A run in the dark
Headlong down a narrow entry between
two high brick walls. Claustrophobic.
Black, only a faint strip of light above.
Runaway feet reverberating.
Eeeeaaawww! Something leaps beneath me.
Shy away, thud into one wall,
rebound onto the other, end in a heap.
Oh, just a cat… and I’ve given Paul the slip.
As I pick myself up I remember how she stood
distraught between my warring older brothers.
Mike landed a blow on Paul who pushesd her
into the standard lamp, its light swaying crazily.
“Paul, dear, do stoppit… Oh!”
I was pummelling Paul: “Leave Mum alone!”
“You little fool! I’ll give you more than a black eye.
I’ll kill you, d’you hear, KILL you – ”
Racing off into the night I was aware of the
startled expression of Mr Green from next door
who I passed at our front gate.
Much later, in case Paul is still lying in wait
out front I clamber over our rear fence
every inch the hero and open the back door.
She looks up from ironing. She’s been crying.
“Where have you been? How could you be so silly?”
“Why did you run away? Paul didn’t chase you.
We all went round calling for hours.Your father was
so annoyed. If you hadn’t stuck your oar in
it would have blown over by the time he got home.”
A straggly strand of hair has fallen across her brow.
She brushes it back with a jerky movement of her arm.
“Well, don’t stand there like a lost soul.”
Balancing the iron on its stand, she comes towards me.
“Just look at you, you’re filthy.”
Starts dusting down my jeans.
“Such a fuss with Mr Nosey Parker Green watching.”
Runs her fingers through my matted hair.
“Anyway, you’d better bathe that eye of yours.”
Dad looks out of the living room as I burst
through the hall, throwing myself up the stairs.
In the bathroom he prises the flannel from my eye.
“Mm, not too bad. Now, was it Paul who hit you?”
“It was nothing, Dad, honestly. All my fault.
I was silly, really very foolish…”