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Moving in

published: 2018-08-22

He is 12 now and in a leap, momentarily frozen in Summer. The heel of his back foot has not left the ground yet, while the big toe on his front foot is eager to land into adolescence.

“I hate you,” he says when I move him in his sleep. He is in the back seat of the car, his head was leaning against the window; I stretched back to pull him and flop his body to the middle. That way, if a car crashes into us and into his door, his head won’t be smashed. This is how I think, this is how a mother thinks. He is angry that I woke him and really, really hates me, he says once again.

“Shhh,” I say, “sleep. It’s ok.” And I stroke his sweaty forehead, his sun-died hair which is almost white is stuck against it. When he falls back asleep, I look at his softened eyelids. The tips of his black eyelashes are white. There is a soft haze of hair on his cheeks and brow. A new freckle beneath his nose. Old scars on his forehead. I know those scars and what happened and am there for a moment.

Later, we are up to our knees in the sea playing beach ball. We’re useless. Our record is four hits. I am bored of the repeated action of moving my body to the fallen ball, again and again.

My son opts – his eyes bright and blue, his upper lip shiny with thinned snot – “why don’t we stand as close to each other as we can, then the ball won’t have to fly so far, shall we try that?”

“Shall we stop?”

His shoulders tense up, he pulls hard at the chord of his swimming trunks, “no, please let’s try that mum. I like playing with you, I want it to last as long as possible.”

I pick up the ball again and no longer mind the action. I move in close to him.

“Do we look at each other or at the ball?” I ask.

“The ball of course,” he beams.

Our record is now 45 hits.






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