‘Malkie dared me,’ I say, like that explains everything.
‘Would you jump in front of a bus if Malkie dared you?’
She always says that. And I always say, no, but I honestly don’t know. Malkie’s dead good at making you do things you wouldn’t normally do and you usually end up thinking it was your own idea. Like the day he said he’d touched the electric fence loads of times and how it was never even switched on, or when he said that he’d drunk his dad’s whisky and never even got tipsy. I still boak when I smell whisky.
They bandaged my eyes before my mum arrived but I can hear the look on her face; all motherly concern, hiding the fact that she wants to kill me. I don’t really blame her. Not this time. They phoned her at work and she had to get a taxi. She’ll not get paid for tonight and she needed the overtime to get the heating fixed. If we end up freezing this winter it’ll be my fault.
‘Are you feeling more comfortable now?’
I nod. Or at least, I think I nod. I can’t feel anything past my neck and I’ve no idea what my head’s doing.
‘Answer the nurse properly,’ says Mum.
‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘It’s not stinging as much.’
The nurse says she’ll be back to check on me in a bit and I lie dead still, listening to her rubber soled shoes squish, and whisper into the distance. I wish she’d stayed. Now she’s gone, Mum’s building up to a proper rant.
‘I know you’re not stupid, Darren,’ she says.
She knows more than me. You’d need to be an idiot to do what I did, but Malkie said it would be a waste to just leave it there. He said we could relight it behind the sheds.
He’d have picked it up himself, I know he would, but he’d a fag in one hand and a can of Red Bull in the other, and I had my gloves on and everything. Malkie said I was a chicken and I said ‘no I’m no’, and he said ‘aye you are’ and we could have kept going all night, so I just bent down and picked it up.
‘Are you listening to me?’ says Mum.
‘Yes,’ I say, but I’m not really. I’m trying to remember. I know Malkie was there when I picked it up. It was warm in my hand. Then there was a minute, or a second or something, I don’t know. I felt it coming, like when your phone vibrates just before it rings. It was there and it was like I was hypnotised or something.
‘Shite, Malkie,’ I said when the first spark sparked, but he never said a word. I don’t even know if he saw the rainbow.