I liked the motorway. It went places. I often stood on the bridge and gazed at the white lines. The boy with purple hair who lived next-door to the pub stuck out his thumb at the side of the motorway. It was easy to leave. From the bridge, I saw all sorts fly by: plastic bags, dandelion clocks, bats, a mermaid balloon with the saddest grin.
I was going to stay until Dad stopped hitting Mum. That’s what I’d always said. When I passed all my GCSEs, Dad celebrated by getting pissed and beating her up. I dyed my hair blue and got a half-hearted Mohican. Mr Hook, who lived in the house on the corner, bought a lawnmower. He didn’t have a garden. My Mum and her best friend, Sharon, laughed when they walked past him, tending his new machine. I stopped and helped him retouch a scratch. “Thanks, son,” he said.
Under Mum and Dad’s bed, I found a faded black and white photo in an old cardboard box. The photo was of a boy dribbling a red ball along a street I knew like the back of my hand. The boy’s face was hopeful, his eyes wide open; his grin said he loved the world, that he would go on adventures. Dad sat in a threadbare armchair in the living room, snoring. “I’m going,” I told Mr Hook the next day. I tried not to hear the question mark in my voice. I couldn’t tell Mum, she’d have cried. But I knew I had to tell someone, to make it come true.