I Saw Her Today

**I originally wrote this as a submission for an online competition, but since I didn't placed, I thought I'd share it here, I hope you like it :)**

I had a dream once, ten years ago, about a girl I knew in a place I lived. My first love. It started in my mother’s old flat in South Shields. A tiny two-bedroom for me, my brother, and our mother.

We’re sitting in the living room, watching Michael Jackson’s ‘Ghosts’, one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. My brother goes to the kitchen to make some popcorn. He’s four years older than me and is scared of nothing. I, on the other hand, hide behind the sofa, behind the safety of my mother as MJ says the worst words imaginable to my tiny mind: “Is this scary?” and digs his fingers into his eye sockets and the corners of his mouth and pulls them as wide as they’ll go.

I scream. My brother laughs. He isn’t scared, and neither is my mother. She tells me I need to grow up, I need to watch scary films in order to appreciate life as it is. But I don’t want to. My life is safe. Untroubled. And that's how I like it.

My mother suddenly gets up to leave, taking my favourite purple blanket with her.

“Where are you going?” I ask her.

“Out,” she says. She folds up my blanket and tucks it under her arm. “Blankets are for children.”

I look to my brother for help. He shrugs his shoulders and slumps down onto the sofa with a steaming bowl of popcorn in his hands. He offers me one as our mother walks out of the room.

“Come back!” I want to shout, but the words fall out clumsily and turn into wails instead.

I shove my little feet as quickly as I can into my favourite pair of trainers by the door. The ones my mother says she hates because they’re dirty and scruffy. Because girls like me should wear nice shoes. Clean shoes.

I follow her out to the car park, panting as my feet pound on the wet ground. A man who’s getting his car washed is blocking her in. So she stands there, screaming at him at the top of her lungs. Just my luck, she can’t go anywhere. And I want my blanket back.

She sees me, shouts something. I just want my blanket, she can go.

She yells, tells me I’m just like her mother.

Bitter. Angry. Dirty.

I wonder who it was that made me that way.

I take my blanket from her arms and leave, while she stays shouting at the man to move his car. The rain tumbles down once more. A thick, horrible kind of rain. The kind of rain you’d run inside for. The kind of rain you’d watch from the sofa, wrapped in your favourite purple blanket with a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace.

And then I see her.