There’s that sound like a dog whimpering. Billy’s having a bad dream again. Chris turns over and grunts. I get out of bed, walk soft down the hall, listen in at Billy’s door... I’m worried about him. Since that man came to sort the papers out to change Billy’s last name, Billy’s been... I don’t know. It’s like there’s something underneath... Billy still doesn’t call Chris Dad. It hurts when I think about it. I used to think would we’d always be on our own, me and Billy... I step quiet to the bathroom. I love this house, this life that Chris has given us. What boy wouldn’t want to grow up on a farm?... There’s that noise again. I wipe myself, wash my hands, go back to listening at Billy’s door. Why can’t we all just be happy?... I go into Billy’s room, pull the covers over him, touch his hair. He’s definitely dreaming. That poor boy from up the lane. He was in agony. My stomach still feels heavy from it. After the police had asked their questions I sent Billy his room. I could see in their eyes they blamed him. Chris took me inside and made me a cup of tea. Told me not to cry. That it was just an accident. That Billy wouldn’t have made that boy run out in front of that car on purpose. They were just playing, he said... Why does everything seem to happen around Billy though? All I want is for us to be happy... I walk soft back to bed, take my dressing gown off, slip under the covers careful not to wake Chris. Please God, make everything alright... I wanted the floor to swallow me up at parents evening last week, Billy’s teacher telling me how Billy made those girls cry by blowing his nose into that hanky then wiping it all over their desk. Disgusting. Chris just said, Boys will be boys. The teacher said Billy could do really well if he stopped messing about. Why does he do that, always showing off?... Listen. The tawny owl is calling. And now the female calls back... I love it when me and Chris lay awake together and listen to them. Chris has shown me so much. He told me it wasn’t my fault the way things are, and that Billy is troubled but we can be there for him, make him happy... I didn’t know what to say when Billy told me about the things last week. I don’t even want to think about it. Chris said it’s just kids being kids. Doctors and nurses. Games. I didn’t understand what Billy was talking about. I didn’t know what to say... My stomach twisted into a knot when Billy said he’d got something to tell me. I knew it’d be something bad... I sat down on his bed, his head under the covers while he told me. What could I tell him? That it’s alright to play such games? Why would he want to play games like that anyway? I asked him that much and he cried. Said it was the Devil that made him. He said it over and over. I think he got it from a film or something... When I told Chris about some of the things, Chris said not to worry, that Billy sometimes makes things up, pretends, that I shouldn’t worry myself over it. But I do do. How could I not?... Listen. The male is calling again. And now the female replies. It’s beautiful. It sounds so sad... Please God help us. Help me and Billy and Chris be happy. Jesus please we’ve hurt enough... Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven, please Jesus please, lead Billy from temptation, and deliver him from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.
14. In the barn