This is the photo I wanted to show you. The one where he’s got an arm round each of his sisters, him in the middle. He was the middle child, you see. The youngest one, she’s still at school, going away to university next year. But the older girl, she’s not doing so good now. Blames herself, you see.
She was soft on him from the beginning. When he was born, I gave her a new doll of her own, dressed as near as could be like the baby, so she wouldn’t be jealous. But all she was interested in was her little brother. Took his side against me sometimes when he was naughty so that I ended up telling them both off. Let him play with her toys and didn’t seem to mind when he broke them. Too soft always.
They grow up too quickly, don’t they? Think they know what’s what. I implored her not to loan him the money for the car. But she’d got a good job by then, she could afford it and he pleaded with her and promised faithfully to pay her back one day. He always knew how to get round her. And she knew I’d refused to put his name on my insurance and let him borrow my car because I didn’t think he was old enough. Well, old enough to pass his test, yes, but not grown up, if you see what I mean.
You know, there seems to be a mirror at the back of the eyes of living things that reflects back what they’ve seen. With cats, it’s the light. That’s why they call those little metal studs down the middle of the road cats’ eyes… anyway, with people, they mirror back to you the image of the things they’ve seen. So I knew as soon as I opened the door that evening to the young policewoman. I saw it in her eyes.
He crashed the car, of course. Just him driving, no passengers, no other car involved. Lost control, veered over to the other side of the road, hit a tree. He was driving too fast, not concentrating, no cats’ eyes…
He didn’t die straightaway. They took him into intensive care, but as that terrible night ended and a new, and even more terrible, day began, his soul floated free from all the tubes and wires that shackled him to the bed. Sometimes I think his spirit came to rest over my photo album – it falls open every time at this page, the one with the picture of the three of them, my son with an arm round his two sisters.
You’re thinking you saw it all coming, aren’t you? Well, so did I – that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.
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