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Page 3

Pete Symons

‘I’ll show you,’ and take the glove from him.

He crosses his arms and pouts but says nothing.

‘Hold out your hand.’

He presents his left hand.

‘The other one.’

I manage to hold back my smile. And I think of all the thousands of tiny things I have learnt in my life that he has yet to learn. I take his right hand and stretch the glove over it. It’s too big, but not by much. He is delighted and thrusts his left hand towards me. I put on the glove and we are finally ready.

I hand him the little shovel and his smile broadens. He does not need to speak for me to understand his delight.

He attacks the soil with his shovel. He knows what to do without me telling him. Again, I wonder if he remembers his mother?

I had already filled the watering can and now pour water over the ground that Joel prepared. He reaches out for the can.

‘No! Too heavy. Too heavy for you.’

He pouts again. I feel myself sigh.


I pour the water from the can and Joel puts his hands on it as I do so. That is enough for him to know that he has helped. Joel watches, fascinated, as the water sinks into the earth. He is about to jump in the puddle and I catch him just before he lands.

‘No. Messy. No. Look, the seeds. Beetroot.’

Joel, instantly distracted, picks up the packet.

‘Open it.’

He opens the packet and some seeds spill out. Picking two or three up, he looks at them.

‘Beeboots?’ he asks.

‘Yes. Well, seeds. They will grow.’

I take some seeds as well and push them into the ground we prepared. He does the same. He looks at the patch of earth.

‘We have to wait,’ I say. He looks up at me quizzically.

‘A long time. Weeks.’ Time doesn’t mean anything to him. His mother may as well have died yesterday. Although he doesn’t seem able to ask about her.

After a moment more of staring at the earth, Joel turns around and sits himself in the sandpit and begins to push the sand around.

I cover the seeds with some mulch and head inside to prepare dinner.

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