It was 5.49 am when the shouting woke me. An aggressive male voice spitting indecipherable words was interspersed with a teary desperate female voice. ‘What do I do now?’ I jumped out of bed and pushed aside the curtain. Three young people, kids really, were outside my house. I saw a boy with his angry, twisted face inches from the face of a girl with blonde hair. Then he turned and marched off down the road with a dark haired girl trotting behind to catch up with him. They didn’t look back.
‘What do I do now?’ The wail was quieter. And then, as if in slow motion, the girl with blonde hair turned and ran out into the road….in front of a big black 4×4. I watched, horrified, waiting to see the inevitable accident. But amazingly the car stopped as the girl with blonde hair, in tv drama fashion, put her hands onto the bonnet as if her strength alone was stopping it. I turned and ran out of my bedroom and down the stairs. By the time I had unlocked the front door the car had gone and the girl was sitting on the curb opposite me. I could hear the sobbing from my front door. Giant gasps and gulps as she tried to catch her breath.
I walked over to her. ‘Are you ok?’ No answer. It really was a ridiculous question. ‘What’s your name?’ No answer. ‘Are you ok?’ Still a ridiculous question, no better the second time of asking.
‘I can’t breathe.’ The crying was like when a small child can’t stop and the sobs catch in their throat. She looked at me and I could see how young she was. ‘There’s a bump on my head.’ She touched a small but very obvious bump on her forehead. ‘How did you get that?’ No answer. ‘Did someone hit you?’ No answer. ‘Did you fall?’ No answer. ‘Ok , you are coming inside with me. Are you ok with that? Just come and get a drink of water.’ I noticed the rubbish in the middle of the road wasn’t rubbish but two bags. I picked them up and she looked confused. She hadn’t even noticed she had dropped them. She must have dropped them when she nearly got hit by the car. She took them from me and allowed me to lead her across the road and into my house.
She took a few sips of water. The crying stopped. She told me her name. She told me it was her boyfriend who I saw leaving her in the street and that she was living with him. She told me she had fallen out with her family, she didn’t talk to them. She told me she had nowhere to go. ‘I got to go. I got to find him cos I got nowhere to go’. Then she told me the bump came from her boyfriend. He had done it twice before. She looked surprised when I told her that she should not go back to someone who hit her. ‘I shouldn’t go back?’ ‘No, you shouldn’t go back.’ I asked her how old she was. ’18.’ I told her I had an 18 year old daughter and it would break my heart if she was hit by anyone.
She said she wanted to go. I wrote my name and number on a piece of paper and she put it in her pocket. She hugged me then left. I watched her walk down the road and around the corner. I will be waiting for a call all day today. I know it won’t come.