Today we took the children out to some ancient woodland just outside of Lewes. The plan was to see the bluebells but we were a little early, maybe a week or two, and there was just a light wash of azure across parts of the floor.
Still, the woods were beautiful. Small, incandescent leaves were splashed across the canopy and the air was throbbing with bird song. Twisted and cracked trunks of beech, hornbeam and silver birch lurched from the ground and split again and again until they ended in buds curled in on themselves like tiny fists railing against the gods.
We played hide and seek and Lila and I crouched behind the roots of a large tree. Shh, she said, eyes wide, chubby little finger pressing gently against my mouth. I peered around the trunk and saw you and Kaila holding hands, laughing and wading through autumn’s half mulched beech leaves to find us. Your faces were marbled with sunlight and tree shadow and you both looked as if you belonged.
Later, we went back to the house and you stood in front of the mirror saying, look. The first grey hair. I laughed and kissed your cheek. When the children were in bed we lit candles in wine bottles and lay together on the sofa. The parrot tulips on the mantelpiece splayed out from their vase and the flames made their ragged leaves glow lipstick red. They’re much nicer than normal tulips, you said, less perfect.