by Jenny Pellett
I’m looking out over the garden, bleak in its November light; at the beds your Aiden helped my Bill to dig. He didn’t have to – he offered and they set to one weekend, working as a team, Aiden doing the heavy stuff. He’s a strong lad, your Aiden.
He and Bill had breakfast together this morning, he said bye, see you later. He’s safe here, with us, we take care of him. I think he’s got a girl friend – he goes out some evenings – never tells us where. Always quiet when he comes home, respectful.
I’ve got the kettle on; I can hear it bubbling in the background but if I turn around, I‘ll see his black and white blurred face staring at me from your crumpled plea and I can’t deal with this. Not yet. He came with references, you see. And he is a good lad you know, pays his rent on time. But to you he’s missing and I know how that feels, I really do.
(It was our David’s second tour of duty, two years ago. Every day since, grit from that vast unmapped territory whips up and stings my eyes.)
Aiden’s not from round here, I know that from his accent and I wondered how far you searched when I tore your poster from the library board. Ten months is too long to worry, I will put your mind at ease but I won’t tell you where he is. He must do that himself, when he’s ready. I won’t ask why, he can tell me if he wants to. He’s a thoughtful lad, your Aiden.
I’ll sit here, drink my tea and then I’ll start preparing their supper. I’ll phone you before they get home. I will.
Jenny Pellett is a teaching assistant – the students are her inspiration.