Accidents happen

I ran away once.  Down to the park.  I planned never to return. 
The glazier had propped the sheet
of glass against the sideway fence, thick and glossy.  He dropped it off that morning to replace the glass in the
back bedroom window, which one of my brothers had taken out with a tennis
ball.  My mother had been angry
when it happened, only a little. 
She understood she said, ‘accidents happen’. 
She was in the kitchen cooking
porridge, stirring the lumpy white goo in the pot at the Kooka.  She stood in her dressing gown, pink
quilted chenille with an apron tied around her waist.  Not much waist to see. 
Her stomach muscles had gone she said, she had lost them having
babies. 
I heard the tinkle of glass and ran
out into the back yard where my brothers stood red faced and panicking. 
Our father had left for work.  His ghost was there, the traces of his
spirit hovering in the background. 
We knew had he been there, he would have burst into rage.  But my mother was only a little bit
angry.  Enough to remember to turn
off the stove when she came out to see the damage done. 
My mother had lived through the
Second World War when the Nazis invaded her country, she had lived on nothing
but tulip bulb soup for weeks in a row. 
They flavoured it with salt. 
She knew about the unexpected things that happen and she could get
scared, but not today because my father was not there. 
My mother was only ever scared when
my father was there because he was the angry one and most often times he was
angry with her.  I do not know why
he was angry with her, except she seemed always to get it wrong.  She upset him.  She cooked his food wrong.  She ironed his clothes wrong.  She dressed herself wrong and most of
all she could not keep us quiet when he was trying to study for his accountancy
exams;  when he was trying to watch
the television; when he was trying to sleep. 
After breakfast, I ate the porridge
holding my breath because although she had remembered to turn off the stove
before she went outside my mother had still burnt it.  The porridge had a bitter taste.
After breakfast I went outside with
my tennis ball.  I bounced it up
and down  in front of me as I
walked.  I bounced my ball down the
kitchen step onto the concrete path that led to the laundry one way, the
washing line the other.  I followed
the concrete path out and around the washing line then retraced my steps back
to the kitchen door, down beside the laundry and out onto the footpath that
leads to the front yard and the street. 
I walked up and down the side path
past the sheet of glass, counting the whole time, 95, 96, 97.  I was aiming for 200.  The ball hit a rut in the
concrete.  I had aimed badly and
the ball ricocheted off in the direction of the glass.  It smashed a chunk off the corner and
the broken piece landed on the footpath and shattered into smaller pieces.  They glinted in the sun.  It was not a loud shattering but it was
loud enough to send my mother running from the kitchen. 
She looked at the glass, she looked
at me and her face went red, her eyes narrowed and she yelled at me.
‘Not again.  How could you?’
What did she mean not again, as if
I had done it in the first place?
I ran away from home, determined
never to return.  My father’s anger
was a given, but my mother’s anger was intolerable.   I had lost her forever.