Her voice began to get that flutter in it. Her eyes had gone all watery. There was something about the newspaper, the boy knew that.
The family meal finished, Mike had cleared away and was already in the other room watching the tv. Sam was at the sink washing up. He was trying to pretend not to notice the change. It was when her voice quivered that he stopped asking questions. He let the silence of the evening half-light take over.
He gulped nervously and seemed to swallow what daylight was left. He turned to the window like a plant straining for the light, turning his back on the secret. She didn’t know that he listened to her sobbing in the night.
Kneeling up on the chair over the sink, the sorrow that seemed to be plucked from the twilight pulled his gaze towards her.
She sat hunched over the newspaper which soaked the tears that fell from her cheeks. He looked again. She had never cried openly in front of him before. It seemed to the boy that she didn’t even know she was crying. The boy did.
He wanted to abandon the wash up and go and stroke her hair and whisper
“Are you ok?”
He imagined himself doing it then turned and edged closer to the darkness. He couldn’t do it. He had to pretend not to notice her tears. He knew it was because of something that happened a long time ago. It was something that prowled in the darkness of his existence waiting to consume every happy moment he had ever experienced.
He listened carefully at night to the muffled sounds that filtered into his room. He sat on the other side of doors covered in layers of paint, listening, hoping the secret would unfurl itself. He looked into the patterns in people’s eyes analysing the dark shapes.