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I’d been collecting them for weeks.
Panini stickers. 5p a pack.
Ripped them open eagerly as soon
as I left the shop. Hoping to see the shiny foil
club badges or the few ‘Wants’ I still needed.
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I had a tactic:
don’t stick ’em in until I’d got them all.
That way, I could still swap any card
(for the right price) then get it again-
because some people swapped 3-for1.
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I kept them all in an elastic band
that bulged my pocket in a way
that would have been slightly pornographic;
if I hadn’t been eight. Then one day,
I got home, reached into that same pocket….. empty!
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I rushed outside, down the drive,
my eyes, searchlights, illuminating every
step of pavement, each slab of gutter.
I retraced my route all the way back to the cornershop…
they were gone forever!
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By the time I was home again
my sobs ripped out in breathless gulps.
Mom thought that the Big Boys from the rough estate
had caught up with me; I told her
it was much worse than that.
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Then the miracle happened. She nodded
and smiled, went to her purse.
Unfolded a one pound note, scrunched it
into my palm and sent me back out, out
into the breach once more, dear friends.