It is the day-after-the-day-after-Christmas, and I’ve just said goodbye to my sister and packed her off into the gym (she’s a personal trainer. I’m not a January health freak insisting her relatives work off their Christmas turkey).
I am trying not to cry and failing.
Look, I know I’m not sending her off to the Western Front. I just don’t get to see family much, and when I do I remember what I miss about them. My sister and me, we’ve got the same face. I don’t have the same face as anyone down here. Imagine all the Sweet Valley High-jinks we could get up to if one of us dyed our hair.
We drive off, Henry hiccupping in the back and me hiccupping in the front, and Timothy is changing gears one-handed so he can hold mine. ‘Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll’ comes on the stereo and we smile because suddenly we are eighteen again. Timothy is wearing big baggy jeans and driving his little Punto with teenage-boy aplomb. He is tapping out the tambourine part on the steering wheel, like always. I am thin as a rake with a head full of Renaissance plays and am terribly in love with him already. One day quite soon he will leave for South Africa for two years, so we are trying not to become too attached. But for now there is pizza ahead of us and a Punto at our disposal and ‘Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll’ on the radio, and if you can’t make a good evening with a combination like that – well.
It is eight years later. We are driving towards home with a baby hiccupping in the back, and so much has happened since then that I can barely recognise myself. I don’t know everything about him, but I know eight years’ worth. He lets go of my hand to tap out the tambourine part on the steering wheel. He doesn’t have my face, but I still think he’s pretty rad.