I woke to see bright blue, red and orange lights flashing off and on. They made the shape of a big tea-cup and saucer. My jacket was wrapped around me like a blanket and I could feel the softness of Walley as I clutched him close.
Mummy opened the car door and I could smell coffee. She reached over to unlock to seatbelt.
"We're not stopping for long. Just enough time to get something to eat and go to the bathroom."
She lifted me out of the car seat. I stood and looked around. It was a strange place that I had never seen before. I wrinkled my nose at the smell that was coming from the fields on the other side of the road. It was a green smell of things growing. There was so much more sky here and trees too. The sun, low in the sky, made long, black shadows across the field.
"Remember what we talked about, Chloe? I need you to remember."
I pulled my face into a look that said I was thinking. Mummy told me that I mustn't talk to anyone. This was going to be very hard because I loved talking to people. They often said things like "What a pretty girl!" and if I smiled hard enough they might give me a few coins out of their purse. Then I remembered that I wasn't such a pretty girl now. Mummy had cut my hair off. I cried as my bright yellow plaits came away with the snap of her scissors. Underneath my hat, my hair was short and stubby.
She took me by the hand and together we walked into the café. I glanced around at the tables. I didn't know any of the people sitting down.
Mummy asked the lady behind the counter for a cup of coffee, a chocolate muffin, a glass of milk and a cheese sandwich. She didn't talk to the lady or even look at her as she took out her purse and handed over the money. Mummy didn't even smile at the lady, but tucked a strand of brown hair behind her ear.
Mummy used to have yellow hair just like me. When we left home this morning she had yellow hair. She said to Daddy that she would walk me to school because it was such a lovely sunny morning. She said that she would pop to the shop on the way home to pick up some chicken for tea. We didn't go to school though. Suddenly we were walking quickly down the alley towards the bus station. I like busses. I like the double decker busses that sway from side to side as they turn corners. We didn't get on a bus though. Mummy went to the place where all the lockers were. She took out a small suitcase and a bag with Walley in it.
We went to another part of the bus station and a nice lady behind the counter gave mummy some car keys. The car was smaller than daddy's car and the colour was grey. I didn't know that mummy could drive a car. She is a much nicer driver than daddy who honks the horn at other drivers and mutters bad words under his breath. He thinks the other drivers are all in-com-pet-ant fools.
It was after a long drive, when we stopped off at a service station on the motorway, that mummy washed her hair. I wonder if she meant it to go brown. She said that we were going to play a game. I didn't think it would be a fun game as she wasn't smiling.
"Is daddy playing too?" I asked curiously.
"Yes, we are playing a big game of hide and seek. A very big game. We are hiding from daddy and so that daddy doesn't know where to find us we are going a long way away. He wouldn't be looking for a lady with brown hair and a little boy, now would he?"
"Am I the little boy?" My eyes stretched wide. "Can I be called Charles?"
"Yes…Charles," Mummy knelt down on the floor beside me. Her face was very close to mine. She gently touched the bruise at the side of my head, where daddy hit me last week. I suppose I must have been bad, but I don't know what I did wrong.
"I am so sorry, Chloe. I should have left daddy a long time ago."
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