At the bottom of our apartment block is a playground, but it’s mostly used by the gangs.

Not today though. There’s been trouble. Ambulances came last night. The police—they usually stay well clear—are here in force.

The stairwell smells of stale piss and we’re glad to reach the sun-battered concrete of the compound.

I sit on one end of the see-saw and Oscar on the other. We bounce slowly up and down as we talk about leaving this place. We’ve had word from Oscar’s uncle. Tomorrow we catch the bus to his village. We will live with his family in the hills where there are no gangs. Oscar will help with the animals and the crops and I will help in the kitchens and take care of the little ones. Perhaps we will have a family of our own. We will be poor but safe.

A policeman approaches across the yard. ‘Papers,’ he calls, waving his revolver.

We pull our battered documents from our pockets. As he’s checking them a single shot rings out. The policeman leaps behind a swing. My eyes shoot to Oscar. He seems unharmed. Only then do I breathe. Warm liquid rushes into my lungs where only air should be.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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