Danny and I had come a long way together…
I dreamed of Danny last night. I was walking along a deserted, night street and there he was.
He fell into step beside me and loped along with his thumbs hitched in his jeans.
We were teenagers on the prowl, misfits of the care system but happy in each other’s company.
“Hey Kim, fancy a walk on the wild side?” he asked.
“To the moon and back,” I said, saying what I had always said.
In my dream I was happy – not the sparkle-and-fizz happy that soon goes flat but a slow-burn happy that was a steady flame.
A cooking-with-gas flame, Danny called it – two rings on the same hob.
We larked about, chasing each other and twirling round lampposts. Then we stopped outside a house and looked in through a lit window.
Inside, with their backs to us, a man and a woman watched a large screened television. It was a Jackie Chan film.
“Seen it,” commented Danny, doing some kung-fu moves.
“Read the script,” I contributed my well-worn lines, “and wrote it.”
Then the man in the house turned and stared straight at us. He wore a boy’s grinning, rubber mask.
“Run, Danny, run!” I’d shouted.
I woke up at that point. The bed beside me was empty.
We’d been wild, Danny and I – not bad – thanks to Kenny, the only adult we could relate to.
Young and idealistic, he’d spoken up for us when the police caught us drinking underage in the street.
Then there was the bunking off school and being lippy to teachers. At one stage Kenny had personally escorted me to school to make sure I got there.
That had been the time they’d taken Danny away from me, moved him into a foster home the other side of the city.
Danny would sneak out at night and I climbed out of the window to meet him.
My parents were dead, his incapable of looking after him. So he had an independent streak that had not always gone down well with foster carers.
By the time I got downstairs, Danny had the coffee on and hot croissants on the go.
“How’re you feeling?” he asked.
“A bit frightened.”
“You’re not alone. I couldn’t sleep.”
“I dreamed of when we used to walk the streets at night.”
We looked at each other. Our whole history was encompassed in that look. Me drawing pictures of families, Danny tearing them up.
We fought like cat and dog in the beginning. Now the flame was still there between us, unwavering.
It had been a shock to see Kenny after so many years. He’d put on weight and his hair was streaked with grey.
“Kim and Danny!” he’d exclaimed, rising from his chair to shake our hands.
Then we just stood and grinned at each other.
A look-at-where-we-are-now grin accompanied by a feeling of disbelief.
“What time did Kenny say?”
“About nine-thirty. I suppose we should get a move on.”
We didn’t move, though. I poured more coffee.
I imagined us sitting there for all time, the seasons changing, ivy growing over the window and the wooden doors swelling shut, sealing us in our own wee world.
Then I blinked.
“What are we doing?” I asked.
“Giving back to society,” said Danny.
We heard the car on the gravel and looked out. Kenny, the social worker, spoke to his passenger for a few moments before they got out.
The young boy hung back, hands in his pockets.
Our hearts went out to him as he mumbled and refused to look at us.
“Give him time,” Kenny mouthed at us, carrying Jack’s case. “He’s had a lot going on recently.”
Danny put a hand on Jack’s shoulder and guided him inside.
Kenny looked at them and blinked away a tear.
I took his arm. Together, with Kenny’s help, we could help this damaged soul – our first foster child.
It wouldn’t be easy but, as I always said, we had not only read the script – we had written it as well.
Look out for a new themed series of lovely short stories from our archives, coming next week!