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Tall boy, small boy

published: 2009-11-15

Woman, man. Two sons: one tall, one small. The boys kick a ball around on the beach. The ball hits mother’s leg. The tall one cringes: oops. To his surprise, mother turns around to join in. She kicks it back. He to her, him to her. His enthousiasm grows. The small one is left out. He doesn’t really mind, his attention is elsewhere. While walking, he swerves his feet around his body to make semi-circles in the sand.
The tall one makes a run for the ball which has spun off away from them. His mother does the same. They laugh and run. Dad watches them and smiles.
His laugh freezes as the tall one makes a slide. Legs thrash forward, towards the ball. He misses it and kicks his mother’s shins instead. The tall boy still laughs, in false hope. Mother’s face transforms into the frown it is normally in. Each muscle joins in to contort into her usual complete and utter contempt. The tall one stops smiling. He scrambles to get up onto to his feet, sticks his hands in his pockets and starts walking. Away, shoulders up, staring at the sand. Mother won’t let him off the hook. She walks sideways next to him, and backwards in front of him. Demanding an apology. Demanding an explanation as to how he could be so stupid. Dad picks up the ball, puts it under his arm. He looks sad. All this time, the small one is staring at mother. His feet still drawing circles. Finally, mother let’s go. The tall one keeps walking and Dad strolls over to the sea. The small one runs in a skip to mother, puts his arm around her in comfort. While tall boy is alone, his back to them.

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