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The Gun

Daniel stands in the funnel, a narrow path between two high brick walls that join the playground to the estate proper. On windy days, the air is forced through here then spun upwards in a vortex above the square of so-called grass between the four blocks of flats. Anything that isn’t nailed down becomes airborne. Washing, litter, dust. Grown men have been knocked off their feet. A while back there was a story going round about a flying cat.

Except there’s no wind this morning, there hasn’t been any wind for days, just an unremitting mugginess that makes you want to open a window until you remember that you’re outside. Mid-August. A week since the family holiday in Magaluf, where he learned backstroke and was stung by a jellyfish, a week till school begins again. He is ten years old. Back at home his older sister is playing teacher and his younger brother is playing pupil again. Helen is twelve, Paul seven. She has a blackboard and a little box of chalks in eight colours and when Paul misbehaves she smacks him hard on the leg. His mother is doing a big jigsaw of Venice on the dining table while the tank heats for the weekly wash.

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