“DEAD: SMALL BOY DIED AT THE HANDS OF BYSTANDER”
The aged eyes embraced the impact of the words on the newspaper and the memory which poisoned his mind. He looked towards the child by the river and stood up. He moved towards the child slowly, an urge within him intensifying. The small dark head was so similar, no difference in age. The boy turned, but instead of recoiling, stared intently and this terrifying individual before him.
“Who are you?”
“I’ve just come to tell you not to get to close to the water. It can be dangerous.”
“It’s okay; I’ve got lots of swimming badges, and lifesaver ones too.”
“Well, that's very good, but you need to be careful all the same.”
“What’s your name ? Mine’s Charlie.”
The old man’s eyes seemed to brighten.
"My best friend is called-"
At that moment a young woman with blonde hair hurried from the road above, and grabbed Charlie’s hand aggressively.
“You stay away from my child, you freak! Look at you, you’re a disgrace! Preying on small children, I know what you are – don’t think I won’t report you!”
She then turned her heel, her sheet of hair twisting, pulling along the child, who, at the top of the step, turned to the old man and smiled.
Paul turned back to his spot and saw his pile of belongings. He walked leisurely back towards them. He bend over and rummaged for a small bag hidden beneath his coat. He plucked out a wad of limp bank notes, and counted them for the first time in three years. He replaced them in the bag and slung it over his shoulder. He then gathered the newspapers which had protected and warmed him. He looked at the water, which now glimmered in the red morning light. He scattered the paper into the canal, and watched them slowly absorb and bloat, as he once did. Then he turned and walked away.