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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 60 | volume XI | May-June, 2008



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 60May-June, 2008
Prose

What to do at the time

/14
p. 1
Thomas Shapcott

At fifteen it is still possible to be hurt by almost anything. The protective skin has not grown and the quick response still waits until midnight to assert itself. Too late, the enemy has marched off in triumph and timing. At midnight, or two a.m. only the pillow, now damp with sweat, is more a mockery than a solace; it not only has lumps and hollows, it surrounds your face and thinks of suffocation. It is in the plot, also.
    In the other bed, against the fibro partition in the sleepout, Jim is snoring lightly. He means no harm. He is impossible. Jim doesn't seem to feel anything: Jim is the ultimate frustration.
    Mick heaves over to his left side and doubles up the pillow to raise his head, see if that will do any good. He knows already this is a vain exercise. He has tried it before. Through the glass louvres there seems to be the promise of a breeze so slight that it does not even stir the leaves of the Camphorlaurel tree overhanging their side of the house. Mick believes he can feel it, though. He tugs back the damp sheets to let it circulate along his limbs, even though his summer pyjamas stick to him. There is almost a coldness from his eroding sweat, at least for the first minute or two. Both Jim and Mick wear singlets day and night; to absorb the sweat rather than for any protection. Their mother warns them it keeps their white school shirts drier and cleaner. When he unpeels his singlet in the bathroom at night, Mick often senses it is twice as heavy as when he initially tugged it on. Sometimes, this weather, he has to change his singlet in the morning, too.
    Tonight he knows he will twist and squirm and finally drag it off, despite warnings about catching a chill or letting his chest be unprotected. It is Jim, over in his bed, who catches colds and who is vulnerable to asthma, not Mick. For all his stoicism, Jim is the one their mother frets about, Mick can see that easily enough, even though she tries to hide it. No wonder he loses his temper at times; wouldn't anyone? Anyone, except Jim. Mick has already unbuttoned the pyjama top. It, too, is clammy. Summer nights when the humidity does not drop and the breeze refuses to give even


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