This is neutral territory. This is where we meet every fortnight. We’re both nervous, minimal pleasantries are exchanged, as if verifying security details at border control.
I can’t help hearing a Crimewatch voiceover as I walk up the path: ‘Last seen wearing…told her friends she was going for a walk…that it would all be fine…’ Now here I am, amongst the trees, waiting.
I don’t see him at first, I just hear a crunch of twigs and feel a breeze. Then there he is. The same as always. Always wanting something from me.
He doesn’t even ask this time. Just takes it and goes. And that’s it. I hate it.
His girlfriend was hovering in the background the whole time, as if I couldn’t see her. She took my son’s hand – even though I could see he didn’t like it – and marched off with him, a proper little happy family. Not if I have anything to do with it.
But all I can do is hope against hope that his father will bring him back again. And that this time he won’t have been fed on turkey twizzlers and smell of her perfume. But that’s probably asking too much.