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The International Writers Magazine: Picnic

Dead Sheep
Frances Lewis

The grass makes my feet itch and I remember nanny telling me to wear socks but it’s too late now we have driven all the way here and I’m not going to tell nanny cos she won’t let me play on the grass if I say anything, and the countryside is mostly grass and some sheep.

Jamie has been car sick and is getting a cuddle from nanny so granddad has to clean it up, he’s talking with strange words and his nose is wrinkled and I sit on the ground and watch him and I think he’s mad but when he turns round he smiles at me and pretends to flick the wet cloth at my head, so I scream and giggle and roll away, but the game is over and I collect a pebble and put it in my pocket.

We are walking away from the car, we are told not to run off but we do, there is nowhere bad to go anyway and we keep stopping to look at the rocks, the stream, or the sky, so nanny and granddad keep catching up and nanny tries to hold my hand and I keep twisting away, maybe granddad will put me on his shoulders, I remember he did that once and I was scared of falling off but I know I wouldn’t be scared now, but I think he might be scared of dropping me so he doesn’t. We’ve walked for ages and we get a packet of crisps, the wrong flavour but it doesn’t matter. We never get crisps with mummy and daddy, instead we have to have an apple, except Edward who gets crisps cos he can’t eat apples, they might choke him. We were showed what to do if Edward is choking, the lady at the hospital said we had to bang really hard on his back and I giggled cos that means it is OK to hit my brother and my dad got cross and I had to go to bed early. Edward goes red and then blue if he chokes, I saw it once and mummy had to hold him upside down and call an ambulance, and we had to go and sit with a next-door neighbour, the one who collect elephants. Today Edward is in the hospital, and we have to stay with nanny and granddad and I know Jamie is a bit mad cos last time Edward was in hospital he got more Easter eggs than us, and he couldn’t even eat them.

I scratch my feet and we all sit by a stream and watch the water for a bit. Nanny is singing quietly and I feel really lazy but I don’t want to fall asleep in the sun cos I’ll get a headache and we’ll have to go back. Jamie takes off his shoes and paddles and he shrieks and says the water’s cold. I splash him and granddad splashes me and I run away, round a rock to where he can’t get me. A bird flaps its wings and flies away, I stop running and there’s some wool caught by the stream, I want some wool to show nanny so I reach for it and it feels so soft, and I start to pull some and then granddad knocks me over and he’s shouting, and I must have done something bad but then I see the dead sheep, and the red and the pink and I start crying. Nanny keeps asking did I touch it, did I touch it, and I’m shaking my head but they put me in the stream anyway and Jamie watches, he doesn’t say anything so I know it’s bad. All my clothes are wet and we walk back to the car, I think maybe I’ll die and I am crying again, I don’t understand why everything is wrong and I want to go back and play on the grass with Jamie.

I’m sure I must be in trouble when we get back but I’m put in a hot bath and my skin goes all red and wrinkly and then I get some of nanny’s hot chocolate drink and Jamie gets some too even though he didn’t almost die.

© Frances Lewis November 2006
frances_lewis@hotmail.com

Frances is studyingfor a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
 
 
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