- Vol. 02
- Chapter 12
Image by Molly Baber
The Power of Bright ThingsI hated the place; it was filthy and scary. The dilemma I faced, always, was whether to go with the others and be included and frightened, or to stay away and be excluded.
I went along – the prospect of being outside the gang was far more disquieting than running the risks that came along with playing in the old burned out house.
The risks did not come from the dilapidation of the property alone. They stemmed more immediately from the small, very powerful girl who was the troubled and unpredictable core of the band. She was capricious and alarming, and no-one was able to break her grasp over the world that we inhabited during the weekends and holidays.
She was never interested in getting us to do anything outside the old house – we committed no acts of vandalism, didn’t steal anything – she wasn’t interested in the world beyond.
In the parallel universe that children occupy, the one before we grow up and six weeks becomes such a tiny proportion of our lives that it passes without us noticing - in that twin land, she was supreme. She tormented and manipulated, directing relationships, withdrawing her favours without warning. We were kept in thrall for all those long weeks at a time.
I usually aimed to slip out of her sight, into the shadows that dusted the far corners of the attic– away from the rotting chair that she always occupied. She stood on it, squatted on it –sitting was too ordinary, and nothing she did seemed ordinary. There was a mop head draped over the chair, somehow managing to disguise the tatty foam insides. The brightness of the yellow hangings seemed to contain the power in the room, and she knew to follow it and assume its position as her own.
I had visited a stately home once with the school, and there was a chair hung all about with fantastic, lustrous embroidered panels; they had been made especially in gold to celebrate the power of the owner.
The Power of Bright ThingsI understood, absolutely, that the person who sat on that chair commanded the kingdom, and so it was with the chair with the vivid mop head slung on it.
She stood on it, watchful. Remembering offenses, seeking tributes.