By Laura Manzur
Laura was reminded of her earlier love of writing when she started to co write songs with her daughter. She is currently working on a short story, and also her book of poetry, inspired by family.
I think it was a corrugated iron building, perhaps painted green. It sat on the corner of our street. Inside was one vast room. The ceiling seemed tremendously high, and it smelled of polished floorboards. I do not remember the other children, just the noise of playing, so many voices that I couldn't pick out just one. I recall the wooden painting easels, with big black surfaces. There were little troughs at the bottom for our paint pots, and big rusty bulldog clips at the top. I could not reach the apex even when I stretched up high on my tiptoes. I could not reach those bulldog clips. I believe I enjoyed painting. Dutifully covered with a plastic apron, to avoid thick paint splodging a contradicting pattern to my 70's dress. A homemade dress my Nan had sewn me. It was a time before I knew my picture should be recognisable, when colours were haphazardly splashed across clean white paper. I can still smell the paint, and the feel of it drying on my fingers, and that pure enchantment at the freedom it offered.
There were little chairs. We placed them in a circle just before home time, and Mrs Humphry read us a story. I see her dark hair, slightly frizzy, and kind face. She felt safe. We had to put the chairs to the sides of the hall at the end. My grandmother collected me, and even though the story was unfinished, I calmly put my chair to the side, waved goodbye, took her hand, and together we strolled home.
My Nan smelled of face powder, hairspray and cigarettes combined. She sat chatting, cigarette in hand, with the ash growing longer and longer, seemingly unaware. I watched that ash, unblinking, convinced it would fall and set the carpet alight, but always at the last moment, with a sharp flick of the wrist, she would tap it onto the awaiting ashtray. Years later there were dark x-rays. I can still hear the rattle as she struggled to breathe.