“A good morning to you all! This is Sara Cox on Radio One, it’s 6:35 a.m., and here is Steps!”
“What! Oh please no, please, not Steps! Not first thing on a Monday morning, that’s all I need!” I jabbed out in frustration, desperately trying to stop my alarm clock from blasting out tacky pop music. As you can tell I’m not Step’s biggest fan. I dragged myself out of bed, quite literally, and headed off to the bathroom where I jumped in the shower, as quickly as possible and turned up the water as hot as I could stand it. As I rubbed shampoo into my hair, I began to contemplate on how miserable life is. I seem to spend plenty of time thinking, more than is good for me anyway.
I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Jenny, Jenny Smith. I’m 16 years old, I have black hair (dyed!), blue eyes, I’m quite short, thin, not particularly attractive. If I filled out one of those dating agency forms I’d probably tick the box: average in the attractiveness section! Okay most of my friends would probably disagree, but hey, that’s their opinion! I live in Manchester (and no, I don’t support Manchester United!) on the outskirts, 12 Windsor Terrace is my house. Anyway, that’s enough about me, I’m quite dull and uninteresting really, or so most people seem to think.
As I strolled casually down the road, hoping to miss my train, and therefore the first hour of school, suddenly I caught sight of my mum…
“Jenny!” She was running down the road, after me in her snoopy dressing gown and pink fluffy slippers, towel on her head, the lot! How embarrassing! “You’ve forgotten your lunch!” She yelled.
“Mum!” I muttered quietly, surprised she actually remembered I exist. I was desperately hoping no one would hear me. It would be all round school that my mum is a crazy, dressing gown, pink fluffy slipper-wearing mad woman!
“Okay, thanks mum. I’d better run, or I’ll miss the train.” I only hoped no one I knew would see me with my mum! I hurried in the direction of the train station; I could get the train to the town centre. Oh the stress of teenage life!
The town centre is my favourite place, a place I can seek refuge. It may not be paradise, but for me it comes closer to it than anywhere else at the moment, home and school. The endless mass of people littering the streets comforts me; it’s a place I can be anonymous. I quickly made my way into ‘Starbucks’, looked at the menu and ordered the coffee with the longest name. As I sat down to drink my double tall de-caff latte with hazelnut syrup, I wondered how many times it would take before the teachers actually noticed I’d been absent from school for the past week. I’ve always been quiet; I suppose I keep myself to myself, but surely they’d notice if someone went missing for a week, even me. I don’t know why I’m so invisible to everyone, I can’t understand why.
Believe me, it’s not as if I don’t try to fit in, I really do. I just feel as if I have no place in life. I can’t turn to my family because my Dad’s in prison, and my mum, well she wouldn’t really care to be honest, all she thinks about is where her next drink is coming from, and how she’s going to pay for her fags: 20 a day she’s on. I keep telling her, she’ll be dead before I am but she just laughs and the drink, and if she carries on…well I dread to think what will happen. I do love my Mum, but I wish she would think about someone other than herself for once.
All she cares about is feeding her addictions. She doesn’t care about us, her four children, I know I can pretty much look after myself, but what about Daniel, James and Lizzie. Daniel’s only two and I look after him more than Mum does. Lizzie and James are seven; they’re going through the stage at the moment where they’re constantly hyper! They insist on running around the house and shouting at the top of their voices. They completely wreck the house, and I get the blame.
“Jenny, you should have stopped them, are you stupid girl? What were you thinking letting them make such a mess?” It’s the same every time, Jenny this, Jenny that, I’m just fed up!
“Hi Mum, I’m home.”
“Oh, yeah hi.” She slurred.
“Mum have you been drinking?” If she’d been at it again I swear I would kill her.
“Whaat…oh yeah jusss a bit.”
Oh god, what am I going to do? She’s probably left Daniel on his own, and…That does it!
“Mum!” I screamed. “Come here now!”
“What have I done now?”
“Nothing, you’ve done nothing! I’m fed up! You just sit on your behind and drink all day, look at you you’re drunk! You disgust me. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but you need some serious help. I’m only 16 and look at me; I’m more of a Mum than you are. Who looks after the kids? Me. Who cleans up after you? Me. I’ve had it up to here with you Mum. Until now I’ve been patient, but now, that’s it! No more looking after kids, no more cleaning, I can’t take it anymore, I don’t need this.
“Jenny, come back…”
Despite my Mum’s desperate but futile attempts to pursue me I ran, tears steaming down my face, I ran. I didn’t care where I was going; I just wanted to get away, away from my Mum, away from her drinking, away from responsibility.
After about 5 minutes I felt my legs begin to give way beneath me. I’d been running so fast. I collapsed onto the pavement, a crumpled heap.
“Ow!” I cursed as I hit the ground. I had now probably twisted my ankle, as well as having cramp in both of my legs. Suddenly reality struck me; I was sitting in the middle of the pavement!
“What am I doing?” I tried to get up but I couldn’t, my ankle hurt so much. So much for getting away! I’d run about half a mile, and now I was stuck here. I tried to call for help, but there was no one around.
“Oh, great, this is just fabulous, I’m stuck sitting on the ground, looking like a complete idiot, and in immense pain.”
I wished I hadn’t got myself into this mess, that’s what it was, one big mess. I wish my life could just be normal like everyone else. I wish my dad was back, and I wish my Mum would just get some help, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. I just can’t believe she would let things get this bad. I know she was really depressed when dad went down, but that’s no excuse to abandon her children, we need her. Drinking endlessly is not going to make the problem go away. I just wish there was something I could do, but there isn’t. I know running away seems stupid but I’ve been going over it in my head for so long now, and I just don’t know what else I could do, I just can’t face it anymore.
As for school, that’s not helping. The others treat me like dirt, I may be poorer than a lot of them, but that doesn’t give them the right to beat me up, does it? I just wish they’d leave me alone, it’s come to the point where I’m too afraid to go to school. One of these days they’ll go too far, and I’ll end up in hospital. I’ve tried to make friends, but because I come from a different background, we just don’t get along. I don’t know where to turn; I have enough problems at home without being beaten up at school. What have I done to deserve this? I don’t understand. All I want to do is help my Mum, but I don’t know where to start.
“You all right, love?” A middle aged woman approached me looking concerned.
“Um, I’ve hurt my ankle, can you help me up?”
“I think we need to get you to hospital, dear.”
“No, really I’m fine, if you just help me up I’ll be on my way.”
I tried to make out I was okay, going to hospital was the last thing I wanted to do. They’d start firing questions at me, they’d make me go back home. No way was I going back, not now.
“Well if you’re sure, but I don’t think it’s wise.”
“Thanks for your concern, but really I’m fine, just leave me alone, okay!”
“Well I’m sorry! All I was trying to do was help you, but if you’re going to be like that, then, well…Well that’s your problem!”
I sometimes wonder why people can’t mind their own business, why couldn’t she just leave me alone! Anyway, I’d better decide what I’m going to do. I don’t know anyone that lives in Manchester, not even any relatives. I suppose I’ll have to sleep rough tonight; maybe I can find a shelter or something. I need to sort out my Mum; I’m not going back there. Aren’t there those alcoholics meetings you go to, what are they? The ones where you stand up in a circle and say my name’s Fred and I’m an alcoholic. What are they called? Oh yeah, alcoholics anonymous. I could find out the number for the nearest one, and get Mum to go. If she refuses then that’s simple, I won’t come home. I’ll give her an ultimatum: drink or me. If that doesn’t work, well, well I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.