The body belonging to the single foot resting its gritty weight on my clasped hands heaved and he had to grasp the top of the wall to steady himself.
‘Ow, bloody hell you stupid cow, what’re you playin’ at? Stand still I told you!’
The hem of his prickly woollen jumper brushed the tip of my nose, tickling, and I moved my head from side to side, trying to use the self-same bit of jumper to scratch it, but then he stretched a bit more and it moved higher, leaving me sniffing. I remembered reading about a Japanese torture where they kept putting a drop of water on the end of your nose but your hands were tied so you couldn’t scratch. I could scratch now but he’d fall for sure and would be even madder and I wanted him to like me, to be pleased I was here, helping him.
‘You nearly done?’ I didn’t like the squeak in my voice as I craned my neck up.
‘Nearly. Would’ve been finished if you hadn’t kept bloody fidgeting. Another one.’
I braced myself, back against the brick wall, arms rigid, knowing, from before, that there’d be an imbalancing and another heave as he twisted and threw another empty beer bottle the four feet it needed to go to be sure of landing on the grass – no point in going to all this trouble only to smash it.
‘How many’s that?’
‘Um ...’ I peered round his legs, the one I was supporting and the unsupported, swinging one, ‘that’s six I think.’ I didn’t know but he usually stopped at six and I was cold and fed up and my hands hurt.
‘OK, I’m jumping down.’ But he said it at the exact same time as he did it and his elbow caught my mouth, pinching my bottom lip between tooth and bone. Instant taste of blood, like sucking a door key.
‘Right,’ he said, all full of himself, bending and gathering them up, ‘I’ll take them into the Offy. Should get six shillings, which is four for me and two bob for you, ‘cos I did all the work.’
Take it Away (Tuesday): The (fill in the blank) heaved and he/she had to....