That's life.

This is story about a girl, a boy, and the person that stands between them. It's about a brother, a useless aunt and a missing dad. It's about an overworked Mum, a twin and 7 year old that grew up too quickly. But most of all, it's a story about love, in all its forms, and the damage it can do.


5. Mikey


No. No no no no no. This isn’t happening, this can’t be real.

But it is.

I snap out of it and start shaking Scarlett, yelling at her to wake up, but her eyes stay closed.

Why isn’t she moving, what’s wrong with her? What’s wrong with her?

Everything starts to spin and I can’t think straight. I need to do something, anything. I need her to wake up. Through the open door I can see the phone in the hallway, and suddenly my brain starts to work. Ambulance, I need to call an ambulance. I start to get up when I feel a hand on my shoulder.

‘I’ll call an ambulance; you just stay there with her. Keep talking to her, or something, god, I don’t even know!’

Behind me is a girl with a phone to her ear. Who is she? Who’s the boy behind her and where did they come from? But I haven’t got time to worry about stupid questions like that. I nod and kneel back down beside Scarlett, stroking her cheek with my trembling hand.

‘Scarlett, please please wake up! Please stay with me. I’ll do anything. Just wake up and tell me that everything’s fine, that this is all a joke. Please!’

I don’t keep track of the time. I don’t notice the girl giving the ambulance directions, or the boy standing beside me. All I know is that Scarlett is lying on the ground, unconscious, and that she might not wake up.

She might not wake up.

After a lifetime, I hear the wailing sirens of an ambulance coming up the road. Some neighbours have come out of their houses, wondering what’s disturbing their lovely peaceful Monday morning, and just stare as the ambulance stops with a shriek outside the house. A man and a women jump out, and one of them starts firing questions at me while the other rushes towards Scarlett.

‘Right, what’s your name, love?’ A simple question, but it takes all my energy to answer it.

‘Mikey.’ I manage to blurt out.

‘Right Mikey, do you think you’d be able to explain what’s happened? Try to tell us everything.’ The man seems to be giving Scarlett various things, putting medical equipment on her, checking her pulse and heartbeat.

‘We, we were coming out the house. She looked a bit pale so I asked her if she was okay. She said she was, but then she sort of stumbled so I asked her again if she was alright, but she still said she was.  Then she took a few steps, and just…just collapsed.’

The woman talks to the man, and makes a few notes, scribbling furiously in her black notebook.

‘Right, okay. We’re not quite sure why she’s collapsed, so we’re going to have to take her to hospital. Are there any family members to come with you? Mum or Dad around?’

I slowly shake my head. Mum would be in London by now, and Dad was god knows where. And Tierney obviously couldn’t come.

‘I’ll go with you, if you want…’

I spin round. The girl is standing there, biting her lip.

‘What?’ I say, surprised. Why would someone who I didn’t even know offer to ride in an ambulance with me? Was she taking the piss? The girl flushes red.

‘I won’t, if you don’t want me to. I know I don’t even know you, it’s just I thought, you know, it might help…’

‘No, come with me. It would help.’ I’m not one for being chatty with strangers, but I feel I need someone with me. And even a complete strange is better than being alone. The girl says something to the boy, and he starts to walk down the street, school bag swinging on his shoulder. The medical team have put Scarlett on a stretcher, and the woman beckons me to get into the ambulance. Once we’re in and the woman has started driving, the man starts working on her again.

‘Right, you can’t touch her, but try talking to her, yeah? Say anything you want.’

So I do. I talk to her for the entire journey. I remind her of when we went on holiday 5 years ago and crept out of our hotel room at night to swim in the pool because we were bored, and got caught by the care taker. I remind her of when she got her first boyfriend in year nine and Dad wouldn’t let her go out with him so she pretended to go to maths club every evening so she could see him. The stranger sits beside me, not talking, just listening. I keep on talking, praying that her eyes will suddenly open, that she’ll smile and laugh and tell me to stop being stupid, tell me that she’ll be fine. When we arrive at the hospital, the paramedics rush her off into an operating room.

‘Can’t I still sit with her? Can’t I see her? What are you doing with her?’

The ambulance lady looks at me sympathetically, shaking her head.

‘I’m afraid not, sweetie. I’ll take you to a waiting room, and as soon as we know what’s happening, we’ll tell you. Can we have a parent’s number, please, to let them know what’s happening?’

I tell the woman Mum’s number, and then we’re led into a waiting room. The walls are painted a startling bright white, and are covered with posters, telling you to wash your hands and how to recognise signs of dementia and breast cancer. I try to read them, but the letters keep blurring, and I start to feel sick. I decide to give up. I can only concentrate on one thing. Scarlett.

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