Billingsgate

25. Billingsgate

Mr Tosin’s dad said he’ll take care of me. Does that mean he’ll make me work just like daddy before I eat? Will I have to go to someone’s house to take something too before I’m allowed to live here? I don’t understand.

‘What do you mean by “you’ll take care of me”?’ 

‘You’ll understand with time sweetheart. No rush.’

I watch him move towards the bin near his bed and drop the empty sweet wrapper. 

‘Do you know the way to my house? I think daddy will be worried and I don’t want to stay too long here.’ 

His back is to me so I can’t see his face but then he walks to the bed and pats it for me to sit. I’m not sure if I want him to be near me. He acts nice like mommy sometimes and then mean like daddy. I don’t know… should I? But… he was mean because I didn’t listen to him. He said he didn’t want to hurt me, that I made him do it because I didn’t listen. If I listen to him and do whatever he tells me to, then he won’t hurt me. 

I’m happy with myself. Tosin’s dad is better than daddy. Daddy hits me for no reason… daddy left me here. And didn’t I wish Tosin’s dad was my daddy? Daddy scares me but Tosin’s dad seems nice and if I’m going to stay here then I’ll have Tosin to play with. Yay. And then I can eat all the noodles and fish I want. Thinking about it makes me smile. Noodles and fish. 

I quickly stand up from the floor and sit beside Tosin’s dad. He won’t be mean to me if I listen to him. I’ll be good. Once I’m seated next to him, he puts his hands on my shoulder and rubs it a little. 

‘Sweetheart, I don’t know the way to your house. And I can’t believe your dad would do something so wicked to his own daughter. Making you enter the house of someone you don’t know.’

He lets out a deep sigh. The kind mummy makes when I annoy her. This makes me giggle a bit. Annoying mummy was fun because even though she shouts at me for annoying her, she would always give me a big hug which makes us both smile. My chest doesn’t hurt this time. There are times when I think of mummy that my chest feels as though someone is holding it tight while other times it feels warm. 

‘You have a beautiful giggle.’

I turn to look at him then. 

‘Really?’

‘Yes really. I love hearing you laugh. I want to keep hearing you laugh and giggle. While staying with me, you won’t need to worry about your father. He used to hurt you didn’t he?’

I can’t talk, I only nod my head at his question. How did he know? 

His hands go down to the side of my stomach as he pulls me closer to him. 

‘I’ll never hurt you like your father did. Are you cold?’

Oh! He noticed. I’ve been trying not to show it but I’m really cold. 

I nod my head at him. 

‘You know the best way to chase away cold from your body?’

I shake my head left then right. I really don’t know. He moved close to my ear and whispered, ‘Getting under the covers.’ 

It seemed he could see I didn’t really understand what he said. 

‘Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to.’ 

Then he stood up, took my hand and pulled me up from the bed. He moved the bed coverings and told me to climb the bed. I did so.

He’s laughing. I don’t know why he’s laughing. I climbed the bed and I’m still cold. How is this supposed to help me?

‘When I say climb the bed, I didn’t mean you should stand on it. Lay down as though you want to sleep.’

Oh. He wants me to lay down on it. I do so and not long after he climbs the bed too and lays down next to me, just like mummy did when daddy hurt me. Then he used the covering to cover us both. 

‘Do you still feel cold?’

‘Not really.’

‘If you come closer, I can make you feel warm.’

Mummy would hug me to herself while I slept to keep me warm, is that what he wants to do? 

I move closer to him and he pulls me to his body. His arms are around me like he’s giving me a big hug.

‘Doesn’t that feel better?’

I can’t really talk well because my face is on his chest so I nod. It does feel better. 

‘Good. I told you I’ll take care of you. Do you want to feel ever better?’

Better than this? Mummy would usually just hold me close to her and allow me to sleep off. Was there something more she did that I didn’t know about? 

I nod my head. If there’s something mummy used to do when I sleep to make me feel better I want to know. 

‘Good.’

There’s something strange about the way he said it like when I’m crying and trying to talk to mummy. I’m still wondering about it when I suddenly his hand on my tummy. 

‘What…?’

‘Shhh. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you and I’ll make you feel so good.’ 

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