‘Get out of my sight,’ my father growled. ‘Go to bed. I don’t want to see you again today.’
‘Are you joking?’ I asked incredulously. ‘It’s not even six. I won’t be able to sleep.’
‘Then lie there and think about what you’ve done,’ he hissed.
It was the middle of summer, hot, bright. I could hear children playing on the street outside. Football, chasing. All the things I wanted to be doing.
I played disconsolately with my soldiers for a while. I tried covering my head with a pillow and feeling sorry for myself but that grew boring fast.
In desperation, I searched my closet for something interesting. All I found was a book. A Christmas present from some aunt who didn’t know me at all. I was nine and had never voluntarily read a book on my own. It wasn’t the done thing in my neighbourhood.
For lack of anything else, I climbed under the covers with the slim, brightly coloured volume. Enid Blyton. The Mystery of the Burning Cottage.
I never got around to reflecting on what I had done.
And I never stopped reading from that day on.