It is Sunday afternoon and I am lying in the new hammock, next to our quiet canal. I can feel the warm sunlight on my skin; there is still a whiff of charcoal and grilled meat in the air. The only sensation close to discomfort is from Philip’s long lockdown hair rubbing on my bare chest as he turns his head this way and the other.
The music plays low, my wife is at the table under the low trees enjoying her wine and I am sipping mine watching dragonflies dance… the afternoon is growing longer and it will soon be time to go inside for Philip’s bath and bedtime routine. But not yet. Now everything is silent, still and no one shows the least inclination of moving. It’s the evening before my leave ends, why rush?
Then a familiar rhythmical sound edges into consciousness: running feet on the towpath moving at a steady pace. I look up lazily and sure enough there he is, a runner running across my field of view on the opposite bank and disappearing under the bridge in the distance.
I expect to feel guilt or envy as I look on, idle on my hammock, wine glass in hand and stomach full. But I don’t. I had completed my target mileage for the week that morning and have finished the work on the gate. What’s there to be guilty about?
I watch him run out of view: I expect tomorrow we will trade places, but for now he seems content to be running. For now I am content not to.