Sunday, February 13, 2005


The Woods

"Right, see you later then"

"OK then.” His mums’ voice shouted from the kitchen. “Where are you going again?”

"Oh, uhm, just going for a walk. It seems like a nice day… you know."

"See you later then"

"Right see ye."

David closed the door and the framed glass window clattered inside its wooden frame.
He walked away scuffing his feet onto the sidewalk, shoes clobbering the ground, the sound echoing in the quiet Cul-de-sac, wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. The grey slabs of concrete, kept clean and dusted, drew a heavy white outline against the pressed black tar of the pathway. He walked quickly to the end of the road wanting to get as clear from the zone as possible. The end of the road was knocked off by a concrete posted fence hammered into the edges of the school field opposite. The patchy grass was worn from the daily scrapings of the local children. The posts stood seven feet tall but the jump was manageable due to the edge of the street being raised and two feet from the top. The webbed posts pressed to the edge. Just the right height for David to jump down comfortably. After a brief pause worrying about the height and the impact of his feet on the ground he took off and landed with a ground shuddering thump. Looking around he saw a stile in the corner over which he planned to cross and walk across what he remembered was a farmers’ field in the distance. He remembered being too afraid to cross into the field as a child even though other boys did and came back with exiting tales of scrumping apples from the nearby orchard. The orchard was now an extension of the Brent Hill housing estate. It was now lawned and walled off. Pleasant kids now resided within organised confinements playing with bright shiny toys and parents who called them in with soft pale skin and polite friendly voices.

He just wanted to walk and not think, just smell the air and get away from things a bit. He had come visiting his mother and her husband Eddie but the more time he spent in the dense atmosphere the more he gravitated towards the windows wanting to be out there. Strange how just walking out of the front door brings new life to body and mind. Stressed out by piles of neatly folded and stored clothes, ornaments displayed in nice order, careful talk about jobs and money. The mock furniture and low hanging lights that seemed placed to knock into his head as he walked around, pacing up and down. He didn't want to sit and have a ‘discussion’. He could feel a headache coming .

David walked in a straight line towards the style, making a diagonal route across the field, walking past the football posts, eyes gazing at the white paint flaking off the warped angular wooden structure. Walking over the bare patches of earth where studs had scalped the grass and had laid bare smooth craters of dry mud he spied ants scurrying around and diving down into the cracks where his fingers prodded.

Memories of knocking footballs against the post, of leaping and headering crosses, of a by now idealised sense of childhood when he had time to play.

The clouds were smudged like dabs of margarine across the blue sky. Nothing moved but a distant plane, the small toy figure squeezing a curved white line of paste into a semi-circle shape.

Trudging through the long grass in the corner of the field, the tips standing as swords charging in a wave of green reflections.

David stepped over the old wooden style with no problem, his long legs swinging over and managing to avert the prickly hedge. Up there at a higher level he caught a brief glimpse of a gathering of trees in the distance.

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