Father and Son are here (again). They’ve been visiting for 10 years, since son was about 8. That would make him around 18 now; he’s grave and courteous and choosing outstanding and bewildering literature.
These parents always brought their children to the shop in the school holidays and let them burrow down and choose their own stuff. Wise. I remember the children were dark and quiet with bright-eyes and shared jokes without saying anything.
Now Father and Son are here again and he’s no longer at school. Still bright-eyes looking at me over a black mask and holding a copy of Arcadian Adelaide by Thistle Anderson (which is hilarious), and how could an 18 year old know about that book. But he does. With his large serious watch and thatch of wild hair.
But now Dad’s found a find on a shelf.
‘Goon Show, Harry.’
But Harry’s got Arcadian Adelaide and isn’t looking up. But it doesn’t matter. Families are like that, especially when it comes to reading.
Dad’s reading titles aloud: ‘My Goblin Therapist, I want my daughter to see this. She’ll want this.’ Families that read do that. They know about each other’s reading.
The father says to me: ‘Where’s your satire section?’, and I say: ‘At home.’ He understands.
Dad stands and looks at shelves. Son kneels easily with no cracking joints or signals from muscles. Both men absorbed.
‘Dad.’ Son gives an urgent low call.
Dad turns slightly, but is himself unable leave something.
Son is not perturbed because just registering interest is enough; just moving the air slightly with breath is enough. For family.
Harry has hands in pockets and feet crossed, relaxed.
Then he sits with phone.
Dad stares into science fiction.
They have a stack ready, but for now they just sit or stand and stare at things.
Painting by Vickie Wade