One of the first days back after the summer holidays. Our son’s friend and our son’s friend’s mother are crossing the bridge opposite our house on their way to the school.
In the boutique window on the corner the airy summer dresses are being taken down and exchanged for wool and substance. Her eyes rest, for a moment, on the headless naked mannequins, the colour of this year’s season, burnt umber. I wave, she waves back. We haven’t seen him or her that much during the holidays, but now every day again they pass the house.
In autumn his father’s features start to emerge from the boy’s face, something different in the jawline, the proportions, vague lines have settled into sharpness and distinction.
His arms become more muscular. He still sometimes grabs her hand, absentmindedly, then remembers and lets go, torn between not wanting to hurt her feelings and not wanting to need her. Basketball trainings and tournaments, making lunches for the team to take on away games. The boys’ last year together. First talk about dates, secret smoking, the school disco. A few words between us mothers at the pick- up wait. A cancer scare, an elderly parent falling ill.
The shop windows have Christmas decoration now. December cold has frozen the water that in November drenched the rotting planks of wood, the fallen branches, filled them like sponges and pushed it inside out, it has transformed the wooden debris into caterpillars sprouting icy hairs like sheets of bristles, translucent white.
Today she crosses the bridge alone, we wave hello. Down in the frozen river a group of ducks floats on the water, motionless and still, they seem to be frozen, too, or sleeping. One comes loose, adrift. Without own movement, one cannot make out a stroke of its webbed foot in the darkness beneath. It just calmly detaches and drifts away.
I see my own reflection mirrored in her face, eruciform shapes, some caterpillars are cannibalistic, like time- and that expression, not often used now, crosses my mind: “ the one who sleeps forgets his hunger.”