- Vol. 04
- Chapter 01
Image by Hernan Bas
There Were No Children’s GlovesIt was strange coming back to a place I knew as a child. The last time I was here I had to hold my mother's hand to cross the road, and sometimes we'd stop and watch the greengrocer in the market, selling steaming beetroot and yelling about fresh marrows. Now I was here of my own choosing. I could cross the road unsafely if I wished. I sauntered down to the old record shop where I bought my first single: Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees - I was all black eyeliner and attitude. It's not a record shop now. I peered through the window; gloves of all kinds lined the walls. Funny how your eyes can scan a scene so quickly; I couldn't see any children's gloves. I was embarrassed by noticing that. Strangely drawn in by the oddness, I walked in. The room seemed more claustrophobic then I remembered, a man sat on a stool reading a book; he didn't look up. The gloves seemed interesting, even fascinating in their diversity. I found a cobalt blue pair made of the softest leather and tried them on; amazed that they were a perfect fit. Then I felt his presence next to me. He removed them from my hands with the quickness of a card sharp and started wrapped them. I was struck dumb. Did he expect me to buy them? I hadn't seen a price tag but I bet they weren't £4 (that's all I had). When I looked closer, I noticed he only had one hand. It seemed arthritic, and the joints looked swollen, but he moved with a deftness that even I couldn't manage when wrapping Christmas gifts. He smiled. His teeth were many, and uneven.
'You don't remember me do you? ' he said, all teeth. It's an awful imposition for someone. I didn't try.
There Were No Children’s Gloves'Afraid not. This used to be a record shop. '
'It still is,' he said, and held out the wrapped gloves.
'Just a different kind that's all. ' I screwed up my face because now I just felt uneasy, at a disadvantage. I reminded myself I was an adult and could leave at any time.
'I have no money for them and I don't remember you - I'm sorry. ' The man still held out the gloves but he'd stopped smiling. Now I felt annoyed at his presumption and his stupid one-handedness and crazy glove shop. But the gloves were sumptuous, perhaps I could just show him all I have. So I reached into my pocket and produced my bus fare home. He shook his head and thrust the gloves forward. It was at that point that I had a clear memory of him. He used to mend shoes at the tiny bolt-hole of a shop down on the corner; he had two hands back then.
'Why?' I asked, bemused.
'There's a pair for every child that once lived here. Take them and remember; we've all lost something by growing up.'