The house is sleeping. I can hear Daddy’s snores through the walls. That is the only people-sound inside the house because there is no movement of creaking floorboards or opening and closing of doors or voices being uttered. Across the hall in her own bed is my sister and I’m sure she’s asleep too. The birds are still singing through the crack in my window, I slightly pull back the curtain and peep out. The sun has not yet climbed to its pinnacle but I can tell by the pale blue sky it’s going to be a beautiful day.
With quiet excitement I throw back the bed covers and make short shrift of dressing in my usual weekend attire of trousers and T-shirt, knee-high socks and my favourite rubber-soled shoes that grip all kinds of serious terrain – such as the slide when walking up it – so well. After splashing my face with cold water and a fight with the hairbrush – afterwards my unruly hair still looks unbrushed – I creep into my sister’s room.
Yes, she’s asleep.
I whisper her name but she refuses to stir. Anxious, aware of the morning passing us by I loudly call her name and she moans back at me. Eventually, I’m having to physically shake her by the shoulders to get her conscious. Of course she tells me to get lost. Whilst I’m a light-sleeper she’s a deep-sleeper. Just like Daddy. Though, unlike Daddy, she’s snappy like Mummy.
After gentle persuasion – to appease her gruff side – and some more changing of clothes, we swig our fizzy drinks and pocket biscuits for the adventure. Now we are well prepared.
Outside, I can smell summer in the air. It is warming up. The apple orchard opposite our house is green and leafy, the trees not yet laden with fruit. There are times when we collect the fallen fruit this side of the fence. We’re not sure if it’s allowed though. The coastal wind softly and pleasingly buffets us as we walk past the neighbours’ well-kept houses. We chatter about important child things, staring at – and sometimes commenting about – the well-managed flowers fronting the afore mentioned houses. How tiny they are, or how plentiful, or brightly-coloured, or unusually shaped. We only know the easy flower names like rose, daisy, dandelion, buttercup and pansy which doesn’t mean we’re unable to appreciate them all.
We walk right to the end of the road where the neighbours are strangers and there is a strict looking metal-barred gate daring you to open it. Our road is a cul-de-sac not that everyone knows it. People in vehicles are always getting lost down here. Sometimes, the holiday-makers stop us and ask the way to a house whose name is unfamiliar to our ears, or wanting the directions to one of several holiday camping or chalet sites, of which we’re well familiarised with. We know not to go off with them.
The big gate has a large metal bar which must be slid across in order to swing it open. As it is somewhat heavy, the door then usually swings All The Way open to crash into, and rebound off a spiky hedge. It takes some knowledge and expertise to successfully open the gate, pass through its entrance, and – still hanging onto it! – smoothly close and latch the metal bar safely into place.
It makes such a thing of it, such a racket – CRE-E-E-E-AK!! – that you think people nearby will stop what they’re doing and stare at you.
It is a beast of a gate. You can see that others are not familiar with it because it is often left open. For us, right now, it isn’t.
Satisfied that we’ve manoeuvred the gate in proper fashion we begin the descent of the gravel slope.
The sun is higher now, the blue sky brighter. The birdsong reduced to odd lazy tweets. I wonder if our parents are now drinking cups of tea in bed. We pass a few people, walking, cycling, driving vehicles, along the way. The ones walking their dogs catch our attention. We admire their four-legged companions but refrain from touching them because we don’t want to get bitten. We can’t tell which ones are biters.
We have a dog, her name is Velvet. She’s a golden retriever with a pretty face, short legs and bad body odour. Her sweet and gentle disposition beckons attention, affection – long strokes along her back, tickles on her tummy and ear-and-head rubs. The B.O. ceases it. Akin to an agreeable relative with a disagreeable habit she is loved. Sometimes we take her with us for our weekend walks. Sometimes we take our bicycles. And, sometimes, we just walk by ourselves. Like today.
We walk onto another slope, of which, this time, we ascend. We climb the grassy hills, soon encountering – and weaving between – the holiday huts, climbing, climbing…
We have arrived. Surprisingly, no one else is here. A startling thought occurs – Monday is tomorrow. But Monday is distant, much too far away, almost unfathomable. It won’t blight our fun.
My sister, joyous, exhilarated, points to something that would make any child’s heart gladden.
“Let’s go on the slide first!”
Word count: 879
© copyright Faith McCord 2018
Author’s note: Wouldn’t it be nice if there were more public parks and playgrounds for everyone? Regardless of income.
Copyright Faith McCord 2018
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide rights.