Finally it’s the weekend. The time that I look forward to the most, on Saturdays I get to see my dad. Every weekend since he left home to stay at nanny’s house he has come to see me. He takes me to the park and we play football, afterwards he takes me to the shop to buy sweets. Sometimes he takes me to the pub too, he drinks beer and I drink coke. He tells me stories about when he was a kid or when nanny was a kid back in Dublin.
Each weekend, as we walk to the park I ask my dad about the two tower blocks that are in the distance. Nobody lives in either of them. They closed them down years ago he says. There was asbestos inside. The two blocks allow my imagination to run wild. Imagining what I could do inside such large empty buildings. They are part of our walk to the park, each weekend it’s like they are watching us.
This weekend I am more excited than usual. He is taking me to see a football match. The first time that I have ever been. Each weekend we play football, talk about football. I watch football on television. I have all the sticker albums and even when I don’t have a ball to play with I pretend I have one. Making the imaginary ball do things a real one couldn’t. Now, I am finally going to be able to see one live.
This week has seemed long. Each day at school dragging out, the only way to pass the time is thinking about the weekend. Thinking about how we will get there, what we will eat when we’re there and how the match will go. I imagine one of the players getting injured and they ask me to come on to the pitch and play. I score the winning goal. A hero. I know this won’t happen but my excitement has made my imagination run wild.
The other kids at school sometimes tease me because my dad doesn’t live at home. I don’t care though. None of their dads have taken them to a football match. I will be the first in my class to go. I don’t care that I only see him on Saturday because it makes it even more special. Maybe sometimes I care, but not always. As long as we have Saturdays together it is okay.
Each night after school I have taken my Subbeuteo game out. Laid the green, cloth football pitch on the floor, arranged each model football player out perfectly. Spending all evening playing out the match with the little model men and small plastic ball. Sometimes they break and I superglue them back together. My evenings completely lost in a world of imaginary football that will soon become a reality.
I have been awake for hours and it is still only 9 am. I can not watch the television because I can’t concentrate. I feel excited but nervous too. All those people shouting might be scary. Time is passing so slowly. I only have to wait another hour and he will be here. Then we can go. I imagine what it will be like leaving the train station and seeing the stadium for the first time. I am even more excited.
10 o’clock has gone. There is still no sign. I sit by the window, watching the road down below waiting for him to appear. He always looks up to the window as he gets nearer the house. Each person that comes into view makes my heart flutter as I think it is him. I ask my mum when he is coming. She tells me he’ll be here soon, sit down and watch television.
At 11 the phone rings. Mum picks it up and listens, only muttering in acknowledgement. She puts it down. “He’s not coming today, he said he’ll take you another time”. My body feels as though it is falling through the floor even though I am still standing. I want to cry but I hold back the tears. I can’t speak because if I do the tears will flow. Mum ruffles my hair and walks away. If he lived here I could at least ask him why we’re not going. Maybe the kids at school are right. I want to go and hide in those two blocks where nobody will find me.