The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Under the Bed

Kate Brown

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.

About the author

Kate Brown is a British film-maker and writer, living in Berlin. Her films 'Julie & Herman' and 'Absolutely Positive' have been shown at festivals and on television in Europe and the USA. Recent short stories have appeared in BLIP, The Legendary, Eclectic Flash, Cinnamon Press and the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 2010. More coming soon in Metazen, LitSnack, Blue Print Review and Camroc Press Review.