I slump in the back of the car, gazing out at the streets that will be my home for a few months. I didn't know who this new distant relative they had magicked from nowhere was, most likely some old man who claimed to be my third-cousin-in-law-three-times-removed or something, but I wasn't getting my hopes up.
When I was little, every new town was a new adventure. New parks to play in, new streets to skateboard through, new kids to play with. I had been so sure that each relative was the one, the one who would keep me, who would give me a permanent home. I would be sickly sweet and good those first few weeks, and they would be to me, buying me toys and clothes, taking me out.. Then a week or so would pass and they would begin to tire of me, having either never wanted kids, already had loads of kids, or some newly married couple who saw me as 'cramping their style' because they could no longer spend their whole lives in the bedroom.
Now, however, it was a different story. I saw each new relative as yet another new prison guard, laying down new rules about where I could and couldn't go, what I could and couldn't do, when I had to be home, be in bed, be at school... Now I was a teenager the nice treatment was long gone. I wasn't cute and cuddly, instead tall and well built, I didn't have chubby cheeks and an endearing bowl-cut, though I had unfortunately, kept my dimples.
"Ash, here's your new home." My social worker, Jim, announces, breaking my train of thought. He jumped out of the car and practically skipped to the boot, opening it up and hauling out my case. I pull my rucksack off the floor and put my hand on where my skateboard is lying across the seat next to me, but make no move to open the door. "Come on Ash! Get out!" Jim says, opening the door. "Look, I know its hard to be positive, but I really think you'll like this new rello!" He grins at my incredulous stare, then turns and walks along the pavement. Slowly, I climb out and follow.
"Here we are!" He says, as we arrive at the corner of the street. I'm unimpressed. It's a simple brick house, two stories. The door is painted a pink-ish red.
"So. What's the details?" I say, surveying the neat flower beds. "A woman I'm guessing."
"Yep, your great-second-cousin or something.." He says, clearly not positive as to exactly how this woman is related to me. "Your great aunt's son's daughter.. I think.."
"Great.. She got family? A husband? Kids?"
"No, I don't think so, it's just her."
"Oh, great..." I roll my eyes, imagining some middle-aged spinster who loves knitting and gardening. But then the door opens and a young, pretty woman who must be in her early twenties walks out carrying a pile of empty bottles.
"Oh!" She cries when she sees us, jumping and dropping the bottles all over the grass. Blushing, she bends to collect them up. "Oh, you must be Ash, my new charge!" She grins, and forgetting the bottles, holds out her arm for me to shake. The bottles all fall to the floor yet again, and she blushes an even deeper red, muttering: "Oh bugger, stupid effing bottles..." I can't help but smile, bending and reaching down to pick the bottles from the floor. Maybe this new place won't be so bad after all...