‘Thanks for coming.’
Standing in the open doorway of the caravan, in the thickly shadowed darkness of this derelict office forecourt, the man looms above us like an urban warlord, big hands reaching down to us, glints of metalwork in his mouth, ear and lips, a roughly-worked, stubbled head. A dog – the magician’s familiar – jumps down with a muscled thump and sniffs us thoroughly.
‘Don’t mind him. He’s okay. Watch yourself as you step up. I’m afraid it’s all a bit – temporary.’
He helps us into the caravan as we step up using the lorry tyre that’s been put there.
Even by the light of the solitary candle you can tell that Kat is exhausted. She sits with her legs drawn up on the bed-shelf, stroking her pregnant belly with one hand and her forehead with the other. Just along from her on the shelf a child is sleeping in a nest of duvets, towels and such. You can just make out a messy heap of hair on the pillow. The dog follows us in, jumps up beside the little boy, sighs heavily and curls up.
Kat tells us that she went to stand up and felt a tearing pain in her right side. She’s never had anything like it before; it made her vomit, and cry out. It lasted for about an hour, full on, nothing helped. It’s fading now. She tells us that she’s twenty two weeks pregnant, everything’s going well, but she did have a difficult time of it with her last pregnancy. Non-identical twins. But just as she went into labour they discovered that one of them had died, so they delivered by emergency c-section and found that there had been a problem with one of the placenta.
Although her initial obs are normal, I tell them that – with all she’s said about the pain and her past medical history – it’s inevitable I’ll be recommending a trip into hospital for a check up. She says she’s okay to walk out to the ambulance. We help her up.
This interior seems insanely bright and organised; Kat quietly grips the arms of her seat as we lurch off the site, but she is as safely stowed as all the clinical stuff that surrounds us. Despite her scavenged clothes and matted hair, she has the resonantly clear complexion and expression of a child.
‘I’m tired,’ she says. ‘I want to settle down and find a flat, but it’s not happening. They say I’ve got to go back home to my parents, but there’s nothing there for me. I don’t want to stay with Mike, though. I don’t know how I ended up there.’
She pauses, staring into the window and the reflection that stares straight back at her.
After a moment she says: ‘He’s nice enough, and he’s great with Jez, but – I think I’ll miss the dog more.’