The kind of hateful, screwed up world I live in is not one for a kid, let alone one who comes with the label of "damaged goods" like me.
Let's be honest for a second, I was practically born with a "messed up" sticker already pinned onto my baby grow. If my life was a book, it would make for one hell of a story line. And I guess I would be the protagonist, a strong female lead. That's me, at least, that is what I wish I could be.
Living in fear, never knowing when or where my next meal is going to come from or whether or not it will be my last. That’s the kind of reality I wake up to every single morning, I sometimes dream of another life. One where I am someone else, that I lived in a castle, that I will one day open my eyes and I will have servants waiting on my every command, that my Mum and Dad will always be there, they will call me their little Princess and we will be a family, a proper family.
But my life is no fairy tale; I open my eyes in the morning and the first thing I see is the off white colour of the ceiling in my bedroom, I glance over to corner where a large patch of mould had recently began seeping through. I do what I do every morning, I go into the kitchen, I scavenge for something to eat, if I’m lucky I’ll find someone, maybe every once in a while I will pour myself some cereal and I sit and eat it by myself, at the kitchen table, which was purchased to seat three, but has only ever sat one at a time. Always me and always, without fail, I was alone.
But who am I to complain, I like being alone. And I guess against the odds, which trust me, where piled high against me, I’ve made it this far. Some might even be so bold as to say I have thrived, well that is, of course, considering the circumstances. And trust me when I say circumstances like these don’t occur often.
The name’s Sapphire Louise Frank, at least it was, but I haven’t been Saphy Frank for nearly ten years, I’m only fifteen now. It feels like a lifetime ago since Dad would push me on the swings in the park and Mum would buy me an ice cream and then we would walk along the lake, along the cycle path, for a few hours until I was tired and then we would turn around and start to walk back to the car. Dad would pick me up and swing me over his shoulders and carry me the rest of the way.
It is funny, the memories of my Mum were all a little hazy but not that one, that one I remember crystal clearly, every little detail, the colour of the car parked next to ours, the name of the song which was playing on the radio in the car on the way home. Every little thing, every last tiny detail, I had run that day over and over and over in my mind hundreds of times.
But trust me; those days were way, way, behind me. And as much as I wish I could relive those treasured childhood days, I knew it just was not possible.
Times have changed, a lot, I go by Margo now, Dad said it suits my gingery hair better, he said the name Sapphire Louise was way too ladylike for someone like us, for someone like him. But he did say I could choose a new name for myself, at first I wanted something pretty, a flower name, I made a mind map, Rose, Jasmine, Poppy, or maybe something exotic, like Celine or Caterina, something foreign. I showed him my plan and he laughed in my face. Something like Margo, he said it was my Grandmother’s name. He said I needed something more appropriate for people in his line of business. Well to call it business is using the term in the loosest sense possible.
At school it becomes some kind of pissing contest as to whose Daddy is the most important, whose Daddy has the biggest yacht, whose Daddy makes the most money. Of course I never win, seeing as my Daddy doesn’t even own a yacht and he wishes any of the money he earns was genuine.
And as for being important, my Daddy is very important, just not in the same sense as running a global company is, or donating millions to charity, no my Daddy is important in the sense of ruining people’s lives, in robbing from the rich to feed him and his partner’s naughty habits. Not his partner in the sense of his girlfriend, that ship sank when my Mum died and no one ever ordered its re commission.
No, I’m talking about his partner in crime, his actual and literal partner in crime. Hamish Teal, you’ve probably never heard of him, but did you know Teal is a shade of Blue and my Daddy’s name is Fredrick Dean, he is one half of the criminal mastermind duo Blue Teal and Freddy Dean, Teal and Dean.
The kind of world I live in is not a nice place, trust me. Though I can’t be too negative, it used to be a hell of a lot worse. When my Mum first died I shared my time between my Dad and my Uncle Blue’s “office”. The back room in a local brothel they both favoured, a variety of pubs and clubs and the rest of the time I would spend being passed around from pillar to post living out of a suitcase in some prostitute’s flat. Those were the memories my brain tried to erase, the ones I wish were still as hazy as the ones where my Mum was holding my hand or braiding my hair or playing Barbie with me. But the ones I can remember the most vivid of all are the ones where I am crying. I have nightmares sometimes, about my old life. I wake up screaming, covered in sweat and tears. I rush out of my room into the living area, desperately looking for someone to comfort me. But that someone never comes, I wake up from the nightmare and find myself living something that is no better.
Things were different now; at least, Dad was trying to make things different. I mean, for starters I share a flat with my Dad, well I say share, I basically live on my own. Dad learnt the hard way, that bringing little girls to work, especially work where over exposure to drugs, alcohol and sex was commonplace, was perhaps not the brightest idea they had ever had.
So Dad and Uncle Blue brought a flat, a crappy one, but it was a place to call our own, I mean my own. From each job they did I got a small percentage to “keep up appearances”. Since Mum died, I sort of became the apple of my Dad’s eye, so to speak. Blue told him how important I was and that I needed a future. They decided to set aside a percentage of money from each “job” they did and put it into a savings account so they could send me to a decent school.
More than a decent school, I go to the Henry Jewell Academy, a private school in the heart of London’s elite. The few clothes I have hanging in my wardrobe are all designer, I have the latest model of phone and as many gadgets as their budget can afford but none of that mattered. Of course I liked having nice things, as few possessions I had, I liked that they were nice and I was grateful that Dad and Blue were trying to raise me as best they could, but it was not a substantial replacement for having to raise myself.
I would rather have my Mum and my Dad at home with me, reliving all of our old memories that we spend years making together, but I’m not an idiot. I’m a realist; I stopped pretending my life was going to be anything other than crappy the moment I saw my Dad hammer in the last nail, closing and sealing my Mum’s body in her coffin, giving her the final ray of sunlight she would ever see. It was then I lost the last drop of sweet fantasy that I would ever taste in my life. I would give my life to go back and see my Mum’s face one final time before she was cruelly snatched away from me. But I knew there’s no chance of that ever happening.
Being the daughter of a famous con artist and a murdered prostitute isn’t the ideal life that little girls dream of, but it is my life and if I have learnt one thing it’s that moaning and moping around is not going to change jack. So I might as well get on with my life, and I’m not one to brag, but it was going pretty well.
And then this happened. Then the quickly sinking ship wreck that already was my life was being rocked more vigorously than ever and this time by the British Justice System.
Oh the irony, the department set up to protect kids, people like me, who were most at risk, they end up leaving me, taking my only hope of a normal life.
My Dad and Uncle Blue are in prison. I don’t know when, or if they are ever coming home. And now the police are looking for the mysterious Sapphire girl, the secret daughter to the heart throb con artist.
And if they find me they were going to cart me straight off into Foster Carer, gift me to a loveless family where I can grow up hating myself and living a life of blame and hatred towards my new family, to my Uncle Blue, to my Dad, but most importantly to myself. And believe me when I say, that won’t be the worst thing that could happen to me.
Over the years my Dad and Uncle Blue took a whole lot of money from a whole lot of important and very dangerous men. I knew of several people who, if they were given the chance, would not bat an eyelid before ending my life as I knew it.
I needed to keep my head down and my wits about me if I was even going to made it to my sixteenth birthday.