Days go by slow when you're a runaway. My name's Flame. I won't tell you my real name, it'll give too much about me away. About the old me. I'm 15. When you meet up with other runaways the all want to know your story, they all want to know your secrets. I'll only tell you once why I ran away from home. I was 8 when my mum brought her new boyfriend home. He was nice at first, I guess. Treating me and mum. I liked to see mum happy, she hadn't been happy before. She was always drinking then, but when she found Bill she was happy. Bill was alot older than mum. Mum was nearly in her forties and Bill was mid-fifties. Mum started working nights, so it'd always be me and Bill alone when I got home from school. I remembering waking up one night, and Bill was at the end of my bed, stroking my leg. I didn't like him touching me so I kicked him. Maybe if I hadn't of kicked him he wouldn't of done what he did. But I'm not guna stick up for him, he's a sick twisted old man. To cut a long story short, he was shagging mum one night, then me the next. He told me he loved me, and of course, like a fool, I fell for the lie, I was 11. At 13 I found out that Bill had got me pregnant. I was scared to tell my mum so I told my Nan. I love my Nan, she's so kind. You could tell her anything and she wouldn't judge you, she'd help you out. I would've lived with her, if she didn't live in a home. So I told her I was pregnant, she asked me if I wanted the baby, I told her no. Babys sicken me, always crying and their snotty noses always running. I didn't want kids, it seemed cruel that I was brought into this kind of world. I wouldn't want tot bring a helpless unwanted child into the world. My Nan took me and I had an abortion. I felt guilty, sure. But it was my choice. My Nan went to take me back home, I told her I didn't want to go, I remember how much of a fuss I put up not going home, I remember my Nan yelling at me. So I told her everything, I mean EVERYTHING. About Bill, about mum. Like I said, Nan wasn't one to judge. In tears, I told her I was going to runaway, and never come back. I think my Nan understood, there was no way she could talk me out. So she dropped me home, my Mum was there. I told her exactly what I told Nan, I didn't want to leave. I wasn't in the wrong, so why should I leave MY home. I remember what her exact reaction was, she screamed liar at me, tears were falling down her cheeks, she kept hitting me and screaming at me. I knew then that she wouldn't believe me. Bill had gotten to her and twisted her mind. I felt unwanted, she didn't believe her only child. Bill came first in her eyes. I was passed out on the kitchen floor, all the lights were out. I felt sore all over. I got up and saw a note on the counter saying that mum had gone to work and Bill would be back soon. I remembering running up stairs as fast as I could and packing some belongings into a bag. I ran into my Mum and Bill's room and stealing all the money out of their drawer. Stealing expensive jewelry from mum's case. I picked up a picture of me and mum before Bill came along, before she started drinking. When we were happy. I took that photo with me. I stole food from the kitchen too. I heard Bill's car come up the drive, I heard him getting out of his car and fumbling with his keys to open the front door. I sprinted out the back door and jumped over gardens till the end of the street. I caught a bus to my Nan's old peoples home. The bus driver told me that my nose was bleeding, and that my face was cut. He asked me if I needed any help. I muttered no, I just bumped into a lamp post and sat down near the back. I looked into the reflective glass and saw a tearful girl with cuts, blood and bruises to be all over the body. I got off at the stop and went into my nan's home. It was pretty late and the Nurse wasn't going to let me see my Nan. I told her it was an emergancy. The nurse took me through to the main room where my Nan was, she was reading Wuthering Heights. One of her favourites. I told her that I was going and that I just wanted to say goodbye. My Nan has trouble getting up because she need a hip replacement, but she pratically leapt out of her chair and pulled me into a hug. Tears were rolling down both our cheeks. She smelt of soap and oranges. She kept kissing my cheeks and crying. When I felt like actually staying I told her I had to go. Truth was I wanted to stay there, with the only person that had been there all the time, the only person that had actually wanted me. She made me promise to look after myself and to pop in or call her from time to time. I have and always do. She took me to her little room where she cleaned me up said her final goodbyes and mushed screwed up twenty pound notes into my hand. She apologised that it wasn't nearly enough, and for having to go. It wasn't her fault. Then I left my Nan and got on a bus. I couldn't care where it was going to. That night I spent my night in a doorway to a newsagents. Sleeping ruff isn't a walk in the park. The pavement is so cold and hard. Every little sound jolts you awake again. Eventually I fell alseep that night. I was sore when I woke up, and I had bruises everywhere. I had some on my back and hips from lying on the floor. Everything else was from my mum. I remember police officers telling me to move along no matter where I slept in that town. So I moved around and eventually ended up in London. No one told you to move. No one looked at you, they wanted to forget the bad images in their head and pretend that you didn't exist. I met up with a few other people that had runaway too, they were going to cardboard city. I'd never heard of it before, but it's a huge place filled with cardboard boxes and homeless people, like me. The place stunk of body odur, but you get used to it cos you start to smell like it too. We're like a big family. All share tips. We don't share our earnings or food though. I wouldn't expect anyone to either. If I got a burger, I wouldn't be sharing it with anyone. The money went pretty quick so I did what everyone else did, which was begging. Some girls sold their bodies. But I wasn't hungry enough to do that, yet. I found that if you get in quick enough after people have finished eating in a cafe, you can scoff their leftovers and leave. Also that if you go round the back of supermarkets, they through out food that's gone out of date. Some of it's still good. Public toilets open at 6am mostly, so me and few other people go down their and wash ourselves in the basins. Mostly, other homeless people don't care. The days are long and drag on. So, with the money I got from begging, I bought a notebook and pens, and am writing this now. Pretty much everyone gets pissed to try and forget their lives. I've done it a few times, but it wastes your money and you get one hell of a hangover in the morning. I usually bye heroin or ciggerettes with my money. Stops you thinking about how hungry you really are. I don't feel like me anymore. I feel like a robot, or that I'm on auto pilot. I don't really talk to anyone, I keep myself to myself. Talking to someone is guna do any good. I take each day as it comes. I used to plan days ahead. But then the next day, you have nothing to do. Everyone talks about the future I've noticed. Homeless people and poeple with homes. 'In the future', 'Next year', 'When I'm rich and famous'. I honestly don't know what the future has in store for me. Everyone turns to religion saying that God will help them. I think that if there really was a God, he'd be having a good laugh at my life. I know one thing for sure though. I don't regret running away. I mean sure it's hard, and sometimes I think about suicide, and I know that life could never be bad enough to kill youself but, I wouldn't ever go back. EVER. Not even if Bill left. I couldn't forgive mum for what she did. Even if she begged for forgiveness. I couldn't forgive her. When you first get out on the streets you think that it's going to be easy, it's a hundred times worse than you think it is. People not caring if you're alive or dead in that sleeping bag. No one checking or caring. When someone wakes you up to see if you're alive you feel so cared and wanted it makes you cry. Street life didn't live up to my expectations. I'm grateful for my Nan, I owe her my life. Since I started writing this I have realised she's the one that has truly cared for me since the beginnning. I think I'll go visit her soon.