This morning, the above photo came up on my Timehop. It’s from two years ago today. The below is the story of what happened on that day.
It’s raining. When we woke up this morning, the roof had leaked again, and I had to call the council repairs department. Our bedroom floor is wet, as are the walls. I leave pots under the drips and go downstairs, trying not to be stressed over it. It’s a Saturday, but they have assured me someone will be sent out to clear the standing water on the roof that is quietly dripping its way through to my bedroom.
We had an open house yesterday; lots of different people came to visit over the course of the day. It was lovely to see so many people I know from so many different times and places, and to feel like my life is finally heading in the right direction. This morning though, there is not a clean plate in the house, and it’s even more of a tip than usual!
We have breakfast; I put S into the sling and brace myself for a rainy trip into town, three days before Christmas. S is in her usual, chirpy mood, and is entirely unphased by the rain. In fact, she loves the spotty pattern on my umbrella over our heads. We do what we need to do, buy a coffee and head home.
We’ve been home a few minutes when there is a knock on the door. When I open it, two people stand there. One is the council’s on-call repair man – someone I recognise from numerous calls over the last few months. He’s here to clear the standing water from my roof. The other is so completely shocking, I am lost for words.
The ex’s 11 year old daughter is standing on my doorstep. It’s the first time I’ve seen her since April. She’s asking if she can come in. I say yes, because I don’t know what else to say. Her grandmother has driven her here, so she disappears back down to the street to tell her it’s ok; she’s allowed in. In those brief few minutes, I realise I should have said no. But it’s too late. I can’t send her away now; that would be mean. I am also vaguely aware that this was the plan.
She sits on the floor in the living room and plays with S, who is keen to show off her ability to walk while holding hands. She pauses to look around the room every few minutes. I know what she is doing; she has been sent here, probably unwillingly, and has to have information to report back.
Her hair is greasy and unwashed. She is wearing what I recognise as one of her brother’s t shirts, and when she takes off her brand new boots, I see she is wearing no socks, and her feet are filthy.
I ask her how school is going, make polite conversation for a few minutes. Her answers are short; the conversation is awkward. I know she will have been told all sorts of things about me, and has no choice but to believe them.
I tell her, I know your dad probably said some pretty horrible things about me after I left. She tells me no, actually he never spoke about me again.
She tells me her father has a gift for S; it’s great and she’ll love it. But she didn’t bring it with her; he wants to bring it. I tell her there is no way in the world he will ever set foot through my door again.
I tell her it was not right of her father to send her here to spy on us; she shouldn’t have been put in this position. She nods. I tell her I’m sorry she’s been put in the middle of something that doesn’t concern her.
I tell her she needs to leave now, as we are going out. I write down my phone number (an old one I don’t use; I can’t risk her father getting hold of my new number, and I know this will all go straight back to him) and tell her she can contact me any time she likes. She never does.
When she leaves, I call a friend. She agrees with me, that the girl has been sent here to check up on me, to report back, and to check the lie of the land as to whether there’s a chance her father could come to visit.
A few weeks later, someone else – who is in a position to know such things – tells me I am right in my suspicions. The girl was sent to check up on us; she didn’t want to come. She felt awkward being sent to speak to someone she knew did not want to see her.
The Christmas present for S never materialised; it was dangled as bait for a month or so, until he realised I couldn’t be bought by a plastic baby walker he’d sent his girlfriend out to buy.