My Childhood Short Story

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The story of my own childhood is a complicated sentence that I am always trying to finish, to finish and put behind me. It resists finishing, and partly this is because words are not enough; my early world was synaesthesic, and I am haunted by the ghosts of my own sense impressions, which re-emerge when I try to write, and shiver between the lines. This is the first thing I remember. I am sitting up in my pram. We are outside, in the park called Bankswood. My mother walks backwards. I hold out my arms because I don’t want her to go. She says she’s only going to take my picture. I don’t understand why she goes backwards, back and aslant, tacking to one side. The trees overhead make a noise of urgent conversation, too quick to catch; the leaves…show more content…
I think I am going to die. I have breathed in a house-fly, I think I have. The fly was in the room and my mouth open because I was putting into it a sweet. Then the fly was nowhere to be seen. It manifests now as a tickling and scraping on the inside of my throat, the side of my throat that’s nearest to the kitchen wall. I sit with my head down and my arms on my knees. Flies are universally condemned and said to be laden with filth, crawling with germs, therefore what more sure way to die than to swallow or inhale one? There is another possibility, which I turn and examine in my brain: perhaps the tickling in my throat is the sweet itself, which is a green sweet from a box of assorted candy called Weekend. Probably I shouldn’t have eaten this one, but a jelly kind or fudge, more suitable for a child, and if I had hesitated and said I want the green one someone would have said, ‘That’s bad for you,’ but now I’m on the stairs not knowing whether it’s green sweet or fly. The fear of death stirs slowly within my chest cavity, like a stewpot lazily bubbling. I feel sorrow; I am going to miss seeing my grandparents and everyone else I know. I wonder whether I should mention the fact that I am dying, either from a fly or a green sweet. I decide to keep it to myself, as there won’t be anything anyone can do. It will be kinder for them; but I feel lonely, here on the stairs with my future shortening. I curse the moment I opened my…show more content…
He puts on his checked sports coat and I shout: ‘Grandad is wearing his beer jacket.’ He puts on his suede shoes and I shout: ‘Grandad has put on his beer shoes.’ He takes up the pitcher from the kitchen shelf and I shout: ‘Grandad is taking his beer jug.’ However mild his habits, however temperate, I can’t be stopped from chronicling his deeds. The likes of a woman wouldn’t go in the Red Lamp. My grandfather knows about English things such as Robin Hood and Harvest Festival; I sit on his knee as he hums ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. My grandmother says: ‘George, teaching that child Protestant hymns!’ I dip my finger in his beer to taste it. For high days I have a thimble-sized glass to drink port. My grandmother says: ‘George, teaching that child to drink!’ Slowly, slowly, we are pulling away from hearth and home and into the real world. My grandfather is a railway man and has been to Palestine. The spellings he teaches me include trick far-off towns such as Worcester and Gloucester: I cannot write, but no matter. As a grandfather, he knows the wherefores of cotton production, not just the facts of working in the mill. He knows about the American slaves and the Confederacy; also of a giant, name of Gazonka, who lives on a hill outside Glossop. Grandad has ancestors; unlike Irish people, who don’t know our correct birthdays even. One of his ancestors suppressed a riot by laying low a man called Murphy, a thug at the head
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