Manchester- A Story

My heart is pumping, it’s soo exciting. We’ve been dancing and singing all night: girl power! I look good. We all look good. Arianna is great – amazing. We’re singing and pushing and hugging – arms linked. We want to buy a programme; we were too excited on the way in so we didn’t. I want a T shirt too.  Dad gave me the money for my birthday – I want a pink one.  It’s hot. We’re not moving much  – pushing in the crowd.

Then a huge noise like silence… and I’m gone. I am nowhere. I can’t find my body. I am above looking down. I see my friends, injured, crying – one lying still. Where am I?  I can’t see me….I panic. Where am I? I can’t see my body.

There is such a mess. Skiddy red, screams, shoving crowds. Pushing, crying, shoving.

Where am I?  I can’t see me. Where am I?


I feel light. Breathless. I am here, up here. Looking down.

I need to tell my mum I’m ok. Am I OK? I’m up here. Where am I? Why aren’t I down there with them?

Someone’s helping Gem – she’s covered in blood. Horrid. Screaming.

They are there. I am here. Looking down.  Like a balloon; I’ve floated up. Someone has let go of my string. I’m floating. Looking down.

There are others with me. They pop up one by one like bubbles surfacing above the waves of panic and blood. Other bubbles floating without strings.

I am not down there I am here. Up here

I must tell my mum I’m OK.

But I am not with my friends.

They are not with me up here looking down.

I am floating free. I float up and up like a rainbow bubble at a party. Floating up to the sun. up, up towards the light.

It would be fun if it weren’t for…

What am I going to tell my mum?  Where is she?

And I float up and up and the light is bright and the sky is blue and I see other children up here too.  I don’t know them . I can’t see them; not like I used to – like mirages – like projected faces. Dirtied, streaked with mud and blood. Faces older than me, babes, teens, we are all floating here without our strings – cut free.

Where is my mum? Is she alright?

I float and can see my town. The blue lights. Sirens. Panicked feet flying. Crying. I see more towns. Rubble heaps…shantys. Wailing, flailing. I see fields, rivers, mountains. Up here, high and free I travel fast and free and others. We. Me.

We are the children without strings – sky high, without our mums.

Where is she?

I see a house, the flickering of a TV set. Mum hunched, head in hands crying. Phoning. Phoning who? Phoning me? My phone? Where am I?  Why can’t I answer her? Why can’t she see I am here? I want to touch her. I want a hug. Why is she crying?

I am light. I am filled with light. I twinkle, sparkle. No amount of makeup touches my radiance now.

Where am I?

Where are my friends?

Here. Another girl popped up. She was sitting behind us. We look at/through each other confused. She has lost her string too. We have the same look; unsure. Lifted by the breeze. There are so many of us children here. Not just 10 or 22. Thousands.  All of us shocked to find ourselves cut free.

Murmurs of different tongues, dark hair, black eyes. We are all so different but we all have the same confused look. We are lost. Surprised. Why are we here? Where are we? Why are we cut loose?

Can I get back down?  I see my friends being guided, lifted, carried out. Tripping, stumbling.  I am not with them. I can’t see me. I see lumps, are they meat? I see mess. I don’t understand. Where am I?

I want to see my mum.

I can’t get down.

I don’t want to be floating free. I want the floor under feet. I want the push and shove and singing.

I want to go home.

I can’t get down. I want a hug

My mum is crying. My dad is there. He is never there. He’s crying.

I want a hug. I can’t get down.

I’ve lost my string. There is no weight.

Where am I?

Who are all these other children floating free now? Up here in the sun, moon starlight.  Why are we here when we want to be down? With mum, dad, with friends. We want to walk the streets, through the fields.

That boy wants to walk his goats. She, so small, too small to be alone clutching her teddy, dark hair tangled – she wants her brothers. Where are they?

This one head wrapped in cloth is looking for his mum too – his sisters. Where are they?

Why are we all here? Cut loose?

Where am I? What happened?

Enough of this bobbing, floating. Let me down where I was, by the gift shop, with my friends.

I want to go home. I’m tired now. I want to go home. We’re all tired, all of us; the girl from the row behind me, the foreign looking boy looking for his goats, the raggedy-hair-black-eyed girl – we all want to go home. We don’t want to be here. We want to be down where we were before. We want to go home.

Let us come home

I want my mum

She is crying

I want a hug

I want to go home………………………………………………………..


………………………………………………………………………..and slowly I understand that I am gone. That I am not at home. That I have lost my string, my thread.

And I remember that line from English; that lie: ‘Dulce and Decorum est pro patria mori’ and I get it now. Now I get it. We the children, floating free. We all from here and there, from then and now. None of us want to be here. We just want to be back with those we love

I want my mum

She wants her brothers

He wants his dad.

It is, as the teacher said not a great and glorious thing to die for anything – not for anything.

It’s not fair. We kids never get to choose and yet here we are bobbing, stringless in the light. We float towards the light without our strings. Weightless.

But he, me, her she, wanted to go home. We wanted to go home.

You didn’t ask us what we wanted. You didn’t give us a chance. We would have made a different choice.

We can’t come down, but you can look up.

Look up at all of us floating here. Look up and see him. See him and her and she and me and them. See how we are all too young to be cut so free.

Him with his dark matted hair, black eyes and scarf and the girl from the row behind in pink.

Look up from your doctrines and your ideas and see us – we who do not want to be floating free, we who do not yet want to go to the light.  You didn’t ask what we wanted.  You didn’t think of us.

We just want to go home to our mums and dads and brothers and sisters and friends and cousins and aunts and uncles. We just want to be at home.

Please look up and see us. Look up from your closed books,  your shut minds and look up to the light and see us all, all us, so many of us. So many children floating free here, so free and light.

Look up and see.  It’s crowded up here.

All we wanted was to go home. To be at home.

Let us be at home.

Let them go home


I want to go home………………………………….


…………………………………..and now I am here and I am light and I know where I am: up here, there, everywhere. I am no time, all time.

I am floating free without strings. I have expanded.

My bubble merging with other bubbles, the other balloons floating with no strings..we didn’t stay separate for long. We are all one.

We are all one breathe exhaled and floated up.

We are all the sighs, all the screams, all the pain, all the tears, all the fear and yet…the higher we float the lighter we get, the brighter we get. We are spacious.

We no longer look down.

We know we are here and you are there but now we know it is all the same.

You feel like we are gone but we never left.  There was no string to cut because we were part of you. You can find us inside your still beating heart, in your breathe. You feel us in your still moments.  We have never left, we children of the sky.

We are home. You are home. Home is here; in the light.

Listen to us in your hearts. Let us guide your way. Let us tell you about the light, about the other children. We were all the same. All had parents and friends and scraped knees and favourite toys – yes even him with the ragged strip of cloth; his favourite toy.

We whisper to you. We want you to know that you are loved. We know we were loved.

We are love

We want you to see we are the same.

Look here; this living room, this mother crying by the TV and then look there in at that mother in the tented windy camp and then this mother rocking in her blanket, then this mother in the rubble, ripping her hands apart to find her son who is no longer there.

We whisper to you in your dreams that all is well.

There is no pain here but we are sad to have left the grass and the mud, the little stones and barbed wire and even the rotten scraps of food.

Know we would rather have stayed longer with you. Those we loved. With you.

And yet also know that we are here. We are the light and the love in the light.

Let us into your heart and let us wash away revenge, rage, sadness and terror. Let us shine the light into you so you can see your common skin and kin.

We are all the same.

You suffer. She suffers.  He suffers. They suffer.

So let the light in and let it be.

Soften and yield to we who are your children.

Floating free.

We who can see what you fail or refuse to see.

See how we are all one light and how we are all part of you. How you and he and she and they are part of this light too.

See it and wash away the darkness. Let it go.

See the world through our eyes, where we are all friends with different clothes and hair and tongues but we can all laugh and sing and play.

We are here to guide us if you let us in..if you dare to ask ‘what is the best for our children?’

If you can let us in and ask ‘what would my child say?’

If you could let us in and ask; ‘what kind of a world is most loving for my child?’

If you let us in.

For we are here if you see us or not, we are here and we are light. Let us in

We are here. You are there. It is all the same.

Them, us. Now, then.  Here, there. It is all the same.

We are all the same.

We are one.

We are light

We are home.


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