I’m not entirely sure what happened next. One moment, dad was stepping into 40mph traffic, and the next The Cold Man raced across the road, through the oncoming traffic and pushed dad back onto the pavement. All this happened in the blink of an eye.
The driver shook his fist as he drove past and dad looked sheepish and waved apologetically as the car sped past. I just stood there agape.
‘Dad?!’ I hugged him. It might have been really uncool at that age but I didn’t care, my dad was nearly knocked over because he was too busy talking to mum.
Dad’s phone was on the floor. I grabbed it and was immediately hit with a gob full of shouts and screams coming from the small bit of plastic, glass and metal. God, mum could make so much noise when she wanted to and she was such a small woman too. “Her lungs must take up half her body” as granddad used to say.
I gave the phone back to dad and he told mum what happened – he got absent minded when she phoned and stepped out into the road. As far as he was concerned, it was me shouting at him that made him step back. After he calmed mum down, we headed home.
‘Is that what really happened, you know… what you told mum.’
He turned and frowned at me, ‘Yeeeees. It’s what happened, isn’t it?’
I cleared my throat. ‘It’s not what I saw, no.’
Dad stopped. We were on the edge of a pavement on a side street so the near accident was not likely to be repeated meaning The Cold Man was unlikely to make another appearance – thank God.
‘What did you see?’
‘I saw him again.’
He frowned. ‘That ancient… god… with no name, the one you call “The Cold Man”?’
‘Yes, him. The one I asked that woman from the telly about. I call him that because he looks like he’s made of ice.’
‘Did he push me in the road or something?’
I looked up at dad. He didn’t look angry, or concerned, or sad or anything like that. This is what he does when he really listens to what you are trying to say. I know he had always wanted to get to the bottom of this, to understand why I keep seeing The Cold Man, but this was extra-weird. No kid ever had an imaginary friend that saved peoples’ lives as far as I know. ‘No, he did the opposite. He pushed you back.’
‘I stepped back when you shouted.’
‘No dad, you didn’t. He pushed you and I’m the only one who saw it.’
Dad pursed his lips – he did that a lot too, especially with mum when he knew he was right and she was either misremembering stuff or deluding herself.
‘I know what I saw, dad. It was him. He saved you. I don’t know why, but he saved you.’
Dad laughed, ‘thanks a lot buddy!’
‘That’s not what I mean, dad. I mean, he’s never done anything like that. When I first saw him, it was around the time grandma died and then I didn’t see him for ages.’
‘Until that night a few weeks ago?’
I nodded. ‘He wasn’t just in the room, he was looking at Lizzy – I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to scare you or her.’
Dad rubbed his chin. ‘You thought he was going to hurt your sister, but he’s just saved my life. I don’t understand it but come on mate, we need to get home. We can talk about this later.’
So we went home to eat dinner then. I’d like to pretend I didn’t see him again that day, but he was at the house when we got back.
We’re getting close to the end now… Part 8 is here