m i a o w

–YOU KNOW YOU KNEAD IT–

Suburbia

There is a house I walk by once a week or so. It’s a brown brick featureless box with big windows that always have curtains over them. There’s a broken pram near the carport. Often a big ugly sounding dog straining to get past the gate that keeps it in the back garden.

We were out particularly early one day, the Smalls and I, and I saw four children, two each side of the car, standing in silence waiting to get in. It was eerie. They weren’t talking, pushing each other, twirling their hair, scuffing their shoes. They were just, waiting. Too quiet.

Every time I walk past that house now I look at it hard. I wonder what goes on in there. I never hear those children. The front garden is always scraggy with bits of broken pram or scooters or car parts. Tonight I could see a big screen television going behind the curtains. I’ve never seen any adults. I keep wondering… wondering if I’ll see that house on the front of a local paper with headlines screaming about neglect or abuse… or whether I’m just concocting scenarios to explain what I don’t understand.

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3 Comments

  1. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Years ago when I was first married John and I were having a bit to eat at the local take out place and next to us was a family of five. The kids just sat there and didn’t say boo.

    The dad who was young just gave me an angry look and all I could think of was that those kids were abused. It’s not normal for three tiny kids to sit so still. It was like they were afraid to do anything.

  2. We’re actually remarkably perceptive animals and you become heightened to “this feels wrong”. Occasionally I see kids with particular behaviours that I recognise: too quiet, acting out in particular ways, mannerisms. I know something is wrong but you can so rarely actually do anything.

  3. beth

    Hmmm. I’m relieved that both of you responded the way you did – I felt a bit freakish. I have that ‘unable to do anything’ feeling. I suppose if I lived closer I could pry more, but…

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