap her in. Courtney sees her brother, wriggles in her seat with delight. Jake ruffles her hair playfully, turns to check out his beloved Arsenal shirt, in the mirror that hangs next to the front door.
“Cleaned your teeth, Jake?” His mum asks suspiciously.
Jake turns to his mum giving her that cheeky grin that usually gets him his own way.
“I can see you haven’t now go quick, or we’ll miss the bus, hurry up.”
Jake bolts back up the stairs. Two minutes later, he charges back down the stairs and straight out through the front door. His little sister squeals excitedly, kicking her legs wanting to get to her brother. Jakes mum throws her bag over her shoulder, checks her reflection one last time in the hall mirror. Pulls the pineapple hair doo tighter to her scalp, Smoothes down her denim mini skirt and hastily leaves the house slamming the door behind her. She trots along as fast as she can in her wedge platform shoes.
“Jake, wait!” she shouts, but Jake is too far ahead, “little sod” she whispers under her breath.
By the time Carol reaches the bus stop Jake is sitting on the wall, banging the heels of his trainers against the concrete.
“Don`t do that.” she demands, clicking the break of the pushchair with her foot and dragging hard on her fag at the same time.
For Jake the bus journey seems forever. He stares out of the window, remembering back to the day the police arrived to nick his dad. The police where very happy with themselves as they lead his dad, handcuffed to a waiting police car. They had all been sleeping soundly in their beds when the front door burst open. Jake sat bolt upright in his bed and listened to the pandemonium going on out on the landing. His mum was shouting and screaming. Courtney was wailing from her cot, and his dad was hollering and swearing at the police, as he lay face down on the floor, wearing only a pair of handcuffs. Jake sat in his bed, with his hands covering his ears. His eyes screwed up tight trying to block the trauma, stunned to silence. A police woman stood in Jakes bedroom door way, sorrowfully looking at the young broken hearted little lad as he sat in the safe protection of his warm bed, tears streaming down his face. She walked away.

Everything had changed since that day. They don`t have visitors popping round all day and night anymore. There used to be people coming and going all the time. His dad had so many mates; drinking beer, smoking, listening to music, chatting about the football. The house was no longer full of laughter and banter. The only time Jake heard his mum laugh these days, was when Uncle Tony visited her, late at night with a box of beers.
The journey was not so bad today; the weather had definitely picked up, summer had finally arrived. Jake was getting his grubby looking tan back on his face and from his elbows to his fingers, from running around the playing field, trying to shoot the ball between the goal posts. Jake would get rid of a lot of anger and frustration kicking the shit out of that ball.
Jake eagerly waited for the screw to unlock the door, the final hurdle that was keeping him from his dad. He knew his dad would be sitting at a table waiting for them, Jake didn`t like to see his dad in that yellow bib, it reminded Jake of the girls at school skipping about playing netball.
His mum was applying lip gloss, looking into her tiny mirror, keeping the tube still, while moving her head from side to side, in a nervous, frantic kind of way.
The doors opened and Jake charged to the front squeezing his way through, stopping for a brief second, and scanning the room for his dad. Jake spotted him, went tearing down between the tables. His dad had watched as he wedged himself through the door, when Jake got half way down the aisle, his dad jumped up held his arms out, bending his knees slightly, as though he was about to save a goal going in the back of the net at Highbury. Jake jumped onto his dad’s chest and sunk his face into his neck, breathing his dad in, savouring the moment before his mum reached them.
“Hello Son, bloody missed you, “he said as he stood Jake back on his feet rubbing his hair.
Jake looked up at his dad, followed his dads gaze to his mum who was walking towards them, he stepped to one side, allowing them to have their moment. But this time instead of the usual embrace, Jakes mum turned her cheek for his dad to kiss. Jakes smile turned to a frown, worriedly looking back and forth at their reactions to each other. Jakes sister was asleep in the pushchair; Jake was pleased he only had to share his dad with one other person and not two. Jake took his chance to sit at the table in the seat next to his dad, wriggling himself comfortable, placing his arms on the table. Watching his parents sit down opposite each other.
“You alright love?” Jakes dad inquired
“Yer, bloody great” she answered sarcastically, as Courtney stirred from her sleep.
“Listen you two, this`ll cheer you up. His dad said enthusiastically. “The parole board have been in touch, should have my hearing in a couple of weeks, I should be home before you know it.”
Jake looked at his dad giving him a broad ecstatic grin. Noticing the thick silence from the opposite side of the table, Jake waited for a response from his mum. But instead she was reaching down removing the now grizzling child from her buggy.
“Mum?” Jake pushed for a response.
“Take Courtney and get some chocolate from the machine” she insisted thrusting the child in Jakes direction, slapping two pound coins on the table.
“Now” she insisted.
Stunned, Jake looked at his dad for support, but all he got was a wink and a nod in the direction of the vending machine.
Jake begrudgingly took his sister, held her hand and walked to the chocolate machine, looking back over his shoulder trying to imagine what they were discussing; he stood at the back of the queue, ignoring his sister’s arms held high begging to be picked up.
Jake waited impatiently for their turn, glancing at the clock racing round, as it always did on these visits. Finally it was their turn. Once he had retrieved the goodies, peeled the milky bar open as if it was a banana and pacified his sister. He walked back toward his parents. Jake sensed trouble, his dad had his forehead resting on the table, fists clenched, whilst his mum stood leaning over him in heated discussion.
Jake reached the table, and Courtney was pulled from Jakes clasp, dropping her back into the buggy, Jake watched his Dad look up at him in pain and distress.
“Dad, what’s up dad, please?” Jake begged as he flung his arms round his dads neck and held on for dear life, the tears welling up in both their eyes,” you`ll be home soon dad don`t worry,” Jake felt his dad squeeze him even tighter. His mum ripping him away, Jakes dad let go allowing Jake to be pulled along, whilst his mum dragged him with one arm whilst pushing Courtney in her buggy with the other.
“But it`s not time to go mum, please” Jake begged, “let me stay, mum please.”
His mum ignored his demands as she waited impatiently for the door to be unlocked. She never looked back once; Jake never took his eyes of his dad as he was pulled through the door. Once outside the main gate, Jakes mum lit a cigarette, inhaling the smoke.
“Why did you do that mum?” Jake sobbed.
“You’re too young to understand,” she snapped. “Anyway, Uncle Tony will be there when we get home; you can have a pizza delivered.”

Debbie Wright

 

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