Walking Home From Headingley

Along the top path until we reach the house with the odd dogs. I don’t like the dogs. They must have very long hind legs to be able to lean over their tall wall. I’m not sure how they walk when their back legs are so long. It worries me.

But soon we’re up the snicket. It smells of damp and leaves. Mam pushes the pushchair, and the rest of us bounce along beside her.

Strangers think Mam has lots of children. She collects them. Just for the day, or an hour, then they go home. Then there’s just me and my little sister.

At the top of the snicket we breath fresh air. Large stone houses. We stare into their front gardens, their windows. How different from our brick terrace and yards.

Before we know it though, it’s into the next snicket. This one’s my favourite. Mam calls it the secret garden snicket. What’s in the garden? We don’t know. Mam tells us stories about what might be there.

Resham is quite tall. Maybe even bigger than Mam. But she’s tiny so that’s not surprising. And he’s old. 10. He jumps as high as he can and clings to the top of the wall.

“It’s a garden” he says “with…”   “Don’t!” cries Mam, “don’t say!”  I want to know, I want Resham to tell us. But he doesn’t say.

Through the other snickets, all the way home. This is the way we walk every week. Resham never says.

Then one day I look. It’s many years on, Resham is married, I’m a grown up, we all are, Mam is dead. I peer through the gates. It’s nothing. It’s a garden. But it’s nothing, because now I know.

Sorry Mam.

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