Cleared For Landing

The boy, the smaller of the two children, was sitting with a bath towel around his shoulders, shuddering every now and then, otherwise quite still. He was pale: a sort of grey colour. His big sister was screaming with all the effort she could produce – loud and long and piercing – and only breaking off her uncontrolled hysteria to shout “Angus! Angus, listen to me. Angus!” into his face from very close range. The girl was still wearing her sparkly pink top with matching ballerina skirt. The man was on the phone, trying to explain to the operator what had happened, and he seemed to be having trouble getting his story straight. Either he couldn’t get the details to arrange themselves into a coherent explanation in his own mind, or he was having trouble working out how to tell the story, which parts to leave in and which to exclude, as if there were an argument about competing versions in which her was debating for both sides. “They were playing aeroplanes,” he said into the phone, between convulsive breaths. “And they would both run around the room and into the next room, and then come back and land the planes. I was the control tower and they were the planes. I’m just a baby sitter. And they were getting faster and faster and deliberately flying into each other, you know, and jumping on my lap when they came back into the lounge room, which is where I was. They were crash landing. That’s what the kids said. And they were chasing each other – all their games end up being chasings – and they were coming back so quickly to the tower to jump on me. I was sitting on the lounge in the lounge room. This one time, the girl, Avery, she waited for Angus, the boy, she waited behind the lounge and when she heard him coming she jumped up, and the little boy was running so fast, with his arms out, running so fast, and the two of them ran into each other. Angus fell back and hit his head on the floor and he didn’t move at all after that. Not for a really long time. And I didn’t know what to do, so I dragged him into the bathroom. Well, I carried him in, and we ran some water over his head, and he spat some out so we knew he would be OK. But then we went cold, and that’s when I called 000.”

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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