Innocence - The Ink Well Prompt #12


"Mum, why isn't there a prize in my cereal?"

An upturned empty box.

"That's an American thing, James. Finish up, now." The clink of a dish on the pile. "Where did you hear about that anyway?"

"Jules said that his friend on the internet collects them." A spoon placed down on a half finished bowl.

"You know what I think about Jules and the internet, James." Clink. "I know what you're doing, and we're not going to discuss it again. Not until you're 12 and starting intermediate school."

A back turned. Finality. Authority.

"Mum, are you scared of the internet?" A slight rise to the tone.

"No, James. But I know it can be a scary place for young people who don't know what they're doing." A warm smile. The touch of a hand. "Give me your empty bowl, and go and put on your shoes and socks for school."

"Do I have to go today?" Downcast eyes. The twist of an ankle.

"Don't push your luck, young man. Shoes." Stern. A slight frown.

"I don't want to." One shoe kicked away from the other.

"And why would that be?" Silence. "Is it because of the other children? Something they've said or done to you?"

"Lots of them have phones, Mum. And I don't." Eyes still on toes and voice soft.

"I told you not to push your luck. And I've had my final word on the subject." I would later recognise this as doubt; although I wouldn't have recognised it at the time.

"But they show me stuff on them, Mum." Defiance. I know defiance already.

"Have you got everything you need in your bag. Because I can tell you, you don't need one of those things yet." The slightest pause. "And I'm not happy about them showing you things either. I'll talk to Mrs. Simpson about it."

"Do I really have to go?" This would be a recurring theme for the rest of my life.

"Yes. I love you, James, but you'll just have to trust me on this. You're too young to understand." The shoes were put on for me, one by one, in a way that hadn't happened for a long time.

"But I think I understand, Mum." Eye contact.

"I certainly hope not." The same warmth, but somehow pleading. "Come outside. It's a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky."

"Mum, I think I've got something I need to tell you."

(Image by AlmightyMelon - original work.)

3 columns
2 columns
1 column