Naive

A childhood game, gone wrong. Under-edited at the moment.

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I remember the crack as his head hit the ground, our shouts ringing in the snow silence, spreading like the mist we breathed in the cold.

It started with throwing snowballs, just the four of us, on an iced over road near my house. It was not used often. I would later learn that it was a supply road for a bar in the rugby club nearby. Our only light was from the distant main road, with the red and white of passing cars. Those bold enough to brave the slippery roads, alongside the occasional blue of emergency services. “Probably ambulances” we speculated. Only our cries of laughter and conversation could be heard.

My hands were red-raw-cold, putting the finishing touches towards a snowman we made earlier. He has one of our hats, not sure whose. I was smoothing down part of his head, trying to get that picture perfect thing you see on Christmas cards and in musical films. A cold block hits the side of my face and I spin with the impact, finding myself facing down towards the main road. I touch my face, checking for blood. Ice in the snowball, I think, but there is nothing.

Shadows grow from the main road, a group of figures, silhouetted against the orange of the streetlights. Each was taller than us. My friends moved closer together. Safety in numbers.

“Eh, boys?” one of the figures shouted, “mind if we join?” All spoken in a fake London accent. Kids from the Northwall Estate. Rough part of the neighbourhood.

“Sure” one of us replied, all of us surprised they have not just come to beat us up. That they are so calm. I am not sure who answered, but before long the nine of us are dodging and dipping between blocks of snow. For the first time, we are interacting on a level where threats and egos are not involved. “Maybe this is what growing up feels like”, I remember thinking, “past all that childish scrapping.”

It is only five minutes before it all went wrong.  One of the Northwall boys was bent over, blood coming from his nose. In his hand, on the floor, was something. A block of ice.

“Tha’s fucking ice!” holding it in the air. It wasn’t big, but it shone with hardness. Finger prints of bloody red tainted the clear white.

One of our lot threw it. He was apologising, saying he had no idea, that it was an accident, but it was only seconds before the Northwall boy’s first collided with his face and he was on the floor, his nose also bloody. That crack, I will never forget.

Both sides were tense, ready for something to happen. The Northwall boys were crowded around the boy with the bloody nose. We had picked up our boy from the floor as he clutched his nose. Was bent. Looked like it might be broken. We knew more was to come, so we ran.

We ran.

They chased us.

The icy air in my lungs burning.

The pain in my side as a stitch came about.

Looking back now at these flashes, these stupid childhood moments, I cannot help but laugh at my naivety, but it is nice to see that one day we would all just get along.

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