Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


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A random flash of childhood memories

I can’t be more than five or six. Johnny Drake and his sister, and maybe some other kids from the bottom of the hill, came to ask if we wanted to go swimming at Clark’s Pond, or was it Shoal Pond? I knew I wasn’t allowed to go because there weren’t any adults. They were a couple of years older, but still not old enough. I loved swimming, though, so I went. Now I’m hiding, still wet, under my bed in my favourite swimsuit, black on the bottom and white with black alphabet letters scattered around on top. I can hear them calling for me. I know I’ll be in trouble when they find me.

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I’m maybe 10. I’m sitting in my favourite tree, on my favourite branch. Often I climb trees with my brothers, but today I’m by myself. I like it up here alone.

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I’m eight. I’m in my white communion dress and veil. My Aunt Tess gives me a gift, which I take in my white-gloved hands. It’s a pretty white rosary and a prayer book.

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I’m 12. It’s recess, or maybe before school starts. The older boys are picking on Jerry again. They are so mean. They are in a circle and throwing him back and forth between them, laughing. It’s not funny. It’s horrible. There are so many kids around, older mostly because we are in grade 7 and the school goes up to grade 12, but nobody does anything. I watch and then, unable to bear it anymore, I scream, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” They stop. Everyone stops. I don’t normally speak. I’m usually very quiet so this is not normal to them. Or to me. Then one of the boys, Chickie, comes over to me, puts his hand around my collar and roughly pushes back against the cement wall behind me. “You’re lucky your father’s the principal here.” Words come out, but I don’t know what I say. He glares and I’m afraid, but I do my best to try not to look it. After what seems like an eternity, he lets me go and walks away. Jerry is nowhere to be seen.

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I’m about 11. It’s winter and the school is out for a sledding day on the hill to the north of the field by the school. Charlene and I are on a red Crazy Carpet. Is it mine or is it hers? She’s on the back and the toes of my boots are stuck through the handle. The cold air whips my face as we careen down the hill, gaining air from snow-covered bumps and laughing as only children can, even when we land hard.

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I was seven. It was Boxing Day. The phone rang early. It was still dark. My Mom was crying. There was a fire in the Goulds, in the Home where Aunt Normie, her youngest sister, lived. She didn’t make it. None of them did. My Mom was sad a lot after that.

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I was six. We are on our way back from the Goulds to St. Lawrence. We stop in to see Aunt Normie on our way. She gives the wettest, sloppiest kisses, and she laughs and smiles a lot so, even though I complain about the kisses, I don’t mind. She’s a grown up, but she’s more fun that regular grown ups.

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