I smile as I realise I’m somewhere that I know well. It feels like home and it’s warm and comfortable, so it is. Everything is familiar; the curtains are red, yellow and blue with squares and lines repeating a pattern. They remind me of where I grew up. I’m back in my Mammy’s home amintah?
I can smell dinner cooking and I look through to the kitchen where my Granny is talking to a man. I can see them through the door but they can’t see me. Sunlight is shining in through the window surrounding my Granny’s head as if she has a halo.
It isn’t often that a man comes to the house, and I’m very curious. I crane my head around the door hoping to see what the man looks like. I wonder if he’s handsome like Paul McCartney. He has black hair just like my favourite Beatle. Or maybe he will be like that man who came around to see my Mammy not so long ago. He was horrible, a real spide and made my Mammy cry. It couldn’t be him though because that man had a Peeler uniform on. I didn’t like him. He kept on talking to me and said I was a good girl… yuk, yuk, yuk…
It would be nice if we had a man here all the time; if my Daddy came to live with us. It would stop Patsy Healy and the other girls calling me names. I hate her; she just picks on me because I don’t have a Daddy. I will get her back one day and anyway she’s ugly and fat. My Mammy says that I shouldn’t worry about him, that if he chose to leave us he is not worth thinking about. She will not tell me who he is even though I’ve asked her 512 trillion times and that’s a world record for asking a question. She usually gives in before I get to 100, but she’s really determined over this. I can’t think of any way to get it out of her. Even though she says I shouldn’t think about him, I do. I wonder what he looks like and what sort of a person he is and why did he leave us? If I could see him I’m sure that I could persuade him to come home. I would be a good girl and make him feel a real part of the family and then I could tell Patsy Healy to go and boil her head.
I feel my smile slip away when I notice something else coming from the kitchen. It’s a smell again but not the dinner this time, it’s a smell that doesn’t belong here and I feel something is wrong. Suddenly, it hits the back of my throat and I’m scared, I want to run into the kitchen and warn my Granny to be careful. But I can’t move. I look down at my feet and they have sunk into the floor; it’s like being trapped in hardened treacle. I shout and scream instead but no noise comes out. The only thing I can hear is my Granny and the man arguing. He has his back to me, and I’m desperate to see who he is. He has a bag in his hand and Granny is telling him to take his bag and himself out of her house and back to Belfast. I’m still shouting, my mouth’s wide open but no one can hear me. The man starts to plead with her; he does not want to go. He turns around, and sees me. Our eyes lock together. He looks familiar but I’ve never seen him before. Then he smiles and I can see what it is. He looks like my Granny, he has a man’s face but his smile is just like hers. I feel relieved and I start to think that everything will be all right.
“Hello wee Lesley” he says and opens his arms offering to give me a hug. I run over and jump into them.
I know straight away that this isn’t my Daddy and that everything is not all right. The shirt he has on is wet. It feels strange; maybe he has spilt something on it. Then the scary smell hits me again and I realise that the wetness is not an ordinary wetness. It isn’t the sort of wetness you get from spilling a drink on yourself. It’s blood soaking his shirt, sticky warm blood. Now it’s getting onto me; soaking into my t-shirt. I pull away and look up into his face and see more blood, this time it’s dribbling from the side of his mouth. I look into his eyes and scream again. This time the noise does come out.