whoah!!  What a picture!

whoah!! What a picture!

                                                                         ART BY Jacqui Farell


His sisters had been smoking on the weekend, with his cousins. Christopher misses nothing, so he knows exactly where the smoking paraphernalia is hidden. Cigarettes, matches and even some strange papers he can’t identify are hidden under the plaster-of-paris mountain in the middle of his older brother’s train set. He walks past the lounge to the play room, and sees that his mother is lavishing yet more attention on his two-year old brother. He takes the matches, puts them in his red dungaree’s pocket, and makes his way out of the kitchen door, progressing down the hill to the farm with the yellow sunflowers and ripening corn.

The burning sun shines on his face, bringing his freckles into sharp focus, turning his nose into a sharp shadow sloping down his chin. His tummy is still full from the caramel tart he’d eaten at Auntie Maria’s this afternoon (after he’d spent an hour watching every little thing the canaries, cockatiels and budgies had done in the aviary). He is still buzzing after finding the corpse of a puffadder on his way home. He had pushed it along with an acacia branch, poking it with the thorns.

He looks now directly at the sun, against his better judgement, against everything he’s ever been told he should do, his little legs still marching him down the hill to the farmer’s field, the seven matches rattling in the box.

He climbs over the rusty barbed wire fence, and feels the dryness of the red soil on his bare feet. It’s been three days since it last rained, he knows. He sits down under the tall corn stalks to continue his exploration of the way things work.

Later, that evening, after his hiding, and after his refusal to eat the broccoli on his plate, his father unceremoniously takes him to the farmer’s house. The farmer is red faced in his fury, and says that he will whip the bejesus out of Christopher if ever he sets another foot on his land.

Trying to sleep, all he can see is the tears on the face of the farmer’s wife. He puts his face into his pillow, and cries at his misfortune. His fat little brother ticks  like a mentronome in his cot on the other side of the room.