'Family relationships' by Liz Kerry
My son was standing on the other side of the road, hands in his pockets, shoulders shrugged up to his ears from the cold. His cap was showing from under his hoodie, I couldn’t see his eyes and didn’t know if he had seen me. I guess he had, because he was good at noticing things around him, but he wouldn’t make a sign and I knew he wouldn’t refer to it afterwards. I crossed over and stood a little way off seeing him in the reflection of the shop window opposite but not actually confronting him. The shop had a display of mirrors and I could see his broken image clearly, I don’t think he would think of seeing me this way. I was glad to see his case was safely behind him away from the shoppers milling in the High Street.
Kadie walked quickly past me; preoccupied with her-self as always, she wouldn’t have spotted me. She was walking at a little run, like a little bird, sharply and delicately moving towards their meeting place. I saw her mouth the words of greeting and Tom’s body language showed he was relieved and happy to see her, though I didn’t think they had a romantic relationship. They hugged in a brother sister way. They put their cases together against the shop window. Her case was much smaller but she had two bags as well. She is far more organised than Tom.
They stood in the shelter of the shops overhang and seem to be laughing over something. I was so pleased to see him relaxed like this; it had been a few months since he had laughed at home. They were waiting for the final member of the team, Joe. It took another three minutes before he appeared. He stopped beside me to say ‘Hello’ and asking politely how I was. He really was a lovely boy but I saw Tom head go up and a frown appear. So I warmly greeted Joe as though it was an accident I was there, and made to leave the area.
I guessed I gave it three minutes before coming back to the street. This time I couldn’t see them and made sure there were no points of reflection they could see me through. I could hear them though.
The music from the three instruments was imposing. Brass has a history of sounding over the noise of battle and these three were doing justice to that tradition in this years Christmas sales. They started with Purcell and continued playing for nearly one hour. Tom’s trombone playing was as superb as I remembered it, mellow and controlled. As he refused to practise at home now, I hadn’t heard him play for several months. The maturity he demonstrated in his playing was missing in his relationship with his family.
Not looking at them I walked past and dropped a rolled up money note in their hat. It’s all I had he wanted.