by Justine Knight
I’m not sure why they erected it. There was no need, no great call from the mass of people for a statue in the middle of the square. Why they put it in the middle of a tough neighbourhood was beyond comprehension. Birds had already shat on it, and there was a faded yellow bra placed around the bust, its tight lace caught against the jagged metal. Or stone. I don’t know, I have never been that close to it. I just happen to be able to look out of my bedroom window and see it directly. That day, a group of boys that are in my year were throwing stones at it, trying to chip off a bit of arm, leg, or nose.
‘Bloody disgraceful,’ a voice came from behind me. I started, threw my hands out and managed to knock my money jar on the floor. Coppers spread across the faded carpet that was once and no longer cream.
‘Nana, you scared the crap out of me,’ I said and bent to pick them up. Nan stared more, then nodded to herself, before pulling back and sitting on the edge of my bed. I cradled the pennies and put them gently back in the jar.
‘Bloody disgraceful,’ she repeated.
‘Well we can’t stop them, can we?’ I said.
‘I should call the police,’ she said, scratching her hand with the other one.
‘That would do nothing, they would be gone by the time they heard the sirens in the distance,’ I said.
‘You are such a good girl,’ she said and cupped my face. She got up, slowly, and went out. ‘Tea in five minutes,’ she called, her voice strong and clear.
They were there again. The same boys. How do I know? Exact same hoodies. Exact same posture. And even, exact same movements. I’m not a stalker, I am just very aware of those around me. They were throwing rocks at it now. But we lived in the city, there were no big rocks to speak of. So they got the gravel from our parking lot and threw that instead. It was like tiny stars crashing against the solid bulk of the earth. One threw his head back and laughed, as though cursing the heavens which made him. They started to swing off the arm, each taking it in turns to completely let go and throw themselves off it. Some rolled and stood straight up. Some tried to roll and crumpled, but then stood straight back up again. Then, it started to rain. Big heavy droplets that soon soaked the ground. The boys ran off, laughing and swearing as they jumped into the nearest block of flats. I sat there, watching the rain, how it smoothed over the statue’s body and arms. How the foot was missing but the water seemed to form one. How the gravel that stuck onto it was washed away. Of course, I was too far away to see any of this, but I imagined what it was like. I imagined the statue, and the boys on it. I imagined the one in the blue hoodie, holding my waist, pressing his legs against mine. I read about an erect penis, but the idea revolts me, so that was not in my day dream. Instead, I took a cigarette and smoked it with expert ease, not coughing or spluttering, but breathing it in like the wind and clouds. Quite happy with that metaphor.
He stood near my block of flats. The boy in the blue hoodie. The others were egging him on, but I don’t know what for. It was two in the morning, and the street was remarkably silent. Nothing stirred, nothing but the flick of the wrist, the swing of an arm, or the press of the hand. Then, the stone crashed through my window and landed, alien, on the floor. The crash was loud, but I quickly picked up the stone and hid it in my sleeve. The door banged open.
‘What the bloody hell was that?’ Nana said, her hair tied up and her eyes droopy. She took one look at the window and screamed in anger. She opened the broken window and shouted out to the boys below.
‘I’m calling the police. Stay right there, your parents will be furious,’ she said. Nana belonged to a time when parents were the police, at least, to children they were. But the boys merely put their finger up at her and ran off, their laughs rich and echoing against the thin brick. My nana went off to phone the police. When the door closed, I uncurled my palm like a flower, dizzy and sweet. In my hand was the statue’s nose.
Justine Knight is a young writer who has been published by Momaya Press and smaller poetry organizations. She is looking forward to studying creative writing at York and is addicted to coffee and Twitter.