I got to the front door finally, my arms sore and tired from carrying Casey and my shopping. Wearily I put her and bags down and fumbled in the dark for my keys.
One bloody day I’ll actually get round to buying one of those bag organiser thingies so I will actually be able to find something in this god forsaken bag.
I realise I’m mumbling like some crazy bag lady and then I find them inside my coffee flask what the…
I don’t even want to know how they ended up in there! I let us in out of the cold as I notice poor Casey doing her crazy curtsey dance, like she’s practising for the day she meets the queen bless her.
I flick the light switch on and nothing happens and it’s then I notice the whole house is in darkness.
“Mummy where’s the light I need a wee” cries Casey
“One second darling mummy’s just sorting it out” I answer.
I take the yellow plastic jigsaw piece off my keys and slot it into the corresponding shape in the metal box next to my front door. I reinserted the purple key but no beep. I try again, nothing. No beep, no clicking, no instant illumination of my little 2 bedroomed home nothing.
“What the heck” I mutter under my breath, I only topped this up yesterday I thought.
I try one last time hoping for third time lucky but my luck was all out tonight still in total darkness. The panic I was trying to bury was growing, trying to engulf me whole.
“What’s happening mummy?” asked my puzzled 4 year old.
“It’s ok baby,” I soothe ” I think our meter is broken again so the lights aren’t working again. “Oh, ok then mummy but I really need the toilet and it’s dark up there” I could see she was scared to go, her piercing blue eyes imploring me to fix this and help her out with her pressing problem.
I grab her hand and take her upstairs using the flash light on my phone as torch to light the way.
Next one was going to be a little bit harder to solve.
“Come on Casey” I start “lets play a game”
“I love playing games mummy what are we playing?” “well I think we should pretend we are camping in the woods. I will get some candles and pretend it is a fire and we can have hot dogs and make a tent in my bed. What do you think?”
Squealing with delight she nods her head in agreement I love this game mummy she tells me.
My smile hides the pain. The pain of the reality, the reason our ‘camping’ game came to be and the sad fact that we play this game all too often these days.
Ever since Casey’s dad left money was becoming increasingly sparse. My meagre minimum wage pay didn’t stretch as far as it needed too. She was growing so fast last week it was new shoes, this week a new coat it was never ending. The choice between heating and eating was becoming a very frequent one these days, my now growling stomach arguing loudly for the side of Team Eat this week, but having to sit in the dark because I couldn’t afford to put any more money in the electric meter than what I topped up the other day with was just plain wrong.
I glance over the bed to where Casey is sitting in the candlelight with her haul of goodies that she has somehow managed to find and smile gratefully that she won’t really remember this as she grows up. I hope she remembers the fun bits though, the times mummy let her play the camping game completely sheltered from the horrible truth.
Placing the plates of hot dogs down on the bed, thank god I have a gas cooker, and smile over at my baby playing with her dolls who have joined us on our camp out.
“I love you mummy” she grins at me “this is the best camp out ever”
And inside my heart breaks just that little bit more.
This is the first story I have written and I would love some feedback.