Jerry came bounding across the road, barking loudly, jumping up into Margaret’s arms, licking her face, scratching her coat with his paws. After a few minutes of affection, he jumped on to the pavement, devouring what was left of the dog biscuits, the majority of which were strewn across the busy road. Not wanting Jerry to run further than he should, Margaret called him back, to where she was sitting. Jerry settled eagerly on her lap, burying his head into the lining of her jacket, trying to get comfortable. He was the most important thing in her life; gently a tear spilt from her eye as she squeezed her friend tightly, not wanting to let go. ‘Just you and me against the World Jerry. We’ll live to fight another day,’ she murmured in his ear!
Margaret could see Tommy as he reappeared from the top of Dockside Mews. Lifting her head as high as she could, trying to look through the group of onlookers, she could just make out his waving hands, followed by a thumbs up. Tommy turned his back, this time waving in the opposite direction; finally he turned, facing Margaret once again, running around the corner of Tesco and across the road, still waving as he went. ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, Mrs Marsh is OK,’ he bellowed, shouting louder and louder, as he ran towards her.
At that moment an ambulance turned into the road. The lights were flashing, but there was no sound, as the paramedics parked along side Margaret and her upturned trolley. With a sigh, she looked down, not wanting to make eye contact with the crew, as they alighted the vehicle.
“Hello Marg, how are you?’ Said the driver, as he hopped out of the cab.
“I’m fine thank you, just a bit of bother, you know how it is. A quick spruce up and I’ll be on me way,’ she replied, still looking at the pavement floor. If she caught his eye, he’d know she was worse than she claimed. Margaret was well known in the local area and had been picked up by the emergency services before; all of them knew her by name. Marg kind of liked the attention, especially as she had very little contact with people throughout the day. Fiercely independent, she always refused to go ‘inside,’ as she called it. At her age, she may never get out again; the streets were her domain, it’s all she knew!
“Let me be the judge of that Marg; this is Mary, she’s new on the job today, she’ll clean you up, while I just run a few tests. Lets get you in the back of the ambulance,’ the Paramedic instructed.
Retorting defensively, Margaret argued her corner. As a proud Eastender, it’s what she did best “What about Jerry, I can’t leave him out here on his own. I wont go unless he can sit with me,” she demanded!
Winding his way through the crowd, Tommy reached the back of the Ambulance. "Shift, get out of my way, I need to make sure my friend is OK." he cried pushing his way to where Margaret was perched. "I look after ya dog Lady; just let them check you over; I have some news for ya." he continued.
Marg gingerly moved her head towards Tommy, looking up towards his face. They both smiled at one another, instantly she knew it would be alright. She had no idea who this young boy was, but despite his age, she felt she could trust him. He had looked out for her, not something she was used too. The younger generation of today would have walked on by, but not Tommy!
She picked up Jerry, ever so gently and handed him to the young lad. "You be good, you hear. Hold him tight youngen, he’s a feisty one." she warned.
"OK, OK I will, just do as the Ambulance man wants. Jerry will be safe with me, then we can go and see Annie." Tommy replied, grinning from side to side. Margaret shook her head as she was escorted into the back of the van.
"We’ll see youngen, we’ll see. Don’t move, stand just where you are, so I can see you," Marg said. The doors closed and the group of onlookers began to disperse. Finally just Tommy was left at the side of the road, holding Jerry close, trying to pick up the contents of Margaret’s cart. With Jerry under one arm, he used his other hand to retrieve what he could, piece by piece, placing each item neatly into the back of the trolley; Tommy just wanted to help. Margaret was his new friend and he was hers; it’s what mates do for one another! Both of them felt close, brought together through circumstances: a bond formed through adversity, another story to tell!