I stand loose gravel beneath my shoes, it crunches I focus in on this sound, it is almost comforting, then it cuts through. The cackling laughter, the gaggling chortle from all sides, louder and louder, constant, incessant, and unrelenting. I try to concentrate on the over under and around pattern of my laces, of my shoes crunching the grit into the bitumen. It does not work, slowly, frightened, heavy of head I lift my eyes, they are there. The left the right, ahead, and behind. I don’t have to see them behind me I know they are there. They laugh, they try to hide the fact it is at me. They try to conceal it talking to each other, tending to their out of control screaming children, but it is me. I am the focus, they glance, they look away, they cackle like witches brewing around a pot, “bubble bubble toil and trouble, look at him his chin is double”.
I close my eyes and rub the lids, hoping it all goes away when my eyes open. I have just arrived; I come late to avoid recrimination, pointing the laughter. It builds, it is louder, I can’t take it anymore. I have to act. I will, I see myself running at the nearest woman and reaching hands close around the throat and squeeze, harder than I can even imagine. Her face goes red, purple, there is screaming, crying, “Mommy….mommy…..mommy…..” a child wails. Then a shrill bell rings out, I remove my fingers from my face, open my eyes, vision blurry, then comes into perfect focus with a click. My life, my joy my little boy wraps his arms around my leg; the other parents collect their children from Kindergarten, their attention off me for a while. I breathe a sigh of relief I have survived another pick up from school, soon I will be back in the comfort of the house, away from the murmurs, the pointing, the laughter. I focus on my son, his face beaming, his eyes wide and innocent, my reason to live. My anchor to life, a life tethered tenuously between reality and fallacy.
I am holding on grasping to the edge of sanity and slowly I feel my grasp loosening.
I dread the fall.