Saturday 18 June 2022

'The Climbing Frame' by Anita Goodfellow

It had taken him the whole weekend to build it. She watched through the kitchen window as he laid out the struts and bolts in neat lines. The woollen gloves she had knitted made his fingers clumsy, so he pulled them off.  Occasionally he stopped and screwed up his eyes as he pondered some point in the instruction manual. She kept Fin indoors wanting it to be a surprise. As the structure grew, her heart swelled a little. This was proof, if she needed it, of his right to be Fin’s father.

That was three years ago.

Today the frame is a rusty skeleton. It sways as the wind whistles through it. Bindweed coils around its legs. Over the years he had tried unscrewing the bolts. One night she found him hammering at the metal bars. She begged him to come indoors, but he swapped his hammer for an axe; the metal against metal hollow and mournful like a cracked bell tolling. Now the grass underneath is long, lush, and untrodden, but it won’t cushion a child’s fall.

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