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This Land is Your Land

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A month or so later and it's the height of summer. You've been away for a fortnight on holiday. What you see when you pull into the driveway astonishes you. The ramshackle fence, decades-old but still sturdy, has been decimated. It lies in pieces, strewn like bodies after a bomb-blast. The neighbours are in your garden, heavy in conversation with a man in a sharp suit and expensive sunglasses. You fly into a rage and demand an demand an explanation. What happens next knocks you sideways.

 

You are told that your garden no longer belongs to you. You see, it used to be in their family. They have a right to return to that land. You protest that this is preposterous, utterly ridiculous and demand that they remove themselves from your property. Within an instant, you are surrounded by more sharp-suited men in sunglasses. They physically lift you and you family along your garden, up the steps and into your house.

 

The kids are terrified. So are you but you try to remain calm. You try the door but as you open it a firm fist to the face sends you sprawling. Your family screams and you huddle together in the kitchen, a mix of confusion and fear coarsing through your veins. You taste the metallic sourness of blood in your mouth and wonder just what the hell is happening.

 

You gather your senses and walk through the living room and towards the front door. Two shadowy figures lurk through the pretty frosted glass design. You feel your swollen lip and decide against opening the door.

 

 

A few days have gone by. You've tried to make the kids feel as normal as possible. However, they can feel the the tension. It doesn't matter what you suggest or how much you try to manipulate them, they want to know why they can't go outside. The man on the telly keeps saying it's summer. It's hot inside. You open windows. The men in sharp suits allow this but make sure they watch to ensure there is no escape.

 

No matter how many times you think about or discuss the situation, it still remains baffling and inexplicable.

 

There's commotion in the back garden. Men are yelling and you hear the mechanical growl of heavy machinery. A bulldozer ploughs its way from next door, flattening more of the fence and smashing your kid's playhouse to pieces. Through the exhaust fumes and dust, you make out the bold coloured shards of plastic leaping and spinning in a strangely elegant and poetic way. Then you let out an odd, low wail as it heads for your apple tree and knocks it clean down like a devastating blow from a heavyweight boxer. The family hear this and rush to join you. Everyone watches in silence as the garden you so proudly tendered is no more. The bulldozer pushes everything neatly to one corner, ready to be picked up and taken away. So many years, so many memories, flattened in the blink of an eye. Your kids are crying. You notice that you are, too.

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