There was a line of pot plants on the table, just under the window, and he didn’t know what they were but some had colourful petals and they were all small and they were on the inside of the balcony, closest to the house, the place which afforded maximum protection from the wind and the rain and especially the sun. He was sitting on a chair next to the table. He was closer to the elements – nobody seemed terribly concerned that he might wilt. The doctor had recommended he keep warm and keep his feet up, but said it was also a good idea to get fresh air, and so the strange compromise of rugging up a convalescent teenaged boy in copious blankets and other warm things and plonking him outside, where he wasn’t safe from driving rain, was born.

At first he had been annoyed. Teenaged boys get annoyed at things and they become sullen or they protest in guttural sounds. This one chose the sullen route. It seemed to make no sense: he was wearing a beanie and was dressed like one of his grandfathers often dressed himself, complete with slippers and stripey flannelette pyjamas, yet the wind was biting and he couldn’t feel his cheeks, and it seemed so obvious that this was plain bloody silly, but none of the adults seemed to get that. They could be so dumb sometimes. But he couldn’t wander off and do something else, of course, he was trapped. Trapped in the a cushioned cage, with pillows, a dressing gown, and a cup of tea brought out mid-morning and mid-afternoon, as well as lunch and endless offers of snacks, which he mostly rejected, but not always, for sometimes you do feel like a cheese stick, despite the fact that cheese sticks are lame.

The grumbling he did was mostly internal. He pulled faces and looked pained and hardly communicated with his mother when she asked him how he was, and she would pop her head out and ask many other irritating questions, and his answers were often non-existent or unsatisfactory, unless he really felt like a cheese stick and his mum had offered him one. She mostly left him alone in the afternoon. She brought him a small pot of tea at about 2pm and then let him go. He enjoyed the time alone, even if it was lightly drizzling on him, and he had time to contemplate the back garden, usually through misty rain, and if his pain wasn’t too bad he would try to doze off in the comfy chair. Sometimes he could sleep and he did sleep, and his dad woke him as the shadows were lengthening when he had come home from work. But mostly he just sat there, unable to move, bored.

One day his aunty Jess came over. She came to see the teenaged boy’s mum, but she sat with him for a while too. His mum brought out little cakes and more tea and they all sat on the balcony. He was more inclined to talk to his aunty than his mum or dad and he told her he was bored, that he had only sleep to look forward to each day, although he admitted that the changing colours in the backyard was something he had started to notice and that he was comparing the look and feel of his little world in different weather and at different times of the day. He had started to watch the spiders sheltering from the regular downpours and had taken to observing a spider which had recently made a home high up in the balcony roof. He said he called it Andy.

A few days later a small parcel arrived in the mail, addressed to the teenaged boy, from his aunt. It was a book. A book of poetry. A brief note accompanied the book, in which his aunty asked him not to prejudge the book. To read things here and there. To give it time. To make a decision after giving it a chance.

He did give it a chance. He read it. The whole thing – not in one go; bits and pieces – but he finished it, and when he finished it he read it again, this time from start to finish. It was strange and he wasn’t sure why he liked it, but like it he did, and he requested another.

Published in: on December 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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