“You’re why I come here and you know it,” she says. “I wanted you since you saw my bruises and called the cops even though everyone said you were a jerk for believing me. I wanted you since you got angry they’d hurt me. You were angry, I saw it. And then you were angry with me, and I liked that too. Not angry like Bill and Rosie, not angry like that cop who came here and took my stupid statement. Angry like real angry. Angry like you wanted to hit me worse than any stupid bruises on my arms. But you didn’t give up.” She pauses. Breathes. “That’s what I’m doing here.” She uncrosses her legs and lands her muddy boots right back on the carpet. “And that’s the only thing I wanted to say. That and thanks for trying. See you around, Mr Warren.”
She’s up and out of her seat before I’ve collected my words.
“Wait…” I say, but she holds up a hand. “Carrie…”
But there are only a trail of muddy boot prints in her wake.
My office door swings on its hinges behind her and there’s already a pair of nervous eyes waiting on the other side.
I welcome in my next appointment and try to brush Carrie Wells from my mind.
We’re done. Finished. I did everything I could. More than I should have.
She’s not my problem anymore.
If only I could believe that were true.CarrieI keep my head down as I stomp away from Michael Warren’s office. They all hate me in here, all the pen-pushers and the snotty bitches behind the crappy reception desk. All their smiley rainbow welcome signs mean nothing in this place, not if your face doesn’t fit.
They want the nice kids who speak when they’re spoken to and say thank you whenever anyone throws them a scrappy crumb of nothing.
They want nice kids like the one outside Michael’s office, with big sad puppy dog eyes and a smile for everyone. Those are the kids that get good homes.
Kids like me, not so much.
But I’m not a kid anymore. In a couple of days I’ll be kicked out of the latest home I was palmed off on. Rosie and Bill will be glad to see the back of me, and I don’t blame them. Not really.
They’re good people. Kind.
I just… I can’t stop myself shoving my shitty attitude in their faces until they break.
It doesn’t matter who they are, they always break in the end.
I’ve been in fourteen homes since I turned ten. Fourteen sets of new parents telling me to make myself one of the family. But I never do.
I don’t belong in anyone’s family. I don’t belong in anyone’s little Lego house or their neatly-mown back garden. I don’t belong on any grinning school photos or in the county netball team.
I don’t belong in this little shit hole of a town, with its backwater villages where everyone is in everyone else’s business.
My ancestors were travellers, roaming the wilds and making a living from the land. I feel it in my blood – the urge to dance through the countryside and make my own way in a little wagon somewhere. Maybe I’ll find my own kind, just as soon as I’m old enough to make my own way.
That’s what I’ve been telling myself – that this is destiny. That I won’t miss Rosie and Bill, not even a bit. That they mean nothing to me, just like none of the others meant anything to me. Not even Emma and Frank all those years ago who bought me the doll house and helped me set up all the pretty furniture Frank made me.
They thought it was me who hit their baby daughter, but I didn’t. It was Eli, their eldest, but nobody believed a little liar like me. Problems – that’s what they said. I had problems. Too many problems for Emma and Frank and their nice little family.
That’s why I scratched his car to shit with one of his screwdrivers. Problems.
That’s why I spat in Emma’s face when she tried to say goodbye. Problems.
And that’s why everyone ditches me when I get too much. So many problems.
I should have been nothing but a problem to Michael Warren too. Hell, I was a problem enough for the two colleagues of his I saw before him. They lasted weeks before they felt intimidated. But he was different.
I could shout in his face and he didn’t turn me away. I could tell him what I thought and he didn’t scowl and sigh and mutter about problems, problems, problems.
He could be angry, but he never kicked me out.
He could want to smack the attitude right out of me, but he didn’t lose his cool.
I like Michael Warren, and I wish I’d told him before now, before our last ever session. Who knows, maybe a man like him could have actually helped a problem like me. Maybe if I’d have listened to him I wouldn’t be kicked out of Rosie and Bill’s.