The ticket booth is sepia-coloured. The seller wears a beaked cap. His mouth hides behind a thick moustache. He tells me I can go on the steamboat or the train or even one after the other. As my sleeve brushes the counter, my fingers turn shades of pale grey. The gold pound coin falls from my hand and twenty silver shillings land in the centre of his square palm.
I step onto the platform. I look down and there is a newborn baby in my arms. There are black surgical pen marks tattooed all around his tiny cranium. The bosomy, wide-hipped woman who takes my tea-stained ticket looks at him admiringly. She does not see the oddity of his scars.
I board an open-top train and cling to the infant. Together we ride around the roof of a red-brick wool factory amidst an industrial landscape, over and over again.
He wanted an owner. He got an owner and he was so happy.
Zara, age 7
I love the way that even in this short and sweet tale, my lovely niece has structured it in traditional storytelling form, with the introduction of our hero; Tom the dog, his plight and a happy ending. I wonder whether we learn the structure of storytelling or if it is innate. Zara has read plenty of books so she is influenced by her environment naturally, but perhaps there is a universal formula of narrative that reflects the way the mind processes information.
Zara delivers the tale brilliantly and she was delighted when I asked if I could share her story with you. I hope you like it. 🙂