‘Martin! Mar ...’IN!!’ the piercing yells echoed down the dismal, rain-soaked narrow alleyway between the red-bricked walls surrounding the back yards of tight rows of miners’ houses.
‘Here Mum’ said a quiet voice. His small curly brown mop-topped face appeared from behind the fierce looking woman; cutting the anticipated screech before it had achieved another level on the Richter scale.
‘Where the bleedin’ ’ell ’ave you bin this time? I’ve bin callin’ you for hours’ she exaggerated.
‘Just around the block Mum’ Martin replied quietly. The little lad looked up at the bloated red face of the rotund woman before him, wondering whether he would be able to bring a smile to her heart this time. ‘I’ve brought you a pressy’
‘Nah what?!’ she moaned, the ash falling from the stub end of a cigarette hanging from the corner of her down-turned mouth. ‘What junk’ve you dragged ’ome this time? You’ve been nickin’ stuff from them there builder’s skips ag’in I’ll be bahnd! Git in the ’ouse yer little sod’.
‘No mum’ He protested stepping back to avoid the swinging hand that brushed the side of his head; ‘I brought you a pressy – look’.
'More bleedin’ rubbish. Always bringing uver people’s junk back ere – I ain’t got room for it an ’ow d’yer expect me to keep this place tidy wiv you keep bringin’ all this crap ’ome?’
‘But it’s a pressy for you Mum. I didn’t get it from a skip – I didn’t - honest. I found it in the woods by the stream’.
‘Ow many times ’av I told you not to go to those woods? ’Ow many? Eh?! Do I spend my time torkin’ to mesewf? Do I?! I don’t care where you got it I don’t want it, an’ it ain’t comin’ in this ’owse. So get rid of it d’you ’ere?! … Anyway up what is it?’
‘This’ Martin said gingerly bringing a wooden figurine from behind his back. He proudly held the two foot high wooden female figure out to his mother.
‘What the ‘ells that? She exclaimed. It’s … it’s disgustin’. I’m not having naked figures in my ’owse!’ she pushed it back at him so violently that it slipped from his grasp landing heavily on the rough stones at his feet. Too heavily. One of the statue’s delicate little fingers snapped off with the impact.
‘You broke it’ Martin cried
‘Broke it ’ave I? … broke it; I’ll give you broke it. Get rid of it. Look at it it’s covered in bleedin’ dust’.
‘It’ll clean up Mum and I can mend it for you – it’s a pressy’
‘Pressy be blowed. I don’t want it. If you want it so bad, you can mend it but keep it out of my sight, fiwf that’s wot it is - fiwf I tell yer!’
‘Yes Mum’. Martin said dejectedly. He picked up the statuette and ran through the back gate, up the paved yard and into the house, ducking under another swing at his head as he passed by the dressing-gowned and hair-curlered heavyweight in her pink slip-on house shoes.
The ten year-old ran up the worn carpeted stairs to his little room where he shut the door and slumped onto his bed in a pool of warm sunshine that lanced in between the part-closed, heavily patterned curtains.
His dad had gone away when he was very small and although he didn’t really remember him, he missed having a Dad like his mates, and his mother wouldn’t talk about him. He always tried so hard to please his mother but never seemed to succeed.
He tried to be a good boy, he kept his room tidy, he ran errands to the corner shop to fetch his mum’s cigarettes – which he hated; he made copious pots of tea for her on demand and on the few times he did go out to play, he always tried to bring home a little pressy for her - not that she ever wanted them – except for the five pound note he had found floating in the river about six weeks ago but even then he got his ear clipped for getting his shoes wet recovering it.
The friends he made at school wouldn’t come to the house to call for him because ‘Your old girl’s mad’ they chided and he could understand why they felt that way.
Martin hugged the little naked figurine to his chest, his small hands innocently caressing the smooth pale wood; his tears making rivulet’s in the light coating of dust. ‘I’m sorry’ he said to the statue ‘I didn’t mean to get you hurt’ checking the slight damage to its little finger. He tried wiping the dust with his sleeve but his tears smudged it and made it muddy. ‘I only want to give Mum a pressy, to make her happy’ He wanted to show her that he loved her, despite her constant anger and laziness which he didn’t notice - he thought it was the norm – but he couldn’t, she didn’t want it.
He kicked off his scuffed shoes, the laces still tied and curled up on his bed sobbing softly into his pillow, his tears dripping from the end of his nose onto the head of the figurine. He slept and he dreamed.
The hazy semi-reality of his dreams brought forth new images, strong and vivid, energising all his senses. He dreamed that he was a man, tall and smart with a good job and a happy home. He dreamed that the figurine was a magical wood nymph that came to life as his tears touched her charming face. He dreamed that she stood by the side of his bed looking down at him as he slept and he dreamed that he awoke from his sleep at her gentle touch.
She stood naked before him holding out her hand to guide him from his bed. There was no feeling of sexual arousal within him at the sight of this naked beauty; he was after all only a boy, but yet a man in his dreams. She represented an aura of calm, of peace, of happiness.
He took her hand a stood before her finding that she was just a little shorter than him, about five feet six he guessed, her pale skin and short golden hair glowed in the morning sunshine that poured into his room through the fully opened curtains.
Although she was silhouetted against the sunlight, he knew from his little figurine that she was without doubt the most beautiful person he had ever seen, far better than those scantily dressed or nude models that posed for pictures in some of the badly creased and well thumbed ‘girlie’ magazines that some of his school mates secretly ogled in little groups by the bike sheds.
The sunlight cast a golden haze around her and her touch sent waves of powerful but gentle electricity pulsing through his body, passing from her hands to his. Martin noticed that the tip of her little finger was missing.
‘I’m sorry’ he whispered ‘I didn’t mean for you to get hurt. What’s your name?’
‘Naomi’ she smiled as she spoke and her voice tinkled lightly as wind chimes in a soft summer breeze.
‘Naomi’ he repeated. ‘Naomi. A beautiful nymph. My beautiful wood nymph’.