The tightly wound bandages around her ribs meant Lorraine was panting when she reached the school. Leaning her shopping bags against the wall she foraged inside for the sandwiches and fruit juice she’d bought for the children. David was first to appear and he came running up to her with arms outstretched. She bent down and the hug he gave her hurt, but she kissed him and smiled away the pain. The girls came together and Chelsea thanked her for the food then ran off to join her friends.
“Are you ok?” She asked her eldest daughter.
“Yeah,” she looked up at her mother and nodded. “I wish you wouldn’t come here like that.”
“I’ve been to the doctor,” Lorraine explained, “he put the plaster there to hold the cut together,” she brought a hand up to touch her lip.
“Yeah, I know, but I don’t want my friends to see you.”
“I’m sorry,” Lorraine handed her the sandwich and juice box.
“You’re such a loser,” Abbey grabbed the offering and ran off.
Lorraine tried not to cry as she bent to pick up the shopping bags. Her movement were robotic as the bandages made it difficult for her to move. There was still the matter of ordering the coal before catching the bus home and the road stretched out before her as she made her way to the coal yard. Past experience of dealing with her husband meant the merchant wouldn’t deliver without payment up front, and she wanted to be rid of what little money she had before Tom got his hands on it.
It was disappointing to learn the man couldn’t deliver until the following day as he’d no truck going in her direction. This meant another night without heat. Tom wouldn’t be home until late so there was no need for excuses about the food she’d managed to buy. He’d find someone to buy him a drink if he’d to beg or borrow, so whatever she left for his dinner wouldn’t be questioned, unless his mood hadn’t improved. The climb up the three steps into the bus was painful and she was forced to lay her bags on the top step before following on.
“Here, love, let me help you,” the driver got out from behind the wheel and took the bags.
“Thank you,” she sat down on the seat where he’d placed her shopping.
“You’ve got a bit of a load there,” he smiled down at her and then his eyes grew serious when he saw the split lip.
As she watched him walk away Lorraine thought her daughter was right. She was a loser.