by Chelsea Carter

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I asked my Dad if he didn’t mind me walking home from Nan’s. I said I had a headache and needed the fresh air. He said “yeah, go on then.”

I said bye to the three of them, and turned to the opposite direction to walk over the grass and across the concrete and iron bridge. No trolls under there. Just a dyke.

I made sure I had passed my Nan’s house again before I sat down underneath one of the trees. They were quite big trees, thick grey trunks, big green leaves. I’m not sure what type of tree they are. It’s never really mattered to me.

I found a spot of grass that didn’t have a piece of dog shit near it and sat down. My jeans pulled tight over my knees as I crossed my legs, the moist grass made my arse cold. I pulled out my tobacco tin and began to roll myself a cigarette. The tobacco was dry and flaky, and even though the wind was gentle, it was hard to roll. I whispered to myself “Fucks sake” as I pinched the ends of the paper and forced it into a cylinder shape.

I stood up again and wiped the grass and mud away. I lit my cigarette and walked down the small muddy hill so I could walk on the concrete bricks that edge the dyke. I always feel like there is a sense of danger about the dyke, like it has some huge mystery creature hiding inside it. But, in actual fact the water probably only reaches half way up my shin and the only creature in it is the gross slimy algae that sticks to all the hard edges.

I must’ve forgotten how long the lake actually was because I’m getting bored already and I’ve only just made it to the green bridge that leads on to the bottom of Hellman Road. It’s kind of a cross road section, all of the roads lead to all these places I used to frequent at one point in my life. Like, if I went over the green bridge then I’ll end up at George’s Corner, and Spar and the primary school. All that shit from my childhood, when I believed Canvey Island would be one day be independent from England and I would be Queen of Canvey and we would only speak “Canveyish”, the mother tongue of Canvey.

If I wanted to go left then I’d walk past the gardens, up to Lock Road and down The Parade, to Joe’s old house. The place I spent most of my adolescence, dancing in school sports halls, and trudging up and down Lock Road and The Parade so I could spend all day snogging Joe and letting him put his hands in strange places. I had a weird dream about him not so long ago that he told me he still loved me after all this time and then we lived happily ever after, just snogging and touching and watching Family Guy. He lives in London now. His new girlfriend is a model. Good for him, I guess.

I go straight on though. This is where the dyke suddenly turns into a lake. It’s kind of weird that the water just gets wider and all these reeds pop up and ducks and geese and swans all live there. I think it’s quite beautiful, like something out of a Centre Parcs ad. But in reality maybe it’s more like Centre Parcs mixed with the aftermath of a Skins party. I suppose I like it that way. I even kind of like the smell of duck shit, but it depends on the day.

I walk past Chantelle Pearson’s house. I peer up to the window of her parents room, to check if they’ve redecorated or something. Still the same dusty rose colour as ever. Their dog can smell me on the other side of the fence and growls. “Piss off, Oscar” I say, and keep walking.  He stopped growling, silly dog. I wonder if Chantelle would find it weird if she knew I told her dog to piss off. I haven’t spoken to her since I was 11. Could be awkward.

I suppose this is the end of the lake. Where the slope up to town begins, where Cherry Stores used to be. After that, it’ll be like any other town. A New Look, an Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Co-operative Funeral Care, blah, blah, blah.

It is a kind of Canvey folk lore that when a firework goes off at the lake, then the heroin has made it down to us. I guess I haven’t seen any fireworks lately.