This morning’s tour of duty; boy’s room first, open the blinds. Nearly a teen and he’s still my baby boy, my puppy dog. Two weeks today since I last saw him. He’s off round Europe in a motorhome, playing Max to his dad’s Paddy. Not long till the weekend is my mantra.
But for now, I’m alone. Girl in Africa, boy in Europe. Sister on some island in the Med, friend in Scandinavia. Utterly alone. Even Les next door has escaped to Blackpool for a few nights. In general, I think I do quite fine with alone, but these are testing times and I’m feeling kinda forlornely.
I consider taking Regina’s advice and finding a protest, to rub up against strangers; but this is a tiny city and its best offering is a rerun of Macbeth at the independent cinema. I settle, it’s ok. Reminds me of when my boy nudges and says come watch the rugby with me, Mum; I get the gist but not the finer points and when I tire of concentrating, the scenery is easy on the eye.
Back at the car park pay-station, I find my plastic park-card and hold it out ready to slot it in, but there is no slot. I wave it around in hope.
Just hold it up there, duck, where them three lights are. A head peeks out from under the paymachine and a grimy finger points up to guide me. Right up there – look, says the crosslegged imp, patiently.
Right, thanks I say. I show the card to the buttons and like a jackpot in reverse, they flash rainbows and tell me how much to pay. I feed a note into the machine and it spews out a few paltry coins, which I press into the grubby hands below. Spend it wisely, I counsel, I hear wet wipe washes are the way forward.
Walking to the car, my phone rings. My boy tells me he will be home in about an hour.
But you’re not coming home till the weekend.
Change of plan.
Well, that’s great, but couldn’t you have let me know?
I told you Monday didn’t I?
No, you said the weekend.
Hmmm… oh yeah, I wrote it on the postcard.
I see. And when did you send the postcard?
Well, I couldn’t find anywhere to post it.
So, you’re bringing me the postcard that you wrote to tell me you’re coming home?
I could hear his grin, the sweetheart.