It was just the three of them, day after day. Georgie saved sandwich crusts and they fed the ducks at the park. Little Theo’s milky eyes gazed from the pram.

              But that was when the children were small.

              ‘Where is Theo?’ asks Georgie.

              ‘He’ll be here soon,’ says her daughter Isabella.

              When Georgie was a girl, she sat on the end of her mother’s bed and had her hair brushed. But brushing Isabella’s hair never worked out. She squirmed and put it in a ponytail before running off for basketball. Only Theo sat still to have his hair brushed.

              ‘Theo hasn’t visited me,’ says Georgie.

              ‘He came yesterday, Mum.’

              ‘Are you sure darling? I don’t remember that.’ Theo hadn’t been for a while, surely. ‘Is he away, on a holiday?’

              She was lucky the children were great friends. Three years apart but they played together so well.

              ‘You weren’t too bossy,’ she says.

              ‘Sorry?’ Isabella sounds surprised.

              ‘With Theo. You were never bossy like some big sisters.’

              ‘Oh. No. Thank you.’

              ‘If it wasn’t climbing trees then it was jumping in the duck pond.’

              ‘That’s right, Mum.’

              ‘He scared me half to death on that bike.’

              Isabella is quiet.

              ‘Did his plane get held up? Coming back from his holiday?’

              ‘I’m not really sure, Mum,’ says Isabella.

              ‘Is everything OK?’ Georgie feels a memory she can’t quite touch, a shadow just in front of her. ‘Isabella—can we call him? What if something has happened?’

              And then she thinks Isabella is crying, but perhaps it’s the sun casting a shadow, because Isabella says ‘He’s fine Mum, he rang me only an hour ago, I promise. He’ll be here tomorrow. Let’s go and see if the roses have opened yet.’

              ‘Are there roses? I don’t remember.’

              There had been roses in the park she took the children to, luscious overblown pink roses, and Theo always wanted to touch them. Georgie had to pull him away; the sharp thorns would bite his soft little fingers.

              A woman in white poked Georgie’s finger until it bled. She was a ghost from the future or the past. She weighed the baby and he did a big wee on the scales. She wrapped something around Georgie’s arm and read numbers aloud. Her words didn’t make sense.

              ‘I have a son, you know,’ said Georgie. The woman in white looked up from her notebook and smiled.

              ‘He’s just four years old.’ Red overalls, a little yellow metal car he carried everywhere. He was just in front of her; she could almost touch him.

              They took her to the lunch room. Isabella had disappeared. There was a hot lunch. Beef slices, it wasn’t her sort of food. The woman in white appeared again. ‘Try and eat a little more, Georgie.’ Shouldn’t she have been looking after the children?

              There was custard for dessert.

              When she was a child, her hair was long and wavy. Rich brown hair. Georgie didn’t remember her mother, just the heavy silver brush.

              Somebody brushes your hair slowly with a silver brush. Somebody loves you.

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