Mum is busy cooking and I’m hungry. She hands me some peanuts. The grease speckles the brown paper bag and I know I can’t reach inside yet. I run to the living room to find Dad. A fold in the hallway rug trips me and I’m falling. My mouth hits the pipe of the radiator. Then there is pain and blood. Lots of blood. I start to scream. Somehow I’m now lying with my head cradled in Mum’s lap in the back of the car. I’m vaguely aware Dad is driving fast, as crimson seeps into the lilac of Mum’s angora jumper mixed with snot and tears.
I take a big breath and pull the shirt on. Its coarseness makes me shudder and I quickly grab my tie and cardigan; both bottle green. I still feel the newness of my shirt an hour later. It distracts me from the monotone of the history teacher. I don’t know which I dislike more.
The red glow of the gas fire does little to heat the damp room, but we’re all warm and loud with alcohol. Someone has turned the music on loud. It’s Ian Drury. Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. I sing along. Val says, “I’m starving.” Ash goes off to get the sliced bread and margarine from the kitchen. He then bends in front of the fire and slams some pieces of bread against the protective wire. Within minutes the room fills with the smell of burning toast.
Laughter drifts across the stream. The weekend and the heatwave has brought droves of people to the Yorkshire countryside. We’re lying on a patch of grass in the midst of the heather looking up at the hazy blue sky. Steve’s Mini Cooper S throws a lengthening shadow behind us. He has a cigarette between his lips and we’ve both got cans of warm beer. Even though our chatter is frivolous, I think foremost in both our minds is, should we or shouldn’t we?