We strolled hand in hand, while I had two backpacks on each shoulder. I began to grow conscious that we had left later than usual. The sky looked threateningly dark and clouds were closing in. Every now and then, I heard a rustle or two behind us, but when I turned, all I saw was shadows. I quickened my pace and gripped my kids even closer to me.

“Mummy, look what happened to the slide!” my son said as we walked past the little playground.

“What?” I asked. We stood at the playground and realized that someone had vandalized the playground by spraying black paint on it.

“Someone’s painted on it,” he said.

“Graffitied…”

“Grafffeeeee what….What’s that?” he asked.

“It means someone has come here and destroyed the slide with their ugly designs…”

“Who did that?” my daughter asked.

“Probably people…with nothing to do…”

“Nothing? I thought you said they graff….graff whatever the place, mummy?” Ethan asked.

“Yes…”

“Will the police catch the these people, Mummy?” asked Ethan.

“Will the bad people be back, Mummy?” Lizzy whispered as she pushed herself closer to me.

A shiver ran up my spine. It was beginning to get dark and we had some way to walk in the deserted oval/bush before we reached home.

“We better go now,” I said cheerily as I tightened my grip on my kids and dragged them up the path.

“Owww…mummy, that hurts….” Ethan said as he struggled to wriggle away.

“Sorry, darling, but let’s hurry,” I said as I tightened my death claw and dragged them further along.

The chatter died away straightaway. The carefree joyous innocence of the afternoon has been replaced by a dark fear or foreboding of what was going to happen.

We walked in silence as we hurried along the path.

It did look eerily deserted, even the birds seemed a little more subdued than usual. Where were the old ladies with their old little Chihuahuas? Where were the old men with their umbrellas? Where were the young mothers screaming and tearing after their laughing toddlers?

Tweak! I jumped as I heard the loud crack of twigs coming from the bush.

“What was that, Mummy?” Ethan whispered, in between catching his breath.

“Mmmm, probably just a dog, squirrel, or a small animal…” I lied to myself as we hurried along. I blamed myself for choosing to walk today, why didn’t we take the car like usual?

I tightened my grip on them and literally dragged my kids.

Tweak! Tweak! More sounds coming from the darkness.

Oh my god! My mother was right after all! There were so many things my mum was right about :

Did I listen to her when she said the shiny new red shoes would be too small for my fat 9 year old toes?

Did I listen to her when I decided to cut and dye my hair purple myself at 12 years old?

Did I listen to her when she said “Sleep early or you’ll be too tired tomorrow”?

Did I listen to her when she said “that’s way too much sugar/salt/pepper/spice?”

Did I listen to her when she said “Don’t eat/drink too much of that, you’ll get a tummy ache.”

Did I listen to her when she said “Oooohhhh don’t swing too high, don’t stand, don’t slide, don’t run, don’t jump, you’re going to hurt yourself”

Did I listen when she said “do your homework on the first day of the holidays, not the LAST!”

Did I listen to her when I sprayed her whole bottle of Chanel on my first “date”?

Did I listen to her when I signed up for Church Choir even though I was tone deaf just because Andrew, my 16 year old crush was a member?

Did I listen to her when she said Andrew who only had a vocabulary of “Babe, huh?” would crush my heart?

Bushes were not safe at all. Things happened. We shouldn’t have walked. To hell with carbon footprints, cars were much safer.

Damn you your green ecological conscience!

Tweak! Tweak! CRRAAACK!

Panic shot through my body. I just literally dragged my kids through the ground, not caring about the bags or anything else for that matter.

“Yoooo….” I could hear someone yelling at us.

“Let’s just go, kids. Fast!” I said and we ran.

Why didn’t I listen to my mum when I decided to  move a whole continent away and leaving her behind???? This was going to be number 1 now on my list on things my mum was right about!

This would be a day when I would need her the most.

Why did it need to take a situation like this that makes us appreciate our mothers? Strange but weird, at that moment of super charged adrenalin, self pity, sheer terror and exhaustion, over protectiveness, I missed my mother so much.

“HEY!” A hand shot out and grabbed my arm and I screamed, one of sheer terror, like a banshee shrieking, of panic and goosebumps on my arm, of the white steel coldness that shot through my body.

“Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt my kids! Here take my wallet. Take my ring. Take my shoes!” I screamed.

© ELT 2015. All rights reserved

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