One Eye Open

By Susan Gee

Location: Berwick Avenue, Heaton Mersey

I have always been here. Like the cobbles around the church and the old river that kicks up a stink every summertime. I am part of this place, like a stone that the grass has grown over. This is Heaton Mersey. It is my place. I have always been here.

When I was six I lived on Berwick Avenue. I fed the horse in the field next to my house. He would come to me slowly, bending his head over the wooden fence, towering above me like a big white ghost. I would bring a fresh green apple every day. The horse would bend down and take the apple, with teeth like tombstones. For a moment we would lock eyes.

I could see the horse’s field from my bedroom window. His name was Polo. I’d imagine myself grabbing Polo’s mane and riding around the field. I wanted to fly through the air on his back, to be free.

Now the children are protected like delicate glass and the field is gone. In the place where the horses grazed there are a hundred houses standing erect like soldiers. Guarding their residents from the past, whilst underneath their patios horse prints are embedded in the soil. I do not know who sleeps in that bedroom now, someone else who has no horses to watch.

There are cars everywhere now. Not like when I was young. I would sit on the back of my mum’s black bicycle, wobbling over the bumps on our way to the shops. I’d push my hands through the stripy plastic strips that hung over the door of Duffy’s butchers shop. Mr Duffy the butcher would greet us with a plump smile. There would be a dog behind the wooden slats, salivating. I would watch as Mr Duffy took out his knife, his fat pink hands as red as the meat he was about to cut.

The shop has gone now. They have hair salons and betting shops instead, not even a post office. It is all gone. The orchards filled with pear trees. The Linx golf course where we went sledging before the bulldozers came and transformed it into the Linx housing estate.

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