The Children Can Play

I came to this town to destroy it.

But then this little girl pulled on my finger
“Come down to the river with us!” the piggy squealed
I could’ve smashed her skull in like an eggshell
Snapped bones like breadsticks

But my human body was curious, and made me go with her

All the children of the town were there that day
Swimming, splashing, shrieking with laughter
They came to escape the heat and pesky parents
A naked boy ran up to me; “Have you come to play, miss?”

I almost smiled.

They were too innocent; I turned my back, leaving them to their happiness
They did not commit the crimes the town was guilty of
I could not smite these children
So I delighted myself as I tore the adults of that town to slivers
The King’s Justice.

And I left the children to play.

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Safe

When I look after my children, I must make them feel safe.
Oliver yanks my sleeve, jabbering about assassins, and Ella presses into my side with warm sticky fingers.
“What’s an assassin?”
I lie. “They are not real. They only exist in books. Besides, they would never come here – our town is too small.”
Oliver says that people will break into the house, and his little sister shivers against me.
“The doors are locked,” I respond. “The windows are bolted. And the lights are all on – burglars never break into a house if they think the people inside are awake.”
Oliver brings up fires, and I have had enough.
“There are fire alarms on every floor. Come on, Ollie; time for bed.” He’s scaring his sister.
He trots off to his own room. I smooth the hair from Ella’s head, kiss her hot skin and pad to the doorway.
Her quiet whisper calls me back. “Mommy? Can you leave the lights on?”
The fear in her voice; her wide eyes; the way her covers are yanked right up to her chin… children shouldn’t have to be afraid. It makes me feel so cold, so weary, so achingly sad. I want my children to be carefree and innocent of the dangers. It isn’t their job to worry.
“Of course,” I reassure her. “I’ll keep them all on.” I close the door softly behind her and tread downstairs.
When I look after my children, I must make them feel safe.
But I wish that I didn’t need to. I wish that this world was safe.

Wings of Freedom

“The plane is now cruising at 30,000 feet. You are free to move about the cabin.”

As soon as the announcement came over the tannoy system, I was fumbling for my seatbelt, fingers shaking so badly that it took several attempts before I was free. I tumbled from the seat, fleeing down the aisle. A blur of faces rushed past and a hundred eyes dug into my flushed skin. I ducked into the tiny airplane bathroom, bolted the door and vomited.

My stomach lurched agonisingly, chucking up the contents of my last meal at home. I held back my hair and sobbed. The acid burned my throat, and I coughed and spat until there was nothing left.

I wiped my mouth, looking up at the mirror. The girl staring back was miserable, her skin swollen and blotchy and eyes bloodshot.

Another sob ripped from my chest, and I dissolved into fresh tears. A quiet knock at the door made me scowl, thinking that it was my brother come to drag me back.

“Go away, Ivan!” I choked out, a disgusting bitter tang in the back of my throat.

The voice that answered me was concerned and female. “Are you okay?”

Surprised, I stared at the door. “Who’s that?”

“I’m Margaret,” she tells me. “What’s your name?”

“Jamie.” I hiccuped, pushing hair away from my damp cheeks.

“Could you open the door for me, Jamie?”

I slide the bolt back and Margret smiles at me kindly. She wears the uniform of an air hostess; a short red dress and cap, with a shining name badge perched on her collarbone. Her make-up is so flawless that I feel filthy and gross in comparison.

Seeing her perfection makes my eyes brim with fresh tears. I’m nothing, I’m just scum to her. I scrub them away angrily, but Margret touches my arm. “Come with me,” she coaxes, and leads me to a small kitchen. A sign on the door states boldly that this is a staff-only area, but the lady invites me inside. My curiosity gets the better of me and I follow her inside.

Row upon row of shelves line the walls, each neatly labelled. On a countertop sits a blender and a coffee machine, and hidden into the corner is a fridge full of glass bottles and cans of drink.Taking down a glass from a high shelf, she fills it with water for me. I sip gratefully, the sour tang of vomit washing away.

When I’m done, she refills the glass with a small smile. I decide that I like Margret. She leans back against the counter, acting as though I am a fellow employee instead of a worthless economy passenger. I sip the water and relax a little.

“Thank you,” I tell her.

“You’re very welcome,” she says warmly, hand searching on one of the many shelves. “Aha!” Margret grins, pulling out two cereal bars, and offers one to me. My stomach is still shaky, but I take it and watch her as she devours hers.

“Why did you help me?” I ask, feeling even smaller than ever. Margret covers her mouth as she replies.

“When you ran down the gangway you looked so upset, I knew something was up. There’s nowhere to go on an airplane, so I thought I’d take you to my hiding hole.” She swallowed, her expression sympathetic. “There’s more room in here than one of those poky toilet cubicles.”

I nod slowly, staring down at the cereal bar in my hands. The truth comes out very haltingly. “I don’t want to be on this plane,” I mumble in a low voice. My vision swims.

“Where would you rather be?” Margret’s voice is neutral and calm.

“Home. But we’re not welcome there anymore.”

Margret doesn’t poke or pry, just comes over and takes my hand. Despite her flawless appearance, I can feel tough callouses beneath her skin.

“After the court case, Dad got full custody of us. Mum didn’t even put up a fight. She doesn’t care, she was glad to see the backs of us! Packed us onto the first flight out-” I don’t realise I’m shaking until she hugs me, her still body against my weak, trembling form. I sob into her shoulder unashamedly, her hand pressing circles into my back.

Margret stokes my hair, waiting until my crying has quietened. “You know what this is?” She whispers. I sniff, my face screwed up. “A new start. A new life. When this plane lands you don’t need to be the same person you were when it took of. Reinvent yourself.”

“How?” I breathe, a sudden vision of being the girl everyone wants to be, striding down school corridors like a queen.

“It’s about you,” Margret tells me, her hands on my shoulders. She looks directly into my eyes, her passion filling me up with fire. “It’s about how you present yourself. Stand like a giant and you’ll feel like one. Be kind but not stupid; respect but don’t follow the crowd blindly. If you have an opinion, offer it.”

I manage a watery smile and she squeezes my shoulder. “I can do that,” I whisper.

“One more thing!” Margret says. “And this is the most important.” I nod, gazing up at her in respect.

“You are the only one that can control your happiness. You decide how you feel. Don’t let other people put you down; and don’t ever put someone else down.”

I smile so widely my jaw aches, a swell of happiness bubbling in my chest. Standing on my tip-toes, a dart a kiss onto her cheek. “Thank you so much, Margret!” I say earnestly, turning to leave.

“Give them hell!” She encourages with a sweet laugh.

“I will,” I vow. Still clutching the cereal bar in my fist, I stride back up the plane with determined strides, back to my brother and to the life ahead.

‘Our Girl’, and Why You Should Watch It

I just watched an amazing film, and it was so good, I thought I’d recommend it to you lovely lot.

Our%20Girl-1774901Meet Molly Dawes. She’s 18, lives in south London and spends her nights drinking and her days hungover. Her best friend slept with her boyfriend, she’s got five brothers and sisters as well as another on the way, and her dad’s an abusive alcoholic.

Her life can’t get much worse. And one night, after puking in the street, she looks up and sees a picture of a girl who had everything she wants desperately – respect, honour, purpose. She’s looking at a recruitment poster for the Army. So she signs up and is whisked away to a world completely unlike her own.

Lacey+Turner+in+'Our+Girl'
I loved this movie because of the incredible transformation Molly went through. It was tough, really tough, and so many times she came close to quitting, but she pulled through. I admired her character so much; she’s a role model to anyone who wants to escape but feels they can’t.

But hey, don’t take my word for it! Check it out yourself here. I’m not entirely sure if that link works for you lot that live outside of the UK, but whatever – keep an eye out on Amazon instead!

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