THAT'S NOT MY DADDY
(WRITING WITH SOMEONE ELSE'S VOICE)
I asked my Writers Group to compose a very short piece using the 'voice' of another character, for example, an old person, a teenager, a drug addict, a child, a harassed mother - the choice is endless. I chose the voice of a 5 year old child. Afterwards it struck me that the emotions involved in the piece must have been echoed in many other situations where a soldier has come home from the fighting to greet his children again.Here it is:
That's not my Daddy.
Miss Haynes said he was waiting outside to take me home, and I got so excited. I haven't seen him for a long long time. Not since he was sent to be a soldier in Af – Af – that place with all the sand and the bombs. I peed my pants a bit, just a little, when Miss Haynes told me he was there, waiting by the gates. I hope they'll be dry by the time I get home so Mummy won't be cross.
But – That's not my Daddy. My Daddy is very tall and he stands straight up and he has a big shiny, smiley face and . . .
I take a step backwards into the hall.
My Daddy has two arms and two legs. The man by the gates has only one of each and his face is sort of squashed up and crunched, like a paper bag that's got nothing in it. He's pretending to smile, but it's not a proper smile.
No, that's not my Daddy.
He's calling to me now. He knows my name. Lukey, he's calling. His voice is different. Sort of shaky and whispery. And then he raises his arm, the one that's got a hand on the end, and waves.
Come here, son.
I'm not supposed to speak to strange men. If one speaks to you, my Mummy says, don't answer them, just run back to where there are other people.
There are other people in the hall and the cloakroom. Miss Haynes and Mrs Batsby the Head, and Alfie and his Mummy. I can hear them laughing.
'Lukey,' says the man. 'Don't you remember me?'
I think he's crying, and I want to cry too, I can feel the crying coming up in my chest in big hard lumps.
But he's not my Daddy.I turn around and run back into the hall.