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Crumbs of Love and the end of an era….
Three kisses planted in rapid succession upon my arm. Spontaneous, fleeting, unselfconscious lip brushes against bare skin. I say nothing merely smile in appreciation of the love given. We continue our daily uphill trudge toward Barrow Hill Primary just as we have done these past four years.
It is summer, the end of term approaches, with it a change of school and an end to our morning meanderings. This new distance too great to travel by foot.
Today we are late, as always. We are always borderline late. A familiar array of faces punctuates our journey; the veiled mothers taking their kids to school, the group of smokers, drawing hard on their pre-work fags, the cute brunette who attends the local catholic school, already her top shirt button undone. The fashion for ties these days is for a thick, fat wide knot, not the knot I knew. Back then we wore ours thin, mod inspired.
We pass the church, the spiral clock chivvying us on, reminds us of the passing of time and old Joan, ever tending it’s rose bushes and magnolia trees, reminds us of mortality as each year she bends closer towards the earth. We cross the road and street swivel, the perm-a-tan man with jet-black hair and dreadful toupee must have found a different route, we haven’t seen him in months. We notice everything and nothing, rarely veering off course, treading the same old, same old path.
We are in love. We hate each other. We are at loggerheads, arguing, bickering, laughing, singing, beat-boxing, rapping, ‘times tables,’ repeating. We are just so, him and I, mother and son. There is no love like this. He walks in front of me, behind me, he is annoyed by me, embarrassed by me, blames me for everything. He doesn’t bother to look left or right but follows automatically in my footsteps. He is silent. I am silent. He has forgotten his homework and P.E. kit. I have forgotten his homework and P.E. kit. It is all very elemental; autumn, winter, spring, and summer. This year we have been lucky with the weather.
It is summer, the sun shines and we are weighted down with nothing more than a flimsy t-shirt and our dreams. He talks about murder, guns, X box, rappers, terrorism, super heroes, football, boy stuff. Most of it is noise that passes overhead and I grunt between appropriate pauses.
He says, ‘You’re not listening to me, Mum.’
‘Are you listening to me?’ I ask, as he fails to react to some piece of information integral to the smooth running of the day. We speak our own language, rhythm, mainly nonsense, homemade ditties, ridiculous drivel propelling us forward. Our fingers entwined, hands held.
Turning a corner we stray directly into the path of a pair of teenagers, on their lazy accentuated plod to the local comprehensive. He pulls away, my hand released. I have become accustomed to this holding of hands and conscious mine will hang empty in the coming years. He no longer needs me as before. The school gates appear and, as if rehearsing for his eventual departure, he leaves me. Every morning he leaves me, the last twenty yards taken at a mad dash and if lucky, he turns to give me a wave before disappearing behind the gate. Today, I am lucky.
Boy… blur… gone.
It occurs I forgot to notice him grow.
His lips reach my shoulders, three fleeting kisses.
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