Monday 15th August 2011
Jenny comes to a decision
“MAKE your mother a pot of T, Tom. It’s been one of those days. Hi.”
Jenny extended her hand, which I clasped in the expected manner. Her grip was strong. Tom noted my wince of discomfort.
“Be care full, Mam. She might have broken sum mut.”
“I’m sorry. And eggs ackli who are you?”
“Virgulle. I am thanking for Tom. He is good.”
“A pain in the back side, you mean.”
“Yes, I hurted the back and the side,” I explained.
There was a pause, before the mother smiled and the son beamed. She gestured for me to be seated once more, while he began filling the kettle.
“Please. Finish your drink. So, what’s this all about?”
And thus Tom was granted the time to recount the circumstances of our encounter in the churchyard, to describe the nature of my injuries, and to explain why he had subsequently invited me into their home. Jenny listened, nodded, interrogated him, made a drug-stick from strands of brown fibre and a wafer of paper, shook her head, frowned, sighed and sipped hot tea.
The door to the hallway being ajar, we were soon joined by the family feline: a wide-haunched, black prowler of many summers, who quickly decided I was neither fowl nor foe, jumping on to my lap and demanding attention.
“See, Mam! Clawed wants her to stay.”
Jenny refilled her mug before addressing me directly, speaking slowly to aid my comprehension:
“This is madness. Emily is ill. Tom is in all kinds of trouble. My X is off his head all the time and no help what so ever. I’ve had to give up my job. We are living from hand to mouth… and… and now you comer long and my son wants us to look after you. I am sorry, but I—”
She inhaled smoke from the drug-stick.
“Oh. Sod it. I guess you’re as lost and needy as I am. I’ve no idea what to suggest and all I can do is give you some old clothes and the odd crust of bread. I am a lone parent with a sick child and problems up to here…”
She put a hand up to her chin.
“…but, if you want to stay for a few days, you can. We’ll cope. Somehow.”