When the nice policeman comes, I just won’t speak to him. My mummy always calls them “the nice policeman.” She told me, if I ever get lost, all I have to do is find the nice policeman and he will keep me safe and look after me. I hope he'll be nice.
Obviously, the police have to get involved in a case like this. Apparently, she will be interviewed on her own. I’m not happy about that. They told me she’ll be accompanied by a child welfare officer, so she won’t technically be on her own. And she’ll have that damn teddy with her, as usual.
Mummy said he’ll want to ask me lots of questions. That’s what policemen do. I’ve seen it on a tv show. They sit you at a desk in a police station, shine a bright light in your eyes, and try and make you say things you don’t mean. That’s not very nice. It’s like a nasty trick. I just won’t speak to him. Even if he is nice. He won’t understand anyway. No one understands.
Of course, I love her with all my heart, I’m her Dad. It’s fair to say she does have, how should I say it, something of a vivid imagination. I mean, she talks to a stuffed toy. She thinks we don’t notice, she’s just a kid. We notice. I think she's getting a little old for stuffed toys, my wife says we should leave her be. I guess she’s right. Anyhow, I'm not going to make the same mistakes my Dad made. No sir.
The only person I've told is my teddy. He's called Mr Jingle. He has a bell in his tummy that jingles when you move him. He’s my best friend. We do everything together. I can tell him anything because he can keep secrets. I love him, and he loves me. Not like my Daddy. He won’t love me if he finds out what I’ve done.
It’s true, it’s no secret. I wanted a boy, and we did try for another baby, but, well, it wasn't meant to be. I love her. More than my Dad ever did me. Never showed me any affection my whole life. He always favoured the, let’s say, hands-on approach. I don’t recall a day when he didn’t hit me for something. I remember he hit me once because he couldn’t find his brown leather belt. He always wore this particular belt to church on a Sunday because it matched his shoes. He couldn’t find it because he’d beaten me with it the day before and had left it on the floor in my bedroom. That's how things were back then. I used to compare my bruises with the other boys at school. All our Dad’s hit us. Never did us any harm, I guess. That’s why, when my little girl was born, I promised to be different. There’s no way I’d make the same mistakes my Dad made.
Of course, I love her with all my heart.
We are going to stay with my Auntie Sarah. She lives in the next town and has got two dogs, Molly and Polly, a cat called Bagpuss, and a canary in a cage that sings. He is bright yellow and has a brown tuft on his head. He’s called Dave.
I like my Auntie Sarah, she’s funny. And she makes me pancakes for breakfast. It feels safer at Auntie Sarah’s. I wish we could stay here forever.
Since the fire, Mum and Dad whisper a lot. They think I don't notice, they’re grownups. I notice. The nice firemen tried their very best, Auntie Sarah said, but the house was completely burnt down. It's gone. Completely.
I’m sad that mummy and daddy look unhappy and whisper a lot. Everything got burnt in the fire. There was nothing left. Nothing at all. I checked with Auntie Sarah. Everything got burnt. Everything.
I will not speak to the nice policeman. He wouldn't understand. Only Mr Jingle understands.
The fire officer in charge said, when they arrived, she was just sat there on the grass in the front garden, hugging her teddy, staring at the flames. She wouldn’t speak to anyone. It seems one of the neighbours called the fire brigade when they saw smoke coming from her bedroom window. I’d only left her alone in the house for five minutes. Still, she got out safely, thank God, that’s all that matters.
They can’t make out the cause of the fire yet, although it sounds as though it started in her bedroom. The fire officer said a full investigation will be carried out.
We are staying with my sister-in-law Sarah. She never has liked me. I hate it here. It stinks of animals. It's like living in a bloody zoo. We don't have a choice at the moment. Our house was completely destroyed. Nothing left. Nothing at all.
My wife suggested we take her to see a doctor. A Child Psychiatrist to be precise. I think we should leave her be for the moment. Don’t need doctors putting words in her mouth. Let her talk to her teddy. That seems to be what keeps her happy. That and pancakes for breakfast Sarah makes every day. God, I hate living here.
Mr. Jingle wears stripy pyjamas. I ripped them on purpose. He said it would be ok. I ripped them, so they were the same as my pyjamas. So we could be the same. Daddy ripped my pyjamas. He promised he loved me and he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again. I cried when he ripped my pyjamas. Daddy cried too. He said he wasn’t like grandad. We sat in the dark in my bedroom. We both cried. I cuddled Mr Jingle.
I’m nothing like my father. I’m not perfect, but I’m nothing like my father. Of course, I lose my temper from time to time. Who doesn’t? But I’m nothing like my father.
It was a one-off, she was talking to that damn teddy again like she's crazy. I just wanted her to go to sleep but she wouldn’t shut up. I lost it. It won’t happen again.
It happened again.
I was so scared. I have big purple bruises on my tummy. He promised it would never happen again. He promised.
I know how to stop it happening again. I stole a box of matches from the drawer. The one where Mummy keeps the candles.
It only happened a couple of times. It's no big deal. It's about time she grew up a bit anyway. God, when I was her age . . . It’s not the same as what my father did. I’m nothing like him.
It only took one match. I struck it just like Mummy showed me when we lit the candles on Daddy's birthday cake. I just laid it on my pyjamas. They're gone now. He won't be able to do it to me again. It's all gone.
When the nice policeman comes, I just won’t speak to him.