Authors Note. Okay, so I've already put this story up once, but that was a few months ago, and I wasn't really happy with the way I'd written it so I never updated it. I've deleted that one now, and I'm starting again, so hopefully this one will go better c: Any reviews are useful, good or bad, but it you don't like it tell me why so I can improve it, don't just complain.
I sat in the back of Brett's car watching the houses go past the window. I'd never been in this part of town before. I used to live on the estate. It's only a few minutes from here, but it's a completely different place. All the houses there are tiny and falling apart. Their full of damp and the windows are boarded up. Most of the shops are burnt down or shut down, and the playground is all smashed up and covered in graffiti, no kids go there anymore.
But here it's different, I've never seen anything like it before, the shops are open and inviting, and the playground is full of kids playing with their parents. All the houses are massive; it's like nothing I've ever seen before, except on TV.
When I was first taken into care about three weeks ago, I stayed with this woman called Sheila for a few days. She lived in a big house out in the country, it was nice there as well, but it was only temporary foster care. Then I went to stay with a really nice couple called the Nickerson's. I actually quite liked it there, they had two little boys called Jack and Harry who I used to play with after school. But staying at the Nickerson's was only temporary as well, until my social worker Brett could find me somewhere else to go.
We pulled up in front of a big white house with a red door. "Come on then Ellie. This is it, Elm Tree House." Brett said to me in a voice that made me feel about six. I rolled my eyes and then got out of the car. He went to knock on the door and I pulled my stuff out of the boot. There wasn't a lot of it, just one bin bag, and most of that was the stuff the Nickerson's had bought me.
It had few possessions in it, my very scanty wardrobe that was a mixture of threadbare second hand clothes and the new clothes from New Look and other nice shops from one of my shopping trips with the Nickerson's. There are a few photos, back from when I was little, but we didn't have many, and there's also my favourite book, a midsummer night's dream. We read it at school once and I fell in love with it, I begged my mum to buy it for me, but she never did, so in the end I just stole a copy from school.
A balding man in his late forties answered the door with a smile. "You must be Elizabeth. It's nice to meet you." He said to me, holding out his hand to take the bin bag off me. "The office is just down the hall, if you'd like to step in there while I have a few words with Brett."
"Actually, it's Ellie. Only my dad ever called me Elizabeth." I said curtly, and then I slipped past him, ignoring his offer to take my bin bag. It was all I had left, I wasn't going to give it to some guy I'd only just met.
Just inside there was a girl who looked about my age with blue streaks in her hair and another younger girl wearing all pink and lots of jewellery, with long brown hair. "Hi!" Said the younger girl, a great big smile covering her face. "You must be Elizabeth, Mike said you were coming. You're the same Age as Elektra you know." She pointed at the girl with blue hair, who gave me a sort of smile.
"It's Ellie." I said. The girl smiled at me again and then started babbling on about other people in the care home. I caught a bit of it, but mostly I was trying to listen into what Brett and the other man were saying, I assumed that he was Mike. I caught bits of it. "She's difficult…. Withdrawn…. signs of depression…. She'll need her own room if that's possible…. So you've read her file? Good, yes I realise there may be complications…" I scowled, I was so sick of people talking about me like that.
"Your Elizabeth, yeah?" A plump woman said to me from behind Carmen. Her accent and features made me think she'd originated from the West Indies. She had kind eyes and her smile made me feel welcome, it reminded me of the smile the Nickerson's had given me when I first showed up there, but I still didn't feel like I belonged here.
"She says her name is Ellie." Carmen butted in before I could even say anything. Gina laughed a little, and I smiled weakly.
"I'm Gina, come on Sam. We'll go into the office, yeah." She said, steering me towards the room at the other end of the corridor. There were three desks inside the office, at one of them was sat a girl in her very early twenties, with straight black hair. She smiled at me as I sat down on a chair Gina pointed out to me.
"This is Tracy." Gina introduced me to the girl who gave me a warm smile.
"Pleased to meet you." Tracy said. I opened my mouth to say the same, but then the man, who I figured must be mike, and Brett walked in. Mike unlocked a filing cabinet and put a square red folder in it that had my name on it, and then he sat down at his desk and smiled at me.
"Hi Ellie, it's good to meet you." He said, I nodded back at him. He began the welcoming speech, he probably chucked a few rules in there as well, I don't know, I drifted off as soon as he said " Welcome to Elm Tree. I was snapped back to reality by Brett poking me in the back.
"We hope you'll be very happy here at Elm Tree. If you have any problems, any at all, then come straight to Gina, Tracy or me and we'll do everything we can to sort it out." Mike continued, unaware of my lack of concentration. "Now you've got a choice, we can put you in Toby's old room, or you can share with Elektra. It's up to you."
Brett interjected before I could say a word. "I think it would be better if she has her own room."
I scowled a little, I hated having decisions made for me, even though I thought the idea of sharing with someone I didn't know was awful. "Is that okay with you Ellie?" Mike asked me with a smile.
"Yeah, sure." I said vaguely.
"Okay. Well we've enrolled you at the nearest school because your old school is a little too far away, and Brett said you'd be glad of the change anyway." He said. I was slightly taken aback by that, but at the same time kind of happy, everyone at Saint Agatha's knew what had happened, the teasing was awful. Still, as kind as they were, I felt a little overwhelmed, being bombarded with all this information all at once.
Gina seemed to realise this, as she put a hand on my shoulder and said "Do you want to meet the other children?"
I shrugged, didn't make much difference anyway, I didn't plan on staying here long if I could help it. I don't want to be just another care kid. "Okay then, Tracy do you want to take her through to the living room. Then show her where her bedroom is, I need to speak to Gina about a few things." Mike said. Tracy nodded and I rolled my eyes but followed her anyway. What is it with social workers, there always saying that, telling me to step outside so that they can talk about me. If there's something that really annoys me about Brett it's that he thinks he has the right to poke his nose into my business even though he doesn't really have a clue about me.
Tracy introduces me to the other kids, mostly they seem quite nice. I mutter a few hellos' back but I'm not really paying much attention. A few names stick in my head, a curly haired boy called Gus who writes rapidly in a notebook, a boy called Johnny dressed all in blue, a little boy called Harry with a giraffe he calls Jeff and a girl called tee who sticks close too Johnny.
The room obviously used to be a boy's room, the walls are blue and the carpet is a little muddy. The only furniture is a bed, a wardrobe, a desk and a bedside table. I catch sight of my face in a mirror that's hanging on the wall. My long straggly brown hair hangs limply down my back; I don't think I've ever had it cut for as long as I can remember. My face I pale and drawn and there are still some lingering bruises visible. My eyes are a light blue colour; same as my mum's, people have always said I look a lot like her.
I sit down gingerly on the bed, my precious bin bag on the floor next to me. "You can decorate it however you like. We'll buy some paint this weekend, any colour you want." Tracy says, gesturing to the blue walls and giving me a smile. "You could do it in purple, or red, or whatever."
"It's fine." I say quickly. "Honestly, my old room was blue as well." I sigh a little as I think of my old room, it used to be a horrible shade of green, and then one day my dad said I could decorate it any way I wanted. I was only six, so I told him I wanted it to look like the sky, so he went out and bought me a whole load of blue, yellow and white paint, and then helped me paint the room sky blue. He was supposed to paint clouds and a sun on it, but he just never really got round to it.
Tracy sits down next to me. "It's not so bad here you know. It can be scary, the first time you're in a care home, but you got lucky, Elm Tree's one of the best." She says slowly, in a soothing voice, with a big smile. "I used to be in care as well, I know what it's like."
"Thanks. But really I'm okay." I said curtly. It annoys me a little that just because she's been in care as well she can sympathise with me. I've only been in care for three weeks, so I hardly know what it's like, and I doubt she has a backstory anything like mine, everybody is different as far as I'm concerned.
"Okay, well if you need any help you know where I am." She says in an annoyingly bright voice. She stands up and gives me one last smile before leaving the room. I lie back on the bed and put my earphones in, turning the music right up and closing my eyes. I concentrate on the lyrics as best as I can, if I think enough about the music, maybe I'll be able to forget about everything else.