The head in the window

You’re dreaming – there’s nothing there. The house is all broken down, no-one has lived there for ages, it’s dangerous. Look the doors are boarded up.

I saw a man, he was smiling. He was wearing a striped t-shirt and had sideburns.

Oooh! Was he good looking too? Maybe your Prince Charming! In your dreams!

 The girls left and ambled home. They knew they couldn’t tell anyone where they’d been as the house was strictly off-limits.

But the experience plagued, her curiosity itched like a flea-bitten cat. She had to find out.

The next day Patsy gave Ursula the slip, lingering in the library until her friend had gone off with others to hockey. She had a sore toe anyway, so wouldn’t have gone…

It was a rash thing to do, but Ursula had been so dismissive and teasing, she didn’t want to ask her to go back there. So she sang the song her dad had taught her:

I’m a brave, brave mouse, I go marching through the house,

And I am not afraid of anything….

She arrived and stood nervously in front of the window. She took a deep breath and called out:  hellooo, …. anyone there? My name is Patsy and I live down the road. I won’t tell if you want to be a secret.

Hellooo! …. Isn’t it lonely up there with no-one to talk to?

Helloooo …  she saw a flicker of movement at the window, so she waved saying: here I am, its only me here …

Go away, leave me alone! The reply was muffled, but not that emphatic.

Patsy was a bit of a bulldog; when she set her mind at something, she persisted.

I will if you really want me to, but it must get lonely up there with no-one to talk to.

She heard nothing, then faint footsteps and a door at the side of the house opened with a creaking screech.

Her heart leaped into her mouth and she gripped her schoolbag, ready to run. Then she remembered the man had smiled and he had sounded so lonely!  I am a brave, brave… she walked slowly forward and peered round the door.

She was surprised! She recognised the young man who stood inside the room, away from the door, looking nervously behind her.

Who are you, Is there anyone else with you, do they know where you are, why are you here, did they send you?  

His words were gabbled and fearful; he retreated into a corner, where there was a sleeping bag and a rucksack.

Are you hungry? I have an apple and a cheese sandwich in my bag, I don’t like cheese but Mum says it’s good for me…

His eyes lit up and he licked his lips: I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.

I know who you are, you’re from the family who moved in round the corner from my house. My name’s Patsy by the way and I am in year 4 at St Marks, aren’t you supposed to be at uni or work or something, why are you hiding here?

 He was wolfing the food down, clearly famished. Penny was fascinated.

Nobody knows I’m here, I’ll get into so much trouble, but I knew I saw a face and you looked so friendly but all alone. Ursula din’t believe me and said I’m a dreamer…

And are you? A dreamer? I am, maybe that’s my problem..

Well sometimes, not really but …  I do have weird thoughts Ursula says. She’s my best friend. I skipped hockey to come and see if you were real. Why are you here?

I’m hiding from them, they followed me to our new house, I thought they would stay in Mount Pleasant when we moved.

Who are they? No-one saw me come here, I came along the path that runs near our house

They stand in the shadows, but I hear them speak… they say terrible things. It’s okay if I take my pills but I lost them when we moved and they found me.

Well! said Patsy, with all the authority that a 9 year old can muster,  you can’t stay here forever with no food, you better come with me. I’ll take you to our house and my Mum can get your more pills, she’s a nurse and my Dad will go to your house and chase those voice people away. He’s a policeman and people listen to what he says, or else!

The young man balked but without much energy and the child chivvied him to pack up his stuff, which he did.

She took his hand and led him home and all was as she said it would be.

Jack Smythe had been missing for 3 days.

Story proposed by Patsy Youngleson

Author: manqindi

Post imperial wind drift. Swazi, British, Zimbabwe-Rhodesian, Irish, New Zealand citizen and resident, now in Queensland, Australia. 10th generation African of mainly European descent. Catholic upbringing, more free thinker now. BA and Law background. Altar boy, wages clerk, uncle, prefect, student, court clerk, prosecutor, magistrate, convoy escort, pensioner, HR Practitioner, husband, stepfather, father, bull terrier lover, telephone interviewer, Call Centre manager, HR manager, grandfather, author (amateur)

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