by Hannah Retallick
Mummy says we are pilgrims. Pilgrims are people who go off on an adventure to some place special and they hardly ever cry because they are brave. Brave people are sad too, I say, aren’t they? They are, she says, but sometimes it’s better not to show it.
It isn’t a nice time for pilgriming. It’s dark – she’s whizzing around my room, picking up my things, throwing them into her red spotted backpack with the breaking straps, which makes me worry about Bob. Bob has been squished in and might get bruised like Mummy. Mummy fell down the stairs yesterday and it made a lumpy sound, but she didn’t scream or anything and she smiled at me after, so I know she was okay. Okay enough for Daddy not to come down.
Down the stairs now, carefully, quietly, she says. Says Grandma will have Maltesers. Maltesers are what we’re going for and we’re going in the night so that when we get back we can surprise Daddy. Daddy isn’t one of the pilgrims. Pilgrims need to be girls or teddy bears, says Mummy.
Mummy strangles my hand, pulls me out onto the dark street with scary shadows – now, walk quickly Jenny, I can’t carry you. You will get more sweeties at Grandma’s if you are quick. Quick is hard when you’re sleepy, everything is hard when you’re sleepy – that’s why I cried before.
Before we had got to the end of the street, I told Mummy she was hurting, stop please. Please keep moving, don’t drag your feet, she says, we’ll get there soon, she says. Says when the pilgrims get scared they-
Daddy’s coming. Coming faster than we’re going – he’s cross, like when I was bad and left Bob in his doorway and he’s using the same words. Words he hit me with.
With one arm, Mummy pushes me behind, turns, raising the other arm in front of her. Her grip stops my fingers feeling – I press my head onto her long red coat, push my nose right into it. It smells of good.