by Myra King
This is seared forever in my mind. Picking up a little blue sneaker, with its happy yellow Sesame Street characters playing down its untied shoelace.
Our much awaited move to the country. The new old house with its backyard of junk.
I was always so careful in the city. A child is at risk from predators of the human kind, and fast cars, trucks, and buses. Urban-noisy and dangerous. The city.
Here in the rural, I sit in silence. Peace and quiet. I have the quiet.
I look out of my backdoor to a backyard backdrop that still seems incapable of such tragedy.
He was three years old, golden haired, red-lipped pout. My little Sammy. My Sam.
It was the longed for, dreamed about, much needed move to the country. All that fresh air. Isn’t that what they say about the country, fresh air, so good for kids? Those words crowd my mind in capitals, silently screaming until I can bear it no longer and I take a pill and then another. I huddle in a blanket, Sammy’s favourite blanket, and fail to sleep.
I relive it in slow-mo, moment by moment. Wish I could stop, skip it to fast-forward but it’s always on pause and rerun.
Now, in my hand, the little blue sneaker with the yellow characters happy as Sesame Street, full of Sammy’s first words: Big Bird, and Bert and Ernie. Then, that day, spinning my whole world, again in my mind.
Mummy, come and play. Come and play with me, Mummy. I’m bored. When will you finish?
Go out in the backyard, Sammy. Find Mummy a feather.
The tiredness hanging on me, from the loading, the travelling, the endless unpacking.
Sammy is back, holding a feather. He hands it to me like a peace offering. I’m up to my elbows in packing paper and cardboard boxes, with their black penned titles: For the Kitchen. For the Sitting Room. For Sammy’s Bedroom.
Can we play hide and seek, Mummy? Can we? Can we please, Mummy? I hardly hear him then.
Now I hear him as loud as a shout and my mind shouts back: Go, and I will look for you right this minute. This unpacking, these things, these bloody things are not important. I’ll watch you looking for somewhere to hide in the backyard.
You, my Sammy, thinking Mummy will never find me in here as you pull back a hessian mat, patched with rot and mildew, to uncover a grimy, ancient fridge. There’s a handle-like lever but being a boy you know all about handles and discovering things. The joy of hiding and being found.
Then as you lower the heavy lid and snap-lock it dark, your realisation that one of your sneakers has come off.
And I know you so well. Oh, my Sammy. Know you hope it won’t give you away. That I won’t see it. Won’t find you too quickly.
Myra King lives along the coast of South Australia with her husband, David, and their rescue greyhound, Sparky. Her poems and short stories have been published in print and online, in various literary magazines. Recent highlights were a commendation in the 2015 Tabor Creative Writing Awards and a Pushcart nomination by Boston Literary Magazine.