Updated: Jan 8
Lisa looks through the window and sees the rain trickling down, feels sad, her shoes leak, Mum could not find anything better in the charity shop, the lady who serves in there told her she would keep her eye open, but the good stuff does not last for long.
Lisa is hungry, nothing much in the cupboard, just some cheese slices, the bread is a bit dry and crumbly, Lisa is not keen on cheese, it will have to do though. Glass of orange cordial and out into the rain she goes. Its a twenty minute walk, by the time she gets there her feet will be cold and damp. Lisa is used to this, her mum does her best but cant work due to having been troublesome at the betting shop where she used to work.
Her mum refused to work on the weekend due to wanting to be with Lisa, the shop told her to go, and that they would make sure she got no other work round here. Mum cries sometimes after the Postie has stuffed some brown envelopes though the door. Lisa never thinks about her Dad, she can not actually remember what he looks like anymore.
On her way she walks by a furniture shop, they have sofas in the window and large armchairs, Lisa has a friend who has stuff like that in the house, when she sits on them she feels sleepy. Her friends Mum always says that maybe its time Lisa went home.
A bus goes by and that friend waves to Lisa, and smiles. Lisa can not take the bus, its 60p and Mum has not got that much most days. Some other kids are also walking along, chatting about stuff Lisa does not understand. The other kids do not ignore Lisa, she just can not chat about the stuff they do. What is a lossless download?
Some of the other kids are excited, they are going to a castle on the coach, and have all brought packed lunches. A whole day away from the school has got them all looking forward to seeing the castle and stuff in it. Lisa will not be going. The school wrote to Mum and said if they let Lisa go, others would also want to go without paying. Mum cried at that, Lisa felt bad and wanted to make Mum happy.
Lisa gets to school and takes her shoes off and leaves them by a radiator to see if they will dry quickly. Miss Brown sees her doing this and sighs. What can they do with Lisa today when all her class are at the castle? Awkward kid Lisa. Is very good at working out sums and figuring out numbers. Tends to drift though, can not seem to keep her focus. Miss Brown is quite certain that she has potential. Miss Brown has an idea.
Lisa and her friend Olivia find five minutes to chat, Olivia takes a small pack of biscuits out of her packed lunch and gives it to Lisa, Olivia likes to say thank you to Lisa for helping her with her Maths work. Olivia wishes her mum would let Lisa sleep over sometimes. Her mum says that Lisa needs a good bath and to wash her hair more often. Olivia wishes Lisa was coming to the castle.
Lisa goes to class and Miss Brown is there, tells Lisa to take a book from the shelf and quietly read for a while. Mr Parsons comes in to chat with Lisa, he is the head of the school, and he asks Lisa why her mum could not afford to pay for the trip. Lisa starts to try to say mum is not well, has not been eating much because the food bank had to close due to lack of funds. She starts to struggle, tears running down her cheeks. Mr Parsons asks if Lisa has a packed lunch? Lisa says she will be OK today. Mr Parsons says because so many kids are on the trip, there will be spare food at lunch time, Lisa can have a hot dinner today. Lisa feels happy, its fish and chips with beans today.
Mr Parsons is angry, he loves his pupils, sees the value of all of them. He knows that Lisa is good with numbers and can clearly see that she could be very clever if handled correctly. He makes a mental note to see what can be done for her outside of school.
Three weeks later he gets an Email, it says that the responsibility of the school ends when the pupil steps through the gates.
Lisa likes the book, it is about rabbits, one is called Hazel, Lisa likes Hazel.
At home her mum has just dropped a letter onto the worn carpet. It informs her that because she was twenty minutes late for a review (she had to walk to the offices) her benefits are being suspended pending a decision. She sobs by herself, sitting cold and alone. Wishing this could all just go away. Her inner self is folding,she only has Lisa and hates herself for not being able to give her the things she needs.
Mum loses the rage, feels the shame. The telly is full of stuff about dead soldiers, Lisas dad was a soldier, got killed when Lisa was two. She remembers when everyone said they would not forget, then forgot. The news talks of the economy doing well, the stock exchange is doing well, house prices are rising, education spending is to be cut, the DWP has been instructed to cut billions, too many scroungers.
At school Lisa goes to the dinner hall, it is very quiet, the dinner ladies smile and make Lisa laugh. She tells them about Hazel, they are impressed that Lisa is reading such a good book. The food is brilliant, Lisa wishes she could eat there everyday. They give her apple crumble with thick custard, Lisa feels like it is Christmas.
At home her mum is putting all the tablets into a bowl, anti depressants and pain killers, she has been taking these for years since the death. Slowly the milk boils and she simmers it for a while thinking of when Colin went away to fight, thinking of how the news said she was very brave for refusing to be angry when they interviewed her.
She goes and sits in the armchair and drinks the milk slowly, hoping that Lisa will not be angry when they interview her.
Lisa sits alone quietly reading about Hazel and Fiver, loses track of time. Miss Brown comes in and tells Lisa its time to go. Lisa gets her now dry shoes and puts them on feeling happy and feeling full. The rain is still falling, the walk will,be lonely, the others are not back from the castle yet. Lisa can not wait to tell her mum about the rabbits.
Lisas mum has not moved, the flat is cold and semi dark. All life has gone from that damp place. As Lisa sticks the key in the door, she is thinking of when Hazel floated away into the sky.
Footnote. We will catch up with Lisa again.