Crash III: There's No Place Like Home (23 page)

The grin remained on her face as she tucked her hair behind her ear. “Yeah, I do. It’s much better than where I was before. I’m Liz, by the way.” She held her hand out to him.

She had rough hands from what must have been hours of gardening.

“I’m Michael.”

Silence sat between them for a moment before Michael spoke, the words coming out without him thinking about them. “I don’t want to go back with the man I’m staying with. I can’t live with George anymore.”

The warmth left her face, turning her features sharp. “George, you say?”

“Yeah, you know him?”

She shrugged. “I knew a George.” She then flapped her hand through the air as if batting a fly. “Ignore me; I’m sure it’s a different man. Why don’t you want to stay with him, honey?”

The last person to call Michael ‘honey’ was his mum. The image of her hanging crashed into his mind. “He killed my dad.”

Liz turned pale.

“Are you okay?” Michael asked.

“Yeah… fine. Sorry… I… wasn’t expecting you to say that. So you’re with the man who killed your dad?”

“It sounds weird, doesn’t it? He said he’d look after me and that he never wanted to kill him, but he felt like he had to.”

“Well, look,” Liz said, “if you don’t want to go back to him, you should stay with us.”

“But who will I stay with? Who’ll look after me? I believe that George will keep me safe like he’s promised to. I don’t think he wants to hurt me.”

After getting to her feet, Liz put her hands on Michael’s shoulders and stared into his eyes. “I’ll look after you, Michael. You’re safe here.”

“How will I tell George?”

Liz wiped her hands on her grubby jeans before offering one to Michael. “Come with me.”

She led him back to the gates. They’d been locked again and Will stood guard.

Before he could open them, Liz pointed at Michael. “The kid wants to stay here with us.”

The slightest hint of a smirk lifted Will’s lips. “I’m not surprised. That George fella seems mental.”

Without another word, Will climbed the ladder on their side of the gates and pointed his gun over. “The kid says he wants to stay here with us.”

“No fucking way,” George said. “Where is he?”

When Michael looked at Liz, she nudged him in the direction of the ladder Will had just climbed.

Once at the top, Michael looked down at George. “It’s true. There’s a nice woman here who says she’ll take care of me. Thank you for all you’ve done, but I can’t live with you, George. I’m sorry.”

George pointed at Will, his frame tense. But before he spoke, the rage left him, and his entire body sagged. “You’d best look after the boy. I’m going to keep bringing food for him to make sure he’s okay. I made a promise that I’d look after him, and that’s what I’ll do.”

Will smiled as he kept his gun pointed at George.

It felt like a few minutes passed during which time George stared at Michael, a watery film covering his dark eyes. Then finally, George turned around and walked away.

The damp weight of sadness sat in Michael’s chest as he watched the slumped frame of his protector retreat. Despite what had happened with his dad, George really had wanted to look after him.

After George disappeared around the bend, Michael climbed down the ladder and walked over to where Liz was looking through a hole in the gate. When she pulled back, she had tears streaking down her face.

“Are you okay, Liz?”

She nodded. “I used to know George. He didn’t help me when I needed him most. I realized he wasn’t the man I thought he was.”

She then batted the comment away and forced a smile. “But that doesn’t matter now.” She wrapped Michael in a tight hug. “Welcome to the community, honey. You’re going to be safe here.”



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About the Author

Michael Robertson has been a writer for many years and has had poetry and short stories published, most notably with HarperCollins. He first discovered his desire to write as a skinny weed-smoking seventeen-year-old badman who thought he could spit bars over drum and bass. Fortunately, that venture never left his best mate’s bedroom and only a few people had to endure his musical embarrassment. He hasn’t so much as looked at a microphone since. What the experience taught him was that he liked to write. So that’s what he did.

After sending poetry to countless publications and receiving MANY rejection letters, he uttered the words, “That’s it, I give up.” The very next day, his first acceptance letter arrived in the post. He saw it as a sign that he would find his way in the world as a writer.

Over a decade and a half later, he now has a young family to inspire him and has decided to follow his joy with every ounce of his being. With the support of his amazing partner, Amy, he’s managed to find the time to take the first step of what promises to be an incredible journey. Love, hope, and the need to eat get him out of bed every morning to spend a precious few hours pursuing his purpose.

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