We all have secrets; the ones we keep and the ones that are kept from us.
Liam liked trains. He wriggled his way up onto the empty luggage rack as soon as he saw it. He could do that now that he was a big boy. He was seven. His mum was still struggling with the buggy. Thomas had to stay strapped in. Thomas was all right but he didn’t do much.
“Shazaam! Go, go web go!”
He swept his arms out sending delicate threads of web towards the roof of the carriage and Thomas beamed at him from his straps. With a bit more practice he would be able to swing out on one of those. He stuck his tongue out and Thomas kicked his feet. His mum was stressed.
“Get down Liam.”
“I said get down.”
He sat there, looking down on everything like a proper superhero. He was wearing his Spider-man t shirt. His mum had said no to him wearing the mask though, because she said it freaked her out. It was in his pocket but she didn’t know that. He might put it on. He could see right down the carriage. The woman in the red scarf sitting half way down was looking at him. She must have seen the webs. He stuck his arms out, shut his eyes and made a vroom noise, using his special powers to flatten her. If his mum wanted him to come down she could make him. She was trying to get the buggy into the special place for it and Thomas was waving his arms and shouting for his ball. He would scream soon if he didn’t get it.
“Up, up and away web!”
“Be quiet Liam.”
He sent out a third level power surge towards his mum. Silently.
“Get down now!”
“Right, well that’s it. Soon as you get home you’re grounded.”
Liam frowned. How had that happened?
“You are. Straight to your room as soon as we get in. I’m telling you.”
He wrinkled his nose. She would forget. His mum just liked telling him what to do. She didn’t like it when he chose for himself. Liam liked choosing. He liked choosing and he liked making things happen. Thomas couldn’t do that.
“That’s not fair.”
“Well it’s what’s going to happen. I’m telling you.”
Thomas was giggling at him. Liam didn’t like it. Mum was looking in the bag for Thomas’ noo noo. That thing was gross. One corner of it was always soggy and Thomas kept chucking it on the ground so that someone had to pick it up. The dirt stuck to the soggy part. Thomas hardly ever got told off for doing that. This wasn’t fair. He wasn’t allowed to throw stuff like that. Being a big boy was rubbish.
“Sit in that seat over there.”
His mum was pointing.
“Because I said so.”
He shook his head. Thomas had been given his noo noo and he was bashing his buggy with it. He wanted his ball. It was hanging from its rope, just out of reach on the back of the buggy. Liam made a grab for it.”
He shoved it underneath him and there was a whooshing sound.
His mum spun round. The ball was crumpled up like a burst balloon.
“Now look what you’ve done- and it’s not even your ball.”
He didn’t care. Thomas did though. He was howling now and hitting the woman in the seat opposite with the noo noo. She was trying to look as though she didn’t mind. Liam frowned at her and she smiled back. Her nose wrinkled and her glasses moved. It was quite funny but he didn’t want to laugh, he wanted to sulk.
“I need a wee”.
“You’ll have to wait won’t you.”
Liam held onto the front of his trousers tightly to make his point.
“I can’t wait.”
“Well you’ll have to. You should have gone at the station”.
There was a toilet there in the train- he could see it- but his mum couldn’t be bothered to let him use it. Anyway he wasn’t getting down from the luggage shelf until he had to.
“We’ll be home soon”.
He wondered if he would really get grounded when he got home and, if he was, whether his mum would remember that his tablet was charging in his bedroom and take it away. He was going to stay with his dad soon. Three more sleeps. His dad let him do anything he wanted to- even grief his buildings in Minecraft. Liam liked destroying things and he was good at it. He wanted to know why his dad didn’t live in the same house with them any more. It was a secret. Spider-man knew about secrets but this was the kind of secret that even a superhero wasn’t allowed to know.
“Can I take my tablet to dads?”
His mum was sorting Thomas out. Cleaning his face again. She was pretending she hadn’t heard. Thomas wasn’t allowed to sleep at dads yet. Just go to the park and stuff. That was boring because he couldn’t kick a ball straight and his dad always said he had to play as well, even when he kept falling over.
His mum glared at him.
“I don’t want to hear any more about you going to your dads.”
His mum’s face looked strange.
“I know you are. Shut up about it.”
The woman sitting opposite had stopped smiling. She was cross with him as well now. He hadn’t done anything much. Liam glared out of the window, avoiding his mum’s anger. They shouldn’t be cross with him. That wasn’t fair. He hadn’t done anything. Just climbed up onto the luggage rack. What was so bad about that?
“Shazaam! Go web go!”
He grabbed his Spider-man mask from his pocket and put it on- he could do that really fast now- and stretched out his fingers towards his mum, sending sticky trails of clinging spiders web towards her that curled around her face and arms and stopped her moving. She turned towards him and screamed out in terror.
He felt much better.