Friday, 22 April 2011

Flash Fiction #6: Belonging

I'm luckier than most runaways.  I ended up with a roof over my head, food in my belly.  Lots more than can be said about others who started out the same as me; young, skint, alone.
Some people are just born so different from their parents that it's impossible to ever get along.  They weren't bad people, my mum and dad - I was never smacked around or fiddled with like just about every waif and stray on TV.  I think the feeling was mutual, though, that our relationship wasn't meant to be.  The bond that binds parents to their child, and vice versa, was missing.  I speculate to this day that the wrong child was taken home from the hospital.
The long story short is, I was eighteen, I stole twenty quid from my mum's purse, and I ventured out into the big bad world.  It was exciting at first; an adventure.  I was living proof that you didn't need your parents.  The shine wore off pretty quick, though.  You soon lose track of time, but I think it had been about a month and a half before hunger and thirst overrode my teenage pride and I was on my knees helping middle-aged men with their flies.  Even then, I managed to convince myself it wasn't so bad.  I was free, independent, making my own living.
It was only when the Parkers found me that I realised I'd been kidding no-one.  When they stopped their silver Audi right in front of the doorway where I was crouched, I automatically puckered my lips and gave Mr Parker my fullest come-to-bed eyes.  But when his wife got out of the passenger door, I didn't know what to make of it.  
"Get in, dear," she'd said to me.  I can remember thinking, even then, how beautiful she was.  Not a single hair out of place, make-up immaculate, her expensive looking clothes hanging pristinely from her poised frame.  She, along with the handsome, well-groomed Mr Parker, exuded what my own family had always lacked: class.
I live with them now.  They're what many might call the perfect couple; loving, attentive, and so romantic with each other.  They love me too now, and I them.  Some days I think back to what it was like to sleep in a bed, but I quite like my cupboard.  It's got everything I need, and I've lived in worse.  The spell spent in the yard behind Toys'R'Us was pretty grim - compared to that, my cupboard is a palace.
I've long since stopped using the name my own parents gave me.  The Parkers call me "pet", and I am happy enough with that.  The food that Mrs Parker lovingly prepares for me is delicious - so what if I eat it out of a bowl on the floor?  I can tell I make them proud: when their good friends come to visit, I am asked to sit at their feet so they may stroke my hair.  
The collar they gave me to wear on that very first day still sits around my throat – a symbol of ownership, of loyalty, of the true home I was always looking for.  I doubt I will ever take it off.

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