‘Graceful as an elephant,’ Dad muttered as I tripped for the third time.
I sat on the pavement, examining the fresh graze on my knee, blood like red pearls on scuffed skin. I’d grazed the toes of my new shoes too, roughened leather showing pale against the chestnut brown polish. I could have cried, but refused to let myself.
Dad had gone up ahead, past the grocer’s cart with its hillock of crinkling Granny Smith’s, past the chemist with its giant bottles of jewell coloured liquids, copperplate brass plaques declaring Elix. Cardammomi co, Elix. Carnis et Ferri.
He turned back to see where I was, spun smoothly on his heel, his jacket flaring, his arms raised slightly, as if ready to dance. He kept on walking, one step, two, down the curb onto Old Farm Road. He was frowning, eyes searching the air above my head.
A horn sounded. A thud. The pages of a newspaper flapping to the ground like weary pigeons.
Dad taught me a lesson I shall never forget – it’s better to be aware than graceful.