At the start of the month, Dad is down for work so we meet in a lunchbreak in the spring sunshine. Around us are people on the grass, avoiding looking at their watches. The wind catches in the brown paper bag where we had carried sandwiches and sends it sliding along the pavement until I catch it with my toe. There is a songbird in the trees and we both pause to work out where it comes from.
Our friends are over from Australia, a load of us sitting around remembering gossip from their wedding two years ago. The hard swell of Sal’s belly, their brown faces.
Two bank holidays in a month and it’s good to make plans.
The first one and I’m with the girls by the river, plastic cups of cider and a crowded carpark for a beer garden. In the park the next day, the sun is out and we’re all in shorts, throwing wooden blocks as part of a game. It would feel pagan were it not for the cut grass, dogs and children and families on rugs around us.
One day, I can’t remember which, a couple are standing at a bus stop. He sinks his head into her neck and her hair falls long and loose down her back. I look down so I don’t catch the hot, private look in his eye.
I’m finding my daily stories starting to slip, yawning empty pages in my notebook. It’s a funny time at the moment, without a place of my own, busy weeks and no real structure, trying to work out if you really need that at 24.
I sit behind a girl on the bus and find myself looking over her shoulder, a voyeur. She flicks between Facebook and text message, orchestrating something with someone called Dan, a phone charger she left at his house. The games we play to see the boys we like.
In Manchester with my girls, bottles of wine between us and something good in city squares, a football match on, Sunday shoppers and carrier bags. The day before, we went somewhere new and trendy for burgers and beer, juice running over our fingers, paper napkins, working out lives.
I see my Dad again at the end of the month, love the way he talks to everyone. We have dinner in a pub one night – a wooden floor, an open space, people’s bike helmets around us, wet rings staining the table top. I miss both my grandpas with a sudden ache.