Life Diverted (Part 1: Childhood)
Chapter 1: The Scrapyard
Copyright© 2016 by Englishman
Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: The Scrapyard - What if it wasn't Biff Tannen that changed history, borrowing the DeLorean to give his teenage self the almanac? What if it was someone who wasn't (to quote Marty McFly) an asshole? If you don't have the faintest idea who or what I'm talking about, that doesn't matter. This is the story of ten-year-old Finn Harrison, newly orphaned, who gets a visit from an old man that changes the direction of his life completely.
It was a Thursday night in April 1965 that my life got violently diverted. My gentle childhood ride along the road of normality ended with a jolt, and the new path allowed for no u-turns.
I was ten years old and lived with my mum, dad and little sister Caitrìona (Caity) in a Yorkshire pit village. Dad was a miner at the nearby colliery, and all roads on the map of my life had looked to lead there too. Our family was poor and would never amount to much, but that didn’t matter. We had all we needed, and ours was a generally happy life.
That terrible, life-changing night was when both my parents were killed.
I’ll never forget the words of the policeman who found Caity and me at our neighbour’s house. He knelt in front of me to say: “Son, I’m afraid there’s been a car accident. Your parents have been hurt.” I particularly remember those words because I could tell they were a lie. The pain in his eyes gave him away. I knew they were far more than just hurt. He questioned us about our relatives (there was just my Uncle Will who lived in America), then we were carted off to the hospital along with Mrs Collins, our babysitter.
I worried the whole journey, whereas Caity was thrilled about getting to ride in a police car, as only a six-year-old can be. I tried to let her enthusiasm distract me, but images of car crashes kept going through my mind. As we drove along the country roads towards the hospital in Sheffield, I wondered where the accident had happened and whether we would pass the site. Thankfully we didn’t.
At the hospital, Caity and I were dumped on a prim looking nurse with one of those silly hats on, whilst the policeman and Mrs Collins went somewhere else. The nurse must have been about thirty, I thought. Definitely not young, but she was friendly and got a few little toys out that she helped Caity play with.
We were sat in that waiting room for about ten minutes before the policeman returned and motioned the nurse out into the hall. When she came back in she sat down next to me and asked Caity to join us. Caity brought a toy with her and sat on the nurse’s lap. Then came the sentence I was completely dreading.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got some very bad news. When your mummy and daddy’s car crashed, they were hurt very badly. The ambulance men brought them here to the hospital as quickly as they could, and the doctors tried very, very hard to make them better, but they were hurt too badly. Your mummy and daddy both died. They’re in heaven now.”
Caity burst into tears and wailed. I just sat in stunned silence. I was ten years old and an orphan. My little sister was the only person I had left in the world. There was my uncle in America, but I’d never met him and couldn’t think how we would find him or whether he would even be willing to take us in. What did the police do with children who had nobody to look after them?
I felt myself getting more and more anxious as thoughts went round and round my head, blurring into one another. I felt shivery and hot and prickly and dizzy and...
I woke up gradually, almost like it was morning and I’d had a good night’s sleep. Except I was laid out on the floor of the hospital waiting room with the nurse looking down at me, and my sister behind her, looking terrified and sucking her thumb.
“You fainted. Don’t try to get up yet. Can you stick your tongue out for me?” I fainted?! Can’t she call it ‘passed out’? That sounds much less girly. I stuck my tongue out to her satisfaction and gave a weak smile to Caity, who just kept sucking her thumb. After a while, nursey helped me up to a chair, and Caity came to hug me. We just clutched each other in silent grief. I don’t know how long we sat like that, but eventually another lady came in. This one looked like a school ma’am, and far less friendly than nursey.
“Finnley and Caitrìona Harrison?”, she asked us. (And for those wondering, our mother was Scottish.)
“Finn and Caity”, I corrected her, causing her lips to purse in disapproval. She explained to us that, as we didn’t have anyone to look after us tonight, she would take us to a home run by the council. She was from social services, and it was her job to look after children when their parents weren’t able to. That sounded okay, but I just felt like there was a cloud of gloom around her.
You might think that the day of my parents’ deaths would be the worst day of my life, but you would be wrong. It was the day after. From waking up on that first full day as an orphan, to the moment I fell asleep that night, it was just agony. Deep, all-consuming emotions of sadness, fear and anxiety were with me through everything I did that day.
The orphanage we’d been taken to late the previous night had the same aura of gloom that the social worker had. It was simply a scrapyard for children. I could see it on the faces of the boys having breakfast with me.
That day was made worse by the staff not letting me see my sister much. The morning was spent answering questions from adults, about school, interests, hobbies and so on. They were on a mission to extract every morsel of information about my life and scribble it down in their files.
I finally saw Caity at lunchtime, which was just the two of us as the other kids were at school. When she saw me, she ran and hugged me, which made some of the darkness in my world recede for a while. She told me that she didn’t like it there as it smelt like TCP (a nasty, smelly antiseptic liquid).
In the afternoon they took us both together to see a shrink for grief counselling. I don’t think that did the slightest bit of good. At that point, all I wanted was to know practical things about funerals and my uncle. The more I thought about it, the more my hopes for the future were focussed on Uncle Will. The prospect of not finding him or his refusing to take us was too horrible to even consider. I didn’t want to think about staying in an orphanage for the rest of my childhood.
After that, Caity and I were to be split up again, which I fought hard. Why they couldn’t understand that we needed each other for support was beyond me. Arguing with the house staff apparently wasn’t a good decision, though, as I was sent to my room in disgrace.
I didn’t get to eat dinner with all the other boys that night, but that was okay. At that point, I preferred solitude to forced socialising. A little while later there was a knock on my door, which was then opened uninvited. I’d expected one of the staff to bring me some left-over dinner, but instead, it was a boy about my age. He gave me an understanding smile and said: “I’ve gotcha dinner”. He put it on the desk in my little room but didn’t make to leave. Was I gong to have to endure conversation after all? I just said “thanks” and sat at the desk to eat, otherwise ignoring him.
Before I could eat my first mouthful, he said in his broad Yorkshire accent, “It tastes like shit, but it’s good as w’get ‘ere. Is supposed to be cottage pie, but me mum used to make cottage pie, and this is nowt like it!” I tried it, and he was right. I think I must have screwed up my face or something because he laughed and said: “Told ya”.
After another few mouthfuls, he spoke again. “Look, I know y’don’t want t’talk, and that’s fair enough. But take ma’advise: don’t piss off the staff. They’s always right, and we’s always naughty kids what need to’t learn better. Most-a them’s okay norm’ly, but jus’ bi-warned, eh? An’ if ya’ever want summut t’talk to while you’s here, come find me anytime. I’m Harry.”
He started to leave without trying to get me to reply. I really appreciated that he offered friendship but still gave me space. “Harry”, I said as he was closing the door behind himself. “Thanks.” He just nodded and shut the door.
Later that evening the man in charge came and read me the riot act. Basically, I was never to argue with his staff again if I knew what was good for me. It apparently wasn’t possible to be with my sister all the time because the girls were kept a safe distance away in a different building. The really scary bit, prefaced of course by him saying “I don’t want to scare you”, was that it was possible we might be split up if one of us was adopted.
That was the terrible end to an agonising day. After he had left with my dinner tray, I cried, long and hard. After the loss of my parents, I couldn’t bear the thought of not being with the only other person I loved. One of my answers to the shrink earlier had been that I hadn’t cried since the accident, so maybe he’d deliberately provoked tears for my own good. If so, he succeeded, as the dam really burst and I cried myself to sleep.
My second day at the orphanage was better than the first. At breakfast, I sat with Harry in companionable silence. One of the other kids made a joke about me not saying much, and Harry told him to fuck off somewhere else if he couldn’t show some sensitivity. The guy did shut up, and Harry went up further in my estimation.
That day was a Saturday so everyone had plenty of free time, interspersed with homework and chores. I had neither, but tagged along with Harry and helped where I could. He had maths homework that I commiserated with him about and checked his answers as best I could. It got me wondering whether I’d be going back to my regular school, which then led my thoughts to my friends there, life in my home village, and my parents. Everything somehow led back to them.
After chores, homework and lunch, Harry and I played board games for a while, like draughts and Cluedo, joined a little later by Caity. The conversation stayed away from my family and home life, which I was grateful for, and the afternoon actually bordered on being fun. But every time I caught myself smiling, thoughts of my parents would come flooding back.
Dinner tasted much the same as the previous night, and then all the boys gathered in the large lounge to watch a cine-film.
Sunday morning we were all marched to the nearest church, whether we were religious or not. It was a half-hour walk to get there, and Harry and I chattered comfortably as we went.
Lunch was roast chicken with roast potatoes, veg and plenty of gravy, which Harry told me was always the best meal of the week. At one point during the afternoon, I asked Harry how long he’d lived at the orphanage. That was a bit of a mistake, as it opened the door to personal questions. Still, I found that unburdening myself to Harry was easier than with adults. He listened with real empathy, which kind of made sense as his life had not been an easy one.
On Monday morning I discovered that, for all my usual moaning about school, I actually missed going. Caity and I were again kept home, as our social worker was expected to appear at some point. That didn’t actually happen till four o’clock, by which time Harry and some of the others had already returned. Caity and I were taken into a room where our social worker was sat at a big table, along with an old man.
“Come in and sit down you two. We’ve got some good news for you.” The social worker looked almost happy as she said that. Definitely the happiest I’d seen her. I looked at the man. He seemed vaguely familiar to me. My first thought was that maybe he was Uncle William, but he was way too old.
“We’ve been trying to get in touch with your uncle in America, but so far we haven’t had any luck. We found your mother’s address book, but she only had a postal address for him, no telephone number. The New York police are trying to locate him, but we haven’t had any news from them yet. The good news is that it turns out that you do have another living relative after all.” She looked at the old man before continuing, “This is Mr Henry Harrison. He’s your grandfather.”
I sat stunned, mouth opening and closing like a goldfish. I managed to splutter out, “But, he can’t be! He’s dead.”
The old man gave me a kind look and replied, “No Finn. I know that’s what your dad told you, but as you can see, I’m alive. He and I had a big falling out many years ago before you were born. We fought about something that seems so silly now, and I’ve wished over and over that I could take it back.”
“Then why didn’t you?”, I asked with venom in my voice that surprised both of us.
“I suppose I was scared. Adults get scared too you know. I wish I could have had a few more years with my son and your mother, and that I could have got to know you two in happier times. Your mum often sent me photos of you both, without your dad knowing. She was a very kind lady.”
As I looked at him, I realised that he really did look like dad. He had dad’s eyes, only with wrinkly skin around them.
Caity asked him, “Are we going to live with you?” That made me sit up straight. Even though I’d really got to like my friend Harry a lot, I would also like to get out of this horrible place.
“That’s the plan”, he answered. “If you’d like to? I’ve got a big house near London with a garden you can play in and a swimming pool.”
“A swimming pool?”, Caity and I asked in excited unison.
He chuckled and said a little exaggeratedly, “Yes, a swimming pool!”
He seemed too good to be true, and that made me wary. “Do you have any of the photos with you, I mean that mum sent you?”
“No, I’m afraid not”, he replied. “I should have thought of that, but when I heard about the accident, I was in such a rush to come and find you that I didn’t stop and think. I can describe a few of them if you like? To see if you remember them being taken? The most recent were last summer, I think, when you all went to the beach at Scarborough. There was a picture of you and Caity burying your dad in the sand, and another of you both jumping in the waves. Then there was one of Caity dressed up as a princess for her birthday party, and one of you, Finn, throwing a pile of autumn leaves up in the air and them falling back down all over you.” They were all real. I remembered each of those, and as he went on to mention more, they seemed real too.
“What’s my middle name?”, I asked him when he had stopped. “What’s Caity’s birthday?”
“Henry, named after me,” he said and turned to Caity, “and 14th October 1958, which must make you, what, eight years old?”
Caity giggled and said: “No! I’m six!”
“No, you look far too grown up to be six”, the man replied in mock seriousness, causing more giggles from Caity. He was right about the date, though, and about my middle name.
The man turned back to me and went on, “I also know that you have a birthmark on your right hip that looks sort of like a star”. My eyes opened wide at that, as it was true and there was no way he could know that if he wasn’t really family.
The social worker told me, “We’ve checked up on Mr Harrison, and he really is your grandfather. So would you like to go and live with him?” Caity immediately nodded enthusiastically. I gave it a little more thought, but also agreed.
So that was it. We were sent to pack up the few clothes that the social worker had brought for us from our house. When I was done, I realised that I needed to find Harry to say goodbye. I was sad about that, but also very, very relieved that Caity and I now had someone that we could call family again.
I found Harry sitting on his own in the lounge. His eyes looked red like he’d been crying. I sat down next to him and said quietly, “I’ve got to go now. My grandfather’s here to take me and Caity with him.” He had apparently heard already, as he didn’t seem surprised, just giving a little nod as his lip quivered. “If I write to you, will you write back?”, I asked. Harry looked at me and nodded again. “And would you like to come and stay with us over the summer? Grandpa says his house has a swimming pool and everything!”
Harry cracked a little smile and said, “I’d like that. I’m gonna miss you, y’know.”
“I know. Me too. You’ve looked after me when I needed it most, and if you think I’m going to forget you or stop being friends just because I don’t live here anymore then ... you’re ... nuttier than a squirrel’s dinner!”
He laughed. “A squirrel’s dinner?! Really? That must be extremely nutty!” I put my arms around him while he was still smiling and hugged him tight. Suddenly I had a profound sense of loss again like on the night of the accident. Harry had become important to me in a very short space of time, and I had to be careful not to lose him. I couldn’t think of anything much to say, though, so I just whispered in his ear while we were hugging, “I’ll see you in the summer mate”, and then got up and walked away before either of us had time to cry.