She sat quietly at the table eating her breakfast, swinging her legs under the table. This wasn't the first time she'd had to eat alone. She could hear their voices, muffled by the closed bedroom door. They argued all the time lately. She hated it when they argued, it upset her. She'd tried telling them, but they never listened. They told her to "Shut up" that she "Didn't understand". They weren't very nice to her when they were cross.
She puts her cup and plate in the sink, silently watching the birds fluttering their wings and splashing about in the bird bath. She smiles, she likes the birds. There was a Robin's nest at the end of the garden she'd climbed up the tree to have a look. It had six little bright blue eggs in it. The parents hadn't been pleased, chattering away at her and flying close, trying to get her away. She'd quickly climbed back down before 'They' saw her from the house. She'd grazed her knee. It had really, really stung when she'd wiped it with disinfectant before putting a plaster on it, but she'd been brave and hadn't cried out, but tears had stung at her eyes before she'd sucked them back inside. She was good at stopping herself from crying, she'd had enough practice. She never let 'Them' see her cry. She'd learned to be quiet. Being quiet made you almost invisible to 'Them'. A smile spreads across her face as an idea forms in her head.
She stands quietly at the bottom of the stairs, listening. The argument was escalating it wouldn't be long before her name came up. It always did and then it would be 'her fault'. Everything was always her fault. Quietly and quickly, she puts on her hat, scarf and coat. She slips into her shoes and out of the front door. Closing it so gently behind her that it makes the softest of clicks, still she freezes and listens for the sound of feet on the stairs, signalling that she's been heard. Hearing nothing, she walks hurriedly down the path and out of the gate. Almost running down the road, she's just about to turn the corner, when she sees her neighbour. There's no avoiding her, she's already been seen.
"Good morning Mrs Edwards" She says politely, as her neighbour stops in front of he.
"Hello young lady and where are you off to in such a hurry?" She enquires. Eyes shining brightly, she puts her index finger to her lips and whispers conspiratorially.
"I'm going to the park. I'm going to play on the swings" She leans backwards, so that she can see round the corner. The road is empty they haven't noticed she's missing yet.
"Oh, arguing again are they?" asks Mrs Edwards knowingly. She nods vigorously at her, eyes filled with sadness. "Well, best get going before they notice" Mrs Edwards tells her "and mind when you cross that road, it's busy this morning. Come and see me later if it's no better at home" She says kindly. She assures Mrs Edwards that she'll be careful and will come and see her later. Mrs Edwards is a very kind old lady. She has tea and biscuits with her some times. She likes listening to her stories. Mrs Edwards' husband was killed in the war they didn't get the chance to have any children. Everyone calls her Mrs Edwards she doesn't remember ever hearing her called by her first name. All the children in the area know her, she loves children. She has a huge tin of sweets in doors and in the summer, when the children are playing out in the street, she comes out with her tin and all the children are allowed to pick 2 sweets each. Flying saucers, liquorice sticks filled with sherbet, toffees, creamy squares of fudge, boiled fruit drops, all manner of sweets. She likes the fudge best. Mrs Edwards makes the fudge herself. She wishes she could make fudge.
She finds a safe place to cross the road and hurries across, all the time checking for cars coming. She'd been run over when she was 8, broken her arm and been in plaster for 6 whole weeks. It's a long straight road, so the traffic can be fast flowing. Safely across and she's at the gates to the park. She looks straight to the swings. They're empty. So is the roundabout. They're both her favourites. There's only one other person that she can see, it's that boy from down the road. He doesn't play out with the other children, she only ever sees him walking the dog, out in all weathers. She feels sorry for him, he doesn't even have a coat, she thinks he must get very cold.
Climbing on to the swing and wriggling her bum into place. You have to be exactly in the middle or it will go wobbly when it starts moving. Settled in place, she walks the swing backwards until she's on tip toe, wriggles her bum again and she's off, legs straight in front of her. Pushing the chains that anchor the swing to the top bar, then folding her lower legs under the seat and pulling back. Back and forth, back and forth, higher and higher she soars. Her hair flowing out behind her, she eyes the boy with the dog. He's slowly walking towards her, occasionally yanking the dog's leash when it stops to sniff at the ground. He stops to watch her, she doesn't care she's flying now.
"You're not allowed here on your own" he sullenly tells her as he turns to leave.