BAKED BEANS, BREAD, SOYA MILK, CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, LETTUCE, CIGARETTES, HAND CREAM.
Gareth woke up around 6 pm, as Tania dumped Caden’s car seat in the hall and slammed the front door. Caden was crying.
‘Gareth,’ she shouted up the stairs. ‘Did you get Caden’s soya milk? He’s been crying all the way from his nan’s.’
‘It’s by there, on the side, in the kitchen,’ he called back, and stumbled wearily out of bed. He looked at his watch. He’d be back on shift in less than four hours. He pulled on a T-shirt, and went downstairs in his boxers. Caden was frantic, angry-eyed and red-faced, straining against his straps, and Gareth knelt to get him out of the car seat.
‘All right, now, little feller.’ He held Caden up against his chest, rubbing his back until the crying subsided into sobs and then hiccups, and then opened the kitchen door.
‘Hello, love,’ he said. She was frowning.
‘Why did you only get me this cheap hand cream?’
‘Sheila in the chemist’s showed me your normal one, and it was £5.60. She said that one was as good.’
‘I’d have given you the money for it,’ she said.
‘Anyway, I got the rest of what you wanted in Spar. Beans on toast again, is it?’
Tania found the Silk Cuts in the Spar bag and lit one up, exhaling her irritation.
‘I wish you wouldn’t smoke round Caden,’ said Gareth. He opened the back door and lifted Caden up on his shoulder to face the fresh air. ‘So, what have you done to upset Sheila?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘She was fine with the soya, but when I wanted your hand cream, she pursed her lips and banged the thing down on the counter. That one’s good enough, she said.’
Tania shrugged. ‘Probably the wrong time of the month.’
‘And then, when I went in Spar, the girls there were all laughing and gossiping and as soon as they saw me, they shut up until I left the shop. What’s going on?’
‘Nothing. I don’t know.’ Her blue eyes met his, but were as blank as the blue walls of the kitchen. He watched her lips as they tightened around the cigarette and then parted to release blue smoke.
He thought: she’s seeing someone else. He turned away from her then, and stood on the doorstep, rubbing Caden’s back, looking down the hillside, over the roofs of all the houses, down to the defunct docks.
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