Charlie Barker's life is very dull. Her mums always of on holiday with her latest boyfriend. Her nan is always down the pub with her pals and Charlie is left looking after her mentally disabled little brother. But when Grace walks into her life things suddenly become much brighter.


2. Grandma

I told Gracie about mum’s holiday the next day. “So now I’ve got no one to come see me. I mean she knows it was on Monday, she knows I was in it. She knows I want to be an actress.”
“I’ll go.”
“I’ll go. I’ll go watch you Lottie.” I stared at her. “You will? Oh thank you Grace thank you thank you. As soon as Mr Wilkins walked in I went up to him. “Mr Wilkins, can I have a child’s ticket for the play?”
“Who’s it for?”
“Gracie Sbeck.” Mr Wilkins frowned. “You know we only give free tickets to family members.”
“I know but mums had to go abroad, and grandma can’t come.” Mr Wilkins sighed. “O.k. One. But no more.” I nodded. Mr Wilkins handed me a child’s ticket. I took it and gave it to Grace. She grinned from ear to ear. “Great. I can’t wait. So what are you doing tonight?” I shrugged. “Not much really.” I couldn’t go out anywhere. I had to get home to look after Clyde. “Well why don’t you come shopping with me.” I thought about it for a while, but ended up shaking my head. Clyde would have been by himself all day. I had to be around for him. “Sorry Grace I can’t. I have to go straight home. To help look after my little brother.”
“That’s ok. I could come over and help. I love little kids.” I shook my head again. “It’s more complicated than that.”
“Oh go on Lottie. I promise I’ll behave around your gran.” I said no a few more times but eventually agreed. “Ok. But behave.”
I unlocked the door and went inside. Gracie followed me. “Woo wee! It stinks in here.” She yelled. “Shh. That’s just grandma.” Gracie pretended to cough. “He-ea-avy-y smoker.”
“Shh. Please keep it down. Clyde doesn’t like loud noises.” Grace nodded. “I beater go check on Clyde.”
“Can I meet him?” Grace asked. “I’m not sure…”
“Oh go on. I’ll behave promise.” I hesitated. Then finally agreed. “Ok but there are a few rules. Rule number one, be quite. No shouting or loud noises. Rule number two, keep your sentences short. Give him a few seconds after each one. Oh and he prefers to be asked quick questions rather than conversations.” Grace nodded, so I led her upstairs, and into Clyde’s room. “Clyde.” I whispered. “Clyde. Look at me.” Clyde turned to face me. “Clyde. This is Grace.” Grace crouched down with me. “Hi Clyde.” She whispered. That’s a nice drawing.” Clyde was drawing a picture of a man and a women kissing. “Who’s that?” She asked pointing to the women. “Mummy.”
“oh! And who’s this?” She asked again pointing to the men. “Boyfriend.” Grace frowned. “What does she mean?” She whispered to me. “Mum’s had loads of boyfriends. She changes them like clothes.” The I turned to Clyde. “Clyde. Have you eaten?” Shake. “Are you hungry?” Shake. “Ok.” I stood up and left Grace following me. “What now?” She asked once we were outside. I shrugged. “Well grandma will be in the living room. So I guess we’ll have to go into my room.” I showed her into my room. “This is your room?” I nodded. “It’s more like a broom cupboard.”
“It is a bit small.” I agreed. “A bit. Why doesn’t Clyde have the smaller room? Or your mum if she’s always jetting off on holiday?”
“Clyde can’t have this room because he likes everything set out in such a way you wouldn’t be able to fit everything. And I can’t think how you’d fit a double bed in here.” Grace nodded, and then started looking at the stuff on my book shelf. “They’re all boring classics. And history books.”
“I like classics. And history is my best subject. Any way what do you read?” She thought for a while, then replied. “I mainly read magazines. Though I also read stories to my little brothers and sister.” I nodded. To be honest it wasn’t a surprise to me. Grace never looked like the sort to read books. “Do you have any makeup?” She asked. I nodded and pulled down a purple case that contained my makeup. “Blimey Lottie!” Grace cried. “This isn’t a makeup box. It’s a makeup shop!”
“A lot of it is duplicates of things people have given my mum and Grandma. The rest are magazine freebies.” Grace grinned. “I’ll put make up on you if you put it on me.”
“Ok. But no clown makeup.”
“Spoil sport.” Grace teased. She gave me a proper makeover. She put red lipstick on my lips and gave me smoky eyes. “There. Very glam.” I smiled when I saw it. “It’s great. Are you going to be a makeup artist when you grow up?”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’ll have a job looking after children.” I looked at her. Her hair was in pigtails tied back with bobbles. She had a grey duffle bag and wore a pair of lime green converse trainers. I could easily imagine her being surrounded by small kids. I asked her how she did the smoky eyes. So she showed me.
After Grace had gone I went into Clyde’s room. “Clyde.” I whispered. Clyde was sitting on his bed. I went up to him. “Clyde…” I began. But all of a sudden Clyde slapped me. I stepped backwards. Clyde rolled onto the floor and started screaming, and kicking. Shaking I went over to him and held his legs down. I had to stay there until he stopped. Clyde often has tantrums like this. They come for no obvious reason and go as suddenly as they come. “Clyde.” I began in a firm voice. “We don’t hit. Say sorry.”
“Sorry sa.” He always calls me sa. Clyde’s vocabulary in English is limited. He can say mummy, boyfriend, white, sorry and hot. He also has his own little words. Sa means sister or Charlie. (We can’t decide because he only says it to me). Chwe means birds. Boba means bubble and ge ge means stop. But apart from that he can’t say anything. “Clyde are you hungry?” He shook his head. I left him on my own and started making myself tea. I spent that evening staring at the TV. “It’s a good job Grace left before Clyde had his tantrum.” I said to the empty room. When I went upstairs to check on Clyde he as all ready asleep on the floor. I left him there and went to bed. I woke up again at 2:00 am. The house seamed silent. I suddenly realised I was thirsty. I climbed out of bed and crept downstairs to the kitchen. When I was down there I noticed something. Grandma’s coat was still missing. That meant she was still out. I filled a glass with water and stood there sipping it. I sipped it slowly so it was 3:30am when I was done. I went to sit on the stairs. Grandma still wasn’t home. 4:00 still nothing. 4:30, nada. 4:45 I heard a key turn in the lock. I pounced on Grandma the moment she walked through the door. “Where have you been?” Grandma looked completely baffled. “I was down the pub. You know that.”
“For seven hours Grandma. Seven hours!” Grandmas face changed from baffled to angry. “How dare you speak to me like that young lady! Now go to bed.” I stormed up the stairs and slammed my bedroom door shut. Why do I always have to act like the grown up.

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