School finished early today because one of the water pipes burst and flooded the classroom. So I could go to see Helmet earlier than usual.
He was asleep when I arrived today. He was holding a picture of his wife and son, and he was curled up very tightly in a ball, like cats and dogs do when they sleep.
I didn't want to wake him because I liked how peaceful and quiet he looked. When he was sleeping he didn't look worried like he did when he was awake. But I had waited a while and got bored, so I gently shook his arm. I whispered his name but he didn't wake up, so as a joke, I shouted "Oi!" as loudly as I could. He frightened me when he woke up because he grabbed my neck and pushed me down onto the floor. I think he thought I was one of the men trying to find him. He let go quickly when he realised it was me and he cuddled me because I was shaking a bit.
"I'm sorry, little one," he kept saying.
I got up again and I told him all about the pipe that had burst in school and how funny it was when Mrs Kane's shoes got all wet. Then I told him how George had come home from seeing his cousins.
"We made up this morning. We had an argument last night after tea," I said.
"What about?" he asked.
"I told him that you were hiding here in the barn and that you were an aeroplane pilot..."
"You told him I was here?" he said, and he sounded a bit angry.
"Yes," I said. "But he didn't believe me."
Then he got very angry and upset. He told me I shouldn't have told anyone and said I had broken my promise. He was shouting at me for a long time in English and in the other language, and he looked very, very cross.
"You silly, silly girl!!" he shouted.
I tried not to cry, but I couldn't help it. I was trying not to make too much noise and I wiped my tears with my jumper sleeve.
Then he stopped shouting. He looked at me before reaching out to cuddle me again. He said he was sorry and that he hadn't meant to shout and upset me. Now he looked sad instead of angry.
"Have I spoiled the game?" I asked.
"No, my little one. You haven't spoiled the game...it's my fault."
He cuddled me for a long time without saying anything, rocking me back and forth. Then he pulled me in front of him and held my face. He wiped my tears away and spoke very quietly and gently to me.
"Enid...I want you to listen to me very carefully."
"As you grow up, you'll see this differently...you'll hear things and see things as you grow older which will change the way you think about things and will change the way you remember this...the way you remember me. You'll start to forget certain things...and your opinion will change. Do you understand what I mean by that?"
I nodded, but I didn't really know what he meant.
"You'll start to forget me and forget all the..."
"I won't forget you...you're my friend."
He smiled. "I know...listen, what I would like you to do, as soon as you can, is to write this down. Enid, use your wonderful writing skills and write down everything you can remember about what we've said to each other...what I've said to you. Then fold it up, and keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again when you're older."
"Do you promise, Enid?"
"Yes, I promise...but why do you want me to write it down?"
"Because we must all know our own minds, remember? People forget this as they grow up. They let what everyone else has told them rule their way of thinking. This will help you to know your mind when you have forgotten how."
He got the toy wooden bird with the flapping wings and he gave it to me.
"You can keep this. We'll call it your birthday present, shall we?"
I thanked him, because I really liked the toy bird. He was smiling, but I couldn't understand why his eyes looked shiny and watery again, like he was going to cry. He kissed me on my head and told me to go home again. I didn't want to this time, because I felt more sad than usual that I had to leave him.
I got to the door of the barn, but I decided to run back and give Helmet one more hug.
He laughed and said, "Off home, little one."
I left the barn and ran home.
It was lunchtime when I got home and Mummy surprised us with pork dinner! We never have pork dinner so it was a real treat. I sneaked a piece into a handkerchief to take to Helmet. He would be really pleased to eat some pork, I was sure.
So afterwards, I ran over to Mr Lewis's land again. But I stopped by the wall half way down the hill towards the barn. There was a car by the barn and the big barn door was wide open. I had never seen it open before. Mr Lewis was there, so were Mr Griffiths and Mr Treharne from the village. They were standing by the door.
My heart was thumping because I knew they must have found Helmet and that the game of Hide and Seek was over. Then George's daddy, the policeman, came out holding Helmet by the arm. I stayed hidden behind the wall, with only my head poking up. The other men didn't see me, but Helmet knew I was there. They opened the car door.
I waved to Helmet and he winked at me.
Mr Treharne shut the door.
I stayed hidden until the car had gone.
I felt so sad that I wouldn't see Helmet anymore. I went into the barn and it felt much emptier now that he had gone. But it also felt much less scary than it did before I met him, even with all the cobwebs and the darkness. I wasn't scared of being in there anymore.
I stood by the old tractor and spotted something shining. It was the spider badge. I didn't find the eagle one.
I really liked the badge and wanted to keep it safe somewhere, but I remembered that Helmet had said it reminded him of horrible things. Because of that, I decided it would be a good idea to bury it instead. I found a patch of earth behind the barn that was soft enough to dig a hole in. Then I put the badge in the hole and covered it again. I didn't think anyone would ever find it unless they were looking for it.
I miss Helmet a lot, and I haven't been back to the barn since. But it makes me happy to imagine him flying past heaven in his aeroplane. When George and I play Air Force, I run with my arms stretched out and pretend I'm him; flying really fast, waving to the angels in heaven and making wispy shapes in the clouds.