I walk through the school gates. My options are limited. Footsteps follow me. I want to shake them. Here is the road where we used to hang out. That house, the one just over there, set back from the road? We treated the old man who lived there cruelly. We would knock on his door and scarper. Hide behind hedges. Call out abuse because he had a reputation: a dirty old man.
The pathway leads between the allotments with its smell of earth and cabbages. A man in a wool hat, his lip set in a sour scowl, comes out from a makeshift shed. He doesn't look my way and I make it to the park. The swings are new. The see-saw is new. Bright red and yellow and somehow plastic looking. Spongy, rubberised surfaces. I still have the scar on my hand, shaped in the letter T from where I fell from the rusting swing in the days when the ground was still hard and sharp, had bite.
Now the old primary school. Mr Hunsley would spin in his grave if he could see the graffiti adorning its walls. There's a light on in a window where a woman sits staring at a computer screen. She has pink hair and a ring through her nose.
The road drops through familiar landmarks. I take a quick glance to my left. Quick, to see if I can handle it. A sort of visual sip. Grandad's house. It looks smaller, greyer. Grimmer. A car slows and the man driving takes a good look at me. I drop my gaze and walk on. Just another stranger on important business of his own.
My options are limited. The light is failing fast. Darkness finds me following a path through the gardens. I can hear water chuckling in the stream. The bandstand is a silhouette. There are kids on there. I recognise their voices. Pull my hat down and fade into the night. A half-moon smiles in the sky.