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The International Writers Magazine:

Paul Valentine

"I used to be a fine boy of nine
With the world full up in my pockets
Before the wizard changed me -
Now I don’t know why I do or don’t
Won’t ever be good or do as I should
I’m a magnet to everything that moves -
I’ve the stealth of a shadow
And the speed of sunshafts ----- piercing you
I’m a horizontal rocket
Blasting out of moonbeam puddles
On mushroom garlic nights
I wear the shroud of death - softly
Removing life - just for the sake of it!
I’m animal technology
I can read the universe by a sniff
Of the sun’s wind – washing my clammy
Paws just before I catch a vole
Or snatch a worm inside a mole
I fear nothing but the tallest tree
I play in all time and sleep on silent snowflakes
Before the wizard changed me -
I used to be a fine boy of nine

With the world full up in my pockets

Basildon was designed for traffic and adults: It was a soulless place for a child. You couldn’t walk anywhere in a straight line;- had to flow down concrete rivers across the contours of cultural vacuity.

Building sites were always the best places, there was always stuff left around. I discovered a small site near us and noticed a green hut. I started working the window and found it easy to open. I then saw something that made my heart race; on the floor in the opposite corner next to some dirty magazines were dozens of bottles. I ran home to tell my older brother and we waited for nightfall before returning. We made half a quid each that night. The week after there must have been a party because there were at least a hundred bottles, some unopened! Because I was small, I would climb in, grab a load and pass them to my brother waiting at the window. Things were progressing well until my brother yelled, - "Paul, quick get out!".

I immediately thought that he was playing with me, remembering the time he threw a large jar of pickled onions over me from the roof of a deserted house, I smelt like a fish dinner for weeks! But then I saw in the middle distance the black and white stripes of a policeman’s uniform. Mikey had vanished!

As I got down from the window the policeman grabbed at me but I managed to escape to the woods. I finally collapsed in a heap by a big oak tree and made my way to a ditch to see if I could see the policeman go by. I looked at my hands and was amazed to see two beer bottles still on my fingers!

Just at that point I looked up and struggled for breath! The policeman was walking along the path – but he had Mikey’s coller! I lept up in one movement and ran over with tears streaming down my cheeks.

When we got home my father appeared shocked, but he seemed to thaw as he and the policemen joked with each other. Apparently some expensive equipment had been stolen and the policeman did not want us around the area. When he had gone. my dad called for Mikey who returned soon after telling me that dad wanted me in the shed. As I went I wondered what I had messed up in the shed. I entered, "Yes Dad?"
"Mikey tells me that this was all your idea."
"Yes Dad," I replied, looking in his molton tar liquid eyes I could gauge an anger that I had never seen. I heard a huge bang and had absolutely no idea what had happened. Had the shed exploded? Were we at war? Then the pain started, like a deep bass at first, but quickly turning into high trills. And the horrible taste of salt in my mouth. Just then in the darkness I heard "I’ll change you - if it’s the last thing I do."

I ran upstairs to my room and saw that both my lips were split – the bottom one in two places. I washed my face as best I could then I turned the light off and took up my usual place by the window looking out at the town. The tears flowing freely down my face stinging my lips, but giving respite to my pounding headache. I cried and clenched my fists, teeth and all my muscles for what seemed an age until……
I became changed.

© Paul Valentine December 2008

Paul is studying for his Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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