Reaching The Summit

Entry by: Nutcracker

22nd April 2015
"The moon was hanging like a bloody red orange in the night sky." Edward frowned. He had pressed his pen nib too heavily on the full stop and a little blob of ink had seeped out. He pulled his hankie from his trouser pocket and blotted the paper. Then he read through what he had written and frowned some more. It wasn't quite right. He reached across the table into his pencil case for his ink rubber, catching the open bottle of blue-black ink with his sleeve as he did so. A rivulet of ink poured off the edge of the table and flooded onto the carpet, just as Edward's mother was pushing the door open with his supper tray. As she caught sight of the spreading dark patch on her blue carpet, her face contorted and her mouth started moving in an ugly way, but Edward had clamped his hands to his ears so her words were muffled. Quick as anything, he dodged under his mother's arm, round the open door of the dining room and galloped up to his room.

Edward crept under his blankets, and lay there, all senses quivering, waiting for the inevitable sounds of feet on the stairs. Would it be Mother or Father? Either way it would be bad. But for a long time nothing happened. The house was quiet. Edward started excavating his nose with his inky left index finger. His father had used a rude word about his being left-handed. Edward knew it was rude because he had repeated it in all innocence to his brother Bunny, who had gone round all day tee-heeing about it to his school chums. It was awful having an older brother at school. That was number five on the list of awful things in Edward's life. There were worse things:

Number One: His name. Edward felt plain wrong. As soon as he was old enough he was going to change it to Elvis.

Number Two: Reaching the Summit. This was something Father was always going on about. It was the most important thing in life for him, he said, and it would be for Edward and Bunny too. So he said. "RTS, boys," he would cry, "that's what makes you a Man." Edward really wasn't sure he wanted to be a man at all.

Number Three: Having a sister. Father ignored Nesta, so she didn't have to Reach the Summit and, even more to the point, she was allowed to play with dolls. This was not fair. Edward would have liked to play with dolls too, although he had not told anyone this, and never would. Especially not Bunny, for obvious reasons.

Number Four: Being only nine years old. Edward was counting the days until he was ten. He knew that ten wasn't old enough for him to be allowed to change his name to Elvis, but he felt sure that something important would change when he got to ten.

Edward lay in bed wondering whether when he was ten he would be allowed to go on his own to the shop on the parade where Mother didn't like him going because of something bad. He didn't know what the something bad was. He didn't think it was because the shop sold dolls, because he knew for a certain and definite fact that Mother had bought a doll for Nesta there, but when...

His reverie was broken by the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs and then his bedroom door crashing open, his father looming in the doorway, face all twisted and hand, huge, coming towards him. Edward rolled into a ball like a hedgehog, hands over his head, frozen and waiting for the blows. But no blows came.

Edward peered out from under his arm. His father had dropped his hand. His father had dropped to the floor and was spreading there, like the ink on the carpet downstairs, only pale not dark. Edward cowered in confusion. Next thing there were fast, frightening noises, Mother at the door gasping, rushing, then Mrs Holland from next door and he, Edward, was bundled up and pushed into Bunny's room and Bunny was there too and they sat on the floor behind the closed door, close together. Edward wished very much at that moment that he had a doll to cuddle, but there was only his brother so he cuddled him and for once Bunny didn't hiss in his ear. They stayed there together, warm and comfortable, until at last someone got them into bed and sleep enveloped everything.


Edward's father died that day, on his son's bedroom floor, at the age of 45 and still a bank clerk. Edward found he didn't have to worry any more about Reaching the Summit after his father died. He moved schools and, in due course, went to Art College. He is now quite a well-known artist. He didn't change his name to Elvis but sometimes, now, he dresses as a woman and meets friends who know him as Elvira. When he thinks about it, he realises that he has actually reached a kind of summit. And he feels so very sorry for his father, who never did.