by Pat Holness
Six year old Jason is wearing his Man United sweater and a broad grin. He says, “I like it when everything’s dark.”
I smile and leave it at that, because Jason is a bundle of optimism and I have no intention of describing to my favourite nephew how dark my world is right now.
“Come on,” I say encouragingly. “Let’s get into the car and drive to the field where the bonfire is. It’s still about an hour before the fireworks begin, but we’re sure to get a good place to park if we’re early.”
“Mummy will be along later.” Jason slips his hand into mine. “She’s working, but you don’t have to go to work any more do you, Aunty Fay?” Jason, master of the understatement has no need to understand the meaning of redundancy and hopefully never will.
“And it’s just us, isn’t it? Your boyfriend Rob won’t be coming too, will he? He’s not going out with you any more, Mummy said.”
Jason tells it like it is!
My reply, a rictus grin, seems to satisfy the little boy.
Your car’s broke
I unlock the car and fasten him into the back seat, safe and sound.
I place the key in the ignition, turn it and wait for a response. Nothing. I try again and the vehicle emits something that sounds like a strangled cough before dying completely.
“Your car’s broke.”
Since my world hasjust become darker still, I don’t bother to correct Jason’s grammar, settling instead for a falsely merry, “Come on then, love. Let’s unhitch you from that seat and we’ll walk to the field. We’ve plenty of time.”
Hand in hand Jason and I set off for site where for the last few weeks people have been busy building the bonfire for Guy Fawkes night.
“It’s getting darker.”
“Sure is!” I say and laugh in spite of myself. Bless him -Jason little knows how true that is for me.
I fall heavily to the ground
“Can I have a hot dog please?” Jason asks the second we arrive.
“Of course, darling.” I reach in my bag for my purse. “As long as you don’t mind us walking all the way to the other side of the field where they’re cooking.”
Jason’s reply is a tug at my hand and we set off to trudge over the rough grass.
As we get closer the smell of sausage and onion frying in the night air becomes more tempting. I decide there and then to abandon any thoughts of a diet.
“Two hot dogs please,” I say to the young man behind the stall.
Jason and I plaster our food in ketchup and drip it down our clothes.
“We’d better hurry back,” he says through a mouthful of sausage. “I think the fireworks are about to begin.”
He breaks into a run and I trot along beside him until I catch my foot on a tuft of grass and fall heavily to the ground.
“Have you grazed your knees?” Jason asks as he attempts to haul me upright once more. “That’s what happens to me in the playground at school sometimes.”
To be honest, it’s more my pride that’s hurt than anything else.
A rocket soars in the sky
I struggle to my feet and check no bones are broken. Jason is polite enough to hang back and wait for me, but impatience is written all over his face.
“Sorry about that, love,” I say once we’ve joined the throng of spectators once again. “It’s so dark I couldn’t see where I was going over there.”
“But the dark’s important, isn’t it?” says Jason, jumping up and down with excitement as the first firework zooms into the sky and explodes into a multi coloured cascade. “Without it we wouldn’t be able to see the fantastic colours of the fireworks!”
Just then I spot my sister Zoe coming towards us.
“Hi Mum,” Jason gives her a hug.
“I think there may be ajob coming up at my place,” Zoe tells me as people ooh and aah all around us. “It’ll be just the kind of thing you’re looking for. If you apply soon you’ll be one of the first to go for it,” she tells me excitedly.
A rocket soars into the sky, suddenly illuminating everything around it.
As I say, Jason says it like it is!
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