He was never just kicking a football around in the park, it was always cup final night at Wembley and he was scoring the winning goal. He supplied the roar of the crowd himself and avoided the invisible others as he made his victory circuit of the field. You could say that every twelve year old boy is the same but there was something special about the way he did it. there was a special grace, an elegance in his movements. Where others used their fantasy worlds to augment their ordinary lives, he lived completely in his imagination and used the humdrum commonplaces of objective reality to fuel and extend that other world. He was beautiful. He had another bruise yesterday. I saw it as I walked passed him down the street to get a bottle of milk. you can never have too much milk, I suppose, but I was thinking about that bruise as I put the bottle in the fridge besides the others. It was on his arm, the bruise, between his shoulder and his elbow and it spread around it like the stain of an oil slick across the pure clear beauty of the Mediterranean waters. It was like the first darkness on the flesh of a rotting fruit but like the fruit, where the flesh is not rotten, it is still sweet, perhaps even the more so for the bitterness of the rot. Last week I asked him about the black eye he had (it is almost gone now, just a shadow under his eye that makes him look Byronesque in his silent heroism) he told me that he got the black eye in a fight with his brother but I know that he has no brother outside his own head. I did not speak again to him about any of the marks and bruises I see on him everyday.

One day shortly after, I saw his father. Or rather I looked for his father and knowing where to look, I found him. I stood for some time watching from the shadows as he lolled in his friends arms, singing half the words to a song I didn't want to know. I stared at him for so long and so hard I felt I must have burnt a dark hole into his soul. the next day, the boy was favouring his left side as he walked, but still refused to meet my eyes when I offered him an exit. So here I am sitting at my table watching his world through my window and cleaning my momento. I am an old man near the end of my days and I have little left to do. I am determined to do it before the inner darkness of my world overtakes the outer darkness of his. I am careful and precise. It is a long time since I was taught but I was taught well and by the hardest master and my momento slowly regains its shape under my hands. It is as good as the day I took it from a body in the ruins of a German town, and every bit as effective