MY hair still hadn’t grown back. The scabs itched like hell; I couldn’t but claw at them like I had nits. At least I didn’t have to wear those horrible bandages any more.

Until now Daddy used to take my little brother and me to work. The road to the quarry at Kyleakin was a rollercoaster and hanging around the big Howard Doris dumper trucks with their huuuge wheels brought a constant sense of excitement, if not outright danger. We somehow managed not to get killed and Daddy’s work pals didn’t seem to mind our presence.

The short life of Spot, the little mongrel pup we had been given not even months ago only to lose him to the wheels of a neighbour’s car, was fresh in my thoughts. I missed his sharp little fangs nibbling at my fingers, the distinctive puppy smell that lingered in the house for days after he was gone, the curious lining of the inside of his mouth that reminded me of salmon.

The headmaster’s baldy head loomed as I crossed the classroom threshold. Solemn, bespectacled and so much bigger than me, he cut a forbidding figure behind his lectern. It wasn’t just his beady eyes that put the fear of God into me, it was running the gauntlet of being stared at by the Big Ones.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

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