A Deer Story
the motorway makes me think of being handsome somewhere
My boys are in the back, snapped into their seat belts and booster seats, finally still after a juice burst drink from tin foil sachet bought for the idea of quiet. The colour on their tongues remind me of the bad decision and I will pack a lunch box next time. It is dark and the road ahead is dark too. Nobody else wants to be driving this late, especially with two high sprung off spring in the boot, heads lolled to the side and cries finally subsided. It is the year I have been waiting for but now that it is here I am counting down the over line like the street lights and speed cameras that drift by my side. I am over the hurdle of my time as a new Dad now, marked by the way their voices sound when they say the word. Dad. Dad. Dad. Can we have a fruit shoot dad can we have a slushy dad can we have an ice blast dad. No excuses for this mistake of buying sugar late at night but I like to be the liked one now that that’s what it’s come to. She is in the other flat, outstretched probably with her feet rubbed by him, the opponent. More hair on his head but theirs will never look like his at least. She is in love with him and not in love with me anymore, boys, that’s the way it goes. The road is empty and i will not risk the radio, rippling the wave of sleep would be a disaster. I let them retreat into dreams of us together, sandcastles taken by the tide and hide and seek and mummy making pack lunches for us before long drives. I am a mess in a suit and tie and I have the love of boys who will learn to hate it. It is late and the motorway slips away outside like the pull of a magnet. We repell the outside. We hide from it. I am going at ninety miles per hour, feeling like the faster I go the faster it finishes. Maybe we step out to stretch our legs and the boys have hair on them, and their faces, and arms, and they offer to do the next leg, split the journey in halves, talk about getting back in time for giving their children their baths. I am a not so new Dad and times are more bad than good, the tree in their dreams and the branches are blooming. Mummy loves somebody else, boys, she doesn’t love me. It is dark from the window, the headlights are piercing through it like two sharp knives skewering the air, hungry for that bit that next bit over there round the corner past the junction scoop it up with gumption making haste tomato paste on their school uniform what a mess you’re doing it wrong why can’t you do that one thing I asked you last time it’s my turn this eekend he taught them how to ride a bike that was my thing no it’s no ones thing they loved it they tried so hard they called him Dad I think you should know that we’re going on holiday away with the boys you can have them on weekdays if you want it’s not that big of a deal it’s just a couple nice meals and beach balls. My boys are in the back, snapped into their seat belts and booster seats and my foot is to the floor, scoring the tarmac with tyre track marks like a raw lamb for a roast dinner. The table is laid and we get back just in time, Mummy is in the kitchen and it’s all just fine. In the distance, I see her orange hair in the head lights, medium rare soft skin bright white. I slow down. The bows frown to the sound of the breaks quietly moaning but the dreams hold them tight enough. She is there, standing in the half beam. Standing in the half dream. A deer or stag or rag doll dragged from back then when it all made sense, I see her in the middle of the road and she is fiddling with her coat buttons like she did the day she told us all about him. Hazards on, her face blinks to us and I sink into my seat. Lights off for a moment. Still. Shadows gone. Boys breathing running though their open mouths and nose and I am waiting for their Mummy to knock on the window and ‘suppose it would be alright for us to try it all again, let’s go home’. Lights back on. The tail of a running deer, soft legged running off into the distance darts away and I decide not to stay in the middle of the motorway any longer. The boys are in the back, snapped into their seat belts and booster seats and we are driving for words to make it better.