Play time

Dad almost crushed Batman beneath his size ten boot, but managed to divert his foot at the last moment.

“Damn it. Not on the stairs Sammy. Why can’t you play in your room?”

Dad stomped down the stairs and straight out the front door, slamming it as he went. His phone had already rung three times this morning. Customers hassling him about jobs he hadn’t finished. Sammy even heard dad apologising while sat on the toilet.

Sammy listened. His two brothers were still arguing in the bedroom. He didn’t want to play there.

Mum was typing away at the computer on the kitchen table. Muttering as she did it about customers who hadn’t paid, exclaiming about customers wanting something for nothing, and telling Jack off for making such a mess with his breakfast. Sammy didn’t want to play there.

He could sneak into the front room. If he played quietly no one would notice him, but when they found him they would shout at him. He didn’t want to be shouted at. He wouldn’t play there.

He stayed on the stairs. Batman launched himself from one stair to the next, landing in front of the villains and knocking them to the floor. One of the villains bounced back up because he had a spring in his backpack. Batman hit him again. Batman hit him ten times but he kept springing up. Batman hit him very hard and the villain flew down the stairs, landing with a crash in the hallway.

“Sammy. Stop that.”

“Sammy do you hear me.”

“Sammy come here and help feed your brother.”

Sammy picked up the villain and went into the kitchen. His brother was playing with porridge. Porridge that came alive and jumped on to your face so that it could eat you rather than you eating it.

“What are you doing?”

Sammy didn’t reply.

“Oh give it here. And pass me the cloth. Look at the mess.”

Mum scrubbed porridge off Jack’s face. Jack didn’t like it. Jack’s little hand found the porridge bowl and pushed it off the table. Sammy caught it before it landed on the floor.

“Good catch.”

Mum gave him a smile. The phone rang. Mum picked Jack up and passed him to Sammy.

“Can you take him in the hall for a minute? And close the door. I need to get this call.”

Jack was happy to be carried. Sammy gave him one of the villains to chew.

Batman took off his cloak. He looked like an ordinary person. Only Sammy knew he was the best goalkeeper in the world. Batman went to watch Liverpool. The Liverpool goalkeeper got knocked out when he crashed into the goal post. The substitute goal keeper was so scared that he was sick. Batman had to become the goal keeper and Manchester United had a penalty. Ronaldo kicked it really hard but Batman dived to the side and caught the ball. He then threw it really, really hard all the way to Salah. He scored a goal and Liverpool won.

“Watch out,” said Thomas.

“Mum,” said Harry. “We’re going to the park.”

Mum didn’t reply. Sammy could hear her on the phone. Sammy moved up the stairs out of the way. Thomas and Harry sat on the bottom step to put their shoes on.

“Hey, what you got there.”

Thomas eased the villain out of Jack’s mouth.

“Look. Jack’s bit his head off.”

The two older brothers laughed. Thomas passed the villain back before Jack started bawling. Mum opened the kitchen door.

“And where do you think you’re going?”

“To the park.”

“What about your homework?”

“We can do that later.”

“Homework first. Then you can play.”

“But mum. We’ve got all weekend.”

“Homework.”

The phone started to ring. Mum looked back longingly.

“We’ll take Sammy and Jack,” said Harry. Thomas looked at him with a turned down mouth.

“Then you can get on with your work,” said Harry.

Thomas’s mouth turned into a smile.

“It would be nice and quiet,” he said.

The phone seemed to ring louder.

“Ok. But homework first thing this afternoon.”

Mum rushed through the door and grabbed the phone.

It was Sammy who made sure Jack was wrapped up warmly enough. It was Sammy who pushed the pushchair all the way to the park while his two brothers kicked the ball to each other. It was Sammy who was sent to the swings while his brothers took turns to be Mo Sallah.

Sammy plonked Jack into the sand pit and lay down on the spinner. He looked up at the clouds and kicked with his foot. The sky span. Sammy wondered is the planet ever got dizzy with all its spinning. He got dizzy if he span too much. He stopped kicking with his legs and let the spinner slow. He closed his eyes and turned his head in circles. It made him dizzy quicker.

When the spinner stopped he tipped himself onto his feet and took two wobbly steps before sinking into the sand. His arm wouldn’t go where his eyes wanted it to but after three attempts he managed grab the lolly pop stick before Jack could eat it.

He used it to dig a moat around a castle. The castle had a king. The king made the laws. One law was that mums and dads were not allowed to work on Saturday or Sunday. They had to play with their children.

Sammy though it was the best law in the world. He held the lollipop stick in both hands above his head. He was the king. He was the one making the laws. He snapped the stick. The stick could be broken but the law could not. Anyone who broke it would be put in prison until they promised not to break it again.

Sammy heard Jack gurgle. It was the noise he made when he was happy. He looked very happy and gurgled again while holding his hands out, which he did when he wanted to be picked up. Sammy stood up.

“Come on then,” he said.

“Don’t you want to play football?”

Sammy looked around to see mum. She scooped Jack up.

“Go on, I’ve got him.”

He heard Thomas shout and saw that dad was in goal pretending he couldn’t stop the ball.

Sammy ran over. Dad held his arms out and caught Sammy. He span him around once, placed hime back on the ground and gave him the ball.

“Go on Salah. Bet you can’t score passed me.”

Sammy kicked the ball. It was going to miss. Dad grabbed at it with one hand, knocking it back into the goal.

“Goal,” shouted Thomas.

“Salah. Salah. Salah.” shouted Harry.

Sammy laughed. There were three Salahs, and he was one of them.

Dad’s mobile rang. Dad held his hand up to pause the game. Sammy stood very still. Every sound in the park was silenced except for dad’s voice as he talked on the phone.

“No. Sorry mate. Did you get my message? Yeah. The van broke down. No, nothing serious. I don’t know, some sort of seal. I was lucky. I was right near the garage so just wheeled it in smooth as you like. It’s a five minute job but they can’t get the part till Monday. Yeah, well, anyway, I’ve got to go. Salah’s about to take a penalty.”

Dad laughed.

“Don’t be daft. They’re not even playing today. No. No. It’s just me and the boys down the park. Right. See you Monday.”

Dad turned the mobile off and chucked it onto the pile of jumpers by the goal post.

“Come on then. Who’s next? I’ll save this one.”