A blond haired boy lying screaming in the middle of a road, a jacket thrown over him, a bundled jumper for a pillow. And then, working outwards, like figures frozen in a brutal urban nativity: three women leaning over the boy, a man running across, a pushchair empty and a pushchair attended, one child straddling the frames of her bike, one child lying her bike down and hurrying over, a man waving his arms, a teenager holding his mobile phone out, people leaning from windows, nodding and pointing, an elderly woman clutching on to an open car door, its front wheels on the pavement. And then, at last, this glassy web of attention trembles and shifts and opens to admit an ambulance to its centre. A green shirt jumps out and kneels in the road. Close up on the boy’s lips, split and dry, his bloody chin, his front teeth pushed in all-angles. Someone says the car he ran onto has a dent in the bonnet. In one falling moment the paramedic sees the chalky whiteness of the boy’s skin, the dark rings around his eyes, but then with a lift equally as giddy realises that the boy is wearing face paint. He has been made up to look like a panda. A hand on the boy’s head, how important it is to keep still.
But the boy wrests free.
‘Is this a dream?’ he gasps. ‘Am I asleep?’