Walking Alone


5. A Lost Childhood

The courtcase would be finished by now, and Finley would be banging on his cell door, hating me for not being there, I thought, I hoped, but I knew it wasn't true. He'd be crying proper tears, calling for mum, because she was the one that always understood. That's what Finley told me when I was young, he used to tell me stories about when he was a baby, and what mum and dad were like, and he tried so hard to be like dad, and he picked me up, and spun me around, and put me on his shoulders, and ran with me, but it wasn't the same. By the time he was nine, he was struggling to do all these things that a dad would be doing with a five year old. He had muscles way beyond his years, and he was good at athletics, he used to do exercises every morning before school, and he used to run up and down the stairs, until one of the social workers stopped him, and made him have breakfast with the other children. I knew that he did it to preoccupy his mind, but I never mentioned it, because it was supposed to be a secret.

I always refused to have meals with the other children, because I hated being in rooms with anyone but Finley. The social workers used to walk in, and tell me to go downstairs to the dining room, but I'd just sit in silence, and edge as far away from them as possible. I was never a sociable child, and I never had any clear emotion on my face, my eyes just stayed staring forwards, and I never smiled nor frowned. I was intelligent, and I never got questions wrong, but I never spoke, so I never put my hand up to answer. My writing was neat, and Finley had taught me half of my times tables, by the time I was five. I recited them clearly to him, and I read with him before bedtime, but no one else ever knew.

I was a walking secret...

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