My hands still remember the weight of her, the feel of her tiny bones. My neck remembers the gentle rocking of her head, still wobbly, and the suck of her lips. My ears remember the snuffling, and the mewling. My dress remembers her smell.
All that way. Ridiculous really. What was it? Seven, eight hours in the car? For an hour, an hour of cups of tea and that precious burden in my arms. And the other one. My other precious angel who I cannot stop touching. Both of them. One so so tired and the other so fractious. I was less scared this time. Even walked off with her in search of the bright walls of the play area and all the while feeling the eyes of her parents boring into my back. I just wanted a little time with her, alone, to whisper, to coo and know her living warmth. And Annie Lennox’s song Precious Little Angel singing in my head all the way home.
All was quiet this morning. Nobody about really. No smoking woman, just a lad spied in a basement on a black leather sofa, in a vest, watching TV. And a owl in the trees or in the sky over Llanbadarn Road. I couldn’t see it, just heard it. Not a hoot or a whoo, whoo more a waagh, waagh. Is that a screech owl? The sea was a gentle lapping thing, all threat gone. No frost either. And no moon. No Aberdovey in the distance.
We broke the routine. I fancied it. Needed a fillip, a lift up so we stopped in Rhayader. A corner café, by day a bistro by night. Men sat singly at tables, hunched over plates, elbows on tables. Workers, their hi vis jackets and bags on the floor. A large man opposite was doing The Sun crossword and waiting for his bacon sandwich. He ate it fast, great bites, murmuring the answers to the clues between chews. Alright? he said catching me watching him. Alright? he said as he left. The café stank of fried bacon but I adjusted or the smell dissipated. The coffee was weak but hot. He ate a scone. I buttered and jammed it for him, it was warm and soggy. Brilliant, he said.
More coffee later. Two cups. I was flying. A busy Starbucks full of people conducting business meetings or working on laptops. A very different demographic to the one we go to in Oswestry, no kids or teenage girls with tattoos. I was nervous. We did crosswords. And waited and waited. Then at the services we waited. Be kind, I kept saying to myself. Be kind. I walk in on an elderly lady in the loo. No, she shouts, pushing at the door. Sorry, I’m so sorry. I thought I’d locked it. I apologise again when she emerges. It’s not your fault, she says. Dignity only a little shaken. She wears dark glasses and an expensive jacket, her white hair a neat foam.
She is grown. Her texts are all about her child. I’ve got a very restless little girl here. It fills her life, his life. They are content. There is no fighting. A peace pervades. Just a lack of sleep. Her face needs sleep. They arrive all bags and paraphernalia, with a tiny person in a car seat. She is so pretty. So pretty. My love. My loves.