Eighteen: Memories

“I’m never getting on a plane again,” I mumble quietly as me and Gerard climb into a taxi after securing our bags in the boot of it.

“Not even to go back to America?” Gerard’s voice murmurs in my ear.


“Y’know, I never had you down as being someone who’d be scared of flying, what with all the flying you must do because of your job...”

“Huh. I fly a lot but I try to avoid it wherever possible. It really used to annoy Tina. She wasn’t like you. She wouldn’t hold my hand,” I answer, the last part coming out as if I’m a grumpy little child.

“I didn’t mind,” Gerard laughs. His laugh is happy and free. I wish I could laugh like that. Then, he nudges me. “You’re blushing!” he accuses.

“I’m not!”

“You are!”

“I am not blushing!” I cry in protest, pushing Gerard away from me and pulling a mock scowl, folding my arms across my chest.

Gerard smirks and doesn’t press it any further.

“How far’s your house now?” he asks a few moments later, looking curiously out of the windows. “I’m kinda hungry.”

“Well, not so far. I recognise this area – that’s my old primary school,” I say excitedly. “When we were in high school, we’d bunk off and go to that laundrette ’cause the lady who ran it would make us hot chocolates and she’d never tell on us as long as we helped her at weekends...” I babble on with some other small facts about my childhood on these streets. Gerard listens, like he always does.

“...Oh, I’ve always hated this road. My sister got knocked down on it by a car...She broke her leg. It was horrible. We thought she was dead...” I inform him as we turn down a long, narrow road. “It’s a death-trap, this one...people speed up and down it. Nice park next to it, though...”

I look over at Gerard, and he’s watching me, leant forward in his seat with one of his arms propped up on his knees, his hand cupped around his chin. His eyes are glazed over; he’s making my shoulders wriggle and making me want to blush, so I turn back to the window. “And ...” I breathe in sharply. “This is my street,” I say faintly. I begin to feel sick, and shaky. I guess it’s slightly normal.

The taxi pulls up outside the house and I help Gerard get all the luggage out of the back of the car. Gerard thanks and pays the driver, and I leave him with all our bags and hurry up the short garden path, rapping on the door loudly. I see a body through the frosted glass and the door opens.

My brother Callum stands there, running a hand through his thick light brown hair, yelling something over his shoulder into the house. Then he turns to look at me, and his mouth drops open. “L...Layla?”

“Hi,” I mumble shyly, smiling slightly.
“Callum? Who’s at the door, Mam wants to know...” my little sister Giselle wanders through one of the doors leading off the hallway and stops dead in her tracks. Then she’s shrieking and pushing Callum out of the way to envelope me in a hug.

“LAYLA!” she screams down my ear. I hug her back just as tight. “Come in! Come in! MAM! FRANNIE! GUESS WHO’S HERE?!” Giselle’s got one of my hands in hers and she’s dragging me inside.

“Um – Gerard – ” I call over my shoulder and Gerard’s still on the pathway, looking slightly amused. “Callum, help him bring the bags in and –”

Then I’m pushed into the dining room, where Francesca sits at the kitchen table, tapping away at a laptop. Her eyes slide up from the screen and fix on mine.

“Oh good God...” she mutters darkly.

Then a short, plump woman comes out of the kitchen dressed in a big green sweater and a navy skirt, with dark purple slippers on. She’s drying her hands on a kitchen towel and her greying brown hair is tied into a ponytail off her face. She’s talking quite fast and then she sees me and...I’ve not seen my mum in such a long time...

I run at her. I hug her so tight I feel like I’m never going to let go and she hugs me back in the exact same way. I’m crying and I think she’s crying too. I breathe in her scent, the scent of my childhood and I know that everything is going to be okay now. I’ve got my family back.