A beginner’s guide

July 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s obvious the middle-aged couple are making ready to leave, but their son doesn’t seem to be taking the hint. They’ve made a point of drinking up, setting their glasses down and saying his name, but he’s absorbed in playing with the half-melted candle in the middle of the table, and he doesn’t hear them.

He’s still sitting there as they’re zipping up their raincoats, pulling up their hoods in anticipation of the rain outside, and so they leave, door banging behind them and causing a dog under a nearby table to recoil.

The boy – he must be nine or ten, perhaps an only child or a late addition to the family – is lifting slivers of ice from the remains of his drink, and balancing them on the edge of the fat candle, trying to place them in such a way that they don’t simply evaporate with a hiss. Each sliver placed with such great care, as if he were a watchmaker replacing parts, that all he is aware of is the candle and the ice, the cold at his fingertips and the flame so close, so that when his mother bustles back in, laughing, oblivious to the fact that he hadn’t noticed her absence, he is startled.

Bundled out in his bright raincoat whilst she tells him it’s past his bedtime and honestly, he’s such a cloth ears, he tries to say about the fire and the ice but she’s not listening; she’s only interested in getting back to the caravan and out of this cursed rain.


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