Nella Freund

The present door

The salty smell of roast chicken hits her nostrils as she shoulders open the big wooden front door, keys dangling in the keyhole; plastic shopping bags digging into her palms. The south easter blows her into the hallway, lifting her skirts, and she dumps the bags, belatedly remembering the eggs. She leans heavily against the front door to close it against the wind, the bully. Post lifts off the front table and floats onto the floor like autumn leaves. She picks up the shopping bags, steps over the post, hoping she crushes a bill underfoot, and walks into the kitchen where her son sits at the table, drinking Milo and reading a book. She puts the bags down on top of the dishwasher, more carefully this time, and notices that he’s left the Milo tin out, its lid off, next to the kettle. A fly buzzes around it. The milk carton stands there too, also with its plastic screw lid off. The fly lands on the spout of the carton. Her son hasn’t lifted his head yet, engrossed in his book.

“Hello?” she says in a loud voice.

He lifts his head and looks at her.

“Ugh ” he says and puts his head back down to the book.

“Well, hello there, how nice to see you, wonderful mother,” she replies, moves around the table to the kettle and switches it on.

He carries on reading and, without looking up, says, “Wha?”

She goes over to him and kisses the top of his head; he’s had his hair cut recently and the blonde spikes tickle her lips. She inhales – his smell is changing; he’s losing the innocent boy scent and becoming sweaty, manly. That’s all the contact she can have nowadays.

“Don’t worry, keep reading,” she replies.

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