The caravan’s older than the one that Mum and me stayed in, but it’s lovely. It has wood panelling on the inside and some cupboards and two couches. One of them converts into a bed and then there’s a little separate bedroom with a bed, wardrobe thing and a mirror on the wall.
It looked as though it had been there for ages, as if it’d grown there. The grass was tall around it and there was just a little path through the orchard. It was on blocks of wood and the tyres never looked as though they would hold it if it was on the ground.
It was dead clean though as if someone really looked after it regularly. There’s a little sink at one end and a cooker top thing for boiling a kettle. There never was a toilet in there but Mr Chambers showed us a little wooden hut outside with a bog in there to use.
He turned the water on and then he went off, as he said, to let us settle in.
It was like being in a toy house really, I thought it was brilliant, I did. I’ve loved that place from the very first, right from then, just loved it.
Anyway, we stowed our bags away and we made some tea and then went and sat outside. There was a bench, facing away from the house and over the hills and woods and we just sat there as it turned to evening and we drank our tea. Smithy hadn’t said very much up till then and I was happy to just be there, so I guess I hadn’t either.
As the sky turned deeper blue and the tree branches became shadows some ducks flew over and we heard the other birds doing the chirruping thing that they do when they settle down and it was peaceful and special and calm.
“So, Phil. Here we are, what do you think?”
“It’s magic, Smithy it really is. Don’t you think that you could live somewhere like this for ever?”
“Mmm. Thing is though, to do that you have to be able to pay your way don’t you?”
“I guess. This place, this sort of thing, well it makes me feel a bit jealous to be honest, I know I shouldn’t. Mum always said being jealous was pointless and doesn’t get you what you want but just spoils what you have. I suppose that’s true, but I mean Mr Chambers, well he is lovely ‘course he is, but why should he have this and then me and you and the others at the church they don’t have anything. How come, eh? How is that fair Smithy?”
I turned to look at him and he was just staring out over the view and he shook his head.
“You can have anything you want. The only thing you have to do is work out the way to get it. You have to believe that you deserve it, you have to want it enough and you have to be brave. You really have to be brave enough to go out and get what you want. Sometimes though what you want isn’t really what you should have and that’s a whole new set of questions.
“I guess, but then again if you don’t even know where to start what then?”
“Then you have to find the start. You have to be open to possibilities and to be willing to do whatever it takes.”
As we were talking, he put his hand on my shoulder and for a second it happened again, that weird feeling. I just felt that Mum could have been listening to us. I thought that it was probably because she would have loved this place, this caravan and the birds and all and I hoped that wherever she was she had a nice view to look at and she was happy.”
Oh, now look. Hang on a mo while I get a tissue. I thought that I had done all my bloody crying, but it’s all been a bit much and, oh shit never mind. Hang on a mo, give me a minute.
Right, anyway, when it had gone properly dark, we lit the little gas lantern and we made some sandwiches with the last of the hot dogs and we had that and then buttered scones that Mr Chambers had given us before we came over from the house and we drank more tea.
“Do you want the bedroom Phil?” Smithy was walking about with his old T-shirt and the shorts that he slept in and didn’t know where to put em.
“Can I, can I have the bedroom? Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“No, It doesn’t matter a bit I can pull out the couch, it makes a double bed I’ll be great.” And so, for the first time in months and months I had a room of my own to sleep in and I can’t tell you how brilliant that was. It was teeny and old and a bit bare, but it was fan-bloody-tastic. Before we turned in though Smithy asked me to go and sit outside again. It was dark now, but it wasn’t cold, and it was great. There were bats flying about in the moonlight and an owl hooting in the distance and we could even hear some sheep in one of the fields a bit away. There was that smell, that damp, green, woody smell that you can’t describe but you just have to smell for yourself.
“Phil can I ask you a question?” Well I don’t know why he said that ‘cos he’d never bothered before but there y’ go.
“’Course – what?”
“How do you see your life in ten years from now?”
“Um, well I dunno. I hadn’t thought, I was just going from day-to-day you know that.”
“But you think that you would like to live somewhere like this?”
“God yeah, course I would but that’s not going to happen is it?”
“Well what would I live on? what would I do – where would I even live? Mr Chambers isn’t going to let us stay here for ever is he? Oh, Smithy wouldn’t that be great if he just would, if we could just stay here and never have to go.”
“Do you really think though that it would be a good way to live, just sponging off an old man and not doing anything to progress?”
“Well no, I guess not, I didn’t think we were sponging off him.”
“Well we’re not giving anything back are we? We gave him some company today and helped him with the table, but I think he has paid us handsomely for those small favours, don’t you?”
“I suppose so. I wonder though, if we could find some work, do you think that he might let us rent this place if we could pay?”
When I turned round, Smithy was grinning in the dim light and his lopsided teeth were gleaming white and his eyes were glittery and he just patted me on the shoulder.
“I think Phil that you will enrich the world, I really do.”
At the time I thought it was a daft thing to say but that was it, that was what he said and then we packed up and turned in.
It was lovely in the old caravan in the dark. I could hear the owl and look at the stars through the window and the smell of the country was seeping in under the door and through the open window. I wanted to think that he had meant it, that he thought that I could enrich the world. It’d be something good that, something nice to come out of all of this. No taking for granted or using or cheating just enriching the world. I wish I knew now if that’s what he would still think, him and Mr Chambers and Mum.