She looked a little sheepish at first, but then she just flung herself into my arms for a big hug. The runaway is back and life is never going to be quite the same for her again. She tells me that she’s learned a lot over the last five days, and it seems that her only real mistake was to naively believe some people who told her that they were her friends.
She thought they were going to Malton for a party yet somehow they all ended up in Leeds. There were four of them originally, two lads and two lasses. At 15 she was the youngest, the other three were all older. Two of them were on the run from the Police: one for breeching his curfew and the other girl for failing to turn up for a Court hearing. She didn’t know this when they set off, only when she tried to get help from the Police in Leeds and her so-called friends pulled her away from the station. Her female companion further complicated the whole situation by assaulting someone in Leeds when they refused to give her a light for her cigarette.
She tells me she was scared. She informs me she cried every night to come home. She knows now that she needs her Mum, even if they don’t get on most of the time. She insists she has learned a valuable lesson from this experience and will never do it again.
Her Mum has told her that on her 16th birthday, next month, there will be no birthday present, just her bags packed and on the doorstep. She laughs as she tells me this, but it’s a hollow laugh and certainly doesn’t reach any further than her lips. Her eyes are dark pools of despair. She’s had the adventure and all she wants now is to feel safe and to feel loved. Everybody makes mistakes and surely she can be forgiven. I can only do so much but I am not her family and right now that’s what she needs the most.
I don’t know what the future holds for her: she’s bright, attractive, socially adept, articulate and caring, but she’s also vulnerable, emotionally fragile and very very scared. Some days I wish there was more I could do but I will be there for her, every step of the way, and not just until she leaves school in June but for as long as she needs me to be.