Terri shifted on the hot bench trying to wake her left buttock whilst squinting through the sun’s reflection at the postcard in her hands. Children’s voices rang out in the familiar shrieks and trills of breathless excitement. With the postcard as a visor, Terri’s eyes relaxed and she was able to gaze at the buzz of coloured t-shirts and shorts. Flitting and darting between one another with the energy and precision needed for a game which would be forgotten by autumn. Her skin prickled with sweat and as the latest wave of heat subsided an itch remained. Her fingers headed straight for the spot, only to be barred by the cast that swallowed her calf. Terri tried to wriggle her leg in the hope of attaining satisfying friction but couldn’t trap the tickle. Even slipping the postcard into the cast and wriggling only resulted in crumpling the card and leaving it with the scent of stale sweaty skin. It was a contorted and fruitless effort and in frustration she scrunched up the postcard and threw it onto the bench. As it unfolded, Terri caught a glimpse of the blue writing and exclamation marks and guiltily retrieved the brief account of fun and excitement.
“You’re staying with Mrs Cooper aren’t you?” came the puffed voice as a sweaty presence joined Terri on the bench. She had seen the stocky boy playing football with his friends near a group of cackling girls and had frozen when he jogged towards her with a sly smile. He waved back at his sniggering friends who were teasing a small dog through the railings of a garden fence. “Seen you walking to town with her. Well, I say walking…” he pointed to her leg. “You related to her?”
“Aunty ” replied Terri, not sure what to do with the uninvited presence. He reached over and knocked on her cast.
“How’d you do it?” he asked, leaning in to stare directly at Terri. His eyes were dark in contrast to his pale damp skin. He didn’t notice her blush, and didn’t wait for an answer “I’m Andy”.
“Terri” she said, relieved when he turned away to watch his friends. Laughing, they were kicking a ball against the railings at the dog who was yapping incessantly. In their amusement they didn’t notice that the front door had opened slightly. The greying gentleman in scruffy clothes approached the group in an adrenaline fuelled staccato shuffle, pointing his finger and raising his voice. He scooped up the small dog, still wriggling and barking. The boys laughed and continued to kick the ball at the fence ignoring the man’s protests. His face grew more and more red and in the increasing energy, the last chip of the ball was too high, landing over the fence. Both sides paused and then the old man shuffled towards the ball, kicked it inside and disappeared, leaving only the shouts and protests from the boys. Andy stood up in rage.
“That’s my ball!” He turned to Terri, nostrils flaring, and then calming slightly he leaned towards her. “I have to go but listen, us lot” he said pointing at the group, “are coming back later to hang out. I’ll come and get you, I know where the Coopers live.” Before Terri could answer he ran towards his friends who were crowding round the gate of the old man’s house. Andy joined them and said something causing the group to laugh and as boys and girls sloped away, there was a notable relief from the other families in the park.