I have been chatting to our Japanese student Miyuki from eight years ago on Facebook. She remembers everything about her six-day stay with us. She remembers me teaching her the word ’roundabout’ on the way somewhere in the car. She remembers bringing all her friends round to play ping-pong in the big room and the day we took her friends to see the ponies and they were taking pictures of the interior of the van because they had never seen a car full of rubbish and hay and rotting apples and head-collars before. And today Marjolaine, a friend of Chloe’s from our time in New York, is coming over for lunch as she is now studying in London. It is just wonderful to spend time with old friends. I will accompany her back into London as we are going to Seana’s Fans of Feminism art exhibition opening tonight. There will be a Feminist Jukebox with 200 specially chosen songs.
Here is your chapter for today. Only one more episode after this one. But never fear. I am three chapters in to the sequel: Shardonnay and the Big Mojito.
Chapter 31. The Visitor
We looked after Nick for four years, Matt and me mum and me. It were not easy. It were constant. Like all the time, you had to be helpin him. But I am a practical girl and I just got on with it. You just gotta get on with it, whatcha gonna do? People came to visit Nick, they bought chocolate with em, not that he could eat it really. He could only be fed through a tube, soup and liquidized stuff. The Lost Boys came, of course, and members of the Heavenly Host, lots of em. They bought flowers, balloons, cards, and gave him a kiss, held his hand. It’s hard though, when someone don’t react! He just din’t react. Not a word, not a flicker, not a twitch. His eyes stayed completely blank. He just acted completely unconscious. You din’t even know if he knew someone had come round! So little by little the visits grew less. You can’t blame people. Obviously, if the person you’re visiting can’t move even a tiny bit, it’s not gonna be the most entertainin of visits. Matt and me mum and me, though, we din’t care that Nicholas couldn’t move, we still loved him and looked after him and chose his favourite TV programs for him.
Then one day, after four years of this, there came a knock on the door. It were a girl. A young girl of about seven. She had reddish blond hair. She were very very pretty. ‘I need to see Nicholas, please,’ she said. OMG posh voice or what? There was two people sitting out in a car in the street. I said she could come in, and she signalled to them to wait.
She brushed past me, walked straight past Matt with her little heels going click click click across the floor and went in to Nicholas. ‘Nick,’ she said. ‘I’m Gloria.’
Nick did not move, of course, as he couldn’t.
‘Nick,’ said the girl. ‘You saved me when I was three. Do you remember? You made me better?’
OMG could this really be that Izzy’s kid? We was convinced the kid had died wasn’t we? We never knew Nick had saved her! Nick’s eyebrow twitched. This were rare and only ever normally happened when his favourite TOWIE were on so I were quite surprised.
‘Nick! Do you know who my father was?’
Nick’s eyebrow twitched again. ‘My father,’ she said, and paused for a little moment, ‘was Sebastian.‘
Matt and me, watchin from the doorway, gasped. Oh, my giddy aunt! Sebastian’s child! So that saintly boy were the one what got that poor underage druggy up the duff.
‘Nick, this is important. Please listen. My mother Isobel, who used to sing with you, died a month ago from a drugs overdose. I have nowhere to go. You are my only hope. I need you to look after me.’
Nick’s eyebrow twitched. The girl looked at him in despair. She put her hand on his arm. ‘Nick, please! Can’t you…can’t you just make a superhuman effort to come out of this? My mum always believed you were superhuman. Come on! I need you. Sebastian needs you.’
She looked around. She went over to the telly and turned off Britain’s Got Talent. I made a move forward to say ‘Oy! That’s one of his favourites, that is!’ but Matt put a hand on me arm and stopped me. We both watched her walk round to the head of the bed and place her little hands on either side of his head. She took a deep breath and shut her eyes. She stayed there, very still, very calm. She seemed in no hurry. The world seemed to slow down for a minute or two. I felt very sleepy suddenly, and kind of cosy, like peaceful and happy and light. Then she opened her eyes and walked round to Nicholas’ side, cupped her hand round his, and said in her little clipped voice, ‘Nick, they’re taking me off to be put up for adoption. It’s just too random. I might end up with really very nasty people. I would much much rather be with you. You are my uncle. You were my father’s friend and brother. That is enough for me.’
There were a horrible silence. Oops, I were crossin me fingers that Matt hadn’t picked up on the ‘uncle’ and ‘brother’ bit. Gloria looked and looked into Nick’s blank eyes, searchin, searchin, for somethin, anythin. Course, there weren’t no hope. We coulda told her that and she coulda saved her breath. She leant over him for one last try. She whispered, ‘Nick, if you let me stay, I could turn off the telly for you whenever you like!‘
Then she just stood there, holding Nick’s hand with her eyes shut, her head bowed. Maybe she were prayin. I were just about to ask if she were OK when she started to sing. She had a sweet little voice, like that little girl in Les Mis. She sang soft and high: ‘From little acorns, come lovely leaves, from little acorns, come ancient trees.’
Matt were grippin me arm so tight it hurt. I understood. Hearin her sing that song transported us back to a happy time when Nick were little.
Sfunny but you don’t realise you’re like litrally in heaven when you’re litrally in heaven. You only realise it years later, lookin back, when somethin triggers a shadow of it, a memory of that delicious time.
The emotion wellin up in us were unbearable. I got a massive lump in me throat and had to put me hand over me mouth so’s not to let out a big sob. Gloria got to the chorus: ‘We’re rocked in our cradle, we’re rocked in our tree, we’re rocked in our Father’s arms, and he’s close to me.’
She finished the song, stood quiet for a second. Her tears had fallen on Nick’s hand. She bent down and wiped them off with a lock of her hair. Then she turned to us and said, ‘Thank you, Shardonnay. Thank you Matt,’ in a quiet voice. We saw her to the door. She shook us politely by the hand. She looked all blurry through me tears. She went out to the waiting car.