• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 11

Hollow Eyed

I watched them flap their victory wings but there's nothing to celebrate. They might have sailed aimlessly for a few laps of the ponds pretending they were round the world yachtsmen but they were still what they were. Layabouts. Good for nothings. Wastrel musicians. Boozers. Boys in long trousers that their sisters haven't bothered to line at the hem. Men with imaginary hope. Boys looking up to them. I didn't want that for my son. Wishing and wanting and believing.

Call me harsh if you want but I sent him down to the fake shore that those dream merchants dug only last year and told him to catch some fish for tea. I knew there was only pike. He had thoughts of cod and of pilchards that didn't come from a tin. I put his imaginings in the bucket I gave him and said 'go catch what you can son'. I watched from the edge of the trees where the shadows covered my face. Not that he was looking at me, so blinking intrigued was he by the 'crew' onboard the Ship of Fools of Hollow bloody Ponds. He wanted to be them when he grew up no doubt.

He tried not to stare at them, them sat in the boat going nowhere now. Saw them get drunker and sway more than if they were really at sea. I could see it go from his eyes bit by bit, even though he had his back to me. Then some of the scales of wonder fell right off and landed in his bucket swilling round with the sand brought in from the Essex coast.

After an hour or so of him messing about with his rod and bucket pretending to catch non-existent fish I picked myself up and told him to wait for me. I marched right up the jetty as if it was a mile long of barnacled sturdiness rooted in the ocean for years.


Hollow Eyed

‘Room for a little un’ fellas?’ I asked. He thought I meant him of course. I could feel another illusion shatter and add a much needed wave to the pond. I felt him watch me as I did a lap of honour with the men who made the ponds. Men who built dreams and escape out of nothing because they had nothing better to do and nowhere else to go, a willing chain gang of hope catchers. If it’d been a proper boat I’d have gone below with any of them. Another lesson, for another day.

‘Spare your dreams son for the world is not yours for the taking,’ I shouted back to him.