The School Run

April 11, 2010
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He still had her picture in his pocket, it was safer there anyway. Protected from the smeary fingers and guttural whisperings of the others; though what they’d give for a look at this creature, this porcelain doll with the never ending milk-white legs and the blue eyes you could drown in. But he could never do that, never flaunt her like that. You don’t do that to your own mother.

Boys cluster on the driveway; shoving, clamouring like magpies. Excitement and illicit cigarette smoke pepper the morning air. The parents approach, fathers in starched suits, underneath the swellings of stomachs, the mothers anxious yet ecstatic, arms extended. Youngsters saunter up self-conscious, accepting kisses with apparent aloofness.

He waits proudly, almost suave with his hair slicked smooth and his clean blue shirt and tie. These woman with ugly blotched faces and fleshy limbs, surely aren’t the same species as his mother. He shivers with anticipation…think how they will stare, how envious they will all be. It will no longer matter that he stumbled along like a broken puppet when he ran, or that he wore thick spectacles. His dazzling mother would be his saving grace. He could smell the sweet warmth of her skin, and feel her undulating hair beneath his fingertips. He adjusted his tie, and stood straight like a squirrel awaiting a peanut.

The time passes, and the families disperse, skittering as autumn leaves. He stands apart from the few others, his eyes huge and distant.
“She ain’t coming, is she?”
“Just a minute more, she’ll be here,” he murmured, almost inaudibly, “she promised,”
He whispers it over and over inside his head like an enchantment. But she does not come. His heart curls over, he feels his blood slow in his veins with disappointment and melancholy.
“She ain’t coming, is she?” they chorus again, the words smarting.

The viscous blood thuds rapidly in his ears and he’s engulfed in sadness, ducking away from the other boys he runs for what seems forever until the taste of vomit rises at the back of his throat and he can go no further.
He embraces his broken frame, curling into a ball, he tastes saltwater. But he’s had so much practice no-one could tell he’s crying any longer, and anyway who would care? He escapes in his mind- somewhere, anywhere, nowhere- and drifts to forget.





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