CREATIVE Gee Williams

NWR Issue 107

Desire Line

Ok. We need to start a long way from now. So Sara married a man called Josh and they had a daughter – named Eurwen, a Welsh name, a difficult name but to look at her, you’d never guess she’s going to cause the trouble we’re all in. Every morning, from an anonymous saloon car, a tall rangy Mr Meredith delivered the child to the school door. Bradwardine’s severe frontage disdains to broadcast it caters for Oxford’s chosen next generation. Yet even here Mr Meredith was a presence as he moved through the mothers and childminders, his dark suit a serious put-down of multi-coloured anarchy. While other children were chivvied or coddled he ran a hand over his daughter’s chestnut head, letting her turn beneath, offering one sentence per day to exchange with the gatekeeper. A bit wet for rounders? We’re enjoying The Hobbit! And when he walked of, eyes other than the girl’s followed. The car might turn left in the direction of Carfax and the city centre but most often right, circling to the Thames Valley Police Headquarters in Kidlington. Or at least it spent precious minutes trying to make for the seized carriageways that served Oxford as walls… and more than one mother speculated aloud that he must be so-o tempted to blast a way out with the siren.

Mr Meredith: the only rank he ever admitted to was parent. And at three-fifteen a red-haired, thirtyish Mrs Meredith was waiting and she had a Christian name. ‘Sara Meredith – she wrote that book!’ ‘She’s the clever one – a Bradwardine girl herself!’ ‘Daughter of Geoffrey Severing… he was on Newsnight again over globalization... or it might have been something else.’

This Sara chatted with staff and joked, sometimes at her small replica’s expense. Oftener the wit was directed at the well-groomed mothers. In faded denim her slight figure was easily shouldered aside by Human Resources Mothers on flexi-time or Entrepreneur Mothers with government-advisor haircuts. ‘How do they do it? I can hardly manage to shop for food, never mind shoes. What amazing shoes!’ Her intent was to offer an ear for pedagogic complaints, though trying too hard she sometimes admonished herself; the aspiration was for goodwill to be heaped on her child’s head. Not that the child was ever in need of it, Eurwen, the daughter with the Welsh name, a difficult name, one that had come to school that first day written on a scrap of paper. (‘Eurwen’ – pronounced Ire as in Ireland and wen as in when!) Fragile, beautiful, green-eyed and blessed with a watchful father and amiable mother, sweeping the years ahead clear of slips, trips and falls. What could go wrong...?

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