Ten past four on Sunday afternoon. It’s nice, hot, and sunny. I’m alone, numbed by the heat; I feel like sleeping, and I’m thirsty. I go to the kitchen to pour myself a drink.
The neighbour’s kids are in their garden, playing loudly. No adult with them, it seems. They give me a headache. I glance at them through the window. I drink my water, the ice cubes tinkling against the glass. It cools me down and soothes me. I wipe my brow with the back of my hand, exhaling loudly. Those kids, Christ… they’re killing me. My brain feels like it’s going to explode anytime. I want some quiet.
Back in the living-room, I’m about to sit on the couch and watch mindless TV programs, when I catch a glimpse of the kids on my front lawn. What are they doing here? Selling cookies? They seem to move towards the front door. I quickly go to the window, lift the curtains, and glare at them. Can’t they bloody leave me alone? They see me at last and seem to understand. Distressed, they run away.
* * *
Ten minutes later, and those kids are at my door again. I’m tempted to pretend I’m asleep, but I’m too cross to do that. Instead, I almost run to the door. They’re forever ringing the doorbell, and now knocking loudly as well, and shouting. What the hell do they want? Attract the whole neighbourhood? I briskly open the door, ready to tell them off real good and yell at them from the top of my lungs.
But I don’t.
They’re crying; they’re agitated. I can only make out a couple of words at first. Jimmy. Fell. Was shaking on the ground.
God. One of those kids is having an epileptic fit.
Bewildered, I run to their garden. One of the kids, about five, is lying on the ground, surrounded by three or four other kids. His head is turned to one side, spit coming out the corners of his mouth. His eyes look glassy. I can’t believe this is happening. This can’t be happening.
Another neighbour shows up, alerted by the cries of the children.
‘What’s going on?’
‘CALL AN AMBULANCE! ONE OF ‘EM’S HAVING AN EPILEPTIC FIT!’
Thank God, he has a mobile. I try my best to help Jimmy, but he’s not moving. He’s not responding to anything. I have this terrible feeling that I am too late. I ask one the kids when Jim fell.
‘About ten minutes ago’, he says. ‘We got scared and went to ask you to help, but – ‘
He stops and looks away.
So that’s why they were at my door.
To ask for help.
And I scared them away.
I killed that kid.
With just a glance.
A true story, inspired by a ‘secret’.