Hi :). This one's a little different. This is a pretty big project for me, and the first time I've done anything like this. I used to have an old fic which told Carla's story from the perspective of her seventeen-year-old self; this time is different. The angles will switch from that of Johnny and the secret that he kept for over forty years, to that of Carla, fresh-faced and falling in love for the first time. It'll be jumpy. One chapter she'll be four, and the next, she'll be eight. I'll focus on the milestones in her younger years, both for her and for Johnny, and we'll get to watch her grow up, deprived of the better childhood that she should have had.
Interested? Then read on.
There will be romance, mainly as Carla grows older, there will be anguish, particularly on Johnny's part, and you'll also see a glimpse of Carla and Rob's torment at their stepfather's hands. There's something for everyone.
I really hope you guys enjoy this, because I'm really looking forward to writing it. I am open to suggestions, and would love your comments and views as this is a very new concept for me. I'm used to writing Carla as a hard-nosed bitch, having affairs and falling in love with unavailable men. This is very different, so I'd really appreciate knowing how you think it's going.
Thank you so much for reading
Through Daddy's Eyes
13th January 1975
It had been a normal day for Johnny Connor. He'd gone to work at the office at nine in the morning, and spent his lunch break chain-smoking and exchanging banter with his colleagues over the week's football results – he was, he was ashamed to say, a Manchester City fan, and was continually mocked senseless by his Scouse co-worker who sat opposite him. Once five o'clock rolled around, he was out of his workplace in a flash and straight home to see his beloved wife, who worked making women's coats in the factory a few streets away. Their marriage was rock-steady, and Johnny adored his Louise with every fibre of his being. Once home, the pair bickered about the fact that they had ran out of milk – for the second time that week, Louise had pointed out, glaring at Johnny accusingly – and Johnny had retreated defensively and agreed to nip to the corner shop to restock. He'd had a nice chat with Cindy, the pretty teenage girl who worked behind the counter and who sometimes babysat for his cousin's five-year-old son, Paul. He'd bought his milk, plus a copy of the evening newspaper as a treat for himself, and stepped back out into the bitter January chill.
And that's when he saw her, and he could have sworn that, for a split second, his heart stopped beating.
Her hair was almost jet black, and hung loose down her back. She was hugging her arms around her chest, as all that covered her slim form was a battered, cheap-looking denim jacket, her feet adorned with nothing but a pair of pale pink slippers. If you examined her closely, you would notice the dark circles that framed her dull green eyes. In spite of all her flaws, she was a pretty young thing, but her beauty was tainted by the tell-tale signs of years of substance and alcohol abuse. It wasn't, however, her appearance which struck Johnny like a knife through his chest; it was the dirty, tattered pram which was parked in front of her as she glanced warily around the street.
"Sharon?" he called, without raising his voice loudly enough so that anyone would notice. Sharon Donovan glanced up, her eyes suddenly growing wide in panic.
"Shit," she hissed, pulling the pram's hood down a little further, "What do you want?" Johnny's steps slowed as he reached her, his eyes still fixed firmly on the grey and white coachbuilt pram.
"I just… Haven't seen you around for a while," he responded, his words hesitant, "Is that…?"
"A baby?" Sharon rolled her eyes, protectively gripping the handle and beginning to push her pram in the opposite direction. "'Bye, Johnny." Johnny paused, indecisive as to whether to follow her or to let her carry on walking as if their paths hadn't crossed. He went to leave, but it was as though there was some gravitational force rooting him to the spot.
"What's it's name?" he called after her, causing her to stop short in her tracks, draw in a deep breath and turn back around to face him.
"Her name's Carla. She were born Friday before last." There was a moment of awkward silence as Johnny caught up with her, attempting to glance into the pram to ogle the tiny baby nestled inside. "Can I go now?" Another pause.
"Can I have a look?" Sighing in defeat, Sharon allowed him to draw back the pram's hood, causing him to suck in an audible breath at the child's beautiful green eyes and tufts of dark hair. He flinched as he noted that she was wearing a stained pink babygro and was wrapped in a thin cotton blanket, which would do nothing to protect her from the winter weather. Then, his stomach dropped even further when he caught a glimpse of the half a dozen little plastic bags of powder which had been hastily stuffed underneath the pram's mattress, a couple of which were peeking out of the sides. Sternly, he turned to look at the nonchalant mother. "You can't carry on like this, Sharon. You should have said if you needed help."
"I didn't need yours," Sharon snapped back, though she looked away and folded her arms defensively across her chest. Johnny hesitated, before drawing his wallet out of the pocket of his work trousers. Sharon eyed him warily as he counted out around £12 in loose change, which he handed to her.
"Buy your little one some nappies or something. And if you need help, you know where I am." She merely nodded in thanks, before taking hold of the pram once again and beginning to push it in the direction of the cramped flat above the chip shop where she lived with her newborn daughter. Johnny's eyes followed her, his heart thumping with worry.
Johnny puffed a frustrated sigh out through his lips as he filled yet another glass midway with Scotch, before lifting it to his lips and sipping it straight, shuddering at the taste. Sharon watched him, curiously, raising an eyebrow.
"So she ain't kicked you out then?" she asked, her voice sharp, stubbing out her cigarette in her makeshift ashtray, a cereal bowl fresh from her kitchen cupboard. She couldn't really explain how they'd got there. One minute, they'd both been drowning their sorrows in the pub across the road, and the next, there they were, sat on her dirty, broken sofa in the middle of her living room, both far from sober and showing no sign of stopping anytime soon. Johnny firmly shook his head.
"No. But she's not exactly my biggest fan right now." Sharon laughed, loudly.
"Are they ever?" Johnny almost smiled himself. She was very pretty when she laughed. Despite her home life, her problems with drugs and her lack of clean clothes and hot water, it was obvious when her eyes lit up that her deprived lifestyle masked a beauty underneath. "Other halves, I mean. My fella dumped me again at the weekend. Fifth time this year."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"I'm not." She shrugged. "It's nice to have 'em around, but I'm alright on my own, me. It's nice to not have to rely on anyone." She sighed, draining the remainder of her glass of red wine, which was the last of the bottle that Johnny had bought at the pub for them to take away with them. "I don't reckon he fancied me anymore, anyway." At her last observation, her voice cracked, her lower lip trembling as a result of her emotions, heightened by the copious amounts of alcohol that she'd drank. Soothingly, an equally-intoxicated Johnny shuffled closer to her on the sofa and lazily draped his arm around her shoulder, hugging her against him.
"'Ey, don't be daft…" he replied. He allowed her to sob tearfully for a few moments before adjusting her position so he could look at her and coaxing her head up so that her eyes met his. "Who wouldn't fancy you?" Again, Sharon laughed, sending a jolt of happiness through Johnny's body. He liked being the one who could make her laugh. Her knight in shining armour.
"Don't let your Louise hear you say that."
"Yeah, well, she's not here right now, is she?" Silence suddenly fell upon them both as the realisation of Johnny's remark sunk in. He was right. She wasn't there. And Johnny was very grateful of that as he drew ever closer to Sharon and allowed his lips to graze daringly against hers, the taste of red wine residue making a long-forgotten feeling stir inside of him. He loved Louise more than anything in the world, but he missed being needed by somebody else. Louise was strong, she didn't depend on him. But right now, as their kissed deepened, he knew that Sharon needed him. He planned to stop their passionate embrace before it went any further. Who was he kidding?
He watched Sharon turn the pram around the corner towards her flat, his mouth dry; Louise could never know.