Monday, 1 December 2008
the young knight
once upon a time there was a young knight who lived in cottage, in a village on a hill, with his mother, his brother and his sister. the knight's mother was a foolish woman, given to impulsive action and selfishness. the knight was 15, an age where he was neither man nor child, and he thought far too much about life.
one day his mother told him they were going to move from the cottage to another village by the sea. she packed up the car and they all got in. just as they were about to drive away, the knight's mother switched off the engine and asked him to fetch one more bag of clothes that she had forgotten from the cottage. the knight went inside and as he was collecting the bag he heard the car start. he looked out of the window and saw his mother driving away. the knight did not know what to do. he had yet to find work and he had no money. the cottage was no longer like a home.
the days went by and the knight became more and more sad. one of the neighbours took pity on him and made him meals. she is a woman who has her own story. it is about her father, and violence, and drugs, and fear. it is about a lump of wood with nails in and a small child in a car. but this is the knight's story. we will save the woman's story for another day.
the woman made the knight meals, and let him stay in her cottage. gradually he fell in love with her. but he was very young and she was already very old inside. she made her money from selling drugs.
next door to the woman lived a couple. they were kind and gentle people. they worried about the knight. they worried when he stood in the garden crying at the moon. they worried when the knight cut himself with his sword and was taken away in an ambulance. they worried that he would be hurt by some of the people who came to buy drugs from the woman. these people were not very nice. they fought each other in the street and people said that they had guns. the couple found it hard to sleep. every night the woman would hammer away at her walls and her floors to fetch the drugs for the people who came to buy them. then she would have to hammer the walls and the floor back together again.
eventually it all got too much. the people in the village knew that the young knight was beginning to lose his mind. the woman had tried to make him move out, and he could be heard by the villagers screaming and crying in the street outside her house.
then the knight cut his own throat with his sword. he was taken away in an ambulance again, but he ran away from the hospital, still bleeding. the people from the village decided to ask the kind ladies to take the knight somewhere safe and try to make him well. however, in spite of all that had happened to the knight, the kind ladies said they could not help. they had a threshold and the only people allowed over it were people whose lives had got very, very bad.
the people from the village found it hard to believe that the knight's life was not bad enough for the kind ladies to help. they had seen the inside of the cottage where the knight had been left by his mother. they had seen the chaos, and the broken toys, the holes the knight had punched in the walls, the empty hamster cages, the home-made birthday cards and the bloodstained floors. although the knight was not really still a child he was certainly not a man. did he have to cut his own head off before they would let him over their threshold?"
this story does not have a happy ending. but the ending is not as bad as it might have been. eventually the kind ladies were persuaded that they should help the knight. they found him somewhere to live, with friends in the village. he stopped taking drugs and started eating meals and having baths. so on the face of it all was well. but the knight will never forget the sight of his mother driving away and leaving him. he will never forget the emptiness that made him cut his own throat. and when he has children of his own, it will not be a great surprise if he finds it hard to be a father...