He bit excitedly into the apple, savouring the sweet juiciness even as it dribbled down his chin. In his head, the world paused and focused on the delicious tastes and textures of the treat but his feet kept pace with the dirty, ragged shoal of boys as they twitched and swirled from one mischief to another. He knew that it would be dangerous to lose this protective crowd here in this frontier between two worlds, a land of worn, cracked pavements and tatty shop fronts, a jumble of ethnic markets and knock-off sporting goods.
It segued gradually from the tatty shop fronts to another world of long abandoned, almost derelict fronts. There were women loitering by the lampposts, brashly painted in skimpy clothes and wobbling, cheap heels. An occasional car cruised by causing faces to look up. In some of the doorways, men stood, singly usually, caps pulled low, a conscious look of disinterest on their faces but they saw everything that went by.
The boy sighed to himself with the last bite of the apple core; he had a long wait until he was old enough to run their errands, earning himself more than just the coins that they tossed out. He liked his own bravery, cocky in his swagger as he stepped over an unseen line into that frontier land, proud of who he was and where he’d come from. He had yet to travel beyond into the other world that his brother would hardly mention.
They raced down the street, each hundred metres or so getting dingier and more derelict. Under the arches by the riverfront, the piles of rags and cardboard muttered and cursed at them as they swept past, tearing worn blankets and strips of card free. He laughed at the game, joining in with light, practised hands.
They’d spend the afternoon on the waterfront, in one of the old yards, tearing things down, kicking oil drums. The normal summer’s afternoon in the only world he had ever known.
This week’s Trifecta challenges asks us to use the third meaning of the noun ‘normal’ (a form or state regarded as the norm : standard). Using normal as a noun doesn’t quite seem normal because that surely is an adjective? Anyway, I find it fascinating how as children we accept whatever ‘normal’ life presents us with and it is only later that we realise the diversity of lifes and worlds around us and how perhaps what we once perceived as ‘normal’ isn’t actually the case.