The Linnet's Wings Blackbird Dock - Page 58

T HE  G UY  T HING by Bruce Harris he house was quiet, and for once, I appreciated that. I was fourteen before my parents felt able to leave me on my own in the house, and I was happy to let them finally get out together without arranging a ‘sitter’. They were careful with their choice of sitters, but it never did sit easily with me, and it became even more problematic when I got to secondary school age. Only children find ways to fill the time, and in any case, I never have found making friends particularly difficult. Perhaps that arose from being an only child too; it’s easier to get on with other people when you’ve managed to get on with yourself. I knew it wouldn’t be long before Mum got back, though Dad would be later. The pause would allow me time to think and adjust to the lurch back to another time and age returning here always arose in me. I put my bag down on the chair next to the phone table; this was still a source of irritation to my mother – ‘that chair is for answering phone calls, Mark Routledge, not dumping your bag on; upstairs with it now, there’s a good lad’. Now it was one of our rituals, the ways she folded me back into her territory when I’d been away. This time, though, I felt a reluctance to shift so easily into boyhood regimes. For a while, the bag could stay there. I walked right through the house and into the back garden, sitting down on the bench under the kitchen window, where I was once small enough to indulge in a little naughty eavesdropping, wondering what Mum and Dad talked about when I wasn’t there. When I was nine, I discovered that I was an only child because having me had resulted in my mother being unable to have any more kids. I scuttled quietly away from under the window, the wet already starting to my eyes, thinking how much now fell into place; their almost 58