I ran away.
We had to think fast. This wasn`t going according to plan; or it wouldn`t have been if we had one.
"I think we had better get off", I whispered to the girls after a short panic-stricken moment, when we all sat staring at each other open-mouthed, in the confines of the top deck.
"I aint getting off" Heather hissed at me.
Looking at Elizabeth and being aware that she hero-worshipped Heather, I realised that perhaps we had reached our first major hurdle in this race for freedom. I silently berated myself for allowing them to come with me. They were defiant.....I was hungry and surprisingly tired. It suddenly occurred to me that I no longer had a real desire to continue this life-changing expedition.
The same extract altered to read in the third person. Which one do you prefer?
She ran away. Well, ran three miles up the road……on the top of a double-decker bus. Two of her friends in the home had pestered to go with her, when told of her plans for escape. They set off excitedly on their adventure, hoping to start their new lives. With only a few hours until darkness, they knew they had little time to plan their break-out, so they didn’t plan. The elderly driver on the bus didn’t seem to find anything suspicious about three teenage girls getting on a bus, outside the childrens` home, laden with plastic bags. Perhaps it was a regular occurrence they were not aware of.
They scurried noisily upstairs to the top deck, all sharing the same sense of nervousness and exhilaration that only “girls on the run could feel”. Jocasta felt she had done the right thing by putting on her trainers as she imagined she would have an awful lot of running to do.
Staring out into the darkness as the driver accelerated away into the darkened streets, the three of them chattered away excitedly like a group of chimpanzees. Pulses racing, adrenalin pumping at an alarming rate, they became embroiled in their thoughts of what lay ahead, although they hadn’t really considered what they would do once they had reached their destination – wherever it may be. There were no discussions or suggestions on where and how they would live. It didn’t occur to them that as thirteen year old girls, they actually stood very little chance of surviving in the “real world”.
They wanted independence from the “home”. They were way too grown up to be treated like the little ones were – and anyway, Jocasta was the self-appointed boss and nobody told her what to do!
The journey ended unexpectedly. With a screech of hydraulic brakes, the driver swung the bus into Edgware Bus Station. Startled, they all looked at each other. They were puzzled.
Was this it ? What now? They weren’t ready!
They decided to stay put, even after the driver yelled up the stairs “Get off the bus!” “Everybody Off !”
As they were the only passengers on the bus, they quickly deduced that the command was directed at them. Jocasta looked nervously out of the window. It was dark and very bleak. Street lights and shop fronts brightened the area but there were very few people about. She noticed a young couple holding hands as they walked along the darkened street and into a restaurant and wished she was with them.
They had to think fast. This wasn’t going according to plan, or it wouldn’t had been if they had one.
“I think we should get off” Jocasta whispered to the other girls after a short panic-stricken moment, when they all stared open-mouthed at each other in the confines of the top deck.
“I aint getting off!” Heather hissed in her direction, her usual pasty look becoming increasingly red and blotchy with anger and defiance.
Looking at Elizabeth, with her mousey straggly hair flopping into her scared hazel eyes and being aware that she hero-worshipped Heather, Jocasta realised that perhaps they had reached their first major hurdle in this quest for freedom. She silently berated herself for allowing them to come with her.
They were defiant………Jocasta was ……… hungry, deflated and tired. She had no real desire to continue this life-changing expedition as the enormity of the situation finally struck her.
After a short altercation with her trusted escapees, Jocasta realised she had no option than to give herself up and return to the Home. If she was honest, she was rather looking forward to it, her warm bed, her own room, but she dared not tell the others. It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Heather and Elizabeth were adamant that they would not be giving up their pursuit of independence. Although Jocasta told them there was a good chance the police would be summoned to have them removed from the bus, the two girls ignored her reasoning, grabbed their plastic bags from under the seats, pulled their collars up over their ears and clumsily clambered down the steel stairs of the bus.
“Wait for me!” Jocasta shouted after them, frantically grappling under the seat for her bag of belongings: a fresh top, a pair of jeans (she only ever wore jeans), a new training bra (size 30aa) and an orange she had swiftly stolen from the kitchen table while no-one was around. The bag had become wedged firmly under the seat and she tugged with all her might to retrieve it. After several frantic moments - ripped remnants of plastic in her hand - she stood up to leave. Jocasta was shocked, and scared, to be faced with a policeman who looked too tall to be on the top deck of a bus. His head dusted the roof as he moved towards her. His helmet was tucked under his right arm. Not a word was exchanged between them. Jocasta did not have the energy or inclination to challenge this massive body in his dark blue uniform atop a number 23 bus at Edgware Bus Station, so gave herself up without a struggle. She even told the truth when asked her name, age and address, a rarity when faced with authority.
PC Richard Paisley was fed up. He was about to leave the station when his sergeant entered the office at Edgware police station.
“Rich, there`s been a call come through from a bus driver over at Edgware Station. Pop over there on your way home will ya? Summat about kids not getting of the bus”.
“Ok Sarg” Richard replied. He was not happy. He knew what was likely to happen. If the kids were stroppy there was every chance he would have to return them to the station. That in turn would mean questioning, filling out forms and waiting for parents. He had promised his girlfriend that he would be home by 10pm as she was getting fed up with his ever increasing hours. He was thirty-five years of age and at last wanted to settle down. He had lost count of the amount of girlfriends he had lost due to his continued absence from home. He grabbed his helmet, car keys and jacket and headed out into the station carpark.
Jocasta was soon taxied back to the home in the back of a silent police car. PC Paisley sighed a huge sigh of relief. He would be home by 10.30pm. Jocasta was depleted, sad and wondered where her friends had fled and when they would be captured. Once home Jocasta was questioned by the house mother as to the whereabouts of Heather and Elizabeth. She could honestly answer that she had no idea as they had fled before her, leaving no forwarding address.
The girls were on the loose for a couple of days – causing much discussion and rumour amongst the remaining children in the home - and were only ever to return to the home to pack their belongings. They were being transferred. Jocasta would never see them again.
She missed them terribly – She had learnt another heartbreaking lesson in being “nobodies child”.