Comic Strip Jim by Helen Moat

Jim is lost in a sea of green, blue and white. While Amy sees nurses and carers, tea-makers and body-schleppers, Jim sees villains and undercover thugs. Amy watches the carers led him down the corridor, a light hand on his back. Jim says they pull him around by the nose.

“Why don’t you go into the garden?" Amy asks him. “It’s a lovely spring day." She searches for his eyes, but they’re lost beneath his checked cap and the thick, frosted glass of his spectacles.

Jim grins and a thin beige line spreads out across his chin. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t even make it as far as the gate before they’d be after me with clubs." Amy looks at him. His tweed jacket melts into his trousers, the trousers into his shoes. In her mind he’s about three feet high; in reality, he’s around five. She thinks of him as a comic strip escapee.

At five in the morning Amy creeps along the corridor, heading for the bathroom in this place of lost souls. Somewhere a TV is blaring, and a wandering figure is crying in monotone: “Where- are-we-going- how-did-we-get-here-what-are-we-doing?" Amy wishes she knew the answers. She spots Jim asleep in his bedroom chair, his cap still on his head, his eyes lost in the ice-white glass.

“You’ll get a summons," he says, wakening up. “ That’ll be three ice-lollies a week." Then he laughs. “I mustn’t say things like that: They’ll think I’m mad, -- and he yells a “Merry Christmas" as Amy continues on down the corridor.

At the end of the building, the early morning light outside the window is defining the blossom.

Soon, Amy can escape the winter of this place and head out into the spring.


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