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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018
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Sean O’Connor
Tipperary, Ireland


Big Boys

at the laundrette
it ruins everything
a single red sock

Sometimes my mother washed clothes in the kitchen sink, but she did the main wash every couple of weeks or so, collecting coins in a jar for the machines. We went with her, my brother and I, but we didn’t like it, it was hot, and there was a funny smell. We used to play on the wide path outside, or in the lane a few shops away. That’s where we were when the big boys attacked us. They pushed us first and started hitting us, but we got free and ran further into the lane. That’s when we’re trapped. We can’t get out ‘cos the big boys have blocked the street end. We want to get past them. We want our mother. For a minute there is a stand-off, then my brother runs at them. I run too. One of them catches him but I slip past. I can hear one curse under his breath as I shake him off.

There is a rush of stuffy air when I burst in to where my mother is, sitting by herself, all relaxed looking. I’m frantic. I think she’ll jump up when I tell her my brother is being beaten in the lane. Instead she says something real calm, I don’t know what. She doesn’t seem to understand. She’s smiling. I tell her again, plead with her to help, but she doesn’t move. My brother comes in crying his head off. As he goes up to my mother she stands up quickly. Suddenly, she looks upset.

‘I can’t bring yis anywhere.’

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