The Train: Part Two.

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

There are KitKats in the fridge. One only, understand?” She had past caring, even for her own son.

The alarm sounded on the tiny travel clock and, as he leaned over to stop it, the fluorescent green pointers confirmed his dread. Seven thirty.

The upside, it was Friday. The downside, it was still a school day and it was also P.E. Two-one to the downside.

He thought about pulling the duvet over his head but this was equally defeated by the consideration of a cuffing from Mr Morton for being late.

Counting to ten, he steeled himself for the emergence into the cold air of his bedroom. The transom above his door glowed, the illuminated rectangle indicating that his Dad was on dayshift; at least there would be a fire in the grate.

He skipped to the bathroom barefoot and turned on the tap. The steam from the water indicated he was right. Hot water meant fire. Not that he would partake of the bathing facilities of the tiny bathroom. He turned off the tap and rubbed his face with the cold, damp facecloth. The musty smell of his father, combined with that of Imperial Leather, filled his nostrils.

Returning to his room, he quickly pulled on his uniform in two moves. Trousers in one, combined shirt, tie and jumper in the other. A operation he’d perfected in two terms at Bothal Middle School. He shoved his stockinged feet into the black slip-ons by the bed and vaulted down the stairs three at a time. A muffled voice sounded from behind him.

“You’ll break your fucking neck one day. Don’t forget breakfast.” He stopped at the bottom, turned and repeated the move in an upward direction. Entering the dim adjacent bedroom, he could just make out the faint outline of the person occupying the double bed. Carefully, he mounted the bed and hugged the frail frame of his mother.

“I won’t, Mam,” he whispered, inhaling the sickly smell of illness and medication that had engulfed the room six months earlier.

“What? Break your neck or forget breakfast,” the woman chuckled, ruffling her son’s hair. Taking his face in her bony hands she pulled him close. “Cat’s lick this morning?”

“No, Mam. A proper wash. The water was fucking boiling!” He froze at the errant profanity that had escaped his mouth. The punishment didn’t come. Instead the woman pushed him away weakly.

“What am I going to do with you? There are KitKats in the fridge. One only, understand?” She had past caring, even for her own son.

“Mint! Thanks Mam. See you at teatime,” he called, repeating his death-defying leap down the stairs. Picking up his heavy school bag, he pulled the front door shut just as the carer turned up. She’d have to use the keysafe he thought as he vaulted the back fence onto the railway track. This shortcut meant an extra, precious, twenty minutes in bed and avoided the attention of the bullies.

As he trudged along the gently curving track, picking up ballast and imagining the damage the dense stone would do to John Cuthbert’s head; he noticed a figure crouched by the line ahead.

1 Comment

  1. kenchildse3dc1bd91f

    Again intriguing


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