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1993: Sometimes (when I look deep in your eyes)

By the time she was twenty months old Sarah was running

marathons round the flat and had a vocabulary of around fifty

words, some in approved dictionaries. Like all parents, we

convinced ourselves that she was not only special, but gifted

in some way yet to be discovered. If we could have afforded

a piano she’d had rattled off a symphony; only the local

drought of canvas and oils prevented her daubing some

masterpiece rather than the crayon wall-scrawlings that gave

the place its new improved identity.

Perhaps Sarah would be the artist I’d tried and failed to

become; she was a pocket surrealist, and on the mornings you

found a sardine in your slipper you were not surprised.

Einstein’s theory of relativity couldn’t have explained the

contents of her nappy; but to make up for it once I discovered

her with an illustrated book of pirates trying to step into the


The fact Sarah never slept was a good thing, for it meant I

spent more time in her bed than I did with Becky, who only

succumbed to sex once a month, at the heaviest point of her

period, and it would be metronomic: eyes closed, her own

lights out, too lazy even to corpse. Afterwards I’d wipe the

blood from my cock, close my nostrils to the tangy odours

and get a beer from my shelf of the fridge.

I could deal with the nappies, and the fatigue that

permanently enveloped my senses, making the world a

Ripper-haunted fog; what I couldn’t take were the limitations

imposed on my art. Becky kept quoting some critic about

prams in halls, but I didn’t believe it; Sarah wasn’t keeping

me from my work, Becky was, by getting a job. She’d found

a great way out of love-making – she’d taken a job at some

office or something, leaving me to cope with Sarah all day.

Sarah being Sarah, a cute tomboy both cheeky and self contained,

I mostly coped; but sometimes my temper went

and I’d snap. I never hit her but when I shouted she flinched,

and I’d feel awful, especially when she ran from me as if

afraid, running to a mother who wasn’t there.

I’d already noticed the way friends changed when they

became parents; they’re still the same with you, but there

appears this authoritarian aspect, this dominant streak, when

addressing their kids; this look in the eye of protection and

provision, this intolerance and reordering of priorities.

Somehow, somewhere, I had acquired it too.


*This is an extractof “Fire Horses” by M L Piggott.

“Fire Horses”: synopsis and quotes

“Fire Horses”: buy it here


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