I’m sure Mr Sigournis must be very large, even for a man. I don’t mean large looking up, but large going round. He seems to have places where other people don’t.
We’re on the porch, Mrs Sigournis and I, in the shade.
Mr Sigournis is mowing the lawn, or trying to. It’s a lovely sight, the wide lawn, the trees behind, the bright sky as the backdrop. Behind the mower is a trail on the grass lighter than the rest.
Mr Sigournis is a vast blot on this vista. He wears shorts and a big, billowy white shirt. His face is very dark. That is bad, his face is usually pale.
His face is dark, veins standing out, eyes bulging.
Mrs Sigournis is drinking iced lemonade. She has a small plate of biscuits on a tray. She is knitting. Occasionally she smiles at Mr Sigournis, but he never notices. She has light clothes on, she looks cool. Her skin is pale, with freckles. She is in a rocking chair and moves slightly.
The overhead fan wafts cool air over us. I stay still.
Maybe she will let me have one of her biscuits? If I ask nicely. She is kind. And she has plenty of biscuits.
The sun is high. Noon is hot. Mr Sigournis always starts to mow the lawn at noon. Mrs Sigournis ‘tut-tuts’ every time, but it makes no difference. Mr Sigournis likes to mow the lawn before lunch. Lunch is at two. Mary prepares it.
Mary is kind. She is kind to me, like Mrs Sigournis. She has time for me. Mr Sigournis does not. I am Mrs Sigournis’s baby, but I am not his. This can be upsetting.
‘Carl! Come and have an iced drink!’
Mr Sigournis waves his hand dismissively. There is a problem with the mower. If he is to complete the mowing before lunch, he has to ‘get on’. I’ve heard him say that – those words: ‘get on’.
Now he has a big metal box, and he is taking shiny things out and clanging and pushing them on parts of the mower. His face is even darker, his mouth is open and gasping, his face runs sleek with wetness. His white shirt is grey in places where it sticks to him. Finally he stands up and pushes the mower again, disappearing from our sight.
Mrs Sigournis turns back to her knitting, shaking her head slightly. She has a pleasant look on her face. She is a kind mother to me.
I decide to try for a biscuit; I get up and go over to her. I wait until she notices me, then I ask politely.
She laughs, but reaches over to the plate, and gives me two.
I don’t push my luck. I accept them gratefully. I walk over to the bushes and find a shady place to sit down. I can see Mr Sigournis again now.
He is making loud noises; he is hitting the lawnmower, just like the times he has hit me. I take my biscuits somewhere else to eat them.
The sun is still high. I wander back to Mrs Sigournis, and sit beside her on the porch.
‘Where’s Mr Sigournis?’ she says to me. I can’t answer. I give her a blank look.
She smiles at me and her eyes twinkle. ‘Never mind,’ she says.
Mrs Sigournis is worried, I can tell. She is shouting ‘Carl, Carl, where are you?’
He does not reply.
Last time I saw him he was lying down, resting. I think that’s the best thing. The sun is so hot at noon, you should keep in the shade. He is in the shade now.
His eyes were opening and closing and he reached out his hand to me. I was concerned for him. This was not how he normally behaved. I thought that perhaps I should call Mrs Sigournis. But last time I did that he shouted and hit me. So I didn’t.
He did not hit me, he was resting. His face had changed to pale. That’s better, I thought. Mrs Sigournis used to tell me: ‘he’s not supposed to get so worked up, look at his blood pressure.’
I have learned many words. Some I do not understand, but I know their mood, I know which are bad.
Mr Sigournis is lying behind the bushes. His face is pale, that is good. He is very still, that is good. His eyes are open, and he did not blink when I licked them. That is unusual. Maybe it is bad. I don’t know.
Lunch will be ready soon. Mary will give me something. Something left over.