From then on, I spent severel awers a day at the center. I hung owt in the traning block where the clarses were. Some of the ladies were nice to me, but most of them were not. Thay often did that thing where thay were saying one thing but mening anuther. Then evry boddy arownd them woud laugh and I woudent know why thay were laughing. So I often felt on the owt side. I made the most of the plase thogh. I singed up for lesserns in cooking and crafts. There were three awers a day. I liked the cooking best, but crafts was not bad. We made cushuns, sowing butterns and seekwins on. We nittid squares for blankits that thay send to far of cuntries where pepol need them. We also made mobiles owt of shells and littel shiney stownes. I took one home to mum. ‘Thats luvely dere, dyou not bring me eny donuts?’ she said, and terned back to the telly. She never notised that I was getting fatter. She is not the tipe to notise eny thing that is going on so I dident say eny thing.
Twice a week I went to a film in the film room. Thay showed good films like Bambi and The Jungle Book. Some times thay did romantic comadies like How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and Titanic. I all weys laugh much more than evry one else in the cinema. And I laugh when no one else is laughing. Some times pepol look at me strangly. Its not my folt if thay dont get the joke thogh. Pepol with no sense of humer shoudant go to comadies.
All of the suraguts ate twice a day at the center. The food was really good. It was what all the ladies, and some times me to, made in the cooking clarses. All thrugh febry and march, I ate and ate. I carnt member ever fiyuling so hungry. There were pies, cheese pies, vegtebel pies and chickin pies. So good, thay were, with mash and gravey and carrets and grene beens. I loved the food, because mum likes donuts so much that at home we dont cook much. Only rice pudding owt of a tin. And crisp sanwidgis. You have to have butter in them, or the crisps fall owt. Better to crush the crisps with the botterm of a cup, as the littel peices lie flat then. I have lernt a lot abowt making crisp sanwidgis I coud rite a book abowt that!
One day, at the tabel with all the ladies, I must have bene abowt two munths gone all redy, I was eating my pie and I said, ‘I am jus so hungry, I jus love this pie.’
And this gerl next to me, Liz, the one with the china bedes in her hare, she said, ‘Well, you are eating for two member, Sally-Anne.’
I stared at her. ‘Eating for two?’ I said.
‘Yeh, we all are,’ she said, and forked mash in to her mowth. ‘Three, some of us!’
I jus stared at her, blankley.
‘The baby?’ she said, pointing at my tummy with her fork.
This may sownd a bit daft but I hadent really, like really realised until that momunt that I had anuther rele some boddy in side of my boddy. Like some boddy that wasant me. A baby. I went home, saying that werd to my self. Baby, baby. Baybeee.
I startid looking in the mirrer in my bed room, at home, when I had no clowthes on. My tummy was starting to stick owt, more than it did bifore. I stroked it. I magined this littel thing in side, and how littel it must be. What was it fiyuling, and what was it thinking? Then I had a rush of simperthy, suddernly, and I thort, owt of no where, ‘Por Littel Baby, you dont even know that your mummy dusant want to have you in her own tummy. Por Littel Baby.’ I felt a rush of sad ness for the baby and all the pane she woud have to have in her life. Teres fell owt of my eyes on to my belly. I wiped them of. ‘There, there, LittelBaby!’ I said. ‘At least youv got me! Iyum not perfict, but Iyum better than some narsty gerl who woudent hardly notis you.’
Abowt a munth later, I woke up erly. It must of bene april all redy. I felt difrent from bifore. Kind of loose in all my lims. I got up and washed my fase. I looked in the mirrer. I looked difrent too. Rownd my eyes, the skin was a darkish brown. I went back to bed. I put my hands on my tummy. It felt nice and made me fiyul carm.
‘Sally-Anne, you up?’ I herd from my mums room. ‘Will you get me a cuppa for me pills love?’
‘Yeh,’ I called. My belly buttern was sticking owt now, not in. I startid to hum a littel choon. ‘Hush littel Baby, dont say a werd, daddas gunna bring you a mocking berd…’ The baby she gave a littel flutta in side of me. My skin to the right of my belly buttern moved all on its own. It was so weerd. I was like weerded owt.
I thort to my self, ‘where dus the baby stop and I bigin? And where do I stop and the baby bigin?’ And all of a flash I suddernly under stood that it dusent. None of that happerns. I had been thinking ‘the baby’ and ‘me’ and seeing ‘the baby’ as in side of ‘me.’ But as thogh the sun had popped owt of the clowds I saw that the baby was me and I was the baby and even that us two were part of evry uther crecher on the planit. Its like, the Big Life Forse wich is like a big wooshy thing that needs to ixist for some big reson that we dont know of, is jus using my boddy and the babys boddy to do things on Erth. A big sigh of happy ness came rushing owt of me. I dident fiyul lownly eny more.
I got up and made tea for Mum and took her her pills. I was humming all day, thinking abowt how I was not alown.
From that day on, I talked to the baby. I talked in a low voice wich went up and down. I talked jiberish manely! I walked to the baker to get Mums donuts, saying ‘dippy dippy dippy doo, dippy dippy dippy,’ in time with my walking. I said it all the way. Its funny, because its like I dident have to think to make it up, the song jus made it self by it self. The baby liked it, I coud tell. I went on to the sea frunt and sat on a bench and looked owt over the oshun. I brethed in the warm spring air. I coud smell plants bersting in to life with there littel buds. I coud fiyul LittelBaby wiggeling her fingers and flecksing her spine. We like the same things, I thort. She thort it to, I know.
I walked sloly along the sea frunt. I ate the bred, in chunks that I pulled of the lofe. I chewed sloly and hummed ooommmm, like we do at the center in yoger practise. I hummed it again and again. LittelBaby slept, cradeled in my tummy. I magined her sleepy and pritty, in the hamuck of my boddy, swinging jently to and fro as I walked. ‘LittelBaby,’ I said owt lowd. ‘LittelBaby…’ I pawsed, as I was scared of saying the next thing I was going to say. Then I said it, eny wey: ‘I love you. I love you so much.’ I went down the concrete steps to the beach. I did a littel bit of darnsing on a sandy bit, as I like to darnse evry day, then I squottid down on the stowney bit, my tummy hanging down bitween my legs. I picked up stownes. Thay were warm from the sun. Thay were large and flat and yello. Some were more shiny and grey. I stroked them. I thort that when the baby was two or three how she woud love the stownes, how she woud piol them up and throw them in the water to here them plop. I thort how she woud love to wotch the sun set with me over the sea. How we woud get up erly to gether and go to wotch the gulls weeling in the pail dawn light. I had been staring in to the sunny sea for so long that my eyes were full of sparkely yello darncing patchis. As I stood up again, and terned awey from the sea and the sun, it was darker suddernly. I shiverd. The pines were swaying, black against a grey sky. I had a nagging fiyuling. There was some thing I dident want to member.
Oh yes: I membered it. LittelBaby was not mine. Zoe and evry one kept telling me this, evry day. Thay said, ‘Your boddy is jus the babys howse, Sally-Anne. Her parunts will come for her as soon as she comes owt. Thay love her. There egg and sperm made her. Thay are jus borrowing your boddy, because you said thay coud.’
‘You mene, there renting my tummy?’
‘Yes, exacly, like how you and your mum rent the rooms abuv the grocer.’ Zoe smiold. She all weys talked in her gentel coaxy voice. You coud tell thogh that bihind the voice she was very ditermined to suxeed and be the best at her job. ‘You must member, Sally-Anne, your jus looking arfter the baby for them. This is your job and if you do well at it you will be rispectid. Also, you are being pade a sizibel sum. Dont ferget that.’
I woud nod and say, ‘I know. I know, of corse I know that. Why are you telling me again?’
Zoe woud give a teeny toss of her shiney curten of hare, narro her eyes at me and say ‘I jus thort I had better kepe minding you, Sally-Anne, as I know you can be ferget full.’
‘No, no, I wont ferget,’ I woud say, with a littel laugh, but in side, I had all redy fergotten. Acsholy, I dident have to ferget because I never knew it. Thay coud tell me there truth all thay liked but it dident make sense to me. Its like that line in the song: ‘Your lips…move…but I carnt here…what your say…ing.’ Like wite noise. Hissing, and rasping. Not very plesant. It was LittelBabys folt. She made me ferget. She needid me to ferget, because she had disided she wantid me to be her mummy, not some uther persen that she dident know. And it was easy to ferget because LittelBaby was so nice when really not meny uther pepol were nice to me. She was all weys there, redy to play with me.
One of the nerses, called Nerse Janit, came up to me in one of my lessern brakes and said, ‘Sally-Anne, I carnt get awey because Liz has gone in to laber with her babies, but coud you get me some donuts arfter lesserns?’
‘Ok,’ I said. ‘It will take a wiol because the baker is all the way back nere my flat.’
‘You coud get them from the pier,’ she said. ‘Theres a van that dus pop corn and donuts.’
‘Oh, yes, there is,’ I said. ‘Next to the arcade.’
Nerse Janit gave me a fiver. ‘You get your self a cupel as well, dere,’ she said.
I took the muny and arfter lesserns finished I walked of to the sea. It was a beautifle day. Seles were popping there heds up, black and glossy.
I went up the pier parst the dodgerms and the pang cake stall. Yes, the pop corn van was there. A lad was popping corn. ‘Large, medyum, or small?’ arsked the lad, ‘and iyum not talking abowt your belly!’
I laughed. I coudent help it, even thogh he was a bit to cheeky. ‘Large,’ I said. ‘And six donuts please.’
‘Salty, or swete?’ he arsked.
‘Donuts woudent be salty woud thay?’ I said.
‘Salty, please,’ I said.
‘Yeah, your sweet all redy,’ he said.
I was thinking ‘He likes me.’ It made me fiyul warm and beautifle. ‘Thank you,’ I said when he parsed me the warm paper cone and the donuts. I put Nerse Janits change care fully in my pockit.
I wandered up the pier and sat on a woodern bench to eat. ‘Tretes for you, baby,’ I said, chewing awey and wotching the sea gulls strutting abowt looking for things to eat, and keeping one eye on the boy, who was popping more corn. He had a tattoo of a rose on his neck and a unicorn on his arm, both a bit dodgey. Thay looked like thayd been done by some one who was eether owt to lunch or owt of there fase.
I finished the pop corn and dropped the paper in a bin, and was jus terning awey when I herd a wissel. The boy was waving at me. I went back over there, and he looked both ways, put a finger to his lips, and parsed me a massiv ice creme. ‘I havent got eny more mun…’ I prertested but he cut me short.
‘Shhh,’ he said, ‘the boss wont know! You need to grow that baby!’
A inormus fat chap with a big mass of black curley hare wownd the windo down. He was sitting in the frunt of the van reding a news paper thrugh littel rownd sun glarses. ‘Oi, Duncan,’ he showtid. ‘You givin freebies again? Theyll get docked of your pay.’
Duncan winckt at me. ‘Dont lisen to Big Steve, hes a softie,’ he said.
I considered Duncan as I licked the ice creme. He looked like a bit of a thug with his shaved hed but a strip of oringe hare at the back of his neck still long and pulled in to a pony tale. Big mussly arms, with reddish fuzz lifting in the brease. But he had smioly eyes and a grate laugh. He went in the back to get more corn. He broght it owt and tipped it in to the popping thing. He smiold at me again. ‘Got a name for the baby?’
The queschun cort me by suprise. A bit of ice creme dropped from my lips, cort on my frunt and then plopped onto the bords of the pier. I startid to laugh. He laughed too and that made me laugh harder. He parsed me a napkin. I wiped my frunt, giggerling and giggerling.
‘I havent thort…some thing clever, because shes very clever.’
‘Hey….sprinkels?’ he said.
I was confused. ‘Sprinkels?’ I said. ‘Thats a strange name.’
‘I ment….on the ice creme. You want sprinkels?’
‘Oh.’ I laughed, and then I coudent stop laughing. He startid laughing too, with his mowth opern. His teeth were very wite. ‘Ha ha, thats good, that is. Sprinkels.’
He took my ice creme back of me and held it under the sprinkels. He pressed for sprinkels abowt six times.
‘Thats anuther fiver of your wagis!’ shoutid Big Steve.
My ice creme was cuvered with littel dark chocolat blobs. Duncan handid it back to me. I coudent stop smiling when I looked at him. He had very red cheeks wich kind of clashed with his oringe freckerly forehed and oringe pony-tail.
I said bye to Duncan, tucked the donuts under my arm and went in to the arcade for a littel look arownd. I like wotching those games where you drop coins in the slot and hope that thay push uther coins along and you get all the ones wich fall. I had abowt three ten p peicis wich I startid putting in. A gerl was playing oppersit me. I knew her from are old school. Shes got a tiny fase and black stringy hare. ‘Oh, hi Lisa,’ I said. ‘You all right?’
‘Hi, Sally-Anne,’ she said, without looking up from the coins. ‘Yeh….Im having a baby, did you here?’
I was shocked, I guess. I dident say eny thing but I think my mowth was opern.
‘Yeh, Gary and me are having a baby.’
‘Oh. Gary from the Garidge?’ I arsked.
‘Yeh,’ she said.
I all most laughed. Gary from the Garidge is nice, but he dusent know how to do sex well.
‘Oh. Thats nice,’ I said. I suddernly thort, ‘Shes going to be abel to kepe her baby.’
She lost her muny and came rownd my side. ‘Let me do it, Sally-Anne,’ she said, taking my ten ps of me and putting them in. A ridge of coins fell. I got them owt. There were abowt twenty of them. She was good at it because she played so much. I notised she had abowt ten new peircings, like three in her nose and four in her eye brows and one in her lip and one on her tung, you coud see it flash when she talkt. ‘Yeh, my mums like so chuffed…gunna be a gran lol. Shes been shopping for littel rabits and baby gros all redy.’ She sihged like she was tiyerd of it all even thogh the por littel thing was not even born yet.
I jus stared at her wiol she put my ten ps in. I realised that I wantid to buy littel rabits. I wantid to buy baby gros. I felt strickern. Really jellus. You can see why pepol say its the grene eyed monster. It acshully dus fiyul like that, like youv gone all grene and are dripping slime with it. It was then really that I knew I was in truble. My fiyulings were not like…controwlibel. I was having big emoshuns.
‘Are you kepeing the baby then?’ I arsked. My voice was a croke. I wantid her to say, ‘No, iyum going to have a borshun.’ That was mene of me but I dident want eny one to be abel to kepe there baby, if I couldent.
She looked at me in suprise. ‘Yeh, corse, why woudent I? I dident exacly plan for it, but, its all right….my mum had me at severnteen. Iyum severnteen…so.’
‘Oh, thats grate,’ I said. I thort, why dident I jus have a baby with Gary from the Garidge? I coudent make my fase smiol. I was so sad, I thort I was going to cry right there in frunt of her. Wiol I was walking back to the center with the donuts for Nerse Janit, I wept teres of greef as I thort abowt Lisa and her mum pushing a pram with the gurgly baby and the rabits in it. I coud see in my mind the shiny rattels in the pram. I coud see the soft blankie and the lasy pilow.
And what woud happern to my baby arfter I gave her awey? I woudent even know. I woudent know if she was happy or sad. I woudent here her ferst werds or see her walk for the ferst time. This just felt so rong. I knew I had to do some thing. I had to make some sort of a plan. But I had no idear what that plan coud possibly be. ‘I have still got four munths before I have the baby,’ I thort. ‘Shurly I will think of some thing in time.’
A cuple of weeks later, arfter morning lesserns, I felt like getting owt, so I took a littel walk abowt harf a miol up the coast parth and over the junes, thrugh the bracken, and parst the ruined cherch. It was may all redy. It was warmish and breasy. I only had my red spotty dress and mauve cardy on and my oringe and black sun hat. I dident have eny nickers on. I coudent find eny as thay were all in the wash.
My sandels slip slapped over the old worn stownes. Tiny grars hopers jumped crazey hights. Take me by suprise, thay do. There were trees arownd the cherch where inormus spiders were spinning webs from there massiv bellies. I stopped and wotched one. I smiold because we both had big bellies, that spider and me. I magined my baby was a baby made of silkern thred. She woud spin it bihind her where ever she went in her life. I coud see this big sparkley web cuvering the hole globe.
We have a globe in the traning block. I like to spin it, and magine what I woud look like on its serfiss. How very very tiny I woud be, like smaller than a pin prick. Are hole cuntry is only the size of my thum nale, and there are lots of pepol in are cuntry, like lodes. So you can see how tiny I am, and how even tinyer my baby is, on that globe. Some times I think that makes me and her not at all inportent, like we are not even making eny difrence, but then I think, no, its like there is as much in side of me as owt side of me. There are hole werlds in me, and in her. She is one, and I am one. And I look at a littel red ant crawling up a tree, and I think to my self, that ant probly thinks the hole werld is that brarnch, but I know all abowt the hole tree, and the hole lane, and the hole meddow and even the hole cuntry and the hole werld. So some pepol think in side of us we are only blud and bowns and hart, but thay are fergetting abowt are conchasness and emoshuns and maginashuns wich are inormus. I can magine eny thing. Like what it mus be like to be a sele and swim abowt under the cowld water. I can hold the moon in my mind even, the hole moon. I can go up and up in my mind and be amung uther planits spining abowt in spase. The hole of spase even and the milky way. This is why I dont need telly. I can do it with owt telly jus in my hed.
When the baby is born we will look at the globe to gether, and magine to gether what the cuntries are like and what the pepol in them are like. And at night we will look at the stars and think abowt aliens and what they are like.
And then I think, and this is because of what are sience teacher Mr Oxburg tolled us abowt tiny tiny cells that evry thing is made up of, I think, what if…what if…all we have lernt abowt the size of things is folse, like big might be littel and littel big, and really are hole planit is just one giant persen with forists for lungs.
I say this because Mr Oxburg showed us this movie taken by a camra that jus sat there for a year taking a vidio of a grate big forist. It was taking a movie all the time. Spring, summer, ortum, winter. So thay showed the forist getting brigt grene and lush in the spring, darker grene and lusher in the summer, then red and gowld in the ortum and bare and cowld and icy in the winter. At ferst thay showed this quite sloly, so you coud hear berds twitering and things, but then thay speedid up the vidio, so it was like spring, summer, ortum, winter, jus like that, quite farst, all most as farst as I can say it. So the forist berst in to life, then went back to bare, berst in to life again and back to bare, in owt, in owt, really farst, and I saw that the forist was like a persens lungs and that the forist was brething for the planit. Wich is why we musent cut down trees. Because we need to brethe.
So when you are next walking in the forist, think that you are walking along in side some boddys lungs. I know abowt lungs because we did it in sience in my larst year of school. We had model lungs with a big ilastic band diafram thing that you coud pull down and air got pulled into the bags wich were the lungs. Mr Oxburg explaned all abowt the choobes in the lungs filling up with air, and the littel tiny choobes at the end of the big choobs, called alfioly or some thing. He said that when you brethe in, all the littel alfioly fill up with air, and this lets the oxigen get in to your boddy.
My friend at the center, Fler, shes got a friend called Bill who has horsis and aparently horsis get these tiny littel red werms in there lungs! ‘Yuk’, I said to Fler and Fler said it to Bill and he said back to Fler who said back to me, ‘Yes, it is really yuk, and if you werm the horsis with wermer then all these littel red things come owt in the poo.’
So this is when I startid thinking that when we are walking abowt in the forist parths, may be we are jus tiny parersites in some boddys lung. But we dont know it! Its like this big joke, because humans think thay are so inportent, going to werk with soots on, but thay are jus silly parersite wermy werms.
Anyway, Duncan woud say I was going of on one again, so I will stop now.
I did hope thogh that my baby woud visit uther cuntries. I thort may be she woud be clever and better than me. She woud know lots of things and may be be abel to get a job and a pars port and travel where ever she liked. I did have a job as a clener, but I got the sack for cleneing to slo. But my baby woud get a better job than that.
Then I even thort may be the baby woud be abel to help me get a pars port! Why not? She coud tell me how to fill in the forms. I looked at one of the forms in the post offis once, but it was a lot of reading and the letters were really small and the boxis that you had to rite in were to small so I coud tell it was too difficult for me to fill in on my own.
When ever I stroked my baby in side my tummy, and shut my eyes, I coud see this inormus fiyuld, like a big meddow, opern up in frunt of me. It was like a vishun. It had waving grars, bees stopping on flowers, beautifle oke trees, a bubberly streme. It went on and on, like a huj plain, like in that littel howse on the prarie book that Jess red to me when I was yung. It was the fiyuld of my babys life, and I coud see she was free to go eny where in it. I will fight for her to go where ever she wants. I have never had a pars port and have never thort much abowt getting of Ingland, so I know I carnt, really…. but she can, she will be abel to.
Any wey, I followed the track and followed the track, sloly and more sloly because it was stepe. When I got to the top of the hill, I terned rownd and looked at the sea. The waves were far awey and crawling misteriusly like a big opern sack of maguts. There were saling botes far owt. There was a big ship on the horizen. I thort how the baby woud love ships. She woud point her littel arm and her tiny finger and say, ‘Ook mama, ship!’ And I woud look along her arm and say, ‘Oh, yes, clever baby, it is a ship!’
I walked rownd the corner, following the mossy wall. Arfter a wiol there was a wall nut tree with a lop sidid swing. I sat on the swing and pushed of with my feet. I giggerled as I went higher and higher. I threw back my hed and laughed and laughed. The baby kicked. When she liked something she woud give littel rippels of apreshiashun. She loved swings. I knew she woud love swings her hole life. I sang, ‘wheeeee, wheeeeee,’ laughing and giggerling all the time.
When I got back, Zoe was looking cross. ‘Why were you so long, Sally-Anne?’ she exclamed. ‘The visiters! Did you not member?’
‘Sorry,’ I said. ‘I fergot abowt the visiters.’ I dident even member her menshuning eny visiters.
‘Look at you!’ she said. ‘Your filthy.’
She made me go and wash my fase and hands and fetch a clene dress. She all weys cares abowt pepol looking clene and smart. ‘Its a bisness we are running, Gerls,’ she says. She brushed the burrs owt of my hare, in a hurry, like brush, brush, brush.
‘Who are thay, the visiters?’ I arsked.
‘You will see soon enugh,’ she said. ‘Please be perlite, Sally-Anne. Its inportent.’