Volcano Child

Bastille is my favourite band and their song Pompeii is one I really like because people see it meaning either the destruction of Vesuvius or a broken relationship but I think it has a different meaning according to each person.

My protagonist is a 10 year old girl. She doesn't state her name because she doesn't think it important. Because of a car crash, she is mute and must face changes in her life with her Dad in silence. Until one day when her anger bubbles up and after so many years, she finally finds her voice as the volcano child.

My cover of Pompeii will shortly be linked.


2. Verse One

I was left to my own devices
Many days fell away with nothing to show

And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above

The first time Dad left me alone to go to one of his conferences, I sat for the whole three hours on the windowsill staring into the corrupted city of London; the rain drizzling and splashing onto the roads mixing with the grease, reflecting the car headlights, people scurrying along pavements; the madness of the rush hour. I could watch forever, it seemed as if days passed but I enjoyed observing. I tilted my head in wonder, that amongst all the filth and muck, everyone managed to look past the man and his dog sitting in the shadows begging for money, or the old woman with her daughter in the tent in the park, sheltering from the rain and hiding from the park guards. It made me bubble up with anger that nobody would help. That was the first time I ever left our flat by myself. It was seven or thereabouts and Dad wouldn't be back for another hour. I grabbed two of my old blankets, made some peanut butter sandwiches and took a chocolate bar out of my secret stash. I rummaged through the fridge until I found a forgotten but still edible chicken sandwich and removed the chicken pieces and put them in a plastic box. Then I checked the time before slipping on my wellies and green rain jacket. I put everything in a brown basket that Dad said was 'only for picnics' but we never go on a picnic in London and he never has time anyway. As I made my way down the stone staircase, I could hear my steps echoing. I carried on walking, past the garage doors, past the lift which was always broken. Finally I got downstairs, my heart racing inside my chest. I was only eight at the time and the thought of leaving the flat onto the crime-filled, rat ridden streets of London at night, terrified me. But then I saw the man and his dog. I couldn't remember the man's name - I never have been good with names – but I knew he was an army veteran and I remember the dog's name was Kim because the man had made her a blanket and stitched her name in it. I approached the man and his dog, Kim looked up at me with her sad brown eyes, just like I'd remembered from the story about them in the paper, not that anyone had read it. I handed the man a blanket, a sandwich and the box of chicken for Kim. I'd never seen the man smile before that. I didn't make eye contact as I walked away, still feeling the warmth of his smile on my back. As I walked on the slanted pavement toward the shadowed park where the tent was, I heard footsteps behind me. I walked a little faster. The footsteps walked a little faster, but hesitant, matching mine. I saw the shadow behind me and I kept walking. I felt a hand grab my shoulder and I tripped over startled. I turned in alarm but my heart calmed itself as I started to recognise the figure stepping out of the shadows. It was my Dad. He picked up my basket. He didn't even see my grazed knee. My father isn't the type who likes to attract attention especially in public which is why I knew he wouldn’t risk shouting at me until we got inside. But he didn't seem angry. He bent to my level and gave me my basket back.
"What are you doing?" he asked gently.
"I'm taking food and a blanket to the mother and daughter living in the tent." I signed.
"Of course you are." He sighed in exasperation and rubbed the back of his neck in frustration.

Ever since the crash, Dad blamed himself for me losing my voice and my mum; when I was four, Dad was driving home from my first day of school. He was arguing with Mum because he'd forgotten to pick me up and I'd waited half an hour in the rain. I didn't mind. I like the rain. The next thing I knew, Dad was swerving then he braked and I saw mum go through the windscreen and I screamed and kept on screaming. I screamed myself into a fit. I could feel my throat twinge but all I could do was scream for my mum. Dad told me she was going to be ok as I watched the ambulance take her away, their sirens ringing in my ears. She died and my vocal cords were badly damaged from all the screaming. It didn't matter though. I haven't spoken since. It's not that I can't. I can, it just hurts so I choose not to. Dad taught me to sign.

It looked like Dad was at his wits end but then he surprised me. He took my hand and in silence we walked to the park. He watched as I rang the little bell on the tent door and handed the supplies to the little girl who gave it to her mother who was lying on an old worn sleeping bag. I grinned as the girl took a bite of chocolate and her face lit up. But then she threw up in a bucket. My smile turned upside down. For a minute I thought I had food poisoned her or something but she explained how she hadn't eaten properly in a while and she had trouble keeping food down. I nodded and sighed. I turned to Dad but he was rummaging in his work satchel. He brought out a flask and I gave him a kiss on the cheek as he handed it to me. Soup. I signed to the girl that it was soup and it was easier to eat. She signed thank you back which was a pleasant surprise. She told me her sister was deaf. I didn't ask where her sister was. Just like my friends at school never ask about my mum. Respect. And awkwardness. But mostly respect. They invited us into the tent and told us their story. How the girl’s father had died and because of his debts the house was taken away. I listened to how the little girl had watched the walls of her home bulldozed, tumbling down, leaving nothing but rubble and debris. Everything she loved. When her story was done, she thanked us for the soup and the food then we walked home in silence, the thunderclouds gathering over our heads, smothering the park and city in thick black cloud the colour of ash. My mind clouded over and I started thinking as I clutched my Dad's hand. The world was full of darkness and it wasn’t just the pollution and the fumes.

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