After Steph finished the entertainment section was over. The majority of people stayed for awhile, those with children mostly drifted off. I'm guessing Ellie was an only child and her parents were enjoying staying a bit later, as they left her sleeping on my lap for a good while, checking occasionally. Lots of people came over to thank me for singing and congratulating me on a great performance. If I could of, I would have hidden behind Tracy's skirts, I felt an embarrassed shyness. Having a sleeping child on my lap helped by acting as a sort of enthusiasm dampener. If they wanted to talk to me they had to speak quietly.
Sam was one of the first to visit me, telling me I was beautiful. I'm pretty sure she meant my singing, but there was a look in her eye, that made me feel like I was food and she was hungry. She backed off fairly quickly though and left with Martha and the other girls soon after. I had lots of requests for a return visit next week. I had to be non-committal, but said I would if I could. Tracy and Steph stayed close by. I think they knew I needed their support. Jason, the guitar playing singer songwriter, lurked in the background until he could approach without a crowd. He said I had inspired him and made me promise to consider singing a song of his. In fact, he was going to write one specifically for me and he would like to play the guitar to back up my singing.
Eventually Frank and Susan, Ellie's parents, collected her, thanked me for looking after her and hoped to see me next week. I really didn't have a moment alone until I had said my goodbyes to Steph, and Tracy and I were walking away.
“Well, how did you like it?”
I pondered a bit. “I loved the atmosphere. It was friendly and encouraging. Apart from those 3 girls from 23.”
“Did they say something to you?”
“No. Sam spoke to me, you know the one with the piercings. She was nice. The other 3 didn't say anything, but the look they gave me reminded me of school.”
“If it is what I think it is, it's a girl thing, especially a teenage girl thing. We tend to assess the competition and are not happy if someone looks prettier than us. As beautiful as you are, you are going to have to get used to it.”
“Ha, ha, ha. Very funny.”
“I'm serious. I don't expect you to get that yet. Just promise me you are open to seeing yourself as beautiful, inside and out.”
“I'll try.” Wanting to change the subject quickly I went back to the original question. “I loved the singing. I felt uncomfortable with the attention, though.”
“I know we have a lot of things to sort out at the moment, but I think you should seriously think about singing as a career. You are majorly gifted. If you want I can set you up with a voice coach.”
“I did love the singing.” I gave her a one armed hug as we were walking. “Thanks for the support. You make a great mum.”
“You're more than welcome.” she said with a squeeze back.
Lucy only had the one bed but it was large enough that it didn't feel too awkward, plus I was so knackered that I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I woke up when I noticed movement from the other side of the bed.
“Good morning.” I sleepily murmured.
“Morning beautiful.” she replied.
We both did our morning ablutions and went outside to stretch and do our Tai Chi short forms. It is a great way to wake up. The air was cold and crisp, fresh and invigorating. We together made a proper breakfast and relaxed in great company.
“The plan for today is to move Lucy to her secondary mooring site. Then I need to go to 23 and prepare the ground for your arrival. I figure around lunchtime, I pick you up, we go out and have lunch and then I take you to 23.”
“Sounds like a plan. Do you have any books I can read whilst you are out.”
“I will set you up on my pad with a kindle app. You are welcome to buy a few books or there are loads of free ones to check out.”
Travelling the canal is really quite peaceful. The boat doesn't go much faster than a walking pace, there is beautiful green scenery everywhere you look and a few weirs to navigate that add interest. I can see why it is a popular holiday in the summer. It took us a couple of hours to arrive. There were these houses whose garden backed onto the canal. One of them, which ended up being our destination, had proper mooring posts fitted with a fairly substantial granny flat at the end of the garden, near the canal.
We tied the boat off and Tracy showed me around. She owned the house and rented it out to students and kept the granny flat with access to the road for herself and any guests she might have. Now that I was joining her this would be the main place where we would be living with trips back to the campsite every Saturday for the Sunday fun. The granny flat had 2 bedrooms, an open plan kitchen/ lounge/ diner, a laundry room with a large washer and dryer, and a beautiful bathroom with spa bath and large shower.
“Time has gotten away from us. I forget how long it takes to travel by boat. Change of plans, we will go out, grab a bite to eat and both go to 23. While you are getting settled I will start my admin stuff. When I am ready, I will interview you in my office. Theoretically to find out your real name, age and other details that you are willing to divulge.”
“Won't that look a bit odd?”
“I am not normally the person who does those interviews, but we do try and get our occupants to open up. Usually the more they tell us, the more we can help them. I have told Martha that we have made a connection and that I was even thinking of inviting you to stay with me. She is probably expecting me to take a more active role with you. Ideally, you stay for a couple of days then I take you home.”
“Cool. What can I do to help?”
“Just gather your used clothes and handbag. Do you reckon you can get by with the wig for a couple of days and what about hiding your... you know, your extra bits.”
“I won't have to get changed in front of anyone, will I?”
“You each have your own room although they are very small. The bathrooms do have locks, but I have heard of girls picking them when they get annoyed with someone hogging the bathroom.”
“I will make do with sponge baths, I can do that in my room. It's only for a couple of days, I can manage. Do you have a wedge I can borrow? I'm not sure I should trust the bedroom locks if I can't trust the bathroom ones.”
“Why don't you have a quick shower now and I'll try and find you a wedge.”
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