'The Same Team' by Kevlin Henney

"Dad?"

I look up. His scarf and mine the last things to go into the suitcase, the last suitcase, covering everything else, like salt on chips, like earth on wood. Bright colours and stripes laid out across faded jeans and worn strips. A grey bedroom, barely lit by an underfed white, a naked, leave-behind bulb, in a house already at peace. At peace in boxes and cases, in recycling containers and black bin liners. I pull the suitcase's top over to rest on the scarves.

"Yes, son?" My eyes call him over. He sits on the case. I tug the zip on one side. It hesitates. It starts. It stops. It needs care. I work it round. It remembers a honeymoon and holidays, house moves and hospitals.

"Will... will we have to change team?" His eyes fear the answer more than his lips feared the question.

"No, son, we don't change teams." I hold his gaze in mine. "That stays the same. Yes, it's a new town, but we'll take the train on Saturdays when they're at home, still buy chips, still take the stand, still watch the match, still keep the same colours. There's a new school and there'll be new friends and I've got a new job, but everything else... everything else stays the same."

A smile, flickered. A smile, returned. I pull the other zip round to meet the first as we share the lie, everything packed, these lives in boxes with everything reduced, less than before.


First published by 'Fifty Flashes of Fiction'.

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