23 August 2016

Never wake me up: an extract


Fourth

Cannick was hired at a hotel and started a few days later. Tahoe hung around for a while and got a job herself. She called her grandma in Thunder Bay and told her she’d visit in a few weeks’ time but wouldn’t be able to stay as long as she’d originally planned. She washed dishes in a cafĂ© on the outskirts of town, and strangely it was one of the cleaners from the Greyhound terminal that day who gave her the job.

They stayed in the hostel for a couple of months, and moved into their own apartment the day before Halloween. Their next door neighbours threw a party and invited them in, so they met a whole bunch of people there. By the end of the year their friends and family were visiting them and telling them how happy they looked. And they were.

At some point they stopped living paycheque to paycheque and started saving. At around the same time Tahoe went to the bathroom and came out holding a pregnancy test. It was the third one she’d taken so she was pretty sure. It took them a few more months and a promotion for them to get a deposit together for a house, and everything went through before the twins came along.


“Where does the time go,” said Cannick. He was sat in his friend Kelvin’s back garden, holding a glass of water and watching Kit and Elodie play with a plastic gardening shovel.

Elodie was getting fed up of Kit dragging her around by her feet, so she was holding the shovel like a fencer would hold a sword to ward him off. Kit used his size to wrestle it from her and hold it high above his head so she couldn’t get it. She thrashed her arms around to try. His wide-set nose wrinkled as he laughed.

“Does that look alright to you?” he said.

“I guess if one of them hits the other over the head with it you might have a problem,” said Kelvin, climbing up off his deck chair. “I’m going to get another beer. Want one?”

“No thanks,” said Cannick. “You know I don’t drink, right?”

Kelvin stopped. “No way. How long?”

“Five years. I was such a mess you wouldn’t believe it,” said Cannick. “One day at a time.”

Kelvin raised his eyebrows as he disappeared through his French windows. Cannick got up and went over to the twins. The grass was cooler than he thought it would be as his bare feet stroked the neatly trimmed blades and daisies. He’d been outside for most of the afternoon and things had changed over the four hours or so.

“Kit, Elodie, come on, let’s find you something safer to play with,” said Cannick, wrestling the shovel from Kit’s 18-month-old fingers. He pointed towards a pair of tennis balls and nudged them both in that direction. Then he jogged back to the patio where he took his seat again. There was laughter inside the house. The hiss of another beer bottle opening and the clinking of the bottle top dropping onto the floor preceded Kelvin coming back out. He had a huge smile on his face when he did. He smiled at Cannick and then at the twins on his way to his deck chair, before collapsing into it.

“Tennis balls can’t do much harm can they?” he said.

Cannick laughed.

“Unless one of them’s the next Roger Federer,” added Kelvin. “Or the Williams sisters.”

An aeroplane appeared out of the clouds to the west and buzzed over the horizon towards the east. The journey it took, across the green treetops of Van Wallegham Park and the lake nearby, held their attention for half a minute or so. It was the first time Cannick had really taken in his surroundings at Kelvin’s place.

“Show off,” said Kelvin. He took a swig of his beer and added: “That guy flies over here every Sunday. Just when I’m kicking back thinking about how good my life is, there he flies to show me his is even better. His name is Phil Thomas, or Thomas Phillips, or something like that.”

“Just think about how many bigger planes he sees when he’s up there,” said Cannick. He got up and stretched. “Anyway man, we’d better go. It’s getting towards these guys’ feeding time. Thanks for having us.”

“Pleasure. Give my best to Tahoe. Would have been nice to see her today. Hope she’s OK,” said Kelvin.

“She’s fine, just a little under the weather. Summer colds, you know how it is,” said Cannick, walking over to Kit and Elodie. “When did you last see her?”

“Must have been when these two guys were born,” said Kelvin.

Cannick picked up the kids and walked over to Kelvin. “No way,” he said. “We’ll definitely sort something out soon. Say goodbye to uncle Kelvin, kids.”

The twins said nothing.

“They’re tired. we’d better get going,” said Cannick. He made for the side gate that led to the sloped driveway out front. “See you soon, give my best to Tadila.”

“Will do, Cannick. Safe journey.”

With the kids firmly in their baby seats, Cannick got behind the wheel and shut his door.

“Hey Cannick,” said Kelvin. He came up to the window on the driver’s side and gestured for Cannick to wind it down, which he did.

“Hey man,” said Cannick.

Kelvin folded his arms on the door and leaned in uncomfortably close.

“Is everything alright with you and Tahoe?” he said after a while.

Cannick nodded.

“If there’s something going on and you think we can help, well, we’re here anytime,” said Kelvin.

Kelvin studied him for a second and then saw the twins in the back, staring back at him blankly.

“OK then,” he added. “Like I said, it’d be great to see you guys soon. Safe journey.”

Kelvin patted the top of the car a couple of times as a goodbye. He didn’t look back as he walked towards his front door. Cannick took a couple of deep breaths before he turned on the ignition and let the car roll down the driveway.



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