Carry Me Down
M. J. Hyland
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This is one year in a boy's life. On the cusp of adolescence, from his changing voice and body, through to his parents’ difficult travails and the near collapse of his sanity, John is like a tuning fork sensitive to the vibrations within himself and the trouble that this creates for he and his family.
Carry Me Down is a restrained, emotionally taut, and sometimes outrageously funny portrait whose drama drives toward, but narrowly averts, an unthinkable disaster.
His hands and face are stiff: he is nervous. I wonder whether my mother has told him about my gift. I’ll soon find out. ‘You are cold-blooded and selfish,’ I say. ‘And I’m eleven now. Not two.’ He gets up and we are almost standing chest to chest, but I will not move. ‘How dare you!’ he says, without moving aside. ‘I bought that card yesterday afternoon. That’s a brand new card.’ ‘Did you? Did you buy this card yesterday?’ ‘What do you mean, did you?’ ‘It looks like all the others you’ve
finished, but I want to go sooner. She says we can’t afford it now and I was wondering whether you could help.’ She laughs. ‘She’s the cat’s mother.’ ‘Sorry. I meant Mammy. All I want to know is whether you could help us with the money.’ ‘That’s blunt.’ ‘Maybe you could come too.’ ‘Where do you think my money comes from?’ she asks. She laughs again and I look down at the red swirls in the carpet, but they make me dizzy. I look back up. ‘You got a whole lot of money when Grandad died, didn’t
finished his sausages. ‘Are you going to eat yours?’ he asks. ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I think you should talk to Brendan.’ He scratches his chin. ‘I think you should talk to your friend and not go running to your mother.’ I make a sausage stand upright and use it to push another one over on its side. ‘Do you agree?’ ‘I agree,’ I say. I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’m sick of the way he changes in the middle of a conversation. He can do what he likes from now on. I know what I want to do.
kneecaps.’ Brendan kicks my knee and I let him. I could fight back, but I won’t. I will act as though they don’t exist. I will watch Brendan as though he were a picture on the television. After he has kicked me, he staggers and needs to step back to get his balance. And because I don’t react he seems confused. He looks down at his shoe. I stare at him, and he kicks me again, in the other knee, harder this time. Maybe to show he doesn’t need orders from his master. He’s quite strong, so the
has been scrubbed clean of graffiti. I take my seat and spend the first few lessons of the day as though half awake. There is a small window to look out of but the room is too hot. My new teacher is a short, fat woman, with the cropped brown hair of a man. She wears glasses and whenever she asks a question she takes them off and dangles them in her fat hand. The only pleasure I get from being in her class is catching her in lies. She comes to our desks and looks over our exercise books. When