The Thing That I Do by Gareth Brierley

When I was four I first showed my mum the thing I could do and she went white then left the room. Nothing was said about what I did and after that my mum never spent any more time alone with me. I wasn’t allowed near spoons again.

When I was five I showed my mum and dad the thing I could do in Alton Towers. I was so excited on the spaceship that went around and around to the music of Postman Pat that it just sort of came out. I remember screaming, crying and people running. Mum was sick and dad went red. Then he hit me hard with his fist and I went black. When I woke up I was in my room and it was dark. The door was locked and I heard dad whispering things I didn’t understand to mum. She was crying and that made me sad.

When I was six I showed a man or woman with wings who appeared magically in my room the thing I can do. I wasn’t allowed outside the house now because my dad said I was a ‘menace to society’ so I was happy to see the man/woman with wings. It wore all white and smelt of alcohol. It asked me to show the thing I do but first of all I said no because of the fear of my dad, but it reassured me that it would be our little secret. When the house disappeared and the garden turned to ash the figure in white didn’t seem surprised or concerned like my parents. It went into its long white coat and pulled out a cigarette and then offered me one. I refused and stuck out my tongue at it in disgust. It shrugged then disappeared like that magician I saw in Clacton one sea. Mum cried again when they came back from the pub and Dad broke my arm.

When I was seven I showed a spider in my new room the thing I could do and it grew big. We were now living in Dorset but I now lived in a room in the basement. Mum feeds me by putting a plate through the little window in the wall and dad reads to me from the bible through the wall. I get confused by the words he says and I can’t understand what Jesus wants from me. Dad says Jesus is angry with me and I must repent, but I don’t know how to do that. The Spider now fills half the room and is trying to find a way out. I like him and I going to call him Alan.

When I was eight I showed the policeman the thing that I do because I was nervous and scared. The policeman broke into three pieces and then those pieces broke into six pieces and then disappeared down a black hole. The day before I heard loud voices in the house and someone was arguing with Dad about mum and me. Then the door, which was closed up with wood, smashed down and eight policeman filled into my room. Dad screamed at them to stop but they ran up to me and talked in a slow way. One of them asked me about mum and where she was. I told them how Alan had bit her on the arm and dad had to burn Alan which made me sad and then how dad wouldn’t take mum to the hospital so she got sicker and sicker and she then had to be burned as well. All because of me, because I was a sinner. The policeman didn’t say anything for a long time and then one of them tried to put his arm on me. I hadn’t been touched for a long time so I got scared and that's when I showed him the thing that I do.

When I was nine I had to show the men in white doctor's coats the thing that I do every day and then they would write things down. Sometimes they would inject me with things but that was when accidents happened and I broke them. No one got angry with me though and I got to watch TV in a big white room. I also had an Xbox 360 which I played Fifa on and sometimes I lost. I liked it there but mostly I misssed my mum and dad and Alan.

Now I am ten and I am showing many people the thing that I do in a hot country on the other side of the world. The men in uniforms call me a hero and say to me that I am doing excellent work for the greater good. My dad would be very proud that I am not a sinner any more and that I am working for Jesus. I get placed into sandy hot cities and then I do the thing that I do and people scream in funny languages. I am told that they are evil and like to bully people so they are getting what they deserve. Sometimes I cry for them but mostly I am happy to be outside.

Brierley's play, Nice People, has been performed throughout the UK and won the following awards: Brighton Festival Angel Award for Artistic Excellence - Public Vote, Edinburgh Fringe First Nomination, Top 5 Shortlist Carol Tambor (New York) "Best of Edinburgh" Award; it was produced, as a short film, by SKY ARTS.