Monthly Archives: July 2011
One Hour Before
Caroline waited in the car when Lee collected supplies from the art shop. She watched the traffic and swarms of tourists ambling along the street. The hot weather always brought them out in droves; the old city was like a magnet for tourists and their cameras.
Across the street she spotted a troop of children dressed in bright colourful clothes. Caroline guessed it was a school trip, but from the look of their attire they looked foreign. She wondered why the youth of England paid so little attention to the wonder of colour. Everywhere she went she saw white faces, black hair, dark clothes and grim angst ridden expressions. What was the fashion called? Eemie’s or Eemons, something like that. Dark and gloomy, thought Caroline.
The troop of school children stopped outside a large wrought iron gateway encased in an ancient crumbling stone archway, the teachers pointed out the features. It was like watching a chain of human rainbows. Caroline froze when she saw the children point at an insignia on the archway keystone.
She made a sudden connection with the school children’s bright clothes, the Water Aid poster and Tom’s painting. Beautiful colours shimmered before her eyes, the water drops on the poster and the mirage of gentle yet frightening rain merged into one image in her mind. The world outside Lee’s car seemed to blend into one single mass of throbbing colour, like a 60’s acid flash back. She had been a wild child back in those days but had never experienced such a vivid and real trance.
Three Hours Before
Tom raced after the football when it shot over his head through the tree trunk goal posts. He muttered under his breath as his friends called after him. They called him Tom Thumb because of his size, and maybe if he wasn’t so small he might be able to save more goals. Tom took it all in good humour, they all burned each other over anything and everything and he knew it didn’t mean anything.
The football bounced over a picnic blanket and Tom apologised to the family as he flew by. When it came to a rest he bent down to pick it up and heard a commotion on the other side of the water fountain. The park was a lively place, filled with shoppers, families, students and sun worshippers, but it wasn’t all happy smiles and relaxed people enjoying their lunch. The area behind the water fountain was known as Hobo Corner, a place where the homeless gathered to enjoy the park but set back from the main throng.
Tom had seen the homeless folk beneath the trees many times, with their bags and shabby clothes, passing bottles of cider to each other and rolling tiny cigarettes. His Dad constantly warned him to stay out their way, there were most likely harmless but it wasn’t worth bothering them just in case. Tom didn’t think they looked dangerous, more lonely and gloomy, trying to stay alive in a world that ignored them.
It all happened so fast and without warning.
Lee was sat on the grass at the edge of the park, a can of cream soda in one hand and a sweet chilli noodle salad in the other. Families enjoyed their picnics, children played football and teenagers lazed on the grass, their tinny music drifting in the soft warm breeze. The central tree-lined path was riddled with shoppers licking ice creams and chewing hot dogs.
It took mere seconds for that beautiful Saturday afternoon to plummet into chaos. Lee felt the ground shake and saw the alarm on the faces around him as clouds of dust and smoke belched across the park. H|e heard someone yell out that bombs were going off all over the city. Like an insane Mexican wave, people began screaming and running in random directions. Lee had a stocky muscular build but he struggled to keep from being pushed over by the crowds. Leaves fell like confetti as trees rocked back and forth; their roots broke through the soil and whipped into the air.
His first thought was about his son, Tom, who had been playing football with his friends less than a minute ago. In the confusion he had lost sight of him and like everyone else he called out, hoping, praying Tom would hear his father’s voice over the bedlam. Within seconds his throat burned from the smoke and he started to cough.