I'd been expecting the call, looking forward all week to today my first visit by my folks since my incarceration. I followed the warder out of the lounge and down the corridor to the visitors lounge.
“In you go Rose.”
“Er thank you.”
I wasn't the first inmate in the room; several others were already with their visitors.
I hugged Mum close and Dad joined in too.
“We should like sit down; we're not supposed to stand up for long.” I advised, recalling the lecture on the subject of visit protocol I was given yesterday.
This place isn't as bad as you see on the telly; the seating is mostly casual sofas and chairs around low tables, not exactly home from home but not so bad considering.
“Anyone want a cuppa?” Dad enquired.
“Yes please Dad.”
“Back in a mo.”
Dad went off to the ‘tea stall' to buy some refreshments.
“How are they treating you?” Mum asked the almost inevitable question.
“Okay I suppose, regular meals, fairly comfy bed.”
I could tell Mum wasn't comfortable being here, heck, neither am I.
“We've brought you some things; they said you'll get them later.”
“What'd you bring?”
“They suggested some stuff, toiletries, chocolate and underwear.”
“Great.” I'm not sure what I thought they'd bring but something more.
Dad returned with a tray of cups, teapot and a plate of cakes – I helped make them yesterday.
“Here we go.”
Dad set the tray down then sat down with us.
We sat in awkward silence as Mum did the honours with the tea.
“So Bern, what have you been up to? “ Dad enquired.
“Jack!” Mum admonished.
“What? I was just asking…”
“Its alright Mum, we've got tutors during the week so I've been doing some school work.”
“That's good; you need to keep up your education.”
“It's not like there's a lot of other options.” I pointed out.
“I guess not love,” Mum tried to apologise, “have you been doing the ante natal classes.”
“Uh huh, but it's not the same without Gabs.” I started to sniff.
“Who's Gaby?” Dad asked.
“Germany? Where our daughter has been staying?”
“Oh right.” He allowed looking as confused as ever.
“It's what all Drew's friends call him.” I offered.
“It's complicated Jack, I'll explain later.” Mum told him, “So have you heard from anyone?”
“I've had a couple from Drew.”
“What's he up to?”
“What's he not!”
“He races bikes or something?” Dad queried having finally put two and two together.
“So what did he say then?” Mum asked trying to keep the conversation going.
“Well,” I tried to remember what my dynamo of a friend had told me. “He's won a couple of races.”
“He was very impressive when we went to that Roman place.” Mum mentioned.
“Xanten, well he's had a couple more wins since then and he's leading the league type thing.”
“Well that's pretty good.” Dad noted.
“You remember Roni Mum?”
“Uh huh, well she beat Drew a couple of weeks ago.”
“She's very committed to racing.” Mum mentioned.
“Strange sport for a girl.” Dad opined.
“I think it's cool, Jenny's a pro racer.”
“Jenny?” poor dad really is out of the loop.
“Oh right, not the most ladylike sport even so.”
Mum and I exchanged looks.
“I'm sure that's not everything by the look on your face.” Mum pressed.
“Well, did you see about that big wedding in Germany the other week, it was on the news.”
“German Royals or some such?”
“Uh huh, well Gab, Drew was there.”
“Went to watch?” Dad clarified.
“No, as a guest.”
“How did that happen?” Mum asked, “They never mentioned when I was there.”
“It was a late invite from this kid at school, so he had to get all poshed up and stuff.”
“Not exactly Drew's style.” Mum said with a smile.
“You can say that again.” I agreed.
“Hmm these buns are nice.” Dad opined.
“We made them yesterday.” I supplied.
“Well, they're very good eh Mother?”
“Yes love, we'll have to nurture your skills Bern.”
My story telling hadn't banished the tears just provided a temporary dam.
“Oh Mum!” I fell into her lap in a sudden flood of tears.
“Hey, hey, hey, it's alright love, I'm here.”
“But sniff you're not sniff here sniff all the time. I get really sniff scared.”
Mum held me tight, stroking my hair and gently rocking me.
“I'll er just pay a visit.” Dad excused himself.
I'm not sure how long we stayed like this, Mum's presence was reassuring and my sobbing gradually abated until we were just holding each other. It must have been quite a while as the next thing I recall was dad gently shaking my shoulder.
“Yes love, me and your Mum, it's time.” He advised.
“No.” I hugged Mum tighter.
“Come on Bernie, it'll be alright.” Mum started to pry me lose.
“We'll be back next week love.” Dad added.
“I miss you guys.”
“It's not for long and you've got the baby to look forward to.”
Not sure if that's quite how I'd describe the result of the serial rape I suffered at the hands of Sean and his mates – I can't even be 100% certain that he is the father. – No I don't even want to go down that path.
“You gonna be okay?”
“I guess so.”
“We have to go love, Dad mentioned, “The guard is coming over.”
I released my grip and then I was being led away, I glanced back and gave a quick wave, Dad was holding a tearful Mum – I won't look back again, its too painful.
I went back to my room, cell, whatever and wept more tears.
“You alright Cher?” Jack asked as they walked out of HMP Whitton and back to the car.
“I don't know that I can do this again.”
“We have to luv.”
“My poor baby, I don't think I can stand seeing her so sad, she was so full of life in Germany, so many friends too.”
“I know luv but we have to be strong for her and for our grandchild.”
“I hope she's gonna be alright.”
“Come here.” Jack pulled his wife into an embrace, the two taking some solace in each others presence. The two of them stood there for some minutes until the first spots of rain descended from a leaden sky,
“Let's go home love.”
“My poor baby.” Cheryl sniffed.
“She's warm, dry and safe luv.”
“I know, but she's alone.”
“We knew this might happen, we talked about it.”
“Talking's not the same as reality Jack.”
“Come on, you can tell me about the mystery regarding Drew Bond and we'll stop to eat in Retford.”
I woke to a knock on the open door.
“Rose, your stuff from your parents.”
I took the bag of stuff from my gaoler.
“You okay lass?”
“Yeah, its just seeing them both seeing me here.”
“It gets better lass, dinner in thirty.”
She left leaving me to investigate what Mum had brought for me. I tipped the contents out onto my bed, half a dozen pairs of knickers, a couple of bars of Galaxy ®, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and a couple of magazines. Hmm what's that under the mags? I pulled out the stuffed toy, the one that the guys in Germany got for me. My waterworks went into overdrive as I sat hugging the bear and rocking, this is so hard.
I'm not sure that I can cope with the visits, I'd just about come to terms with my incarceration but today, the last couple of hours have brought home just what being at Her Majesty's Pleasure means.
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 12.06.11 © 2011