Synaesthesia Magazine Green - Page 7

I had been building the climbing frame for the past week. It was a surprise for the village children. Time was of the essence, so I was in a hurry. Now, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had time for a coffee at the window seat in the café, overlooking the village green, which looks particularly peaceful at this time of day - dew on the grass and just a few wisps of early morning mist, rows of freshly painted cream, salmon-pink and asparagus houses flanking both sides of the green. Along with a church on one side, the local shop and pub on the other, these houses and buildings are been privy to the goings-on of the villagers for centuries. My house is the scruffy brown one on the corner.

For years I’ve been busy working on other people’s houses. Roof repair and general building. A bit of landscape gardening. Carpentry. I can turn my hands to most things. I assembled the climbing frame last night working in the moonlight. It looks great now it’s in situ; I even added a slide and a pair of swings. I’ve spent the last two days painting the whole thing. It’s a shame it wasn’t ready for the half term holiday but the kids still have the weekend to christen it. Fluorescent lime green slide, shiny emerald green for the swing seats, sea-green monkey bars and khaki coloured rope netting for them to climb up.

You see all the people coming and going from here; cutting across the green to the shop or the pub; setting off for work or coming home at night. If I close my eyes I can still see Miss Greene on her bicycle, her face set smugly. Just the thought of her stirs up memories now thirty years old, like being forced to write words I couldn’t spell on the blackboard. She seemed to relish the other kids laughing at me. If she saw me using my pen with my left hand she would yank it from my fingers and force me to use the right, which felt all wrong. I manage fine now. Always write and use tools with my left hand.

‘You’ll never amount to anything. Dustman or builder for you. my lad.’ She used to say, to me and only me.

I thought these memories had been forgotten, but the other day I heard my nephews talking about their teacher and it brought it all back. Miss Greene was still there, after all these years, still dashing to school and back on that bike with her head in the air, the wheels bouncing on the gravel track cutting across the green, looking down her nose at those of us who didn’t measure up to her standards.

Little Ben was so upset. His older brother was telling him to ‘just ignore her’. Easier said than done, my lad.

‘I hate the way she looks at what’s in our lunch boxes. Always telling me I should eat more green things. She says the food Mum gives us is full of per … servee … preserve …’

‘Preservatives. Don’t take any notice. Just because she only ever eats apples and cucumbers and lettuce doesn’t mean we should. She probably likes cabbage too.’

‘Yuck. She said I’d never get anywhere in life if I don’t eat my fruit and veg. Said I’d be a builder like Uncle Bill … or a dustman.’

It only took a few misplaced half-bricks to knock her off balance. The rest was easy. Miss Greene wasn’t as young as she was. She’s under the bottom of the slide now. She was beginning to smell anyway. Should have eaten more preservatives.

Photograph: Carlotta Eden