Authors: Marcus Blakeston
Copyright © 2014 by Marcus Blakeston. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or places is entirely coincidental.
Kylie knew she had to have those yellow Nike trainers as soon as she saw them on the shelf in Sportswear Direct. They were the best trainers she had ever seen, Trisha and her gang of skanks on the council estate would go mental when they saw her wearing them. They’d be jealous as fuck, and so would everyone else who saw them.
Kylie plucked the trainers from the shelf and turned them around in her hands, admiring them from all angles. She ran her finger over the logo and smiled to herself. There was no doubt about it, she would look the fucking bomb wearing those. She sat down on a nearby padded bench and kicked off her skanky no-brand trainers, wishing it could be for the last time ever. Wishing she could toss them into a burning skip, never to see them again.
The amount of ribbing Kylie got from the other kids on the council estate over those horrible trainers was unbelievable. Like it was Kylie’s fault her mother would rather spend the child allowance on booze and ciggies. She’d begged for months and months for a proper pair of trainers, then got yelled at for not being grateful when her mother came home with those awful things instead.
“Pumps,” she called them. “There’s nothing wrong with pumps from the market, they’re just as good as the ones you want. You should be fucking grateful, I didn’t have to buy them, you know, and I never got anything like this when I was your age.”
Yeah well, she wasn’t the one who had to wear them out in public. But Kylie was going to put that right soon enough. She glanced at Tom and Mike, who were running around the shop dribbling a basketball to each other, attracting the overweight security guard’s attention. That just left the cameras to worry about.
The security guard told Tom and Mike to pack it in and get out of his shop. Tom laughed and told the man to piss off. The security guard made a grab for the basketball, but Tom and Mike ran rings around him, passing the ball back and forth between them and laughing at the fat man’s clumsy ineptitude.
Kylie smiled. It was definitely worth blowing out her dad for his weekly Saturday afternoon access time to go to Meadowside with Tom and the others. She was getting a bit too old for visits to the local zoo anyway. Who wants to go and look at miserable-looking smelly animals with some old geezer when you can have fun like this with your mates instead? Dad would just have to get used to the idea Kylie wasn’t a little kid any more.
Kylie dropped the new trainers and slid her feet into them. They were a perfect fit, just like she knew they would be. She stared down at them, rotating her ankles to get a better look. They were the fucking bomb all right. She bent down and tied the laces, then straightened up to see what the trainers were like for walking. It was like walking on air. She had to see what they looked like in a mirror.
Kylie walked through Sportswear Direct, past displays of tennis racquets, golf clubs and hockey sticks, into the clothing area. Britney was there with her Spongebob Squarepants backpack, looking a lot fatter than she had when they first entered the shop together. Britney winked when she saw Kylie walking toward her. Kylie nodded back and made for a full-length mirror. She turned around and craned her neck over her shoulder, trying to see what the new trainers looked like from the rear.
“Nice shoes,” Britney said. Kylie turned and smiled. She looked at Britney’s over-stuffed pink tracksuit and wondered what goodies it contained. “They look like they’d be good for running, yeah?”
Kylie shrugged and looked down at the yellow trainers, suddenly afraid of the consequences if she got caught stealing them. She remembered the last time she had been caught shoplifting. That look of fear on her mother’s face at the sight of a police officer on the doorstep. That mixture of relief, fury and disappointment when she realised they weren’t there to see her. And then the beating Kylie got for bringing police to the house. She didn’t want to go through all that again. But at the same time she knew she would never hear the last of it from Britney if she bottled out now.
“Yeah, I guess,” she said with a frown.
Britney winked. “Well come on then, let’s test them out, yeah?”
Britney turned and strode away. She waved to Tom and Mike, who were still dodging around the security guard with the basketball. Mike nodded, then they both lured the security guard further into the shop while Britney made for the exit.
Kylie looked up at a security camera and sighed. Her heart hammered in her chest at the thought of being caught again, but she was determined not to let her fear show. She closed her eyes and tried to steady her breathing until she could get her racing heart under control. She jumped at a loud clatter and looked around. Tom or Mike had thrown the basketball at a display of golf clubs and knocked them off the shelf. The security guard was shouting at them, red-faced, while he picked the golf clubs up. Tom and Mike ran for the exit together.
An alarm sounded when Britney passed through the shop’s security barrier. Its shrill, piercing siren made Kylie jump again. She ran for the exit herself, her arms pumping by her sides.
“Oi, you lot,” the security guard shouted. Kylie could hear the man’s laboured breathing as he gave chase.
Kylie ran like she’d never run before. Even on that cross-country run a few months ago when her sadistic PE teacher had been right behind her shouting abuse like some world war two army drill instructor she hadn’t run this fast. Her lungs felt like they were on fire, and a pain in her side felt like someone had stabbed her with a red-hot poker, but she didn’t dare stop running. She darted around bemused shoppers, following Tom and the others as they veered left onto another concourse, then barged past people on the escalator down to ground level. She ran past the bronze war memorial statue and the wishing fountain where people with more money than sense tossed their unwanted pound coins, then into the big department store near the train station exit.
Britney, Tom and Mike were laughing when she caught them up. They had slowed to a casual saunter past rows of clothing designed for old women. Frumpy purple dresses nobody in their right mind would want to be seen dead in. Silly hats like the ones the posh people wore when they went for a day at the horse racing. Awful green cardigans for grannies too senile to know any better.
Britney pulled a garish, plastic-flower-covered hat from a shelf and placed it on her head at an angle. “Look at me,” she said, spinning before Tom and Mike, “I’m a fucking lady.”
Tom laughed and shook his head. “Girl, you’re no fucking lady.”
“Piss off,” Britney said, pouting. “I am too a fucking lady.”
Kylie panted, desperate to get her breath back. She bent over and clutched her aching sides.
“Check it out, I’m a fucking lady too,” Tom said.
Kylie looked up and couldn’t help smiling. Tom had a big floppy pink hat on his head, with a matching pink woollen scarf draped over his shoulders. He pinched the chest of his Adidas T-shirt in both hands and stretched it out, forming pointy breasts.
“We should … we should get … going for the train,” Kylie said. “Before … we get caught by … that security guard.”
“Nah,” Britney said. “He’ll have given up long ago, the fat ones always do. Besides, if he chased us for too long everyone else in the shop would run off with loads of stuff so it wouldn’t be worth it.”
“Even so …”
“Fucking intense, weren’t it, Kylie?” Tom said. “And them new trainers of yours look fucking smart.”
Kylie looked down at her new trainers and smiled. They’d got a bit scuffed from the run and had lost a bit of their new-shop shine, but they still looked good. She lifted them in turn and polished them on the back of her tracksuit bottoms. Then she remembered her old trainers were still in the shop. She looked up at Tom, her eyes wide.
“We need to take them back, say it was a mistake or something.”
“What? Don’t be daft, what would be the point of that?”
“But I left my old ones behind, they’ll know they’re mine.”
Tom snorted. “What, like in fucking Cinderella or something? What are they going to do, take them round the council estate and see who they fit?”
“They might have DNA in them, or fingerprints? Footprints, even.”
“So what? They still wouldn’t have anything to match it with, would they?” Tom took off the pink hat and placed it on Kylie’s head. It was way too big for her, and flopped down over her eyes. “There you go Kylie,” he said, “you’re a proper fucking lady now, too. So stop worrying.”
Kylie lifted the brim of the hat over her eyes and smiled at Tom. That was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to her, and she wanted to reach out and grab him, plant a massive kiss on those lips of his.
But Tom turned away before she could do it. “Come on then Lady Kylie, let’s get fucked off out of here,” he said, walking toward the exit. Mike and Britney followed him, hand in hand. Kylie took off the hat and put it back on the shelf when a woman at a nearby till glared at her. She smiled at the woman and shrugged, then hurried to catch Tom up.
It was raining outside, a heavy downpour that bounced off the pavement. Black clouds filled the sky.
“I ain’t going out in that, it’s fucking pissing it down,” Britney said, pulling off her Spongebob Squarepants backpack. “We’ll get fucking soaked if we go out there.”
“Yeah, fuck that,” Mike said, shaking his head. “We’ll wait until it stops.”
Hidden behind Tom and Mike, Britney pulled out the clothes she had stuffed inside her pink tracksuit and transferred them to her backpack. She had gone for top designer brands, and Kylie sighed when she saw their labels. Britney was sure to be the envy of the entire council estate when she wore those, and Kylie’s new trainers would barely get a second glance next to them.
“Look at that daft bastard,” Mike said, pointing.
A bedraggled-looking man stood outside, looking up at the sky. Rain bounced off his face, but he didn’t seem to care.
Tom laughed. “Oi mate, you’re getting wet,” he shouted through the door. If the man heard Tom from outside, he didn’t acknowledge it. Tom shook his head, grinning, then turned to Kylie. “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m with Mike and Britney. No way am I going out in that. We’ll wait and see if it eases off first.”
“So what are we going to do then?” Kylie asked.
Tom smiled and took her hand. “Let’s go and see what’s on at the cinema. I’ve got a mate who works there, he’ll get us in for free.”
Amy Saunders couldn’t believe her luck. For over five years her and Ryan had been trying for a baby, with nothing but monthly heartbreak to show for it. Something wrong with her fallopian tubes, the doctor explained, but Amy was too busy sobbing into her hands to listen to the details. It was Ryan, stoic as ever, who asked what their options were.
The doctor suggested IVF, and Amy looked up with renewed hope, wiping the tears from her eyes. But that hope was soon dashed when the doctor said she was too old to qualify for NHS treatment. He was, however, more than happy for her to proceed as a private patient, and rubbed his hands with glee when Ryan said money wasn’t an issue.
The treatment failed, and Amy wept into Ryan’s arms when they were told none of the embryos produced were viable enough to be implanted. Most had simply stopped growing in the lab’s incubator, something Amy was told was common. Those that survived all had chromosomal abnormalities, and had been destroyed.
Undeterred, Ryan took on a second job, working a combined total of fifteen hours per day, seven days per week. With Amy’s own job, working in the offices of a meat processing plant, they hardly saw each other. They scrimped and saved, and sold anything they could do without, so they could pay for another round of IVF six months later.
The second treatment also failed, so they took out a secured loan to pay for a third, putting their home up as security. This time, miraculously, it was a success, and Ryan had fussed over Amy non-stop ever since. If Ryan had his way Amy would have been confined to bed for the entire pregnancy, with doctors and nurses on hand twenty-four hours a day.