From my ninth-floor bedroom window, the
street looked as far away as the stars. I looked up, adjusting and readjusting
the Libyan Army binoculars. There was the starry plough, vibrating and
pulsating. I put the binoculars down and looked again. Seeing it with my own
I wanted to talk to Dad,
but he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t back from work. I had sat there, waiting for him while the sun
went down. He was in the City, doing the groundwork on a hotel that was being
redeveloped. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t far from Peckham; he was usually home by now. Some days
he was late with the concrete.
A maroon van pulled onto
the estate. I aimed the binoculars at it. Sweeney Groundwork Contractor was written
on it in big white letters. It looked like the van that Dad drove but I knew
from where it parked that it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t him. A police car parked up alongside. A
man got out of the van and a policewoman got out of the car. They walked
I put down the
They had to wait for the
lift. I counted in my head as they went through the nine floors. The knock on
the front door was right on time. Mum went past my closed bedroom door.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happened?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ she
I had my ear next to the
The policewoman spoke.
I heard the words Ã¢â‚¬ËœBertie WalshÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. DadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhat is it?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Mum asked.
I heard 'trench
collapse' and 'buried aliveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. I didn't know who was speaking.
The sound of someone
falling against the front door. Vomit landing on the balcony. I held on tight
to the handle, unable to open it.
The front door was
Mum came down the
hallway and stopped outside my door. Her breathing was fast and loud. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t
want the door to open. I knew the expression on her face would stay with me for
the rest of my life.