[Aberdeen.]

[Circa World War Two.]

[Curfew.]

The little girl runs,the deserted forbidden streets,the p-ping,ping,p-ping,ping of bullets.

German bullets.

They are emptying their ammunition-belts,losing weight,having to fly back over the North Sea,north west to southeast on reserve fuel;the intent is always to expend rounds not hit citizens:they were bomber crews told where to drop their bombs,and to return to base in Germany;they would really stretch their fuel bombing Aberdeen~but they did,no end of them,and the little girl runs knowing none of this,and is grabbed.

‘Get in here!’ 

A man in a doorway lurches:a citizen,also breaking the curfew,leans forward and grabs her by the arm;he doesn’t say a word as the p-ping,ping continues,echoes away:the penny drops on the little girl off a street sprinkled with shells,the noise recedes,the plane flies away to run the gauntlet of the gunners near the harbour,and never could the sobering presence of Spitfires be ruled out:they might never make it back,ditching in the North Sea a habitual reality.

The girl is let go,soundless he leaves,a decent honest-to-goodness man protecting that little girl who is my mother,Irene Shepherd,and who I miss terribly.

 

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