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