Just a kid
Sharleen Shaha Gul
Noreen: 12 years old
Asef: Noreen’s brother, 16 years old
Female Neighbour: Female voice
It is 3.40 PM, Noreen a 12 year old girl is sat on a large rock outside her school, there is noise and commotion of children trying to get on the 3 buses lined up in front of her. A back drop of green hills and semi detached homes catches her eyes. She is waiting and watching the world.
Asef: Where is he?
Noreen: I have been waiting since 3.15.
Asef sits beside her.
Asef: OK, When these 2 go and its the last bus we will queue up and..
Noreen: I don’t have a pass
Asef: Are you serious, it doesn’t matter, I will sneak you on
Noreen: NO, NO, Miss is there look, oh man, now what
Asef: We just get on, what’s wrong with you, have you got money?
Noreen: Er no why would I have money on me, why is Dad not here, he’s such a..
Asef: Shut up
Noreen: I am scared, she’s not going to let us on, I forgot to fill the form in, for the pass, should have done it after last time. Then I thought he only forgot that once and he always picks us up anyway, but I bet he’s forgotten about us again.
Asef: Its the last bus, now come on
Noreen follows Asef’s and queues up to get on the bus.
Asef: Sit with me at the top yeah
Noreen: Look… look Asef they told the other kid he can’t get on, he doesn’t have a bus pass, she isn’t going to let me on without it
Asef: I will sneak you on
Noreen: No..I cant..
Asef: Just trust me..I..
Noreen: No, No,
Asef: Listen to me..
Noreen: No. It’s going to be proper embarrassing if she sees. I told you she is well tight, its just a stupid piece of paper anyway, I don’t get why we have to show it to get on
Asef: Lets wait longer then..for Dad
They walk away from the queue and take their seats on the Rock again
Noreen: There is some other kids walking home.. Look. They live near us.
Noreen: She is proper tight she is.. That Miss.. shall we go into reception and call home?
Asef: Yeah lets call home to the land-line that has been cut of because your Dad didn’t pay the bill
Noreen: It’s not my fault is it, he has just forgotten about us and he will remember. And he is your dad too so shut up.. something bad could have happened, or someone else might come for us…
Asef: Yeah maybe Uncle Eddy will get us.. come for us.. like once before..or we can walk with them kids
Noreen: Even if we got on the school bus it drops us of miles from home, so its better we just stay here..I cant walk..my leg from that fall last time..it might hurt again. I don’t want another operation
Asef: OK Let’s see..and wait
Asef is lying on the grass next to the large rock. Noreen is sat on the rock and watching the sky.
Asef: Its 3.50 now, he’s not coming, we’ll have to walk. Can you just try
Noreen: How..it’s an hour’s walk at least.
Asef: Come on..we can catch up to the other kids
Noreen: I don’t like them, that one with the dirty clothes he is OK but he is a weirdo though, I mean he is funny..but.. He only started a couple weeks ago, he gets the City circle in the morning sometimes, haven’t you seen him before? Do yo think we can get home for 5, because Mum always worries when we are even a little bit late? Do you know which way to go home? What about the main road there is no where for us to walk, and..
Asef sits up on the grass, rubbing his face and hair back
Asef: Yeah, Yeah.. we will use the bus route, chill man it will be about an hour..no more.. I bet you a tenner
Noreen: Where you going to get that from? I am scared though, I got called names last time we went down that hill for a walk with my friends at lunch time
Asef: I am with you now
Noreen: I feel better here though.. Someone should come for us..Uncle Eddy, Grandad.. Uncle Maj..Lets just wait longer..Why do you think they wouldn’t be here by now?
Asef takes a deep breath and lies back down on the grass, hand in his hair..
Asef: You know what.. you are soooo annoying..Just come, its going to get dark soon!
Noreen: No you are so annoying..You think you are the boss of me..Its a racist area! Why would that cow..Why wouldn’t she let people on without a pass..like so what.. Cant she see we are just kids..my dad normally comes for us and last time
Asef: Last time what..He never came
Noreen: No Miss Shah gave us a lift and we hardly waited for him..and then he shouted at us for not waiting..he got here and we was gone..he was worried
Asef: Look we have got to walk a little bit and then he may see us on the way here, we will stick to the main road! Plus it will be getting dark soon, that’s what I am worried about
Noreen: I know.. Oh..shit it will be getting dark..OK then..
They both get up. A bus drives past, people get out.. and stare at Asef and Noreen, they stare too..
Asef: What? Do you want a picture.. have that
Asef puts his middle finger up to the people
Noreen: Seriously that is so embarrassing, why are you doing that. OK now stop looking at them, they are walking away. Just ignore them.. Asef.. look at me..is my face red
Asef: OK lets wait here. Don’t like the look of people here..I don’t think we will catch up to them other kids now.
They both sit on the large rock
Asef: I got fifty pence on me, do you want a drink from across the road?
Noreen: No.. Just want to go home. What’s happened to Dad..it’s going to get dark soon..and..
Noreen jumps up
Noreen: OH NO..
Noreen: Asef, Omar what if something’s happened to him?
Asef: Just chill
Noreen: I don’t trust Dad, we have been waiting ages now.. seriously what’s wrong with him. Oh my god.. Mums going to be going mad..she can’t even leave the house..her anxiety..
Asef: OK..we need to move from here and try to get home quick its starting to get dark and the clouds..
Noreen: OK, look shall I go into the office, sometimes the teachers stay back and the care taker might be there.. what time is it? Shall I go to the reception..Asef… Shall we go?
Asef: You go..I’ll wait..its 4.10.
Noreen walks towards Asef and sits on the grass.
Asef: What happened?
Noreen: The teachers are in a meeting, or get together or something..The receptionist called the emergency number for us and guess what..yep no connection..I wish mum could drive..but then why not just give us like 7 quid to get back home in a taxi..like just for emergencies..I never have money.. it is so embarrassing when Sarah and Alia go to the corner shop. I always say I don’t like chocolates.
Asef: Mum is stingy as heck. So the receptionist is not..look is there anyway they can help..
Noreen: Yeah, she told us to wait here and then the teachers will be out..soon. She will get us a taxi or see if they can give us a lift..because even the receptionist had no money..well she said she left her purse at home..and the key to the school safe is with Mrs Metcalfe who is in the meeting.
Asef: OK. That’s OK. Told you just chill
Noreen: I still can’t, you know you are like all boys and men.. Even mum says all men are the same are you not even worried..how do you think Omar has got home..he is a baby
Asef: Look.. my shoes there is a whole in it, I have holy shoes..Now that is what you call embarrassing Noreen
Noreen: I am not worried about your shoes right now..BE SERIOUS Asef..
Asef: What can we do right now? Tell me?
Noreen: When I grow up I am not relying on anyone..and I am not having kids
Asef: HA yeah right..Like grandma will let you do what you want
Noreen: Oh its raining, for god’s sake..why is this happening. I want to go home
Noreen tears up
Asef: OK lets go there, under that bridge..I don’t know why there is no bus shelter here.. Come on
They cross the road and stand under a bridge..watching the school light up..
Asef: Its not safe..its not safe here
Noreen: I hate this place
Asef: We need to go.. get out from under this bridge. Its getting pitch black now.. the street lights are off..not working.
Noreen: Look at them guys
Asef: They have alcohol in their hands..and they have just smashed a bottle on the wall.
Noreen: Lets just go back to reception and sit inside
Asef: Better idea..we should have done that first.
Noreen: Well you just get angry..and cant think..well sometimes your an idiot..Like when you say things about Dad without thinking
Asef: I know..that is completely different to standing under a bridge in the rain OK..but he does not treat me like his own son..
Noreen: Can we just go in..I don’t mind getting wet..Must have be an hour by now.
Noreen and Asef are sitting on an arm chair each in the reception. The receptionist has placed cookies in front of them. Noreen eats one.
Noreen: Love these cookies..They are making me feel better.
Asef: Put some in your bag..give some to Omar when we get home..Don’t worry about him OK. He will be OK..He is a kid and the teachers don’t let 5 year old’s leave the school by themselves
Noreen: Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we were still living in Afghanistan.. would more people care about us.. I mean look at all the family we have here and they don’t even care..why are they not here by now or called the school..What if Omar’s school has called the social services
Asef: Hmm..It will be OK..OK
Noreen: When I grow up..I will be getting a job..Grandma wont let me.. mum will let me won’t she.. actually they don’t care what I do, if they cared they would have picked us up from school and dropped us off like normal parents
Asef: Yeah..and give us bus fair or some money for emergencies
Noreen: She doesn’t have it that’s why.. because of dad
Noreen puts her hand on her chest,
Noreen: My heart thumps sometimes when I am scared..is that because I am scared or something else is wrong with me
Noreen takes a deep breath
Asef: We talked about stress and anxiety the other day.. I think your anxious..your scared about not being home yet..and Omar.
Noreen: It is..five now..Thank God they are going to come out of the meeting soon..Mum is going to be mad. I have never been home this late, the bus is normally home by now
Asef: Look she will have forgotten by tomorrow, she will have been paranoid..thinking the teachers have killed us..but it will be OK tomorrow..watch.
Noreen: So you think I am like Mum..I don’t want too. I won’t be..She is not well, and she is paranoid and she is going to be really really upset.. Where the hell is Dad..Dad is dodgy you know..I don’t trust him..Something has happened..I feel it.
Asef: It can run in families..but your just a kid right now.
Noreen: So what else did they tell you about Anxiety?
Asef: You will do the same class when your doing your GCSE’S
Noreen: Can’t you just tell me.
Asef: Look, just sit here and wait..we will be home soon..you stress too much..I am also worried…but we just cope differently..I am sick of everything..Your Dad, who has never been a proper step Dad to me..Mum and her brain and the social services..Flipping everything..and now I am sat in school waiting to get home because of you and you want to have a counselling session right now
Noreen: Well this is me..This is how I am coping.
Noreen: Oh my God..where are these stupid teachers..Cant she just go in and get the keys for the safe..get us a taxi
Asef: Why don’t we talk about what we think the year 2020 will be like..What do you think? Flying cars, I think that will happen you know. I am speaking to Uncle Eddy later about working at the Garage on weekends
Noreen: I don’t care about fun stuff
Asef: I am trying to make you think of something else..even though you are stressing me out..why are you no fun..always stressing..
Noreen: Well you can get a job..I am going to get out too..You just watch..and really I don’t need you. I can do things my self OK. I am going to tell them everything..and then I will be OK.. I will be fun and normal
Asef: Who? What?
Noreen: When they come out I am going to tell them my Mum is mad and Dad is never around..and Omar is always crying
Asef: Do you think they will help? Do you know what will happen. Just shut up and wait..We will get home and that’s it..everything will be normal tomorrow..Mum will have forgotten about today and Dad will act normal, like he never left us waiting
Noreen: You can’t tell me what to do..How to feel..I know what is right
Asef: I am with you now aren’t I. I could have got on that bus and left you
Noreen: Asef. I am scared of everything. I am scared Mum might hurt us or Omar and Dad is just out of it
Asef: Seriously just shut up
Asef and Noreen are stood outside a parked car, under a street light. It is raining heavily, they listen to Mrs Metcalfe Knock the door to their home as they watch her. There is no answer. Silence and darkness
Female Neighbour: Asef..Noreen..Your Dad..Oh Hi, is this your teacher..
Female neighbour: Er. Asef come here please.. Hi..She is..she is in..well.. your Dad got stopped by the police..It’s Drugs I think. The police took your mum and dad in for questioning
Asef hears Noreen cry a few steps away, Asef is stood still.
Female Neighbour: Omar is at ours, the police and your parents are happy for you stay here, they will be released hopefully later..and well your Mum isn’t well is she..they said they may ask a Dr to speak to her, so she will be OK. They took her medication with them.. It will be OK..I have a nice hot meal prepared..you guys must be hungry, please come in
Noreen and Asef are sat on a sofa, Omar asleep in Noreen’s arms..watching TV.
Noreen: I am going to make everything better, I am going to tell
Asef is staring into space.
Noreen: Are you listening? I am not going to be like Mum.. I am going to tell them she is not well..OK. And I am going to tell her to leave Dad.
Asef: OK Noreen.
Noreen: I want Omar to be happy..And I want..Actually hope Dad goes to Prison and I want Mum to get help..OK.
Noreen: I feel much better now Omar is here..I know them 2 will be OK. Asef..
Noreen: I am sorry..We have to help Mum OK and stick together OK.
Asef: OK, go to sleep now.. put Omar down and just chill yeah.
Noreen: I like this house, I feel safe, I am chilling..but Asef you have to make plans..they even have central heating and a spare bedroom..We can have this when we grow up.
Asef: Yeah, I think you are stronger than you think you know.. Just don’t cry like that again, your snot went everywhere
Noreen: Laughs, I can’t help it.
Asef: I like this house too.
Noreen: We can definitely have this when we grow up.
Asef: I can get a cash in hand job this summer. I am old enough
Noreen: Sometimes I feel your age
Asef: You do act it. Go to sleep before Omar wakes up.
They both exit the room, Omar in Noreen’s arms, his little head over her little shoulders