“Mum, I’m home” I shouted. I chucked my bag at the bottom of the stairs and went to the kitchen in search of something that was remotely edible. No such luck. An out of date milk and green loaf of bread was not sufficient.
Going through to the kitchen, I found Mum sitting on the sofa, going through the finances. Her dyed blonde hair had the brown roots poking through, and her clothes were threadbare. She lost her job a month ago now, where she had worked as a legal secretary. The whole business closed down. She always laughs about it now, saying “when the economy’s bad, the less people try to sue each other.”
“Hey Sweetie,” she says weakly. Tommy was at her ankles, asking for food, “Mummy, I’m hungry, make me a sandwich!”
I smiled and said I’d do it. I just had to go to the shops first. I took out my wages for today and counted half, and gave the first half to mum. She smiled, “Thanks Sweetie. I know it’s hard to support the family, but you’re doing an amazing job. I’m sorry I can’t help any more than I can at the moment. There just aren’t the jobs anymore…”
“It’s okay mum, there’s no need to apologise” I said. She smiled weakly at that. She knew it wasn’t alright. “How was your day?” she asked, as I put on my shoes to go to the local paper store for food.
“It was alright, didn’t seem to get many people interested in the fliers. Came across a really weird family. They wanted me to live with them, how crazy is that?”
“What?” Mum asked, astounded.
“I know! They said they were doing it because of their dead daughter. They were offering free food and a room for a few months, just to stay with them. Freaks.” I muttered.
“Free food?” Mum asked.
“Yeah, they live on the other side of town, Debbie and somebody…said that it would be like a holiday. Absolutely mental.”
Mum, looking at me, asked “What did you say?”
I was confused, “I was pleasant, and I said “Thank you very much for you’re kind offer, but I already have a mad and crazy family, thank you, and the last thing I need if another’. They gave me their phone number in case I change my mind. As if!”
I gave her the note and went to get my bag. Mum pondered, tapping her chin as she does when she’s thinking, “Wasn’t the Bernstein’s, was it?”
“Yeah, that was it” I said, swinging my bag over my shoulder.
“There not crazy, Alfred’s on the council. He’s a GP, I thing Deborah Bernstein is a journalist, they made a huge donation to your school a few years ago. It was a very kind offer…”
“Kind! Absolutely bonkers if you ask me.”
Mum chewed her pen, “I know you’re not going to like this sweetie, but…maybe it would do you good to get out of this house for a while. One less mouth to feed would be a huge help to me…”
I could not believe what I was hearing. She could not actually be considering this. “You cannot be serious!”
“They’re good people! I might just give them a ring…”
She stood up and put her hands on my shoulders, “Sweetie, it will only be for a month or two, and I’m sure you can come back for one night week. This will be good all round. One less mouth to feed, you get some time away from this mad house, and you help the Bernstein’s by acting as a surrogate child…”
“The hell I’m doing that!” I shouted.
“Language!” Mum said, “And I’m sorry, but this matter is closed. You’re going. I also don’t want to hear any bad behaviour from you, okay!”
She grabbed her mobile and started dialling, “Deborah Bernstein, this is Sandra Eaton the boy you met earlier’s mother”
I stormed out, slamming the door as I went. Over my dead body was I going back to that dead girl’s house!