Me & Lou

Lou is very imaginative- and also kind, caring and helpful. And when she gets packed off to the countryside during the war, she finds that those qualities are important. But can she keep up the soft approach, even when panic, trouble and worry hits?


10. Heartbreak Hotel

When I was up and dressed the next day, Ida was bustling about the kitchen, packing up things into bags. She was mopping up her eyes with a hankie, but she smiled when she saw me- falsely, of course. 

"Good morning, lovely Lou!" she grinned. "Help?" I nodded, carefully putting a blue-and-white china teapot into a box with some winter scarves and wool, whilst Ida piled cookery books and put them away. 

"I'm so stupid," she told me. "I can't believe that we're really going. I love this place so much. I've lived here all of my life. I don't want to go!" She sounded like a little child, falling down onto her knees and crying again. I didn't know where to put myself... she was as red in the face as a beetroot. I hugged her close, like that night when I told Victoria a story. Or when Jem was needing a shoulder to lean on the night before. Grandpa stumbled in, hobbling. He had a strange, angry look in his eye. My heart started pounding like crazy- was he mad at me? But he flipped his gaze to Ida.

"Stop this now!" He said angrily. "I know that you're worried- who wouldn't be? But there is no reason to pass these worries onto poor Lou. She's left her family, come all the way here, and she's gone out of her way to support all of us- not just the children, but ALL of us. Now if you have a problem, come to me!" He took her hand and pulled her out into the hall, where they whispered, very loudly. I felt so proud that Grandpa had stuck up for me- but also sick with worry about Ida. 

"I don't know where we'll go!" Ida cried. "Not the streets- I'd never take my precious children there. I even love LOU like my own!" Two fat tear-drops rolled down my cheeks. "I really don't know; I'm such an awful parent!"

"Hey, hey!" Grandpa said. "We'll find a way. Somehow. In the end, it will turn out okay, you'll see. It doesn't have to be like staying in Heartbreak Hotel. Make the most of the situation- for the children. Turn it into an adventure for them- a new home! Make it exciting. I know you're frightened, though, Ida! Honestly, I am too. But the children- well, they needn't know. Especially Lou. She was just starting to feel as though she had a chance here, I could tell. You're a fantastic mother, Ida; trust me! You've had to make ends meet in the past, so you will again. You just need time!"

"But we HAVE no time!" Ida sobbed. "It's 1945- there's a blooming war going on! This couldn't have happened at a worst time!" 

"Just keep calm, Ida. Keep calm and carry on- isn't that what every folk is saying at the moment? You could have been worse off- think of people who have lost loved ones," Like me. "One day, Frankie will come home, Ida. And the children will be overjoyed to see their Father. It won't matter where we are- as long as we're together. Family." 

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