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|The Still Wind (standard:drama, 4974 words)|
|Author: MartinC||Added: Mar 16 2012||Views/Reads: 2951/1843||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A Small boy grows up in west London in the 60s|
Childhood memories are entangled. They coalesce and mingle like the colours of Neapolitan ice cream left out on a summer's afternoon. As we age they become non-linear. That part of us, that fraction of our very existence slips away and we become less as a result. So when I look back and feel for the fragments of what was once a continuous experience it becomes flawed. Smells, sounds and sights reorder themselves; slip into and through each other and mislead me. It's as if our senses are a window of fixed width traveling across the present. When I remember that fog I'm sure it was the thickest fog of my life! And that it happened when I was at junior school. Did that fog fall in the winter or spring preceding my last summer? I don't know. But it suits me to think it did. I do remember that Brandon was there with me. Walking to school. That route, walked every school-day for three and a half years, straight along the main road on which my small house stood until I reached the unimaginatively named School Road. That main road is still there and I can check it on a map if I want. School Road too. But of the junior and infant school nothing remains. The road was, even then it seemed, busy with busses, cars and lorries. Trucks full of pigs turning off to disgorge their smelly, squealing cargoes; smaller, liveried vans coming the other way with packs of sausages and bacon. The road crossed the canal and dived under the railway then passed on the left the factory behind the railings that printed maps. On warm days the printers would throw open a large pair of frosted windows that allowed a glimpse of the noisy ineffable interior. If we climbed the railings we could just see in. The presses would be disgorging huge maps of the world. The biggest I've ever seen. The whole world spat out every five seconds. Faster even than God could manage. As the print works ended the offices began. The factory was black brick and closed but the offices were bright and glassy with a door that said ‘PUSH'. The reception was a circular building and from the ceiling hung a massive globe. I used to peer up at the southern hemisphere taking in Antarctica, Australasia and South America. I never saw the northern hemisphere - that view was reserved for those lucky enough to climb the stairs towards the first floor offices. I wondered if it had ever fallen off onto any of the visitors. I imagined it plummeting earthwards, without irony, and rolling around crushing people. Brandon said it turned like the real Earth but that it was timed so that when we passed in the morning and afternoon it had just turned once. For while I believed him. The truth was more mundane. It used to turn but had malfunctioned and nobody had bothered to fix it. Brandon ran ahead in the fog. When he had run ten yards I could no longer see him. He would lunge back into view screaming. The fog dulled his shouts. It dulled the sounds of traffic too. Engine noise was muted and passed slowly. Cars with headlights like candles in Marmite jars crept past almost as slowly as we were walking. When a 266 bus suddenly appeared from the gloom, all its lights on, it looked like like a shop or an office passing by. The passengers peered out of the windows, wiping the condensation away trying to see if they were nearing their stop. I wanted to run too. I wanted to see if I ran fast enough whether somehow I'd be somewhere else completely. Anything was possible in the fog. The turning to the left; maybe it doesn't go to the sub-post office today. Today perhaps it leads somewhere magical - somewhere outside of time where something, anything at all, could lie just beyond the visible now. My younger brother Peter was scared of the fog and screamed the one time I went out of his sight. Brandon didn't have a brother and so he could run as fast as he liked. Mum told me to hold Peter's hand all the way to school. But that was sissy. When we got to the playground it was filling with friends and classmates. All were excited by the unfamiliarity of the usually mundane asphalt space. There was a shout from somewhere invisible. A boy ran into our group holding a ball. Look, he shouted, there are millions of them. He aimed the small black sphere at the ground and threw. It bounced and shot over our heads and eight small faces snapped upwards to watch it disappear into the murk. It returned to joint incredulity. Someone whistled a slow appreciative note. The boy said, There's loads of ‘em by the wall, and he turned back and ran. He was lost in seconds. We followed and saw that he wasn't exaggerating. There Click here to read the rest of this story (346 more lines)
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