Playing For Scotland Now
He ran like mad, his father close behind, and despite his own breathlessness, he could hear the louder wheezing of his dad at his heels, but he was in front, and leading the way, and he reached the victory mark of the flagpole first.
He put his back to the pole and slid down to sit at the base, his father now walking, bent, hands on each side, but laughing. He knew his dad had let him win and waited for the quip.
'Dogs pee on that flagpole.'
'Not since they changed the flag,' he answered.
The flag above billowed in a breeze that both cooled and reinvigorated him. They had passed the flag pole every week they walked in this park, for years it seemed, yet it never meant so much as to warrant a second glance. The flag had been replaced though, shortly after the referendum. The Saltire flew there now, above, and bright, and new, and for some reason it made the park more appealing, a walk there not so much a waste of time when his father came to visit, it was a sign of better things to come. He looked forward to his father coming to visit, and he looked forward to walks in the park now.
'Tell me again where you work, dad?' he asked.
'I work for the Government, son,' his dad replied, as he always did so, 'the Scottish Government.'
'Tell me what you do there, dad?' he said, and his father reached down and patted his head, and ruffled his hair.
'Ah, if I told you that, I'd have to kill you,' replied his father, looked at him earnestly, and then laughed again.
His father was a civil servant, which his mother said was an office worker, but he worked for the Government, the new Scottish Government, so to him, a ten year old boy, that meant a world of spies and secrets and agents.
'C'mon,' said his father, and pulled him gently up by the arms. 'Time to go back to your mother.'
Mum and Dad were always arguing before, but things were better now, his Dad was working now, his mother smiled more and worried less. Just maybe, please maybe perhaps, they would get back together again. He hated they were apart.
Surprised, they met his mother at the entrance to the park, she had never done this before, and she had a bag with sandwiches and a flask of coffee for his father and a can of juice for him, and she had brought the football they had forgotten. They walked back into the park along the path, he in the middle, a hand in each of his parent's. Things were better now, and getting better all the time, even his reports from school made them happy.
They sat at a picnic table and his mother opened and passed out the sandwiches. He waved over at Michael, a friend from school. Michael's parents hadn't wanted independence, but it came anyway, and according to his friend they were ok now it had happened. Most everyone he knew was ok it had happened.
He didn't let them see he'd noticed, but he was thrilled when he saw his father take his mother's hand. He grabbed the ball from the bag and leapt up and kicked it towards Michael. Michael ran from his side of the park to meet it. He chased after it. He was playing for Scotland now.
'Playing For Scotland Now' also published in National Collective under Flash Fiction, Here
On The Wall
He sat on the wall and tore the mouldy bread to pieces, threw a handful up in the air where a gust of wind caught the bits and scattered them further, an adventurous seagull swept down and caught a piece in flight.
An old man now, but content, he let the spring sun warm his legs as he sat on the wall and watched the young ones walk up and down the path. Up the hill was the university, most of the passers-by were students, young, intelligent, full of vitality, and a full life ahead of them to look forward to. There was a sprightly step in their gait now, whereas last year, in fact in all the previous years he could remember, the footsteps had seemed laboured, like it was a chore, learning had to be done, but it was an exercise of habit rather than a stepping stone to an ambitious future full of goals and aspirations.
Independence had changed everything. Despite all the portents of doom, he wouldn't have to move and live in a cave, his pension was secure, his light came on when he pressed the switch, and the buses ran, and the doctor was there when ever his gout came back in earnest. Life went on, as before, but even the air tasted different, better, as if it was truly Scottish air. The water from the tap tasted better, as if it was truly Scottish water. The thing is, they were, and always had been.
Tomorrow was Sunday and he would take some more bread and go to the side of the park where the football was played, feed the water fowl along the river, and watch the Sunday league play a game. He was an old man now, but he was so glad he had lived long enough to see the hope, replace the despair, on the faces of the younger generation.
'Feel that breeze?' said Tommy. 'That wind powers that light.'
It was twilight now and the streetlight had just come on. Jo looked at the brightness of it.
'See that car,' and Jo pointed.
The car was so quiet Tommy hadn't heard it approach.
'That wind powers that car,' she said. 'It's an electric car.'
They both played this game. It was a kind of ritual now, ever since the government announced that most of the electricity in Scotland was now created from renewable energy.
Tommy wondered if they would stay together. He was starting an apprenticeship in August, and Jo was going to university in Glasgow. He would eventually become an architectural engineer, she a doctor.
As if she knew what he was thinking. 'I want you to design our house, when you become qualified, and I want everything about it green. Solar panels on the roof, wind turbine in the garden, all the good environmental mod-cons.'
'Sure thing,' he said. When she was so confident about them staying the distance, even though they would be apart for a while, it inspired him. He would do her proud.
'Feel that rain?' she said. 'That rain pays for my university place.'
The rain got heavier, he took her hand and they ran for the shelter of a bus stop.
'It's a funny old world,' he said. 'The fresh water supply contracts, the generation of all our electricity from wind and tide, we're living off nature. The whole of Scotland is living off nature.'
'We didn't need the oil and gas,' she said.
'We didn't need the oil and gas,' he said.
'But we've got all that as well,' they both chanted and laughed.
'I want a dog,' he said, 'a Labrador.'
'Well I want a cat.'
It was great to make plans, sketches of floor arrangements and elevations going through his mind.
The rain stopped and they began to walk, arm in arm, both thinking of the future.