‘Be safe! Be seen!’
It was the badge she focused on, glinting in a shaft of sunlight. He’d got it at school last week. A glow-in-the-dark border, spooky when his Mum had turned off the lights and it had shone out from his blazer left on the floor.
It was pressed against her windscreen.
She tried not to think what was forcing it up against the glass.
The radio played a jolly jingle, solar panels or double glazing.
She hadn’t seen the smile on his face as he walked or Bernard veer towards her. Wobbling but intent.
The scream ceased after sixty-seven seconds. The memory of it went on forever for all those that heard it.
The precise moment it began her life ended. As she watched her only child rise up into the air. Like the weightless astronaut he dreamt of being.
Those dreams ended then with the dull thud that shattered the windscreen. The thud they all relived over and over. If only she hadn’t shouted for him to hurry up. If just once she’d let him be late. Then her thoughts turned to sobs and she crumpled in a heap on the pavement.
Bernard’s wife waited until the door clicked shut and her shoulders relaxed. She enjoyed the house to herself, it was just too quiet with him in it.
She put some music on. Sashayed around the kitchen a little. Looking forward to her day. She had a whole life that didn’t involve him. She contented herself with the fact that if he truly loved her she wouldn’t have been able to build this other life. Wouldn’t have needed to.
She was out when the police came to break the news.
Laughing too loudly to hear her phone when a neighbour called.
Bernard shouted I love you as he reached out to open the door at 7.28.
He didn’t think about what it meant, he didn’t show any signs of it being true. But it was something he said as he clipped his trouser leg in and left for work.
In twenty five years he’d only missed two working days of shouting this up the stairs; when his wife was in hospital having their sons.
He didn’t leave at weekends.
Went straight into the loft to arrange his model village and train set.
None of them would miss him when he died.
She was gentle. Like lilac blossoms dancing in the breeze on a summer afternoon. She sat on a cushion to drive and was never far from her cardie.
She’d drunk the wine deeply. Picked the glass up and drained it in a single trip to her mouth. It was the same for every glass she’d had. I’m telling you this to help the story along but of course in reality, at that time in the morning, there was no one there to watch her.
Although she was three times over the drink drive limit.
Was not her fault.