Anne crutches herself onto the green lawn of the nursing home and sits at one of the metal white painted tables and in one of the white metal chairs and drops her crutches beside her Benedict whom she called Skinny Kid follows her and sits at the same table looking at her his hazel eyes focusing on her on her black straight hair and dark eyes other children are playing on the swings and slide or sitting at other tables a distance away don't want none of those other sick kids here Kid Anne says they're sneaks and tell tales and moaning Minnies and such but you Kid you're all right you’re possibly the only one here I can tolerate and O those pesky nuns ****** penguins walking about poking their noses into things saying have you had a motion today? have you passed water? yes I said to Sister Agnes I did a dance on one leg as a motion and I passed the running water tap on my way to breakfast what did she say?Benedict asks she said manners Anne we must have manners and asked me again and I said both and plenty of them and she went off in a huff her black habit gown flapping behind her like some ****** bat one of the kids comes to the table and says can I sit here? of course you can sit you've an **** on you but no you may not Anne says shooing the girl away like she was a dog the girl went off looking back pulling a face how's your leg? Benedict asks missing and aching and driving me to distraction Anne says the ****** stump throbs and gets hot and it makes me a miserable sod can I see it Benedict asks what its like? you're a one aren't you always after seeing my stump later maybe not here with the nosey penguins gawking at everything we do a nun walks down to the table her eyes like black dots behind her wire spectacles ah Anne have you been upsetting the other children again? are you asking me or telling me? Anne says rubbing her leg eyeing Benedict Lina says you swore at her and told her to sit elsewhere the nun stares at Anne then at Benedict well? what happened the nun asks I never swear Sister I never swear I just said she could sit elsewhere be better for her I may have an illness she may catch and may bring her out in yellow spots the nun doesn't smile or move a muscle in her face her dark eyes move over Anne then Benedict well Benedict were you here? what happened and I want the truth or you'll not go to Heaven if you lie the nun says eyeing the boy scarily she didn't swear the boy says just said to go elsewhere the nun stares at Anne do not be horrible to other children they've as much right to sit here as you do now behave or I’ll report you to Sister Paul and then you'll know it the nun says and walks off like a rook unable to fly Anne farts and smiles sums her up that she says Benedict nods and looks at the table want to go to the beach? I can push you in the wheelchair? how old are you Kid? she asks ten nearly eleven he says she muses looks at him do you know how old I am? she asks eyeing him his quiff of hair the hazel eyes the skinny frame no idea Benedict says I’m twelve Kid although my mother says I’m big for my age got ******* and such Benedict looks past her head at the avenue of tree behind and the path to the beach got ***** hair too she adds to see if he'll blush what's that? he asks what’s what? Anne says ***** hair? he says that'd be telling wouldn't it spoil the surprise although you could always ask the good sisters and say dear Sister Paul what's this ***** hair stuff? she laughs to herself well Kid go get the wheel chair and off we go to the beach the boy smiles and gets up and walks quickly towards the nursing home Anne watches him go she winces and rubs her stump with her hands backwards and forwards she watches the other kids at play at the nuns walking here and there then Benedict comes across the grass pushing the wheelchair at a fair speed she smiles as he comes up to the table here we are one wheelchair he says slightly out of breath right bring it round here Kid and so he pushes the wheelchair next to her and manages to get herself in comfortably and rocks about until she's settled right then Kid did anyone stop you? yes he says Sister Agnes asked me where I was going with the wheelchair and I said you had need of it and she pulled a face then walked off with a face like a pinched behind Benedict says good on you Kid now let's' to the beach and away from the peasants and sickly she says so Benedict gets behind the wheelchair and pushes away from the table his arms outstretched his hands gripping the handles and off they go over the grass and onto the pebbly path between the trees and the sound of birdsong and the smell of the sea filling their noses and out the back gate and onto the path along by the sea the sounds of sea rush and waves and gull cries and people calling out and laughter and kids calling and crying and she says O this it Kid this is ******* living breathe in that air breathe in deep and Benedict breathes in deeply as he pushes her along the path smooth and easier and his thin legs pushing along the pathway and as he pushes he gazes down at her black haired head then at the red dress with the one leg sticking out the stump not visible but only the outline of it being there and the smell of the sea and salt in the air.
A ONE LEGGED GIRL AND A BOY IN A NURSING HOME IN 1959