Wendy had barely slept the previous night and now, as the morning’s light grew ever brighter, she was looking nostalgically at the view out of her bedroom window. Her Father had let her choose this room when the family first moved into this two bedroom, bijou property but in fact, it had hardly been much of a choice, as he had clearly stated, “You can choose any room but the front bedroom, which is not an option, as me and your mother are having that one.”
Even after his death on the lake, she had stayed put in that original room, it gave her life a sense of permanence amid all the chaos that her Dad’s death had wrought. The familiar view across the fields and out towards the old Skerries Lighthouse, with its once deep and mournful cry, was strangely comforting to her, now as then. Yet, she was about to leave this room where she had experienced all the ups and downs of a somewhat protected and initially naive adolescent life, possibly for the last time. She recalled the trauma engendered by the prospect of her first kiss, which had been negotiated within these four walls. As had the poignant personal drama of the break up with that self-same, ‘first love,’ a young lad that went by the name of Lloyd Jones. She, unlike him, had cried for days at the loss of this relationship, whereas he got over that particular anguish by picking up Katrin Parry and then, mercilessly breaking her heart in turn. Lloyd, was to feel a little of the same anguish, when his second wife, dumped him, for his continuous infidelities.
She smiled quietly as she recalled her first sexual experiences, those hot sweaty fumbles of passionate experimentation, that had taken place on this bed in this familiar, warm bedroom. She chuckled how she’d thought just locking the door could hide the ‘bloody obvious,’ from her usually absent parent. She had learnt the fundamentals of ‘what goes where,’ from an array of eager suiters, who had been only too ready to assist her. An affectionate and knowing smile appeared on her face, as the memories she usually referred to as, “The Wild Years” came flooding back. Mixed emotions, which ranged between the exuberance of eye popping joy and revelation, to the darkly melancholic hues cast by the memories of overwhelming and unavoidable grief.
Wendy found herself standing in the bay window looking out across the field, towards the Skerries Lighthouse and down to the quiet beach, that she had played on as a child. She could almost see herself and her friends, running along the sands, trying to escape the clutches of, ‘The Bogeyman’ who was usually played by the slowest kid. Cynically chosen as only children can, because it gave everyone else longer to make their escape and find an especially sneaky place, in which to hide. They had called that game, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ and she recalled that one of the rules, which must be adhered to in order to legitimise a capture, stated that, ‘The Bogeyman’ had to put his, or her hand firmly on the shoulder of their quarry and cry, “Argh there matey” in a Piratey kind of voice. Failure to follow these simple rules, led to ‘The Bogeyman’ having to release their prisoner under the conditions of the ‘Barley’s’ rulings. Just where these archaic regulations had originated from, was anybody’s guess but ‘The Barley’s Conventions,’ were followed by all children everywhere, without exception. Strangely, she couldn’t recall an occasion, where the ‘Barley’s Rulings,’ were ever discussed by the group but there must have been a time, somewhere in the dark and distant past, where those awesome rules were hammered out over god knows how long, so that children everywhere could legitimately call a halt to proceedings, whenever all their options were cut off and defeat was inevitable.
Wendy could almost hear the screams of surprise, from the girls who were discovered by ‘The Bogeyman,’ when they thought they were safe in their chosen spot. She laughed out loud at the recollection of Annie Walton, who had tried to escape the clutching fingers of, ‘The Bogeyman’ by running for the sand dunes at the back of the beach, beyond the tide line. Unfortunately, she had tripped over a piece of driftwood and got a mouthful of fine silicate particles for her troubles. Then, to add insult to injury, instead of showing her any sympathy, Alice Evans had loomed over her, grasped her shoulder and very deliberately spoken the three fatal words: “Argh there Matey,” with such mellifluous delight, that little Annie had burst into tears. Recalling that memory of the look on Alice’s face and the boundless joy expressed in her voice, made Wendy laugh again.