I took out my purse and counted what I had. 8 pounds, 9 shillings and sixpence. Plus a pound a week in pay.

My optimism of the weekend had been checked. I now looked at this meagre collection of coins and tried to calculate how long it would last me if I scrimped and saved.

Someone knocked on the door. “Come in,” I said.

Charlie entered. He’d avoided me since our trip into town two days ago. I told myself it was best that he did, but it still felt lonely.

“Don’t mind mum,” he said, sitting down on the bed. “And put this stuff away.” He gathered up the coins, put them in the purse, and laid the purse on my lap, folding my hands over it while I watched him mutely.

I felt my eyes well with tears. I had never been a cryer. My friends used to joke I had a heart of stone because we’d watched Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet in Year 9 and I had been the only one in my class who hadn’t cried. And yet, here I was, preparing to blub again.

“Hey, shh,” said Charlie. “Don’t cry, odd ‘un.” He put his hand up under my chin so he could brush my cheek with his thumb.

I leaned back and his hand dropped. He blinked twice, brow furrowed. “Anyway,” he said, getting up and brushing his hands down his trousers, “don’t worry about the rent. I’ll have a chat with mum and fix with her what she needs.” He hesitated, hand on the doorjamb. “See you at tea.”

I nodded wordlessly.

Uh oh, Charlie. Watch out for your heart. ;o [A Fair Measure of Happiness]