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When The Big hand Is On The 6 And The Little Hand Is On The 4

When the big hand is on the 6 and the little hand is on the 4 then you need to lock the back door and walk down to the town and wait for me outside the dairy' she said. Immediately I could feel the anxiety in my stomach beginning to grow. What if I missed it? What if it happened when I wasn't looking?

I couldn't tell the time yet. I didn't realise that the clock hands moved around in the same way every day, day in day out. I thought it was as chaotic as our home was. that any time could suddenly happen at any random moment. No rhyme, no reason. I also never realised that it never actually happened that the big hand would be on the 6 at exactly the same moment as the little hand was on the 4.

I was a literal kid. I had to do things right. I knew there were consequences to not doing things right. I needed people to tell me exactly what was expected and so keep me out of trouble, keep me safe. It seemed to me they often told me wrong, then I was the one in trouble. And so I would carry the large metal alarm clock around with me for fear of it happening when I wasn't looking. That was the first and second areas of anxiety; the first and second flames of worry in my stomach.

The third area of concern was the deceptively simple instruction to get the back door key from its place on the ledge above the back door, lock the door behind me and place it under the flowerpot next to the back door. The back door key was old, large, cold and rusty. To reach it, it needed the wooden chair from the kitchen dragging down the dark back passage, me climbing up onto it, still clutching the case.. stretching up on tiptoe to reach the key then dragging back down the passage to the kitchen.

Oh that taking the key outside and locking the door were that easy. It locked from the inside. Easy. No problem. But from outside...where I was supposed to be.... nothing but nothing would make that key turn. And so the endless practicing started.

Stare at the clock, drag the chair down the passageway, reach for the key, drag the chair back, go outside, try to turn it. The complete lack of movement caused me to grab it extra tight, strangle it with both hands whilst desperately trying to turn it.

Red and smarting hands, red and smarting eyes. Quick stare at the clock again before going back inside to try again from the inside. Easy. Back outside. Nothing. I'm crying openly now, tears of frustration and despair. Trailing back down the passage to the kitchen I find a tea towel, bring it back, wrap it round the key and try to turn it with all my might. No give whatsoever. I kick the door angrily.

There was only one answer to this. I had to lock it from the inside. I had to get out some other way. I know I must not leave any downstairs windows open. I don't know how I know this but I just do. I go upstairs.

A plan is hatched to climb out the bathroom window, and from there jump down to the concrete path below. I'll count to 3 then I'll jump. No I won't I'll count to 10 and then I'll jump. I don't remember how many times I changed the number of counts, putting off the evil moment until finally launching myself off the bathroom window sill. I landed with a jolt on the path below. My feet stung, my back jarred. I took a while to gather my wits. Finally I could place the key under the flower pot and leave the house to walk down to the town, wait for my mother then walk home again.

And so the daily routine was set. Every day the same. Clock, chair, key, cry, tea towel, kick, back inside, lock, bathroom window, jump, flowerpot. Now I wonder why I never said? Why did I never tell anyone how hard these deceptively simple tasks were?

Author's Bio


Helen Bee works in adult education with young adults with learning disabilities supporting them in gaining skills for independence as well as literacy and numeracy. In additiin she works with music as a choir director and harpist, as well as being a PA to an artist from the US. Living intuitively and consciously, supporting growth and development for all people are very much the flags she flies.

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