July 8th 2019.
I’ve been sleeping along with my brothers in a small, upstairs bedroom in an unfamiliar terraced house. Dad is downstairs. He is making a lot of noise in the kitchen. “Come on! Get up!” He is in a strange mood.
I shuffle around the house in a blue sleeping bag quite disoriented.
July 11th 2019.
Climbing over railings, crossing the street.
“Be very careful, one slip and you could fall.”
Waiting for a bus to Charmouth.
But I begin to wonder if one goes there from here.
(wherever ‘here’ is)
July 14th 2019.
I find myself in Belfast (though I’ve never been). Perhaps it is another time? I’ve been hiding in an attic room for some weeks now. Again, I’m in a sleeping bag [!]. I can hear boots in the streets. There is a tiny window set just beneath the eaves and from here, on tip-toe, I can see a troop or army unit gathered at the top of the cobbled streets. The soldiers are dressed in camouflage. Their faces are streaked green and brown, but they wear Bowler hats. Some have great feathers pluming from their hat. Little children, also in camouflage, run in and out of the assembled soldiers. They are excited and remind me of rats or little hunting dogs.
The attic door opens and a woman in a dressing gown comes in. She is half asleep and her hair is all mussed up. It is the woman who lives next door to the bookshop down the road. “Are they coming?” she says. We watch the soldiers for a while through the window as they gather in number. Directions are given, orders. Several of the child-soldiers start running down the length of the street toward the house. “Yes.”
Strangely, I have time to dress and shower and pack my things. We kiss at the backdoor and I cut across a yard, over a fence and land in tall grass. A river runs by. There is a blue canoe tied to a tree with a length of string. It ranges on the water. The paddles have sunny faces painted on the blades, they make me laugh as they rise in and out of the water. I can hear gunfire, but it is far, far away.