I still like hearing about them.
I guess he knows it and that’s why he’s always used it to take things from me. Whatever he wants. Money, favours.
I shiver at the thought of how much I’ve given him, and I’ve never really minded before, because family’s family, even if it is fucked up, but now that I have things I’m really not willing to give up for him, I hope he just stays well away from me.
I came to Gloucester because I don’t know my way around anywhere else, but it makes me nervous.
I want to get my shopping as quickly as possible. I head over to the shoe store on South Street, the one with the boots I’ve always ogled, but even though they’re reduced they’re still almost sixty quid. That would leave me forty for some underwear and some other bits I need.
But I really wanted to get Jack and Mike something, so I put a hold on the boots until I’ve done that first.
Choosing a present for Mike is easy, I know exactly what I’m going to get him.
I’ve only ever seen him in three ties for work, and I know he likes weird slightly zany stuff, so I head into a suit shop in one of the posher streets and choose him a nice deep green one, to match his eyes. I smile as I picture him in it, because it’ll look good on him. I know it will.
It cost me twenty, which is a chunk of my money, but at least I can still get Jack something and get my boots. The other stuff will have to wait.
There’s a boutique homewares shop next to the tie place, and I’ve never even looked in here before because for one I’ve never had a home, and secondly because I’ve never had any money.
But then I see it, in the window. A big coloured glass sculpture thing with flecks of blue and green right through it.
It’s not like the thing the crow smashed, but it’s not too dissimilar. My heart races at the thought I could replace it for him. My stomach is in knots at the thought that I can really make up for what I ruined.
I dash inside and ask the snooty shop assistant how much it is, then gulp as she says it’s eighty-five.
I only have eighty.
My heart breaks.
I step outside defeated, not giving a shit for my boots anymore or the hairbrush I can make do without. I just need a fiver, that’s all. One measly fiver.
Once upon a time I’d have considered stealing it, but not now. Now I only want to take what I earn and nothing more.
I should walk away and get my boots and work out a way of getting it another time, but I can’t. I really can’t.
I want nothing more than to see Jack’s face as I get him another sculpture, Michael’s too as he tries on his tie.
That’s the reason I head into the backstreets to find Eli. That’s why I trek into an area that makes me shiver and knock on his front door.
He’s not happy when he answers. His eyes are dark and angry, beard dishevelled as he yanks me inside by my wrist. He squeezes hard as he pulls me upstairs and this time I don’t fight because I don’t want to explain the bruises.
He throws me into the living room and jabs a finger at me. “You took off!”
“You were being a cunt to me!”
“If I’m so much of a cunt, then why are you fucking back here, you little skank?”
I fold my arms. “I need to borrow a fiver.”
He laughs a mean laugh. “A fucking fiver? Why? You already fucking owe me.”
I owe him for a fucking sandwich and not much else, but I don’t say that.
“I need it for a friend,” I say and he sneers.
“You don’t have any fucking friends.”
“I have friends now,” I say proudly. “Are you gonna give me the fiver or not?”
“Are you gonna fucking bail and ignore me again if I do?”
I shake my head. “I’ll give it back.”
“And the rest?”
There is no rest, not really, but I still want the updates on how everyone is doing and I really want this fiver so I nod. “Yeah, and the rest.”
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the note and I’m so happy my heart soars. I rush towards him, but he holds it out of reach.
He stinks of weed and I hate it, but the fiver is so close I can smell the happiness more. I brace myself for it and when it comes it’s sloppy and gross and makes me feel sick.
His hand paws my tit through my top and pinches my nipple even though I twist away. I daren’t break off the kiss before he’s ready, because then I’ll never get the fiver, so I hold my breath and let him do it, just like he always does.