I woke up early on Friday morning very excited about my birthday and going to Gratestone for the weekend with my friends. I switched on the computer and looked on Chatbook, where I had about ten messages from friends wishing me a happy birthday while I was away, including Julian, Carey, and Carly Richards. Julian said that he wanted to take me out for a meal when I got back, and Carey said that the offer to go bowling with him was still there. If I had never met Julian I probably would have gone back out with Carey, but there was no way now. I sent him a little message saying that I’d met somebody else but thanks, anyway. Then there was an email from Annabel saying:
“The newspaper boy has just delivered a copy of the National Lighthouse and you are on the front page! Am reading it now! See you later x”
I groaned out loud at the thought of being recognised in the street, and decided I’d do something different with my hair before going to school.
Finally, there was a message from a photo I didn’t recognise saying:
“Happy Birthday Lacy, from Dad xx”
I gasped and quickly clicked onto his profile. I realised that it really was my father, although he didn’t look anything like I remembered. His details said that he was in a relationship and lived in Swansea. I was so shocked to hear from him again that I nearly blocked him, and I had to go downstairs and make myself a drink to calm down a bit. I looked out of the window and saw that Tom’s car had gone. That cheered me up because I wanted to have a private chat with Mum to see what she thought about it. But it was only six o’clock and I couldn’t wait for her to wake up, so I went back upstairs and typed:
“Thanks for your message but what about the last ten years?” and sent it off before switching off my computer.
I finished all my packing and then got ready for school, but as it was still only seven o’clock so I switched on the TV.
“Wadham Council denies being involved in housing fraud,” was the headline. “A spokesperson for Wadham Council denied reports in today’s National Lighthouse that they knowingly conspired to sell houses which had been obtained illegally during the war. Mr Charles Richards, speaking on behalf of action group VOCAL, said that around 200 people had contacted him concerning properties which had been illegally acquired by the Council after World War II.”
Then it showed Mr Richards talking to the press saying: “People are very angry about what has happened here. If it hadn’t been for a young schoolgirl, Lacy Clark, researching her family tree this would never have been uncovered. We are talking about War Heroes here, and young children and babies being put into care and their homes taken from them. Lacy’s Grandfather won an MC in the war, only to have his house stolen from him by Wadham Council. It’s disgusting!”
“OMG!” I swore out loud. I finally heard Mum get out of bed. “Mum, Mum!” I shouted upstairs. “VOCAL are on the telly.”
My heart was racing and I was glued to the television screen until the news went on to the next topic.
“I’ll be down in a minute,” she called back. When she came downstairs I switched on the News Channel and showed her.
“And Mum,” I said, making her a cup of tea, “Dad’s been in touch.”
“Oh.” Mum paused. “Are you okay with that?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied. “I’ve sent him quite a rude message back so don’t expect I’ll hear from him again.”
“I see.” I could tell that she was struggling to find the right words to say. “Well Lacy, what I think is, it’s a good thing we are going away this weekend to get away from all this mess and madness. We can have nice, quiet, peaceful weekend and we won’t have any telly, computers or mobile ’phones on. And no men to worry about. Just you, me, and your two best friends. That’s what I think.”
“Sounds good to me as well,” I replied. It was like the whole world, or everything that I knew about it, had gone crazy and was standing on its head. I was hit by a sudden panic.
“Mum, do I have to go in to school today?”
“Yes, Lacy, and I have to go in to work. This fuss isn’t going to die down in a day, or even a weekend, I’m afraid. We’re just going to have to ride it out.”
So I had to go to school and face people staring at me and whispering behind my back, and people I’d never spoken to before coming up to me and asking me questions. It was so hard. In the end my teacher had to step in and tell people to leave me alone, and that the exams were coming up and everybody needed to concentrate on passing them and ignoring what was going on outside of school. But the longest day ever eventually came to an end and I met up with Karina at the school gates to travel back to my house together. She already had her rucksack packed with stuff for the weekend. I told her about my Dad contacting me again, and she was suitably shocked.
When we arrived at my place I saw Mum looking out of her window, and when she saw us coming she opened the front door and signalled for us to go indoors quickly.
“It’s been a crazy day, unbelievable!” she said. “I even had some reporters trying to interview me on the checkout at work. How has it been for you?”
“The same,” I replied.
“Well, thank goodness we are leaving here for a few days. What do you think of all this, Karina?”
“Mum and I both hope that you get your house back. We’ve read the papers and it’s all so terrible, and they don’t even know the whole story.”
I looked at her then and knew she was talking about the Duncan’s and my silver cross.
“I’ve suggested to Lacy that we don’t switch on our mobile ’phones while we are away and we won’t have the telly on so that we can have a proper break, don’t you agree?” Mum replied.
“Okay, I’ll let my Mum know that I won’t be answering my ’phone. We’ll make sure Annabel does the same, as well.”
Mum turned to me. “I’ve sent the DNA tests off today, Lacy, for the super-fast service. The results may even be here when we get back.”
“Oh great!” I paused. “I just need to check on my computer quickly for any messages.”
I could see that Mum didn’t want me to, but I had to see if there was any response from my Dad. I was relieved to see that he had replied with:
“You’ve a right to be angry. If you want to talk to me my number is ,” and he gave his mobile number. I just responded with a quick email to say that I was going away for my birthday and would give him a call on my return, which would at least give me time to think about all the things that I wanted to say to him. Both Mum and Karina were watching my face as I came back downstairs.
“It’s all right, I’ve told Dad I’ll ring him when I get back.”
They both looked kind of relieved. We just had time for a quick meal, and then Annabel was ringing the doorbell outside. It instantly cheered me up to see her again. She gave us both a hug and then we very excitedly got into Crystal’s huge car and made ourselves comfortable. Mum sat in the front with Crystal and did her best to be polite while being interrogated most of the way to Gratestone about what had happened, and did she think she would get the house back in Lavender Road, despite dropping massive hints about trying to get away from it all and not having our TV or ’phones on while we were away.
The weather forecast was really quite promising, with no rain predicted, but it was already dark by the time we arrived and found our lovely caravan, which actually had central heating.
“I’m impressed,” said Crystal, as we showed her round. “I wouldn’t mind one of these myself.”
Then she went into reception and asked to see caravans that were for sale and we viewed some of the newest models with modern kitchens and en-suites, while she made a note of the prices. She finally left after making Annabel promise to be careful and arranging to pick us up after lunch on Sunday, and wishing me a happy birthday for tomorrow.
The first thing we did was to toss a coin to see who would share the double room with me, and it was Annabel. Then we wanted to have a look at the sea even though it was dark, so us three girls went to the beach while Mum unpacked her stuff, and we were gone for quite a while because I finally told Annabel about the whole story and the incident with the car on Wednesday, with Karina chipping in bits about the cross helping me, and speculating about whether the brothers had ever drunk in the Signalman’s Arms pub.
“I read the newspaper article,” Annabel said, “but it never said anything about that.”
Then I told Annabel about my father, and I felt so much better after telling her that it was like a great weight off my shoulders.
Karina added that her mother had managed to track down Paul Brent’s children, Valerie and Yvonne, who were living in Bridgwater, Somerset, and had written to them both. And she made a joke and told me to be careful what I wished for, because I had wanted to find more family and now they were crawling out of the woodwork.
“That’s gross!” I said to her, then she realised what she had said and we all laughed.
We went back to the caravan then and got all dressed up to go to the clubhouse for the night. I saw that the early evening entertainment was “Disco dancing in the dark”. The poster explained that everyone should wear their sparkly gear because they did party dances with the lights off. So we all went to the little shop there and bought ourselves three headbands that flashed when you turned them on, and had a great time sitting in chairs doing party dances just moving our arms and legs so that Annabel could join in, and then dancing around her. I’m sure people thought we were completely mad, as they had no idea why we were doing it. Mum was having a great time just watching us enjoy ourselves, and I saw her laughing with another lady nearby.
After that was a group singing who were actually quite good, and Mum allowed us to have one glass of wine each which made us even more giggly, before we all bought burgers and went back to the caravan. I was already feeling so much better, and Mum looked happier, too.