Pink, quilted, brushed nylon with thin polyester wadding inside – brushed nylon was all the rage, my grandmother bought brushed nylon sheets to use instead of flannelette.
This blanket is double size, although it was bought for my brother when he had asthma and couldn't tolerate the feathers in the eiderdown. The blanket had to be folded to fit a child’s bed. As my brother is now forty-seven, this blanket which nestles in the bottom of my airing cupboard has been around for a while.
My brother developed asthma when he was seven. He got lost, after leaving the swimming baths in Chichester. Mother couldn't find him, she arrived home in a complete panic. She’d been to the police, they’d asked her for a description of the missing child. That was easy.
What I can’t remember is why I hadn’t gone swimming that day. I’m certain I wouldn’t have let him get lost. I was used to having to keep an eye on him. I was his big sister, he was the baby. The small, delicate baby, with a heavy, dark birthmark. On his face. By the time he was seven he had had three operations, to remove the mark.
I’m sure they’d do it better today but plastic surgery was a bit more hit and miss then. They left him with scars, shining skin grafts on his forehead, cheek and eyelid. And a strange black tuft of an eyebrow. I was used to it, we all were, this boy was just our little brother, he was okay. We didn’t even notice, but other people did, they stared in the street. Pointed. Whispered behind their hands.
So there he is, this small, timid boy, lost in a big town. Where’s Mum? Gone, without him. He’s cold, his hair is wet. All the strangers around, they won’t talk to him. Won’t ask him what’s wrong, why he’s crying, scared. Because he looks funny. And they’re English, it’s not done to notice people who look funny. No wonder he has a panic attack. Wheezing, fainting. The police are called when the funny looking child collapses. Nobody tries to help the child. They might catch something. Compassion, perhaps.
The blanket is almost an international symbol of compassion.
This is a writing exercise based on a particular household object.