Sheila’s memories started very young, but she probably didn’t know what was going on before the age of three and a half. Her early memories were a jumble of pictures, like lots of movie clips mashed together.
She had one or two good memories, like when she rode on a donkey at the fairground across the road or riding on a motor bike, squished in the middle between her brother and his friend. Quite illegal, very dangerous, but so much fun. These were good memories.
Sheila’s home was a small terraced house in long street where everyone knew each other. Everyone watched out for each other, and there was always someone on the street, watching out for the kids, it was a safe place to live, on the outside anyway.
It was spring when Sheila left and her mam left their house for good, it was still cold. They had put their coats on and were heading out to Mrs. Barlow’s house as Sheila’s mum had a little side business doing hair. She wasn’t trained, but could put curlers in and fluff someones hair out pretty nicely as fashion then required. It brought in a little bit of money, which they desperately needed. Sheila’s dad didn’t like this little side job, it made her independent. He came through the front door, just as they were about to leave. He had been drinking and he blocked the doorway, telling them they weren’t going anywhere. Sheila’s mam tried to push past him, but he pushed her back inside, she lost her balance and fell to the floor. She tried to get up, but was pushed down again.
Sheila ran into the front room and hid behind a chair, she put her hands over her ears like she always did when her mum and dad argued, it scared her, she hated it. There was no arguing this time though, just thuds and screams. Sheila took her hands from her ears, she hadn’t heard this sound before. She left her hiding place and slowly inched her way to the hallway. She peeped through the door just in time to see her dad’s foot make contact with her mum’s leg and she started to scream. She screamed loud and hard and didn’t stop. What was happening in the hallway was too horrible for her to take in. Her mum lying on her back in the hallway, being kicked brutally by her dad. No child should ever see anything like that. Her dad turned around and ran past her, pushing her out-of-the-way as he went, Sheila’s screams may have saved her mam from something much worse.
Sheila’s mam was crying, but was able to get off the floor. Without hesitation she took hold of Sheila’s hand, opened the front door and left the house for good. They went through the front gate and walked as fast as they could. Sheila kept looking at her mam, who was crying quietly. “Mam are you OK” her little voice asked. “Yes pet” her mam replied, and then they walked in silence.