by Phil Self
‘What do you think her voice would have sounded like?’ Stephanie, with one eyebrow raised, hand tight on the wheel. Everyone’s voice felt similar these days, one dry tone of sound. ‘Beautiful’, I said. The road ahead, at least, was clear: the traffic few and far between on a hot afternoon. If we had been headed to the beach, the conversation could have been different. We had recently bought a bucket and spade, windbreak, blankets.
‘Did you fix the bookcase?’ It had been leaning forwards mercilessly for weeks. There was no urgency now; in any case, the answer was obvious. ‘Your mother rang earlier.’ It was a reply, of a kind. I wondered whether the baby’s eyes would have stayed like Stephanie’s, blue as the bottom of an iceberg, or turned one day hazel. ‘I suppose she must be worried.’ I don’t know which of us said it. Mothers get to be worried. It’s a gift.
Phil Self lives in Edinburgh, and considers the weather to be not so bad as people say.