Day had fallen into night. As I ate dinner, Father wouldn't even look at me, and mother ... well, she ate with indignant seperation from the rest of us.
The pork-chops were dry as sandpaper, and the potatoes tasted bland. Life in the Charlie Ellis house was paloured with the dull fidelity of a bad 1970's Paramount picture movie. Looking from my plate to my mom, it didn't look like she was going to let me burn the trash in the back again, tonight. A notion, which surprisingly, saddened me.
Wendy was going to be watching! I thought to myself.
"May I be excused?" I asked sheepishly.
"But you haven't finished your dinner!" Mother said.
"I'm not all that hungry, anyways," I replied.
"Where are you going?" from Dad.
"Leave the damned matches in the house! I don't want you burning down the whole neighbourhood!" he said stuffing his face.
I pushed away from the table and sulked outside into the backyard, where I saw two beady dark eyes reflect the moonlight between the planks in the fence.
"I can see you," I said. Wendy seemed to instinctively duck lower. "I can still see you,"
Wendy turned and made for her door and i ran towards the fence, "No wait!" I cried. She stopped. She was still in her pijama's. Her socks were muddied, her knees torn. "Come back," I bade.
"I could get in trouble," Her voice was soft but with a crystal timber that rang like a bell. "I'd hoped to see a fire,"
"Ya," I frowned, "My dad said, 'no',"
Disappointment drooped her eyes. She was pretty, I decided. "What about your mom?" i asked.
"Drunk," was her simple reply, "Always drunk," she nodded, embarrassed.
"Sorry," I suppose I was.
She shrugged, and her face lit up, as a dog barked in the distace. "Hey, have you ever seen Crotchy Corbet's dog?"
It was an old Hound. The thing had lumps upon its lumps, with greying hair over its snout, and it was an altogether disfunctional animal at the best of times.
"Sure, I've seen it. Crusty, right? It drools too much," I observed.
"Ya .. yap yap yappin' all the time," Wendy's nose wrinkled as she smiled. I liked it when she smiled. It made me smile.
"We should burn the bloody doghouse down," Wendy said.
And I looked at her in shock.
She was even serious!