There was me alone — an only child. Sometimes I dreamed up a brother who was smarter than me and stronger. Together we invented a dog — long-eared and wiry, with knowing eyes. The dog’s name was Bozo. I forget if the brother had a name. He was not big on talking.
There was a father and a mother of course. Her mind ran on gossip, her eyes spied on neighbours. When she’d had a drink or two she’d cry and say her mother had abandoned her.
We must be adopted I told my brother. I could tell he thought so too. And so did Bozo.
The father meant well. If you ruled a straight line from his good intentions to where things ended you’d wonder what went wrong. Sometimes he’d draw the mother to him — his hand on her narrow backside — but she’d pull away.
The nights when she threw me out I would see his sad eyes through the window.
Sometimes I shouted at him, because I knew he knew about the dark trees, the gaps in the privet hedge.
He slipped me a key when she wasn’t looking. It didn’t fit any of our doors.
It’s not true that she made him take us into the woods. We left on our own — looking for the right door.