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I close the door as he strides off on his Secondary school taster day.

He walks away down the path, the way you used to go to Starbucks, with a stride increasingly like your amble, off to meet Alfie and Tom and do the walk for the first time.
I run upstairs and watch his back for as long as I can and half way down the path he diverts left and I know he’s paused at the tree swing. He’s put his bag down, the rucksack that we last used on our last journey North, crammed with pens and activity books and we stuffed ourselves into the car with our over night things not knowing it wouldn’t happen again. And now I’ve shaken the crumbs from the rucksack and packed it with lunch and sharpened pencils and it’s slightly too big for him but he’ll grow into it like everything else.
And he’s out of sight but I see the branches sway with his weight, pulled down, waving to me, showing me where he is and I feel the weight. I remember his weight, learning to hold him, to lift him carefully from the cot and bend my knees and keep my back straight and I feel him in my arms now, smelling warm with the morning, soft and wriggly before our day ahead. And while you worked and managed issues and put up with their politics, we crawled on the floor and made up silly songs and you smiled at us later, dancing to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with the old throw on the floor. And he sat across your resting legs as you bounced him up and down and we were us in our silly ways and we were us in all our moments.

And I sit here on this side of the bed where we first watched Teletubbies and you and your Mum stood here after your trip into town that first week, when our son was tiny and she bought us the heavy brass photo frame with the thick black velvet backing and you started to worry about her, her button brightness starting to tarnish. And now I sit here in silence wondering how far down the route he has travelled and imagining the chatter as they bundle their way to the start of something new, feeling unsure and excited and grown up but still a child.

And I just get a text from him now to say he’s got there and the cold tightness leaves me.
I sit up and lean forward, I look past the small clay dish piled with your spare change, the one he made for you with squashed out sides from small pushing thumbs. I look past the bottle of water, the inside speckled with old condensated bubbles, an uneven line of them sit just above the still quiet water level, punctuating the plastic and from this angle the flattened out oval reflects the milky sky. And beyond it the path where he walked an hour ago and swung on the wood before marching away.
I focus on the leaves in the distance, the branches swaying slowly now in the air, moving with nature.

I sit in the quiet stillness and listen to my breath, the cursor flashes with my heartbeat.
Somewhere further away than normal but closer than I can describe he’ll be buzzing with his friends, listening, thinking, learning what’s next, putting one foot in front of the other as he navigates steadily on his path, like me.

Holding him invisibly,
3.30 can’t come soon enough.
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