Jackie and me, we come to Kingskettle on the train. Way there in the country. Fields and rock and sheep. Whoosh… goes the train. Whoosh goes Jackie. That’s a cow having a piss. Jackie says that to make me laugh. He don’t know cows. ‘Til now we don’t know nothing but Edinburgh.
The widow in Kingskettle, Mrs. Parsons, the one who took us in, she’s fat. She makes biscuits on Saturday afternoon. Her arse is bigger than sixteen Katies. Jackie says that to make me laugh.
We sleep in a room out back there. The garden, you see it through the slats. You see black sky and the clouds in slivers. The wind comes too. Bundle me up Jackie. He wraps me up in the blanket and piles up clothes for his self. Bundle me up, bundle me up. Jackie holds me tight. I wake up and Jackie is covered in my coat, his coat, socks – anything to warm him. One day Mrs. Parson brings a quilt. Squares of yellow, squares of blue. Bundle me up Jackie. Now I don’t need him for warm. I need him for mummy.
Mummy is up there on the dresser. In a Sunday blouse, in a tin frame. Beside mummy—the X’s. Jackie’s made a calendar. One X for each gone day. It goes up to the twelfth of December—that’s how long mummy has to come get us before they give us away. I can’t count. Jackie says that’s lucky. Lucky for me.
The Barnardo man comes. He comes in fall. He’s not the same as the one who picked us up in the motor car and sent us to Kingskettle. And he is the same. He’s got a little blue suit too. He’s got Jesus in a frame. He’s got a book with both our names spelt grown up. But he don’t want both our names.
He only wants Jackie’s.
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