The 3 O’clock train drew up to the station, letting out a belch of smoke through the great funnel. The doors opened with a hiss and passengers began to spill out like ants scurrying onto the platform, hugging long-lost friends and collecting luggage. Eventually, everyone started to drift towards the open doors of the station until only the bored station master, eating a sandwich, was left.
Then there was a scuffle and a thump and a small girl fell out of the train, narrowly missing the gap down to the tracks. She stood up shakily, brushing down her odd looking clothes and reached inside the train again, grabbing hold of a small brown battered case. She stepped away from the train, looking around her desperately. She glanced at her watch and then sighed.
She looked quite an odd girl. Dressed in a tartan skirt and bright white jumper, with a felt hat perched precariously on her head underneath long black hair, she looked as though she had just stumbled out of a 60s movie scene. Certainly she looked just dazed, as though she couldn’t quite understand how one minute she had been speeding past bushes and cows in a train and the next she was standing on a London platform, quite alone.
Gracie Moon sat down on her upturned case and fingered the hem on her jumper. The white thread was un-ravelling and the more she pulled the worse it got and now the whole of the cuff was gone. Gracie would have to ask these new relatives of hers for a needle so she could fix it.
Relatives. Real live relatives, actual flesh and blood. Finally, people she could write down on the family trees that her teachers set for homework at school. Not that she’d be going to that school anymore, not now she lived with her Uncle and Aunt. It had all been very quick, Elizabeth the Social Worker turning up at Gracie’s foster Mother’s house and telling Gracie that after all these years, Gracie did indeed have living relatives. And to make matters even better, these breathing relatives were over-joyed to hear that they had a niece and agreed instantly to her coming to stay. It had all been decided, letters stamped and signed with official signatures, until all of a sudden it was time for Gracie to leave. Gracie had cried when it had been time to leave her foster Mother, the only Mother she had ever had, but visits and letters had been promised and with a banging heart and a dizzy head, Gracie had boarded the train that would take her to her blood family.
And here she was, in St Pancreas Station, sitting on the platform beside a train that had just taken her away from her foster Mother and from a house. Was this where she had meant to have ended up? With the great ticket information desk and the waste paper bins and the crackly voice rising over the intercom. Was this her new life or was it all some big joke?
Gracie glanced up towards the open doors of the station and saw a bright limo pull up in front of the station steps. A portly man with fuzzy black hair and a brilliant moustache that curled towards his nostrils got out of the limo. He jogged up the steps, the sun glinting off his ludicrous green and pink suit. Gracie actually winced at the brightness of his outfit. However, for some reason she liked the look of him, the way he looked about him as though nature had put him on a natural high. He strode into the station, this man, and looked about him. Spotting Gracie he froze, and then a beam broke out onto his broad face and he practically started to run towards Gracie .Gracie blinked, startled to her feet. She actually thought this man was going to come charging at her and knock her off the platform and onto the track.
“Gracie? Gracie Moon?” The man seemed to be gasping. Gracie nodded frantically. This man, she supposed, was obviously her Uncle and he seemed frighteningly excited to see her. “Oh my! Oh Dear! Oh Goodness gracious me!” He grabbed hold of Gracie’s suitcase and beckoned her eagerly towards the limo. Gracie looked at it apprehensively,
“We’re travelling in that?” She said. The man practically convulsed with laughter,
“Well how else are we going to get home? With wings?” And at that, the man looked at her quite seriously and added, “Do you have wings?”
“Well that’s okay then! Come along now, Jovy’s waiting!” And with that the man grabbed by the hand and strode with her purposely towards the gleaming limo.
“Oh, oh! But...” Gasped Gracie, quite disconcerted by it all. She didn’t even know her Uncle’s name.
This strange man seemed to grasp this as he suddenly came to a standstill and smiled very kindly at Gracie Moon. Gracie swallowed and blinked quite a few times.
“I’m very sorry Gracie, I suppose this is all happening rather quickly isn’t it and I’m not exactly helping matters, my wife does tell me I rush off on things and ought to slow down but quite frankly I can’t.” He gave a rueful smile, “Well anyways, I’m your Uncle Sesame and I am your Mother’s Brother which makes you my niece as you are her daughter! I can’t tell you how surprised I was when this assertive woman phoned me the day after I managed to get the telephone fixed and told me I had a niece!” They started to walk again, “Well I told my wife, your Aunt, and she didn’t even believe me at first, said I was making it up! Well she will be very surprised when we get back home and she sees you.”
A small old man with squinty brown eyes, an incredibly long beard and pale wizened skin like a much wrinkled walnut stood at the passenger door of the limo. He opened the door for Sesame to get inside and only when Gracie got close enough did she see that the old man had managed to twist and wind his beard into the shape of a very neat grey tie. Gracie thought this very clever indeed.
Sesame settled himself very comfortably into the limo and poured himself a mug of tea and handed a glass of lemonade to his niece. The car rumbled and the only notion that Gracie had that the car was moving was the very gentle swaying motion.
“Our house isn’t far from here; I would have arrived at the train station a lot quicker if there hadn’t been so much traffic around Daisy Park. I think there’s a fair going on there... maybe we could go later, I do love fairs.” Said Sesame. Gracie smiled in response. She loved fairs too, especially back home on the Farmers field. The excitement of going to school in the morning and spotting the little caravans and tents setting up there little stalls ready for the evening was enough to make kids go crazy at school for the rest of the day.
Gracie sighed. It wasn’t to be called ‘back home’ anymore. Before, when she used to live there, she could kid herself that that was where she had always meant to be and that her Foster Mother was actually her Mother....
But now she was here she couldn’t think like a child anymore, she wasn’t, and had never been, related to her foster Mother, and now , what with all the official papers, now that her Foster Mother had signed documents handing over responsibility, it felt like Gracie and her foster Mother had just gone back to being strangers.
And even though the park was full with children and cars littered the streets almost as much as the rubbish and the tall big houses, housing even more Londoners, stood at the side of the pavement and the London eye, in the distance, was holding a load of un-comfortable people squashed up inside cramped pods, and she was sat in the limo with her uncle and the driver just centimetres away, Gracie Moon felt as though she was completely on her own.
Gracie sniffed, blinking furiously. She looked up to see her Uncle staring at her thoughtfully.
“Jovy,” Sesame called to the driver, smiling at Gracie, “I think we should hold off going home for a bit. Take a little detour to Charity Gold, if you will.”