Thursday, November 19, 2015

Spate River 

“My brother used to sleepwalk. He’d have been ten or so. Mum and Dad would be talking in the kitchen or watching telly or something and they’d look up and there he was, this pale young ghost in his pyjamas. I must have had sleepwalking envy because I tried it once. I don’t even know if I was really sleepwalking or just pretending. Yes I do. I was pretending. I must have been. I remember standing at the top of the stairs for a while, waiting for interestingness to descend upon me, then going back to bed when nobody came and looked.”
“Ever the attention seeker,” said Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader.
“And then other times, I’d stand at the top of the stairs making myself dizzy by looking through my Dad’s binoculars the wrong way round. They took me to a doctor who prescribed putting glucose on my Ready Brek and I haven’t looked backwards since.”

Outside my window, I could see the traffic rowboating it’s way along the bypass.  Smudged red lines for those heading home, smudged white lines for those coming into town. It hasn’t stopped raining for weeks. We might as well be in Seattle.

“It’s just the two of us now,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Stella. “Well, no actually. Not exactly. Not at all, in fact.”
“Seems that way though.”
“Tabs says Terry’s got an interview next week. Some company in Blackburn.”
“Oh that’s good,” I said. “They’ll love him in Blackburn.”
“And it’ll be handy for…” she hesitated. “Handy for everything that Blackburn is so handy for.”
“Mike still at that dodgy place in Manchester?”
“Last I heard. I hope they’re paying him well. They’ll never find any one else so suitable as Mike.”
“I can’t believe there’s even a market for that sort of thing. The mind boggles. Everything boggles.”
“Horses for courses, Tim. But he was certainly a strange one, was Mike.”

The going home bell rang. A few soggy souls started to wade their way across the car park. Some trod gingerly, some surrendered themselves to the water and practically swam to their cars. The bypass beyond resembled a river and the river resembled a different kind of entity altogether.

“And what about you?” I asked. “Hardly ever see you these days. How’s the wife?”
“The wife’s wonderful, thanks,” Stella smiled. “She’s great.”
“And the kids? You must be run off your feet with them?”

She didn’t answer. I looked out of the window and Stella was already halfway across the car park, dancing around the puddles and headed for the gate where Becky sat waiting in the family tank, radio blasting, kids singing their little heads off in the back, indicators flashing in an entirely random fashion, like a space capsule signalling weather reports back up to the mothership.

“Preston. More rain. Gales expected, becoming mental later. Delays likely, avoid travel where possible. Keep your loved ones close. Storm’s a-coming but keep the faith and we’ll get through this in the end. Send umbrellas.”

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