Danny

Best of the Boards
Robin Hillard


In her article on grammar, Beaver says that ‘anymore’ does not mean ‘nowadays’, so her friend should not have said, “Anymore I shop at the Pottery Barn.”

That made me think of one particular seaside holiday, and a child who made the same grammatical mistake.

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“Anymore I can swim,” Danny said when we met on the beach, “and anymore I got a Batman shirt.”

I was not interested in talking to Danny; he was only a little kid. I went on making a sand tower, and when he could not get my attention he wandered off.

Our parents had rented a holiday house, and Danny’s mother lived next door. There were only the two of them and I wondered where his father had gone. Mum told me Mr. Chandler was away.

“Put away,” said Dad.

As I was going outside I heard Mum talking about “an unfortunate woman,” because someone called he would soon be “getting out.”

“They should have thrown away the key,” Dad growled.

I was not interested in grown-up conversation, and once we were I home forgot about the little boy.

Then, when it was nearly time for the next holiday, I saw him again. He had come to our school, and was in the babies’ class. The teachers called him “Ann”, and I might not have known him, in his pink dress if I had not heard his shrill little voice: “Anymore my Dad has a car.” And, in answer to a question, “Anymore we live here now.”

I only knew one child who talked like that, but when I called him he started to cry, and ran behind the shed. I did not bother to chase him. Who wanted to play with the babies? Not me.

I wanted to be with the big boys, Peter’s friends, but my brother always sent me away. “You’re too small,” he said. “And girls can’t play football.”

But things were different now. As soon as I saw Danny wearing his pink dress I knew what I was going to do. If Danny Chandler could turn into a girl, with pretty clothes, why shouldn’t I be a boy?

I did not make the change at once, because I was a fairy in our class play, and boys could only be trees, but I decided that after the concert I would play football. I was too excited to keep my plan to myself.

“Soon I’m going to be a boy,” I said at breakfast time, “so you’ll have to let me play with you.”

Peter spluttered into his milk. “Mum, Jandy’s going to turn into a boy, so she can play football. Jandy thinks she’s going to be a boy.”

He went on and on until I started to cry.

“I can be a boy,” I insisted. “Danny Chandler was a boy last year and now he’s a girl. I am so going to be a boy.”

“It’s very sad about Daniel,” Mum said. Then she went on with some silly stuff, talking as if Danny disappeared. As if he was lost. “I’m sure he’ll be all right,” she added, in the voice she uses when she’s not telling the truth.

“Of course he’s all right,” I was cross. All this fuss about a little kid, when I wanted to talk about me. “Danny’s here. At school. He’s in the babies’ class. And he’s a girl.” That was the important thing. “He has a pretty pink dress. And he cries a lot.”

Mum told me not to be silly, but Dad wanted to know about the little girl. “What makes you think she’s Dan?”

“He just is. ‘Anymore my Dad’s got a car’ and ‘Anymore I live here now.'” I copied Danny’s voice, running the words together like he did.

Dad said something quietly to Mum, and they sent me out to wait for the school bus.

My friend Maryanne had a new Barbie doll, so I did not think about Danny/Ann again, till, right in the middle of spelling, Dad came into the class, with a policeman and a nurse, both in their uniforms. They took me into the office and Dad made me tell them all about Danny.

“You should check it out,” he said, before sending me back to my room.

My desk was by the window, so I saw Danny with the nurse, getting into the policeman’s car. He did not come back to school again.

That night we had my favourite pudding, ice cream, and chocolate cake, and Mum kept saying how clever I was. She used a lot of words I did not understand—“kidnapping” and “custody”—so I had more pudding and let them to talk.

Then Peter wanted show me off to his friends. “She’s a real little policeman,” he said. But Maryanne was coming to Saturday lunch and I did not have time to play with the big boys.

pencil

Robin Hillard has taught in Australia, England, and Canada. She has published a book of poetry and had stories and poems published in a number of print magazines and ezines. She now lives in Toowoomba, Queensland. E-mail: robinhillard[at]ozemail.com.au.

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