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She sat in the creaky bentwood chair beside the fire which was smokily smouldering in the
grate. She wore her track suit over her jumper and jeans. Used, as she was, to the cold the
sheer rawness of a damp misty late autumn Lakeland Day had taken her completely unawares. Soon
the fire would burn bright she mused and she would feel warm again. She gazed out of the
turreted window of her recently rented attic flat. The view down Lake Windermere through the
eerie mist and gathering gloom threatened black magic and evil deeds. The screech of gulls added
to her sense of foreboding. She had been lucky to get this attic it must be the cheapest rent in
Cumbria she thought, mind you with it?s threadbare carpet and rickety furniture she could see
why. She had no hot water but the old lady had said she could use the bathroom downstairs so at
least she could keep clean in comfort. There was no proper kitchen just a Baby Belling not that
that mattered she couldn?t afford proper food to cook anyhow. Not that her cooking had been up
to much she had been told many, many times in her life.
Today she had had her best bit of luck since she had taken flight. She had heard about the man who had got a contract to clean, paint, refurbish and repair holiday properties over the winter months and he had taken her on at a rate of pay that wasn?t too bad. A cause for optimism but she didn?t feel optimistic she had been dragged down too many times in the past.
How had she fetched up here? Again and again she had run through her memories of her life wondering where things had gone wrong. Truth was she couldn?t remember when things had gone right. She had heard about life?s victims and she had no doubt she was one of them.
Her mum had died giving birth to her and she had been brought up by a kindly but drunken father. She had had to fend for herself for days and days on end whilst he slept off his latest foray of bars in the small Midland town they called home. He had shown her nothing but kindness when he was sober and nothing but neglect when he was drunk. Perhaps if he had been violent it would have prepared her for the playground bullying and worse violence that was to follow in years to come.
She had been a small child who had grown into a small dumplingy woman. She never thought of herself having a name. For as long as she could remember, certainly ever since her dad had poisoned himself with the alcohol, she had been ?she? or ?her? or ?oi you?.
She had learnt to cope with the schoolyard bullying and managed to avoid the worst of it but as she approached maturity she had become a rotten chooser of partners from the drunk to the idle to the sadist and finally the drug addict which was why she had ended up here as far away as her meagre funds would allow. The self confidence destroying mental cruelty and regular beatings had been a feature of many of her relationships usually followed by sobbing promises that it would never happen again if only she would give which ever him it was one more chance. But what was the final straw was when three weeks ago Jack her junkie partner had brought home three men he had borrowed money from to feed his habit and told her precisely how she was going to work the debt off for him. On the pretence of going to the bathroom she had grabbed her handbag and coat and fled into the night.
She had wandered around for hours until she had been approached by a female police constable who had asked her if there was anything wrong. No you dozy cow she thought it?s perfectly natural to walk the streets in the middle of the night cold, really freezing and crying it?s what I do for laughs. Something of her mood must have registered with the constable because when she had briefly outlined her problems she had been given the constable?s card with the address of a refuge on the back and a fiver to get something warm and nourishing.
She had found the refuge and stayed there for a couple of weeks earning what cash she could cleaning and washing up in cafes for cash in hand and a meal. It had come to an end when she had run into a mate of Jack?s. She just knew she had to get right away and had collected her few things into a supermarket carrier bag and jumped on the first long distance bus that came along.
And that she said to herself is how I come to be in an attic flat in Windermere.
The fire was now burning more brightly and she felt warm enough to take the track suit off. As the room warmed her spirits brightened. She had a job the rent had been paid for the next week by which time she would have been paid. If only she could get some cash in hand kitchen work with a meal chucked in that would be well sorted.
Her problems were nearly 200 miles away in a different grimy industrial world.
A sudden thought popped into her head of a young man who had been kind to her. They had sat together in a cafeteria and she had laughed, a rare occurrence, and described him and his poetry as hopelessly romantic he had grinned and said ?No it?s much worse than that you see I am hopefully romantic.?
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