Kicked to the Kerb by Gloria Neale
Gloria Michelle Price lived her first eighteen years in the same house in Glen Innes, Auckland. At eighteen she left for Otago University. Her life since has been one of education and educating, travel and family. She has a word addiction and this is therapy.
Look left, look right and look left again. I stepped off the kerb. Simultaneously, a neighbourhood boy sped past with a bottle of cream on his new Raleigh bicycle. Myself, the bike and boy collided. The cream formed rivulets on the road mixed with swirls of raspberry red blood. The glass had sliced deeply into my face. I next remember lying chilled at the hospital while waiting to be examined. I awoke in a ship: my hospital bed. My broken leg rose before me like a white mast. I remember Dad coming in regularly over the next few months with Donald Duck comics and creaming soda milkshakes. A stitched mouth needed straws. After a time I left Auckland hospital ....only to return.
Mum and Dad were going out together, a rare social occasion. They were inside our State house getting ready. Their three young children sat in the front seat of the 1949 Chevy. John looked at Graham, Graham looked at John who looked at me before releasing the hand brake. They jumped out either door. I was left smiling in the middle. Down the driveway the car rolled, bounced over the kerb and merrily crossed the road before jolting to a stop at the brick wall of the Lindergreens' house. My memory goes blank there.
My childhood was a tension between my father, who welcomed the vagaries of life, my mother who assiduously avoided them and my brothers who relished daredevil escapades such as parachuting off the roof, lighting fires under the house and staking a cousin to the clothesline. They had seen this in cowboy movies, Dad's favourite genre. Mum's nervous breakdown was inevitable, she was so desolate.
Now came the summer of my discontent. My eight year old self is standing in T shirt and shorts on the same concrete kerb. My mother has stepped over that kerb and into a waiting taxi: a vehicle which signified trouble in the 1950s. She turns to me. No words pass our lips, no hug embraces our bodies. The driver releases the handbrake and the taxi pulls away. I am frozen. My mother did not return.
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