14th March


He heard the toilet flush and then her feet padding back from the bathroom. It was very dark. He sat up and drank some water. When she saw that he was awake she began to sing.

‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you . . .’

‘What time is it?’ He was hot. He pulled off his T-shirt and dropped it on the floor.

‘Three o’clock,’ she said. ‘Were you born yet?’

‘Aye, I think so. I should ask Mum, in case I ever want to get my horoscope done or something. They need that, don’t they? The exact time of birth?’



‘You’re never going to go to an astrologer.’

‘I might. It might be interesting.’

She gave a little snort of disbelief as she settled herself back into bed.

‘Aye, you’re probably right,’ he said.

‘So you reckon you were out by now?’

‘Well, I know it was during the night anyway, because she had me at home, and Dad was camped in the other bedroom with my sister and brother. And when they woke up in the morning and heard me crying he told them there must be a chicken in next door with Mum.’

‘And that was you, a few hours old.’

‘That was me.’

They lay side by side in silence for a while. His eyes having adjusted to the dark, he could make out the familiar shapes of wardrobe, chest of drawers, chair. A little moonlight
seeping round the shutters made the cracks in the ceiling plaster seem to move, as if across shell.

He touched her hand and said, ‘Fifty-five years ago, I was naked, just like I am now, pushing myself out of her, into the world.’

She laughed. ‘You were a lot smaller.’

‘And not so hairy.’

‘It’s incredible,’ he said after another silence, ‘to think of that baby being born, and me here, and all that time stretching between us. And we’re the same person.’

‘Creation is incredible,’ she said. ‘Life is incredible.’ ‘You couldn’t make it up,’ he said.

She laughed again. ‘That’s ridiculous.’

‘My point.’

A few minutes later he wondered if she was asleep, but he didn’t say any- thing, in case she wasn’t.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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