Ch.56

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** I did not write this. All credit goes to Hannah**

56.

We'd discussed the information Liam had disclosed at the party. It had been difficult to pry the content of the encounter from him. Harry still wouldn't tell me of the person who requisitioned his thoughts when the topic was approached. But that didn't matter, at least he was talking about it; I took that as a positive development concerning his need to bottle things up. It was some weeks before we decided to visit his old neighbourhood and the memories locked in the landscape. I hadn't forced or pushed the situation, it wasn't my place. It was only as we were returning from a visit to his sister's that a detour had been made and the car pulled up to the curb just outside a park.

"Jess and I used to come here on Saturdays to play on the swings. Mum had given us some money for ice-cream, but I didn't want mine, I gave it to Jess and she bought two scoops instead of one."

It was unusually quiet, the cooler Summer months transforming into the burning colours of Autumn. Harry took my hand, navigating an apparently familiar set of leafy paths. It was pretty; a classic park with benches and conker trees, an earthy scent that took me back to my childhood.

The sprung, metal gate was held open for me and I proceeded to take advantage of Harry's gentlemanly gesture, entering the almost deserted playground with him following after me. I smiled upon hearing a delighted squeal; the young child hiding in the wooden fort as his dad sought him out.

The bark chip made for a cushioned walk under my boots as I joined Harry by a set of swings. The bomber jacket he wore was zipped up to the neck, fighting to suppress the blustery breeze. I shoved my hands into my pockets, lightly nudging his shoe with mine. He warmly motioned for me to emulate his position.

"We'd bought her ice-cream and came here. She'd insisted on getting sprinkles and that I had the chocolate flake," His expression softened with the memory. "There were a group of boys; a couple I recognised from around where we lived. They knocked the cone out of her hand and laughed."

I perched on the swing next to Harry's, immersed in the words so much so, I could see it playing out before my eyes. A younger Jess and her little brother. I'd seen pictures of both of them at the time when they were young teenagers, Harry all curly hair and dimples.

My legs straightened, lightly taking hold of the chains attached to my seat and swinging back and forth.

"I pushed him down; told him to piss off. One of his mates shoved me into the bridge," Harry's eyes magnetised to the small wooden crossing uniting the slide and monkey bars. "I punched him in the face," he lightly chortled. "I got beaten so badly that day, but all I could think about was Jess. She practically carried me home, telling me how stupid I'd been to start a fight. I remember mum shouting at us, getting us clean and to our bedrooms before dad came home."

Harry hadn't looked at me whilst he recited, probably too caught up in images already played out. With his feet still making contact with the ground, he stretched his long legs, pushing himself back in the seat to begin momentum.

"I think that was the day my mum realised I wasn't going to stand by any more...It frightened her."

***

"This is your house?"

It was semi-detached, red front door and a pretty garden; a house somebody else called home. The surrounding area was quiet, a lady and her dog wished us a "good afternoon" as we passed her on the path.

"Was."

"It looks nice, Harry."

"Shame life inside it didn't match up to the outside."

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