A.J. Walker


Always Red Wellingtons

#MidWeekFlash 200 - 19 May 2021

Always Red Wellingtons

I remember the wooden frame steps by the woods at the back of Aunt Tina’s from the long summers of childhood. Some of the steps seemed large to me then–but standing here now I can see they were nothing. I used to enjoy running up them trying to beat mum and dad; but mostly my sister. I’m sure now mum and dad just enjoyed watching us playing together. The steps were muddy sometimes after a few days of rain. If it was wet I’d run up in my oversize bright red wellies. Once one of my boots stuck in the mud as I continued onwards with just my white socked foot: not white for long. They all laughed as I comically struggled to get back to my boot. I’d beaten my sister to the top of the steps, but the victory didn’t include the prize of someone rescuing the boot for me. This seems a lifetime ago. I suppose most people’s childhood does. Time can be flexible but sometimes it breaks.

Now back at the house all these years later I am at loss to know why the steps are there at all. There’s hardly a footpath there along the raggedy fence and more puzzlingly there’s no clear destination along this part of the property. Someone though had invested decent time in constructing the steps, even as a homemade civil engineering operation. But to what purpose? The effort suggested the path was important once. But for who and why? Was there something here I never saw here?

I aimed to wander over the area for the day and see if I could find something of note. I felt the path probably simply led to a field once used for horses, or perhaps for sheep–maybe when the people before Aunt Tina lived there. I had no recollection of her having a horse or any livestock other than some chickens by the house. The terrain just a few metres the other side of the fence didn’t suggest steps were required. Perhaps there were issues with adjoining landowners preventing them using the smooth slope on that side of the fence. There was likely to be a perfectly simple explanation to it. Now Aunt Tina was gone it seemed likely I’d never find out. Why is it we don’t ask these questions when are relatives and friends are with us? It seemed like such an obvious question. But back in my youth the steps just brought me joy–without questions. I can’t remember coming here when I was older–in fact in my head I was always in the same red wellies. I know I came here when I was older; with bigger feet and different footwear. But in my memory I was always that same child. Time can be flexible but sometimes it breaks: memory though always seems broken.