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Doodlebug (?) – [Task: to write a ‘coming-of-age story’]

Simon is whining and scratching but I can’t see at what. I try and peek over his shoulder but he kicks me in the eye and I fall back and I’m worried maybe my eyeball is scratched and I might never know what’s down the hole.

“Lemme seeee!” I cry, both at Simon and a little bit at God. He turns (Simon, not God) and sits, watching me and question-cocking his head. I am super proud I got the authorative thing right but as I think this I get a strange feeling in my stomach, a growling, and it gets louder and deeper and all I can think is that I ate all my lunch today, what’s going on?
Then I realise it’s not my tummy at all it’s everything, the ground and the sky, oh! The sky is heavier and loud like a dry sunny storm then it’s only a plane but then it’s even louder and rumbling, a bus in the sky!

But buses don’t fly. Simon knows this and he tries now to tear open the hole, panting and digging and spraying dirt over my head. Then he stops, stares at me and barks even louder than the bus and runs always looking back to make sure I am following and I am. We are running and its flying over our heads almost towards home and we are running into it’s path, there’s a dark shadow thrown across the grass. My ears hurt and I roll into a ditch and Simon rolls too. As it passes overhead it goes silent. And though my ears feel better I get a feeling that this quiet is much worse than the noise.

I see it now, the Not-Bus and it’s actually a shark with its white teeth bared. I don’t like the way it glides towards the houses without as much as a flick of a fin. It’s moving effortlessly, to keep it’s breath washing over it’s gills. It’s descending still though, definitely. The ditch is wet I realise but I think I should stay and Simon agrees and shuffles on top of me, covering my view with serious eyes and his warm chest.

“What happens when it stops breathing?” Simon looks at me blankly.

“Don’t ask.” He says.

As we walked home watching people running and shouting in the broken glass with buckets Simon was the best behaved I’d ever seen him. We even saw the cat from number 22 race past in a orange lightning bolt but the whole way he stayed perfectly ‘heel’.

When we reached our road and noticed number 54 was gone I knew I was right about the Not-Shark. There was a giant pile of matchstick beams and a bathtub where it used to be. Then Simon ran off and for a moment I was scared but then I saw he was running towards a little pink shimmer in the dust that was Mummy and soon they were both running back to me.

“We’re okay my dear, are you alright? Father’s just helping Mrs. Newbury, let me see you, you’re not cut are you? No, just dirty, oh my sweetest!” She squeezed me and I checked to see no one was watching as she did but secretly I was glad that she was there and the hug did make me feel better.
Simon’s tail is wagging again.

The three of us walk back home together. All the windows on the left side of our house (the side closest to number 54) are smashed but then 53 has a few walls missing and when you tilt your head it looks like a gummy mouth. 52’s roof looks like the thatching came off and got put back funny. But 54 is just… a pile. Mummy squeezes my hand.

“Mum. Where’s the Tomlinsons?”

Simon is curled up in his bed with the fire glowering behind him. He looks more crumpled now, and a few of his spots have turned grey. Caroline goes to ruffle his ears but he just sighs and turns his head away.

“Simon! Sorry, I don’t know whats gotten into him. He’s not usually like this.” Silly dog. She smiles and comes back under my arm.

“It’s okay, he looks tired.”

“Oh dear, yes, he’s an old dog now! Still likes a cuddle now and again but only on his terms I’m afraid. Much like your father dear,” She laughs that secret silent laugh. “I wouldn’t worry Caroline, he’ll be climbing all over you after tea. Speaking of which, are you both hungry yet? Ah, good, the chicken should be ready any minute!” Mum shuffles off to the kitchen.

“Your mother’s an amazing woman you know. Still living in this house after -”

“Yeah, I know. It was strange coming back after the evacuation. You go on in darling, I’ll be there in a minute.” She squeezes my hand and leaves.

“What’s wrong boy, eh? Why are you being like this?” He won’t look at me when I try to scratch his chin so I lift his head towards me. “What is it boy?”

He gives me a look that I remember through the white brows then his eyes go glassy and he turns his head away again and stands up. He shakes himself then walks towards the garden door.

“Silly dog, the chicken’s not in there.” He must be getting old, I think, Simon never misses Sunday roast.

After dinner Simon is gone.  He must’ve gone out of the catflap though he’s never done that before, we always thought he couldn’t fit. I pull on my wellies and my jacket.

“It’s cold Caroline, you wait here.” I take her hands. “He can’t have gone far, I won’t be long.” I go to leave.

There is running in the distance. A warm, familiar embrace.

“Stay my sweetest. You know, he wouldn’t want you to see.” Mummy squeezes my hand.

This was written under the inspiration we were to write a ‘coming of age’ story. Trying to use dialogue a bit more too!

My Dad was evacuated in WWII and this is loosely based on a true story he told me about when doodlebugs fell in Enfield! Simon is also a real dog but I don’t know if he could really talk.

I should start posting more often now I’m back at uni.

Hope you enjoyed :)

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