A question of necessity
The children were always clean and smartly dressed, four boys in a small terraced house all within a year of each other at school. Malcolm sat next to me in most of my classes and invited me to his home to eat my packed lunch, corned beef with brown sauce on white. Mum always popped in a Kitkat, some crisps and a bottle of juice.
I have to say my middle class background left me quite shocked at first, they didn’t have any carpets or a TV, they slept on mattresses without beds.
His mother made tea and offered me a selection of broken biscuits that came in a clear polythene bag, “Malcolm’s father gets these from work” she said proudly. There was a sad quiet inside the house and I felt like there was a secret I wasn’t included in but we continued with the chit chat anyway.
I was being the boy my mother would have expected me to be until Malcolm’s father burst into the room. He had come home for lunch and looked surprised to see me, he was red faced and sweating.
“Have you got them all” his wife asked as she looked down at the bag he was holding, I followed her eyes and noticed the movement.
“Just about” he said and I looked at his hands, they were shaking and covered in scratches.
“I’m going now, there’s no point in delaying this any longer”.
Malcolm lowered his head and spoke in a whisper, “we can’t afford to keep them”.