Careful Jessica.
Those words, the same ones I get told whatever I do. I know that it's only because she worries about me... But it doesn't change the fact that I hate those words with a passion.


Jessica has always been told to be careful, ever since her Dad disappeared the night she was born, when all he was doing was driving to the hospital. She understands it was bound to make her Mum cautious and paranoid...
But when you cage an animal it only makes it more determined to escape...


4. Not registered

"How was school?" my mum asks as soon as I climb into the passenger seat of the silver Nissan micra and she has started the engine again. I don't even pause before saying how good it was and that I learnt lots. It's not that me and mum don't have a good relationship. Seeing as I'm not allowed out after six, it's pretty much the only relationship I have out of school. I tell her nearly everything, ninety-nine percent of my day is related back to her. The one percent that I omit is the things like fainting. "How was your day?" I ask, partly because I care... But partly out of habit.

"Alright, I went to see about that Job at the hairdressers at lunch." she says, somewhat hesitantly. Like she doesn't want to admit it to me.

"Really?" I ask evenly to mask my surprise.

Before Dad disappeared, mum was training to be a hairdresser. She had just finished when I came along... And dad disappeared. I guess it's plain to see why after so many years of practicing her styling skills on my dads long locks... It was not something she'd pursue anymore. According to my Nan, it was not for months after my dad disappeared that my mum even snapped out of this reverie she seemed to be in and took responsibility and provided for me. By way of providing, I mean she got a part time job at a local chippy which was willing to only make her work during the day if she took less wages than other staff. She took it, and had said nothing about getting any other job until two weeks ago. Sally's styles was the towns newest salon and was next to the local post office. Their work wanted signs had been advertised in all the papers, in leaflets and generally any other way word can spread through a community. Mum found one of the flyers on the cork board in the chippy she works at. They'd put it up under the work section so that customers could have a browse whilst they waited. It didn't catch their eyes, but it did mums. She talked about it to me for ages.

"I could never take a job like that.. Who would pick you up? It's too long hours away from you, even at weekends..." Her list of excuses was endless, and I only half listened to them after the first few days. 

"I thought you weren't going to take it mum?" I ask her innocently, watching her carefully as we drive past the post office and Sally's styles itself. 

"I know... But... You can walk to the salon after school, wait there for me till I'm done. Or catch a lift with Julia." I blink in shock, but quickly compose myself. An idea occurs to me, and eagerly (though I try not to make it sound so) I hasten to ask if I could just head home myself.

"NO!" Mum says, slamming on the brakes as we reach a set of lights at the same time, her hand forming it's clasp like grip on the wheel again. "Jess you're not old enough to be walking out that time. Especially alone." I open my mouth to say how Julia could accompany me, but she cuts me off at once. "Don't even try to tell me Julia can go all the way home, she's not old enough either ask me." I close my eyes and try to allow the lecture about teenagers these days wash over me. 

I love my mum, and know she only means to protect me. I know it's because of what happened with Dad... But I hate it. Careful this, careful that. Don't do this, don't do that. Why couldn't I? 

We reach our house, and mum switches the engine off and sighs. Letting out a long deep breath and bows her head slightly, eyes closed, before turning to me. Pursing her lips like she's thinking. Finally she speaks.

"Look... I'm sorry Jess. I just... I can't lose you too."

I close my eyes, feeling close to tears suddenly, before I get out of the car I turn my face away from her so she can't see.

"Then let me do things." I murmur, getting out and slamming the door. The dramatic effect of my exit is ruined by the fact I have to wait in the rain for my mum to open the front door. Of course I'm not allowed my own key, and to her defence mum opens it up quickly and silently for me. I head straight upstairs, and collapse on my bed, not even a hundred percent sure why I am so upset.

After living with this over protectiveness for over 16 years... You would think I would be used to it by now. I normally just roll my eyes and moan about it in my diary or to the posters of Greenday on my wall. Billie Joe Armstrong looks at me now from across my room, his eye lined eyes watching me intently. Like he understands, it's the same pose as always, and really it means nothing. He is giving the same look to all the people who have his poster up. 

I decide to blame my mood on my day at school. After David left, and I went to P.E. with Julia, I kept an eye out all day for him. I knew he wasn't going to appear deep down, but I had this... Foolish hope anyway. Nobody inquired where he was gone, and despite the teasing I had endured before going to the nurses (well, attempting to) office with him, nobody asked me how it went. Not that I minded... But it was odd. 

I looked forward to afternoon form, sure now that a question of his absence would be raised... But it wasn't. Not even my form tutor asked. Everybody chatted animatedly and happily. Not a single yawn and no sign of the earlier tiredness. When it came to the register, I waited. But he wasn't mentioned. I made an excuse to go and talk to my tutor, so I could see her register.

David's name was not on the register. 

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