We went back to Lucy to try on the clothes she had bought and practice combining my singing with her fiddle playing. We decided that I would go to the shelter tomorrow with only what I had brought with me. It would look strange to have any new stuff. Still it was worth a little fashion show and even if the size is the right one does not mean it will fit. She had mainly bought practical stuff. Jeans, leggings, skirts, underwear (plain), tights, boots, Ugg boots (which I loved), camisoles, T-shirts, jumpers and jumper dresses. What amazed me was the variety of colours. Most of it fit, but not everything. I was particularly disappointed that this cute pair of boots was just a bit too tight. I realised that I had completely gone to my feminine side when I contemplated keeping them and suffer, but better sense prevailed. She had also got me a make up kit.
We took the tags off all the stuff we were keeping and put it all in these big cloth bags for washing. The rest with the receipts went back into plastic bags for returning. Then she got out her violin and we went through what songs I had learnt. The way it worked was everybody did something to contribute. Some would bring food or drink. The rest had to provide entertainment. There would be some reading poetry, either their own or something they had memorised, singing, instruments, telling jokes, juggling, fire breathing. It was a relaxed atmosphere and there was nothing to worry about. Easy for her to say.
Then we came to the crunch time and she asked me to sing, I just couldn't do it.
Tracy sat next to me and one arm hugged me. “What's the problem?”
I was still looking like a deer trapped by headlights. “I've never sang in front of anyone before.”
She smiled at me. “OK, close your eyes. Imagine you have just climbed into the bath you had yesterday. Remember the smells, the feeling of the hot water. When you are ready, don't think of singing, just think of releasing your emotional energy. Let it go.”
As I relaxed into my mental picture, I could feel my tension drain out of me. I started humming. Then I started singing Songbird sung by Eva Cassidy. I heard Tracy improvising around me. I felt this sense of peace settle on me, like a deep seated contentment. It only lasted as long as the song, but it felt great. I opened my eyes at the end to find Tracy standing opposite me with violin in hand.
“Wow. You are amazing. That was... that was....I can't find the words. You voice, wow and your expression, it was like you were talking to God. Angelic. You are so good at this. This is what you are meant to do.”
I was still feeling the peace so I just smiled at her.
“Can you do the other Eva Cassidy song you mentioned?”
“Fields of Gold?”
I had to close my eyes again and find that calm place before I could start. It was a bit easier this time. When I finished she praised me like crazy which made me feel really good inside. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt this good. We went through both songs several times so that she could work out how she was going to add to it.
We walked to this clearing in the woods carrying camp chairs and Tracy's violin. I had to stick with my second hand clothes until after I left the Home. I decided on the jeans as being more practical, wore 2 of the T-shirts for extra warmth, the jumper and the coat. Tracy was going to introduce me to Martha, who ran the home, and try and arrange a legitimate invite, rather than me just turning up. My story was that I was a runaway from London who wouldn't talk about what had happened to me, claimed to be Sophie Smith and was 18. The immediate assumption was that I would lie about my name and age, so it would not matter if the birth certificate said something different. Steph had then noticed me near her college and persuaded me to visit Tracy, who brought me to the campfire.
We weren't the first to arrive, but it was still setting up. It was a pretty big clearing and in the centre was a ring of stones with evidence of previous campfires. The people were dressed in comfortable clothes. Shaggy jumpers with multiple colours, even on the guy's. It gave an impression of a music festival and had that atmosphere. A couple of tables were already set up and 3 different portable BBQ's.
We didn't sit and watch though. We set up our chairs. We had brought 3, so Steph could join us and a rug, in case she brought anyone else from Uni. Initially we wondered around so Tracy could say hello or chat and whilst doing that we would automatically help if we could. When Martha arrived, I was introduced briefly and then I followed a few of the girls who came with her back to her people carrier to help unload. Tracy stayed to probably discuss me.
Martha brought the majority of the food supplies. Mainly burgers, sausages and buns, but there were also salads and fruit. There were plastic plates, cups and knives, forks and spoons. These weren't disposable but sturdy jobs that would be reused. The girls I was helping were either my age or older. One had piercings all over the place, with short dark hair spiked up. She introduced herself as Sam and seemed really nice. There was a glint in her eye that made me anxious for some reason. The other 3 girls were more together and were giving me looks of scorn. I had only been out as a girl for such a short time and I had no idea what I had done for them to look at me like that. I retreated, nervously, back to Tracy's side as soon as I could. I tried to make a mental note to ask Tracy about it later.
Steph arrived as the light was beginning to fade and the smell of cooking food and bonfire was in the air. We set up her keyboard on a stand she had brought and chatted. We agreed to try and avoid to many hugs and crying fits, as it didn't really fit with my backstory. She did give me a good squeeze though, that felt really nice.
Martha was probably the most smartly dressed. She was only a bit taller than me so I would guess 5 and a half feet, but very sturdy without looking fat. She had an enormous chest which added to her friendly smile to give her a very maternal, mother goddess type look. She was clearly the main organiser here, and rang a bell to bring about a sudden quiet.
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