A day that Never happened in a time that never was


There were the four of us: my mother, full of conversation of summer and shadow; my father, tall, with iron black hair, parted to the right, on top of his handsome set features; silently knowing, yet hardly speaking. My sister, Laura, tall and austere, and myself, or “grasshopper” as my sis called me. Looking back it was an apt name; for there was I... just eight years old, a bold brave knight of old, surrounded by giants, trying to hop, skip and jump the tall ochre grass, as it’s seeds broke free from their husks, gathered like birds in autumn, to then float upon the ether; defying gravity, they floated up past my head, away from my hands and away and away they went; set upon a secret journey of their own. It was the annual picnic; a day when Dad could leave his duties of the police station behind, and mum could forget her duties at the vicarage; and we could spend time together as a family. The only one who was put out by it was Laura, who wanted to visit her friend Louise, which is why she was tormenting me with the “grasshopper” comment. So it was that despite a slight altercation between Mum and Laura, we set off, at a little after midday, over the fence at the back of our house, and then across the dray lane, to the open field. In looking back, I have to admit that it was a rare and special thing that my father had any time off at all; for being a policeman in a small village in West Sussex meant, at least for me, meant one thing... That Dad spent all his time behind a dark door, at the end of an ice cold hall. But today was special; Today I spent with My dad, holding his huge hand in mine, feeling loved and forever wanted, as Mum put the red check blanket upon the floor; then opened the cool bag to reveal plastic boxes full of sandwiches delicately cut into triangles, Tupperware containers full of pickles, tomato relish, potato salad and olives, followed by bottles of Beer for Dad and lemonade, freshly made for us. The Long ochre grass blew as we played on that hot summer day of August the tenth 1976. The sky was a crystal blue, and no clouds dared to break our mood; I recall the gentle grating of the grasshoppers and the chirrup of the sweeping summer birds, as they twisted and turned overhead; as we chased the butterflies away. I recall we were delighted in their delicate thunder as their beautifully coloured paper thin wings, first thrust down, then, caught the breeze to float up, turn first to the left, and then to the right, meet together on the wing, before finally falling like a delicate zephyrs breath around us. Oh, how we laughed... Everything, absolutely everything about that day felt great and I felt happy, truly, truly happy... which was all the more significant, because it was this balmy hot summers day in August, that my life was forever to be altered. Laura, had forgotten about meeting with Louise, and I laughing, hot, sweaty spent and exhausted collapsed from all our play. Smiling, I closed my eyes, wishing to the icy cold darkness that this day would never end, for I felt that this day was simply and totally complete. In the darkness I could hear the plastic click of the lids and the clinking of the empty beer bottles, being put back in the cool-bag, but it was not that which interested me; it was when I opened my eyes once more and saw the dark strained look that masked my dear father’s face. It was then that he told us that his duty here had ended and that we had to leave our home in the country. Gone would be the autumn apple picking and the face of Sarah, my first love, shining down upon me. Gone would be the numbness of my frozen feet, in those heavy wellington boots, on bonfire night, as would be gone with it, the shiny orange faces almost burnt by the flames of the torches, as we marched in the winter parade. Gone would be the fireworks, blistering the velvet night sky like crystallised diamond specks which twinkled down, like angels wings upon us. And also gone would be the great Christmas cheer, when St Nick came thundering down the high street, his eyes full, his plump face exited, to give the gifts he had hidden under his large red cloak... Gone too would be the spring, and the Easter hunt, that Mum and Father Thomas spent most of the winter planning... Gone would be with all of these delicate fragrances of the seasons that seemed to compress upon each other, to make my life complete... My father didn’t explain that he had been offered a promotion to the C.I.D; nor did he tell us where we were to move to, at least then. I recall the slowly setting sun, and my Mum looking down into the blue cool bag; I saw how sad she looked, but age has taught me that she was standing by him, telling both of us that it was for the best... yet... there was something inside of me that felt what she was saying was untrue. That was the beginning of it...and that was the end of it... the point I can, with all clarity, say that my childhood came to an end.

#childhood #futurefantasy

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