Tuesday, December 8, 2009


As Alice pushed her battered tartan shopping trolley towards the mall she watched a child playing hopscotch in the distance. The blonde girl, in her red duffel coat reminded the old woman of Little Red Riding hood.

Sitting on a low wall, bordering the car park, was a young man who must be her father. The little girl would throw her stone, then hop, skip and jump the course, running to hug her father's leg when she succeeded and letting him lift her onto his knee and bury his face in her neck when she failed, kissing and snuffling and sending her squealing back to the course.

Drawing nearer, Alice could see the toy shop carrier bag next to the man's foot, and next to that the discarded MacDonald's wrappers, stacked ready for the bin. The man looked at his watch, and though she was still too far away to hear it, Alice sensed how wistfully he sighed as he called his child over for another hug, just because.

He caught Alice's looking at him, chin resting on the little girl's head and he gave the old lady a shy smile.

When she was level with him Alice looked at the hop scotch course the little girl had drawn on the paving slabs. Each chalk line neatly intersecting the middle of the block's edge. With every hop and jump the little girl's feet landed where the corners of four blocks met.

"Oh, love, doesn't she know?" she asked the man. "Step on a crack-"

"She knows," he replied. "She won't let me draw it any other way."


  1. In case you aren't familiar with it...

    "Step on a crack , break your mother's back."

  2. Nice story. Thanks for the reminder in the comments section. I had just finished the story and was wondering what she was refering to.

  3. I'm not sure I understand this, Anton. Does it mean the child believes the chant and is deliberately hurting the mother?

    Straight From Hel

  4. Yes!

    The way it works in my head it's a divorced dad waiting for his ex-wife to come pick up the kid at a neutral area after he's spent his court allotted time with her, but the child would rather stay with her dad than with her mother.

    Of course that explanation is almost as long as the piece. Hmm. Needs work.

  5. Interesting story, poor Mommy.

  6. Inspired by my brother and his kids, not that he's divorced.