One Eye Open

People flooded the village with strange accents. They came in a funeral procession of shiny black four by fours praying for change. I don’t know why they are coming. There must be a place that remembers their scuffed knees, with a tree that they used to climb. A place that wants to pull them back, with an old garage that was once used as a hideout for cowboys. I am willing them to go but they keep coming and coming, and coming.

They have started a group. They call it a local group and they strut about the village. They don’t see me. They put up signs. The signs have the wrong names on. They don’t know the right names so they make up their own. They are trying to cut out my childhood by renaming it. Their bulldozers are trying to build over my memories.

One of them said that we needed more flats. I told him that I was christened in the flat where he now lives. He sneered at me and I snorted back like an angry horse. He doesn’t know that his parking space used to be a graveyard. That underneath his house all the sleeping corpses lie, with one eye open. I wonder if the bodies felt the weight of the bricks as the church fell onto them. If they groaned as more overpriced flats climbed into the sky.

I look at his flat on Mersey Road. I can see him in there with a cup of self-congratulatory coffee. He has a book by Gordon Ramsay in the window. The book never moves; he mustn’t cook from it. It just waits. Or he only cooks one thing, from one page. I stand there staring at the book cover and remember sitting in the church. I remember the pulpit above me and the thick book on its stand. I remember counting the minutes until I could go home. He scowls at me and shuts the blind. I wonder what happened to the grey-haired reverend who used to pile up our tins for the harvest festival. What would he think of Gordon Ramsay squatting in his pulpit?

The bodies under the ground remember my shiny shoes walking down the pathway every Sunday. They must still remember the weight of our young knees on the wet grass as we posed in dancing costumes for our photo in the newspaper. We read out their names, breathing life into them again and giggling at the ones that sounded like people we knew. They are nameless now. The only writing to mark their graves is the numbers of the car park daubed in white paint. But they are still there underneath. They will always be there. Even when they are just crumbs. I smile, some things cannot be erased.

Susan Gee has just completed her BA Hons in Literature. She has always lived in Heaton Mersey and has always loved to write.

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