Scramble

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‘Mum, we just had a little issue there’ marque 5 says getting out of the car.
‘Really? What little issue did you have?’
‘I don’t really know what an issue is’ he says. Thankfully. At four. No issues. That he can verbalise at least. But he’s standing there in his nine year old brother’s Nike runners insisting that they fit him just fine. On his head he’s wearing my purple tweed effect cap, back to front. And he’s not playing dressing up. Totally unconstrained.

This is what he decides he is wearing for our traipse up Killiney Hill.
‘They’re too big for you’ I say waving his runners that actually fit him under his nose.
‘They fit me perfectly’ he says. He is wearing skinny jeans too, further exacerbating the off kilter look of the footwear.
‘And I love this here’ he says pointing to the Nike tick.
He has me.

He scales rope ladders precariously at the play area, the feet teetering and wobbling, and I hover underneath to catch him.
You see, I try not to say out loud, I told you they were too big. I also try not to notice the sideways glances at the cute little kid with the monster sized feet.

We march off up the hill, me and the five, picking the most scenic route. Where it’s all wooded darkness one second and then you round a bend and you are catapulted into a panoramic vista of splendour. The internal chatter and worry about safety dies down and we bask in the near on spring sunlight, high above the calm sea. Marque 1 is busy with my phone taking pictures. The rest of us squeeze onto a marble bench, dedicated to a couple who have passed, and share out a Terry’s chocolate orange. Mid term break bliss.

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We continue with our hike and attempt to by pass an elderly couple with a dog. Marque 5 is captivated by the dog and is chatting to her when he misses his footing and slips over the edge of the path and down a steep slope. The elderly lady lets out a scream. I freeze to the spot and stare at his little fingers grasping the root of a tree. It is marque 2 who jumps into parental action and slides down the slope, hooshing him by the back side up towards safety. The elderly woman is bending over clutching her chest. That’s it, I think, I’ve gone and caused a heart attack on this beautiful day on Killiney Hill. I think of the newspaper snippet.

Shocked woman collapses and dies while out walking. The woman’s husband, who was with her at the time, says she witnessed a little child falling down a cliff and her heart seized. The child scrambled to safety, aided by his brother. The mother of the child was unavailable for comment last night.

‘I’m so sorry’ she says, breathlessly, ‘that was our fault. She was talking to our dog’.
‘Not at all I say’ staring down at his feet where the true blame lies, told ya, told ya, ringing in my ears for my own benefit.
‘They think he’s a girl’ marque 2 observes, ‘should we tell them?’.
‘No’ I whisper looking into the unscathed pretty face with the long hair and then, helplessly again, down to the runners.
‘No, let it be’.

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Ellen Kelly

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