Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: Don’t Watch Me Mommy
By Debbie Roome
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She stops rolling out pastry. â€śIâ€™ll walk you down the road.â€ť
Mom looks surprised.
â€śIâ€™m big enough to walk to Sarahâ€™s house by myself. Itâ€™s only one block.â€ť
â€śYou are growing up, Abby, but itâ€™s not safe for you to walk around by yourself.â€ť
I roll my eyes and look heavenwards â€“ an expression I learned from my teenage sister. â€śItâ€™s just one block. Iâ€™ll call you when I get there.â€ť
She seems less bossy now and I decide to try again. â€śIâ€™ll walk by the houses and I wonâ€™t go near the road.â€ť I lift my backpack over my shoulders. â€śIâ€™ll call you in five minutes.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll be fine.â€ť I shout as I walk down the garden path. â€śAnd donâ€™t watch me, Mommy. Iâ€™m not a baby.â€ť
I feel free as I open the garden gate and step onto the sidewalk. The grass is soft and green and the sun is shining. Itâ€™s eight gateways to Sarahâ€™s house and Iâ€™ve walked there a hundred times with Mom. I try to whistle but my lips still canâ€™t get the sound to come out right. Instead I hum my favourite tune.
Iâ€™m walking past the third gateway when I hear a car slowing behind me. A man winds down the passenger window. â€śExcuse me, do you know where Lottering Street is?â€ť
I feel worried inside. Mommy always tells me not to talk to strangers and I donâ€™t know this man. I have a quick look at him. He has a big head with curly ginger hair and lots of teeth that are smiling at me. I keep walking and the car follows.
â€śCan you tell me what this road is then?â€ť The worried feeling gets worse. Mom also says I mustnâ€™t be rude. I slow down and take one step towards the car. â€śThis is Taylor Street.â€ť I tell him.
He smiles again but itâ€™s a creepy smile, full of crooked teeth. â€śThatâ€™s very helpful, thank you.â€ť I look back at the houses. Iâ€™m by gateway four now and start walking again.
â€śWould you like a chocolate for helping me?â€ť He holds a Triple Deck up to his car window.
How did he know those are my best chocolates ever? I imagine biting through gooey raspberry, chocolate and vanilla. Mmm. Iâ€™ll just grab it and run. I tell myself. Mommy will never know.
â€śCome and get it, sweetheart.â€ť
The man is sweating. I can see the drops on his face as I get closer and closer to him. Iâ€™m glad heâ€™s not my daddy.
â€śThatâ€™s it, dear.â€ť He waves the Triple Deck out the window.
As I reach out my hand, I hear a gate bang and the man does too. He jerks his head to look behind him.
â€śAbby! Abby!â€ť Mommy is running down the street faster than Iâ€™ve ever seen her run.
The man drops the chocolate and it falls on the road as he takes off, smoke pouring from his tyres.
Mom throws her arms around me and picks me up. â€śAre you alright, Abs?â€ť
Thereâ€™s a funny feeling in my tummy. The man was a stranger and I shouldnâ€™t have talked to him or wanted to take his chocolate. The feeling comes out of my eyes in tears and Mommy wipes them away.
â€śI got such a fright, Abby.â€ť
Sheâ€™s shaking and that makes me scared. â€śIâ€™m sorry, Mommy. I didnâ€™t listen to you.â€ť I lay my head on her shoulder and it smells of pastry and clean washing; of safety and home.
We stand like that for a long time, until my eyes stop crying and Mommy stops shaking. Then I tell her the thought thatâ€™s going round and round in my heart. â€śIâ€™m glad you were watching me, Mommy. Iâ€™m not as grown up as I thought I was.â€ť
She kisses the top of my head. â€śIâ€™ll always be watching out for you, Abby. Thatâ€™s just how mommies are.â€ť
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