English: The Brightest of Lights by Harry Cannon

Stock -TRAINLINE

I walk across the tracks at the Bridgestone Railway Station as I usually do, feeling the soft pricks as each tiny pebble rushes through the gaps between my toes, like flowing water.

This is where I see him again, the man I mean. Standing in the doorway at this very same time, each day, every day. Watching. Waiting. As if for a train that will never come. But I know why he's really here. This is the same place in which it happened. I know because of that man stood in the doorway. This place brings back too many memories, too many broken and jumbled up thoughts that rattle my brain as I stand here. I have kept what I saw a secret. I thought I had forgotten all about it, but then there was the man. He is always there. Not when it happened, of course. But always afterwards.

Daddy is angry at me again today; he keeps on telling me not to play on the tracks. But I go anyway. I like to be outside. I don't even know if what I saw was really real. I just know that whatever I saw was something Daddy didn't want me to see. I heard them arguing about money. Daddy shouting. Afterwards there was a lot of noise and a scream. I only peeked once. But once was enough to see her. I knew her well. She came to collect rent every month or two and always had a few sweets. I can remember seeing those too. In her pocket. Staring at me like I was to blame. I now cover my cold ears with my warm pink gloves. Mummy got me these on my sixth birthday. Sometimes I wonder why Daddy did it. I still catch him sitting on the sofa sometimes, just staring, his eyes red and swollen like dead eyes. When you see them in the butchers, or like fish. Reeled in and slaughtered before they feel the nip of the hook. I think he still cries about Mummy even though it feels like years and years ago. I want to tell someone what my Daddy did, but a promise is a promise, and Daddy told me that you should keep your promises.

Daddy is waking me up extra early this morning, as the cold brushes past my face and the soft breeze is whispering into my ears. He told me that we were leaving. Going on a holiday. But I can see how scared he is. I am good at understanding people's emotions.

"What's wrong Daddy?" I ask.

"Nothing." He sighs. He bites his lip.

"Do you remember the time we went on our last holiday, with Mum?"

I try to remember when we did but Daddy must have seen what I was thinking and his smile fades.   

"You were very young, I don't expect you remember anything." He turns to look at me. After a short pause he continues to get his clothes together.

"Just get dressed and pack a bag. Oh and get some food." Daddy almost whispers, as if his voice is lost in the breathing air. Soon after we are outside, getting darker now, Daddy is striding through the wet monsoon that bursts upon us, drowning us, like birds. Unable to fly. Each droplet like a grown man's punch.

"Going somewhere Mr Martin?" Asks Mrs Frenswick, the strange looking old woman who lives a few doors down. She always wears an odd looking hairnet which really makes her look like a school dinner lady. I can tell she's interested from the intimidating, inquiring face that peers at us from those dark sunken eyes. Like a skull on a body of wrinkles.

"Yes, in fact chances are you won't be seeing us around again for a while. We're off to travel the world we are. Tasting different cultures... That sort of thing."

"Doesn't sound like you at all." She says, almost questioningly. Daddy holds her gaze, as if it's a competition, until finally she says,

"It's been a year now hasn't it? Terrible illness that." I know straight away that she's talking about Mummy, although I see Daddy search his mind before he realises. He suddenly continues to stride on, at a faster pace this time. As if escaping from the enclosed space that is the street. I struggle to keep up, almost sprinting to stay with Daddy.

And then suddenly a set of lights cut through the darkness, the brightest of lights, almost blinding me, pauses and a car door opens. A huge, giant of a man in a suit blocks Daddy's path, and immediately I think I have seen the man before. Then I realize that this is the man who was watching me at the tracks. He is accompanied by another man and a woman, both in police uniform and holding umbrellas. Both of the men have cold, emotionless faces and do not even acknowledge my existence, it seems that they are both far more interested in Daddy. The woman smiles at me, bends down to my height and asks for my name. I stay quiet and hide behind Daddy before looking up to find the expression on Daddy's face to be a mix of surprise and confusion. I don't know if the water on his face is rain, tears or sweat. But his eyes look down and meet mine. I see the disbelief in his dark brown eyes and I see him put his face in his hands and exhale gently, before looking back up again to try and seem strong when really, I know he's just given up.

I look back down at the police woman, still smiling, to find her hand outstretched. I smooth my hair over my ear and take off my glove to reveal my shivering red hand. And I place it in the warmth of hers.

by Harry Cannon

First Year