Don’t Trust Them, Daniel

by Kath Kilburn 

Email: kath.kilburn@lineone.net


I’m too daft to lie, my mother used to say, and anyway I’m not that kind of person. But I didn’t think you’d like me if you knew I was older. I told you lots of true things about me, but…there’s always a ‘but’. They say that, don’t they? Mum used to say I’d always be ‘the butt’. Two tees, she said. It was her joke.

The snap I sent was me. Really. I wasn’t cheating. It was a few years ago, taken at school, that’s all. I didn’t have another. You said I was handsome. No one else ever said it except you.

You didn’t send me a photo, but you sounded lovely. Soft. I pictured your wavy hair, green eyes (I think you said green - green or brown.) And you were kind. So lovely.

It’s the noises that bother me. Nothing else. The noises – I don’t like them. Just because I stay in and sit at my computer, that doesn’t make me a weirdo. You understood. I’ve heard them call me that. Sometimes they shout it through the letterbox. Kids. But I’m not.

I wanted to smell your hair. I like smells, nice ones. And to see you in your uniform. Scrubbed face. Shiny black shoes. Smell you. Somewhere away from the noises. It’s the tick, tick ones I don’t like. They do my head in. I put the alarm clock under the bed so I couldn’t hear it ticking. Mum said I was a funny lad. I don’t know why that’s funny. I’ll tell you what else as well – those crossings that beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep to tell you to cross. You can see the traffic’s stopped but they go bloody beep, bloody beep, bloody beep, bloody beep, bloody beep. Wagons are all right, but they back-back and then they beep as well. Some of them talk to you. ‘This security vehicle is reversing.’ I don’t mind the talking though. It’s just the bloody beeping.

When we got the computer, it was better for Mum. She said it was difficult taking me out; she couldn’t avoid every damn beep and bang, she said. (Bangs are all right. It’s just the beeping.) Sometimes she got on my nerves.

You were kind when Mum went away. I kept the email you sent. I printed it and put it in a plastic bag and taped it up and it’s in the blue box. It was raining when it arrived and my pencil had just got broken – the Eddie Stobart one I told you about – because I was mad at Mum for going off. I think I was crying. Or that might’ve been the day after, I can’t remember. But your email made me feel better. You said you’d be my friend so I didn’t need to be lonely, and I just had to mail you and you’d make me feel better. It was lovely. I didn’t know whether it was okay for it to be lovely when Mum had gone, but it was anyway.

There were flies in the room, but you couldn’t see them, from the computer. Pauline, that’s the nurse who used to come to see me, she said I had to have a home help. So she sent this man, Peter. I didn’t like him coming to the house. He wanted to get rid of the flies, and he brought sprays and cleaning stuff. He used my computer when I was at the lavatory. It’s got stickers on it saying 'Private' and 'Daniel’s Computer', but he ignored them. He said he was sorry and his was broken, but he didn’t look sorry. I wouldn’t let him in after that. I think it might’ve been Peter who broke my Eddie Stobart pencil. I liked the flies, they didn’t beep.

You wouldn’t have sent me any messages if you’d known about the flies. Mum didn’t like flies at all. Said no one did, they were dirty, disgusting and had diseases. After she disappeared I got loads more in the house and I liked them. I’d laugh – these flies in Mum’s house. She wouldn’t have liked it.

I wasn’t lying. With the photo, I mean. I wouldn’t do that, especially to you. I thought you might like to look after me. Mum said before she left that someone would, but no one did. I knew how to get food: www.tesco.co.uk

After Mum went, the guinea pig died and that made you sad, you said. Did you mean it? Pauline looked in the cage one day and said, ‘Do you feed this guinea pig?’ And I said, ‘Yes’, but I didn’t, so I gave him a www.tesco.co.uk carrot while she was there, to show her. And she said, ‘Well, I suppose they don’t live long, do they? Didn’t you have a rabbit as well at one time?’

And next time she came he wasn’t moving at all. She pulled a face and put on some gloves from under the sink and got some newspaper and wrapped him up and took him away. She said, ‘Something’s got to be done.’ But she’d done it.

You were my friend, weren’t you? That’s why I don’t understand.

Someone came to the house. Pauline sent them, I think. Usually I don’t answer the door, but they knocked – knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock - like that, for ages. I thought my head was going to bloody burst so I looked out of the window and they stopped knocking and shouted, ‘Daniel? Daniel Price?’

The house wasn’t clean, he said. The garden was a mess. The home help wasn’t able to get in. The guinea pig had died. (‘Well, I don’t suppose they live long, do they?’ I said.) There were too many flies.

My mother told me never to meet anyone I only knew through the internet. She didn’t trust them. ‘You can’t trust them, Daniel,’ she said. ‘You don’t know what they’re planning.’ But you told me what you were planning. You were planning to go on holiday to Venice with your family and you were going to university in three or four years and you liked me because I didn’t tell you off like your mum and dad did. Why did they do that when you were so lovely?

It was amazing you lived so near. That made me very happy. I wasn’t surprised you didn’t want to come to the house, even though I hadn’t told you about the flies. I didn’t blame you for that. Peter didn’t like the flies. He tried to kill them. The park was a lovely idea. I wanted to hold your hand but if you didn’t want to hold mine that was okay. I wanted to look at you. I wanted to know if your hair smelled of Vosene.

The park doesn’t have any beep, beep, beep noises. Not usually. There’s a crossing on the way but I crossed somewhere else so I didn’t hear it. I didn’t see any Eddie Stobart wagons and no wagons reversing either so I wasn’t sweating or anything when I arrived. I wanted to see you. I wanted to know if your eyes were green or brown. I thought you’d have freckles – you sounded like you might.

‘By the lake,’ you’d said, and I thought that would be good because that’s away from most of the people and maybe I’d get chance to hold your hand. Maybe you’d kiss me.

It was a lovely day. There was a little breeze. It was a long time since I’d been out of the house and the sun felt nice. I didn’t remember that. And it smelled of grass. The park was bigger than I thought and I was getting excited. I bumped into someone and said ‘Sorry’. I saw the bench by the lake and you sitting on it. You were beautiful in your uniform, just beautiful. Long hair – brown and wavy, like you said. Blue Alice band. Bare legs. I was panting from hurrying and the sun. I felt shy as I got close. You were so lovely. And your voice – I didn’t know anything about your voice before. You talked like you came from somewhere else, but nicely. Soft.

We sat side by side like friends do when they like each other a lot. And we talked about you and about me and things we like and things we do. It was wonderful. I reached out for a photo you said you were giving me and my hand touched your uniform dress. Just by accident. I liked it, how it felt. And then I put my hand on your leg because it looked so nice, and I put my face close to yours because I wanted to see if you’d kiss me.

And then, someone was shouting. There was a phone. Someone’s phone was ringing – ring, ring, ring, ring, ring. I panicked. Even though you were there, I couldn’t stand it. It was like beeping. I could see some policemen with batons in their hands. I didn’t blame you for looking scared – all those police. I couldn’t stand that ringing, and I just ran and ran and ran. Back home.

Back home the door was open and inside there were people taking up the floorboards and moving the computer. I told them to bloody go away and my computer was private, but it turned out they were policemen too.

Someone had hold of me. I can’t stand that. I didn’t want them to lift the floorboards. That’s where the flies come from. I didn’t want them to find Eddie Rabbit. I buried him under there, see? They found him anyway. He didn’t look like Eddie any more. I had to look away. They were disturbing my dead rabbit but they were looking at me like I’d done something wrong. I was getting upset and struggling and I kicked a policeman, so they took me away, in a different car from the computer.


Mum came to see me last week. She looked at me and sighed, and said it would never matter how far she went, they’d track her down to look after me. She wouldn’t tell me where she’d been, just that she’d been at the end of her tether and had to have a break, and she was sorry it’d been so long and she hadn’t written. She smiled at me but she didn’t look happy.

Mum said you weren’t real. You were just a trick – a trap set up by the police because they didn’t understand about me. I don’t think you were a trick. You were real. You sent me all those email messages and I met you in the park. You were lovely.

©2006 Kath Kilburn

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