After school

The school gate closes behind us and Milly speaks as the afternoon sky darkens. “Child!” – that’s me – “go behind me. Jack, go behind child. Get in line nicely, children, and follow me”. She sets off up the hill and we follow obediently. “Now we’re looking for pussy cats. I will hold a finger up like this” – she holds up her little finger – “each time we see one. Sshhh!” We daren’t speak.

We reach the top of the small hill and Milly pauses at a clump of weeds. “You can touch these, children”. She touches some bindweed. “But these are spiky – don’t touch these”. She touches some dried dock flowers. Jack and I follow as she threads her way through the weeds, and we emerge onto a pavement. “Now, children, don’t forget, we’re looking for pussy cats.” We keep in line, Milly, me, then Jack. I spot a black and white cat crouched on a doorstep. “There’s a cat over there!” Milly holds up her little finger.

We follow the pavement as it rounds the corner. There are several driveways to cross. “These are rivers. We have to run across them.” We obey, although I don’t run so fast and fall out of line.

We’re in sight of the car now and Jack says “I want a drink”. “May I have a drink please?” I reply, and I think how annoying that might be to a thirsty person.

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