Tag Archives: Detention

A Walk To Remember: Age Fourteen… I Think

15 Nov

I remember years ago, back when I was fourteen or fifteen. It was one of those days, a day of absolute rubbish followed by an after school detention. So I sat in a classroom staring at the clock for an hour, pleading for time to run away from me or the school to explode, one of the two.

Finally I could leave and I left the school grounds, zipping my coat up and dawdling on my way home. I’ve never been a power walker and despite the cold weather, I took my time as I made my way past the lake, smiling as I spotted the ducks and swans.

Yes, I’m one of those people and I think I have my mum to blame for that. She has quite a tree hugging mentality when it comes to animals that quack. Except cross out ‘tree hugger’ and imagine a middle aged lady, with dark hair, red lips and a Peggy Mitchell walk who wants to hug those swans and ducks while protecting them forever and ever.

After the lake, I walk through an underpass bleeding graffiti. It was a melting pot of colour and art until the council painted over it in khaki green. I hear the traffic above the underpass as I turn left and climb the slight hill. It’s quite a happy version of a slope; I remember standing at the top when I was ten in a pair of purple rollerblades fighting with my thoughts.

I wasn’t pleased with the prospect I was faced with, having to roll down that hill so close to the water’s edge. I didn’t have very long to make a decision because before I knew it I was propelling toward the water, where the lake gently broke into a winding river. I could hear my little brother calling me; I was a runaway child with my flyaway blonde hair caught in the breeze as I suddenly remembered my rollerblades had breaks.

I smile at that memory, reaching the top of the slope by the nursing home. No, I never did greet that water headfirst; I guess that’s why rollerblades have breaks. My nose is instantly assaulted by the stench of food and throws me back to the days of primary school dinners, when the food smelt like it had been waiting for one hundred days and nights to be eaten by greedy kids with cheeky smiles.

I feel sorry for the elderly who live in that home, I did a work placement there, but it hasn’t happened yet, that’s in a few years time.

Gazing in the windows as I drag my feet along the dull path, I’m now forced to admit I’m also one of those people. I like to stare inside houses I pass by but it’s nothing sinister, not at all. I’m only incredibly curious and yes, that’s why I glance in windows of those who are seemingly allergic to blinds and net curtains. I see people watching TV, making dinner, playing with their kids and I stuff my hands in my pockets, its cold out here.

Soon enough I leave the street and there’s a pathway that leads straight ahead. It runs past a play park, a stone’s throw away from the housing estate I live on. My weary feet welcome the thought of arriving home and as I leisurely stroll up another slight slope of concrete, I send a withering glare down at my school shoes. They’re ugly and I suddenly wish I lived on a farm so I could feed them to the pigs.

Amused by that thought, I casually glance to my left when I reach the park. Something catches my eye, two figures in black stood on the hill by a sea of shrubbery. I hear raised voices, they’re arguing but I can’t hear the words, only angry panic from their lips.

My feet are rooted to the spot, the two men look over and our eyes meet. From head to toe they wear somber clothing, black issue army boots and balaclavas hide their identity. I don’t know what worries me more, the fact they start to whisper quickly to each other or because I interrupted them throwing something in the bushes.

I’m walking again before I know what’s happening, my brain repeating one word firmly in my mind: Hurry.

This is the only time I ever listened to myself, the voice in my head that speaks common sense is often left frustrated, but that afternoon with the darkness sweeping in and the temperature plummeting, I listened and did as I was told. I picked up my pace, glancing over my shoulder as I marched along the shortcut leading to the row of houses, signaling I was almost home. A small part of me was worried the men would follow in case I told anyone, yet a much larger part of my brain quickly started to forget about the encounter. Out of sight, out of mind is a phrase that rings true when I think of myself and I was soon home. Opening the front door, I kicked off my shoes, tossed my school bag against the wall and greeted my mum.

“How was school?” She asked.

“Crap.” I answered.

“How was detention?” She tried again, probably wondering what she had done to deserve such a sullen daughter.

“Crap.” Was my answer as I climbed the stairs, destined for a piping hot shower.

I never mentioned to my parents what I’d witnessed and the next day, early that morning while I walked to school with two friends, I retold the tale and just had to climb up that hill by the park and search the bushes. Littered across the muddy ground were paper, pens, stamps with the ink still coated on the rubber side and a black briefcase open and looking rather lonely without its contents.

Picking up the stamp, I pressed it to my hand and gazed down at the mark it left. It was from an insurance company or perhaps investment, I can’t quite remember now, but I knew it had been stolen. My head was full of exciting stories, twisted with Hollywood sparkle and I wondered if guns were used. Of course, I decided, the victims were tied up and gagged.

Years later, I think about that bitterly cold afternoon sometimes, wondering what those men were doing. I know they were hiding the evidence, but I want to know what they had stolen and why. Did they get away with money? Were they ever caught? I just hope nobody was hurt.

I have no idea why I never told my parents or thought about telling the police. Perhaps it’s a teenager’s reaction to shrug their shoulders and carry on with their life. It’s a stage we all go through, thinking the Earth revolves around us and forgetting the world is bigger than the spot of ground underneath our feet.

There are many stories like this, times when my life could have taken a different turn and I’m dumfounded I’m still wandering around with my head in the clouds, a place where I’m safe, secure and out of harm’s way.

Oh, I don’t know. My heart tells me that’s where I’m meant to be, in the clouds with a half smile and a feeling of slight confusion. Life is what you make it and I need to find a life I want to make my own. When that happens, you’ll be the first to know, I promise.

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