She stopped at a passage of a page she'd been reading. You know what aphelion is?
I looked out at the coal wharf over the way. No idea, I said, thinking maybe a villain of some kind. She drew her finger across the page.
Means the furthest point in a planet's...she hesitated, in a planet's orbit from the sun, she said, turning to gaze at me. What's the book? I asked, looking away from the coal wharf, looking at her with her straight brown hair and deep brown eyes.
I borrowed it from the school library, she said, about science.
I looked at the book's cover with planet's, plants and two pictures of animals. She said about her big sister puking in the night into a bucket.
She closed the book and placed it on the grass.
I wondered about a planet and its orbit, but the image of sister puking came to mind pushed the planet away, and whatever the scientist had to say.
Anne stuck her tongue out at the back of the departing nun. A third degree on her bad behaviour with the other kids at the nursing
home and her attitude with other nuns had been noted. The stump of her amputated leg throbbed; her absent toes itched. The nun
crossed the lawn and disappeared into the home. The Kid walked over to where she sat in her wheelchair and sat beside her. What did the
penguin want? He said. She's had complaints about me, Anne replied, the sick prats have grassed. He gazed at the leg stump where she'd pulled
up her red skirt. Looks redder than usual, he said. Have your eyeful, Kid, she said moaningly. Have you showed
Sister Paul? He said. I wouldn't show her my backside if it was on fire, she replied, pulling down her skirt. Push me out to the beach, Kid, I need sea air, she said. O.k., he said, and pushed her wheelchair
along the avenue of trees to the back gate and out by beach and sea. Breath in the air, Kid; this is it; the wildness of the sea and the wind blowing free.
Lydia and I were sitting on the grass at the side of Banks House.
We were playing Snap.
She was wearing an old dress which had seen better days and grey socks which were once white.
A big row this morning she said.
What about? I asked.
Well Dad came home late again last night drunk and was singing at the top of his voice some Irish song and Mum was not pleased.
Anyway it started again this morning and ended with Mum throwing cups and saucers at him and him ducking trying to reason with her but once she off on one you can't reason with her so I came out Lydia said.
Sounds exciting I said.
Well it wasn't she said don't your parents ever row?
Now and then I said.
SNAP Lydia bellowed.
I looked at the cards.
I wasn't looking I said.
Well you should have been she said.
We started again.
Will we row like that? she asked.
When? I said.
If we get married she said.
We're only 9 and 10 I said bit early to ask that question.