Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Secret Things By Bobby Stevenson

for Fiona - you like a story to make you cry :-)

She awoke, as she did every morning to the sound of the muffled, shouting voice and the door being unlocked before it was repeatedly kicked.

Slivers of sunlight were all that her young eyes could understand until she reached for the old spectacles that were her only possession.

She was in the garden shed, this was where she lived.

There was another kick, usually when her father had just finished his rollup cigarette.
She reached up to remove the old stinking blanket that covered the window. The morning light did what it always did – the shock of it burned her eyes at first. Sometimes the blanket was just her window curtain, but on frozen nights it was her life saver. It just meant that she would awaken with her father’s face looking through the window – her privacy gone.

In the kitchen, her father and grandmother danced around each other; the dance of the bully and the gentle old lady. When the old woman’s daughter had disappeared, she had decided to wait on her return. As the months became years, she still had hope burning in her heart. The bully knew better, he didn’t expect his wife to come back.

The grandmother was limited in what she could do to keep her granddaughter safe but leaving was not an option. They had tried that and he had tracked both of them down, and both were badly beaten.

He took them to the hospital afterwards and told the doctor that they had been attacked by a burglar. The doctor knew from the bully’s eyes what the truth was.

If it was a particularly cold night, the grandmother would take the young girl into her room for a few warm hours. By the morning, she had to be returned to the shed; the young girl’s sin being that she reminded the bully of her mother.

The little lost girl in her dishevelled clothes would leave her shed and look through the kitchen window. When her father was reading the newspaper, her grandmother would signal that she could enter and come to the table.
The young girl would sit very still with her arms by her side and wait to be told when to move.

Her grandmother would place toast beside the girl and then ruffle her hair.
The little lost girl would eat the dry toast as her grandmother would leave a glass of milk for her granddaughter. But on this morning, as the little girl reached for the milk, she knocked it over.
The quiet old lady and the little lost girl watched as the milk ran towards, then under, her father’s newspaper.
The bully jumped, screwed up the wet newspaper, threw it at the little girl, knocking her from her stool.

Before she left for school her grandmother stuck a plaster on the cut on her forehead. The bully long gone, she kissed her granddaughter and ruffled her hair then gave her a few coins to spend.

On the bus she sat alone drawing pictures in the window condensation.
As three older girls passed her, they laughed, held their noses and then spat on the little girl. A kindly woman took out a paper handkerchief and handed it to the little lost one. The little girl wiped the spit away, then put the hanky in her pocket.

In the class, she sat as she did at the breakfast table with her arms by her side. She sat alone.
The teacher handed out exam results to each pupil and behind the little girl, a classmate held her nose letting everyone know of the smell.

The class laughed until the teacher told them to quieten.

The teacher placed the young girl’s result on her desk: 10 out of 10 – ‘excellent’.
The girl behind her stole the paper and threw it around the class. One boy ripped the paper into pieces.
When the class emptied, the little girl put the pieces of her exam result in her pocket.

At lunchtime, the young girl walked to the cafe and bought chips with the money her grandmother had given her. The woman in the cafe smiled as the little girl smiled back.

Hungrily the girl walked and ate her chips before bumping into someone. It was one of the older girls who snatched the little girl’s food and threw it to her friends. One tipped the chips on to the street then they walked away laughing.
The little girl picked up her chip paper and put it in her pocket.

Later that day, the little girl sat in the kitchen at the table with her grandmother. She drew a beautiful picture with her crayons.

Then a door slammed and the grandmother motioned her granddaughter to go out the kitchen door – quickly.
In the shed the young girl hung the blanket over her window once more, just as her father put a lock on the shed door. He made sure it was locked solid.

Under her bedding was a torch which the young girl switched on. She then took the papers and hanky from her pocket and the plaster from her forehead.

With a little pot of glue, all these things were stuck to a larger object.
The object was made up of bits of this and that. The little lost girl had built something out of all the badness that had come her way.

As she shone the torch up towards the object, she smiled at what she has made.
She had built an angel which reached to the roof and watched over her.

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