Snippet 1

 

For the Love of a Mother.

I’d heard about Protestants being killed. These were people I knew well, neighbours and those I’d grown up with. Sam Johnston, in his ...thirties, a man who came to my home on many occasions, who talked with us, played with us, ate with us, laughed with us, watched television with us. Shot to death and his lifeless body found in The Batchelors Walk. This was a magical, tree filled wood we enjoyed as children, climbing trees to snatch rosy red apples, watching tennis matches, secretly smoking and playing kiss chase. The first kiss for many of my friends was had in those woods. Sam was my brother’s friend. When I heard my brother’s sobs, I felt so sad for him. On the night Sam was murdered, we were all watching one of our favourite wildlife programmes. My mind was being therapeutically caressed by David Attenborough’s raspy voice. I watched through my fingers, as a powerful lion, chased a cute little Zebra calf through the Serengeti. As the lion finally leapt forward and grabbed the calf by the throat, I began to panic. The bad butterflies clawed my insides. ‘Mum, did he get it, did he mum, did the Zebra get killed?’ As was usual practice in my home and due to my sensitivity to death, my mother jumped up and told my brother to turn the channel. He did this as quick as a flash. My mother then smiled at me and said, ‘No love, they were just hugging.’ The butterflies told me she might be lying, but I needed to believe her. ‘Shush, shush,’ my mother’s face drained, we had switched to the News channel. ‘Oh, my God’ she wailed, ‘Oh my God, not Sam, not poor wee Sam Johnston.’ That’s how we found out about his death. I wondered if the ‘tit for tat’ killers knew how much devastation they had caused, how much grief, how much pain. Sam was a somebody. Somebody’s child, somebody’s son, somebody’s lover, somebody’s friend, somebody’s neighbour, somebody’s rock. An image of Sam formed in my head. I saw him, lying there, all alone, frightened, confused, his body shaking, covered in blood, as his life slipped away, on that cold, wet, dark night with no-one to comfort him in his last moments.