This is part five in a series of stories – you can see them all (to read in order) here. You can also sign up to the mailing list at the bottom to be notified when new stories are published. Please note that the stories do sometimes get quite dark and may include mentions of addiction and physical/mental abuse.
Things started to pick up again for my dad’s business. He had been really shrewd by focusing on the second hand market of gaming, as opposed to buying in new stock from suppliers. Like CEX, but before CEX was even a thing. It cost him less to buy in second hand stock and local gamers loved trading in their completed games for something new. Plus, Pokemon cards were becoming an obsession in the UK, and my dad had the ingenious idea of splitting open packets to sell cards individually. £30 for a shiny Charizard – no kidding!
We moved into a 2.5 bedroom house, this time privately rented. I felt as though things were moving up in the world and we were learning to live without mum. I would come home from school, grab a choc ice from the freezer, stick on Nickelodeon and binge-watch Sister, Sister, Kenan & Kel, and all those absolute classics. They don’t make kids TV like they used to. My two younger siblings were a bit older now, and they’d spend their afternoons using me as an actual climbing frame or a bridge between the sofa and armchair. If dad was working, I’d go to his shop after school instead. I’d sit in the back office, opening up packets of Pokemon cards and sorting them into piles. Common, uncommon, rare, shiny rares. I could recite the first 151 Pokemon in order within a few weeks of card sorting, and I had the sickest deck at the local tournaments they held in the toy section of Fenwicks, the department store. I felt like the luckiest kid alive. I actually was, really.
Life was good. Dad seemed happier. I was living the dream. The kids (I still call my younger siblings the kids now, by the way) were getting used to life without mum. The powder blue suit was a distant memory. One night, we were all sitting in the living room watching some kind of family show. Probably The Generation Game with Jim Davidson or Supermarket Sweep with Dale Winton. I said they don’t make kids TV like they used to, but they don’t make any TV like they used to anymore really.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door which startled us all. No one knocked on our door. Dad left us kids on the sofa and went to see who it could be. I heard him talking in hushed tones and I went over to the living room window to see if I could catch a glimpse of who was at the door. All I could see, underneath the street light on the road, was a police car. I tried to make my way to the front door where I saw two police officers, but was quickly told to leave and close the door behind me. I couldn’t hear a word of what was being said. Eventually, dad came back into the living room, slumped on the sofa, and started crying.
“I’m really sorry,” he told us all. “It’s your mum… She’s dead.”
I was old enough to know what dead meant, although my younger siblings probably weren’t. Either way, we all followed dad’s lead and started crying. All huddled together on the sofa as one. I’ll never, ever forget that moment for as long as I’ll live. Not for the reasons you might expect, however…
Two days later, there was another knock on the door. It was the police, once again. There had been a mistake.
Remember when I said my mum had a knack for languages? Well, it turned out that her Greek accent was so good that she had actually managed to convince the British police that she was a Greek police officer. She had rung the British police, posing as a Greek police officer, to tell them that she had died. Only when our local police had contacted the Athens police to arrange moving the body, did they find out she hadn’t died at all. She was arrested at that tiny flat in Athens and was apparently told to either leave the country or spend time in jail. Considering I think they have a very strict policy on alcohol in jail, she decided on the former.
Mum was coming home after all.