Gazing blankly through the third floor window. Light distorts the rippled grass and ant people pass until a body leans across and cuts the idle images beyond. Never alone in a room full of people. Public. Conferences are like that. Always. Everyplace. I drift. Some thirty years or so, or maybe even more. To before.
To the kid. Sitting. On the side of the road. His feet in the track, hacked out by cart wheels, the spring cart, and horses hooves and rutted down by rains to the swamp at the bottom of our land. Where the market garden begins and Mr. Bunny starts with his shiny red head and his rounded body following the plough and planting cabbages again and again with every year that grows.
And the kid, little for his age and a bit freckled and about six - going on ten with a bandage on his finger, very white against the brown of his legs. He has a pile of papers beside him - comics - from Scotland. They belong to the kid up the road - David. But he's only four so he can't read them, really, but they get sent out from Scotland every month or so anyway - because the four year old is Scottish and they've only been here a year - so the comics get passed on - to those who can.
And no-one knows how much the comics mean - though you'd think they should - to the six year old. He sits, transported, as the wind cuts across the paddocks and raises the goosebumps on his thin, scratched legs. Undernourished. Boils on his knees. He doesn't notice, yet. He isn't here. He's fighting another war. A bigger war. Tackling tanks and bren guns of the mind until his mother calls. She's fat. The front of her dress faded, wet with leaning over the wash tub, clings into the tops of her legs, arches mountainous over her stomach and pits into her navel - but he doesn't notice. The kid. Doesn't notice her yelling - never notices her yelling when he's overseas.
Now she'll walk out from the red-framed wire-screen door, down the step and onto the concrete slab. The door will slam shut behind her, bounce back against the spring and slam again. It always does.