In the newly decorated and reorganised home office, I hear a beep beep from one of the boxes.
‘Oh my god Dan, your watch is still beeping for some random alarm you set.’ And, in a blink, you are next to me, laughing too.
‘Hur-hur-hur, Can’t believe it, it’s how old? I think I got it when I was about seven or eight.’
‘Something like that. Cos you got the new one that doesn’t beep when you were 12ish?’
‘Have you still got that one too?’
‘Of course. It’s in a box in the attic.’
‘Haha! That’s gonna drive you mad, Mum’
‘I know! Well, it won’t though, it’ll just remind me of you.’
I’m going to the shop. I tie the laces on my black converse high tops, the ones I bought in honour of Dan, and I imagine his long, knobbly fingers awkwardly looping the laces into a double knot. His black converse high tops are in a box in the attic. They have a rip along one side. The rip happened when he skidded along the tarmac after the van hit him.
There’s a spider in the bathroom, quite a big one, and it gives me a moment’s scare. I remember trying to help you overcome your dislike of spiders by getting us to name each one.
‘They come in to get warm and look for lady spiders,’ I explain. ‘We’ll call that one Simon.’
You, head poking round the door, feet ready to run if the damn thing moves, ‘I still don’t like them.’
‘Ok. Go get me spider rescue kit.’
A cautious hand passing things round the bathroom door. A yellow stacking cup from bath times past, and a square of cardboard decorated with hearts and ‘mum’ written on it, and Simon gets scooped up, trapped, and then launched out of the bathroom window.
The ‘little boys’, the younger brothers of the lads in your year, have been celebrating their GCSE successes this weekend. They are older now than you were when you died and the thought makes me shudder. How can they have GCSEs when you haven’t? How can their big brothers, your contemporaries, look so much like men now? In your photos, you look younger every day.
I meet Adela, once your girlfriend, and we walk through woods and across fields in the Bank Holiday sunshine. You’re there, a shimmer between us, the whole time.
I watch a film with H and a woman has lost her son. I read a book in bed and a man has lost his son. I cry. The hurt, still and heavy like smooth pebbles under a soft-flowing crystal brook, churns now, crashing stone on stone, rushing and rising, spraying spume and I lie my pain on the pillow and force sleep through the tears.