Like a diamond in the sky

…continued

As if the mention of her name has woken her up, Mia starts crying from her cot.

“Hello princess,” sings Frances. “Hello princess.” I follow her into the bedroom.

“Let me put the light on,” I say, unable to take pictures in the dark room.

“It’s broken. The bulb doesn’t work.” I open one of the curtains instead.

“You have grown big, haven’t you?” Mia looks bleary-eyed at me. “You still tired?”

“Talk,” orders Frances. Mia immediately responds by making a sound. We both laugh. “I love it when I tell her to dance and then she’ll start dancing. Even if there’s no music on, she’ll start dancing.”

The insurance man has now left and the three of them start to get ready to go out. I am taking Frances and Mia into the Reclaim offices in town so she can design an invitation for the party. We’re dropping Hassan off at the job centre on the way.

“What’s happening about the housing?” I ask as she gets bottles ready. Frances is registered on a website where she ‘bids’ for social housing. There’s no money involved, the bid just tells the housing association of her interest.

“I’ve not told you yet, have I? My support worker told me that Mosscare [the housing association in Moss Side where she wants a house] have a policy of not offering anybody a house until they are 18. And I am in band five.”

“What’s band five?”

“It’s the most rubbish. Well, band six is the most rubbish. And if you’re in band one then you’ll get moved immediately. But as soon as I am 18 I’ll be put into band three and have a better chance of being moved.”

“So, you’ve been bidding all this time for no reason? And no one told you?” Frances doesn’t seem bothered. She’s more excited that she might make progress after her birthday in December.

The bath water is ready. “Mia, Mia… do you want to do splashing?”

Despite the odd jugful of water over her head Mia still manages to sing her version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star while in the bath. “Are you singing to Mummy? Are you? Where’s the quack-quack duck?” After a verse or two Hassan comes in to take over so Frances can get herself ready. These two work well as a team.

It’s not too much longer before we are all traipsing down the white clinical corridor, Mia enjoying the expanse to show just how far she can walk.

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