She was standing in the rain in a jungle print bikini, relishing the whipping of the wind round her bare torso, her face uplifted to the stair-rod pummelling. A small group of people had gathered round her, fewer than there would have been but for the storm, some laughing, some trying to encourage her to go home without actually getting too near. She ignored them all, her happy face dripping, her arms outstretched. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad.
I watched from my window, waiting for the smile to turn to tears as it had so many times before. It would be harder to tell in this weather, but even from here I would see the slight change in expression, the onset of a confusion that became despair in an instant, and then I would bring her in.
I would hold her and dry her and make her some tea and chat about the weather until it all faded away and then we would find her a nice frock to wear and I would do her hair and choose a pretty necklace and get the holiday brochures out and she would point to the pictures and say ‘I’ve been there’ and I’d say ‘Yes, Mum, you have’ because how was I to know where she went in her bikini, what foreign sun was shining on her smooth tanned face as the rain pelted down?
And who was I to deny her that?